October 02, 2023 / by Danny Mavis

In the world of material handling, there’s nothing that can quite match the versatility forklifts provide. They can lift, lower, and transport just about anything, and do it safely, quickly, and with minimal fuss. They’re easy to manoeuvre, can handle tasks both indoors and outdoors, and come in different types and sizes to suit different settings and loads.

Warehouses, construction sites, and loading docks are just a few of the key areas where forklifts operate. Here, they pair well with pallets and pallet racking, and are perfectly functional even in base form. But that functionality is considerably expanded with the right attachments. These help by streamlining day-to-day operations, meaning heightened workplace safety and increased productivity.

What’s more, a reliable attachment forklift keeps items free from damage, so there aren’t any additional costs you should fear or expect when handling large and bulky loads. Regardless of the load and setting you’re working in, these are the most versatile forklift attachments:

1) Fork Extensions

Forklift with fork extensions in a warehouse

When handling items that are too long or big to fit standard forks, then forklift extensions are what you need. These essentially are slip-on sleeves and provide more stability and safer handling to greatly increase carrying capability. Most come with restraining straps to keep loaded items secure and prevent slipping. Typical uses are in warehouses, factories, and loading bays.

2) Rotators

This attachment forklift allows forks to be rotated 360 degrees in a revolving motion. Rotators are commonly used in waste disposal and recycling along with bins of varying sizes. Here they tip bins to one side and quickly revert to the upright position and are widely found in other areas, such as agriculture and food processing.

3) Fork Spreaders

Extra-wide or flexible loads, such as plasterboard, roof sheeting, or plastic tubing can be very difficult to handle without causing damage or tipping the forklift. Items like these are best lifted and moved with a fork spreader. This distributes the weight evenly over the length of the spreader and variants with integrated load guards keep bulkier and taller items stable. Additional safety is offered with a safety chain to secure the attachment to the truck.

4) Carpet Roll Prongs

Carpet roles or prongs extend out from the forklift, allowing the driver to quickly position the attachment in the carpet’s centre core. This attachment forklift can also be used on coil products, cabling, and other fabrics. Prongs can extend up to 300mm and carry a weight of half a ton, making the accessory a worthy addition in many fast-paced settings dealing with rolled products.

5) Drum Positioners

Man standing by drum handling forklift attachment with barrel
Source: diamondtoolstore.com

Raw materials, liquids and chemicals stored in drums are used in numerous industries. Businesses relying on the safe and quick handling of multiple drums should invest in forklift drum positioning equipment. These have varying designs, either straight tines or arched clamps, and are ideal for loading or unloading drums off rack stands, or onto vehicles. Carrying capacity varies, but most positioners can easily handle drums in excess of 200 kilos when full.

6) Sweeper Attachments

These are mainly used for general cleaning purposes and can be fitted with different brush and bristle combinations for different surfaces. Sweepers are also effective when reheaping sand, topsoil, grain, and other products in areas like construction sites and farming operations. The sweeper is secured with both the tines and ratchet straps and has several rows of bristles spanning a width of up to 1800mm.

7) Jibs

Forklift jibs are a commonly overlooked forklift attachment. They are designed to slide and secure easily to forklift tines, with loads attached to the end of the jib by way of a hook. Jibs can be either fixed or tilted, with the later offering more versatility in lifting heights and angles. Extendable telescopic arms also allow for loads of different sizes. As for capacities, most have safe weight loadings of up to two tonnes, though there are variants that can safely handle four tonnes or more.

Other Versatile Forklift Attachments

Woman driving forklift with paper clamp attachment with paper roll
Source: sstlift.com

The list above is a wide spread of attachments used across different applications. However, there are dozens more used in general warehousing tasks, and in more specialised roles elsewhere. Other common forklift attachments and accessories include side shifters used to move loads and pallets side to side, which are especially handy in tighter spaces and when loading speed is necessary.

Paper clamps are similar to drum positioners and can move large paper rolls in the printing and paper industry, without inflicting damage to the load. And multiple pallet handlers speed up work by carrying two or more pallets side by side in places like factories, warehouses and shipping docks.

Buying the Right Attachment

Choosing the right attachment is based on the weight and the size of the load, and the specific requirements of the job site. Attachments are often designed specifically for one type of load, such as carpets or oil drums, but some like jibs can be used for a number of applications.

The weight of the load determines the lifting capacity, and here there are more options. And the height or length of the load is appropriately managed with design variations, such as fixed or tilting jibs, to safely get items to where they’re needed. But, whatever your material handling needs, attachments suited to your line of work offer efficiency, speed, and safety, and reduce the likelihood of injuries and material damage.