What Are Forklift Clamps?

Dan Cavallari

Forklift clamps are devices used to grab objects rather than lift them from the bottom, as traditional forks on a forklift will do. Barrel clamps, for example, are curved blades that open and close like a jaw; they are often used to grab and move round barrels, which would otherwise be unstable when lifted with forks. Other types of forklift clamps exist as well, each with a specific design and function applicable to certain types of goods being moved. Some clamps even take the form of traditional forks, except the fork tines move inward and outward to clamp down on objects.

Clamps can be used to allow forklifts to grab rather than lift objects.
Clamps can be used to allow forklifts to grab rather than lift objects.

One of the most common styles of forklift clamps features two vertical arms; they are broad and flat, and they are made of a durable material such as steel. They are basically large plates that are parallel to each other; they can move inward toward each other to clamp down on a large, bulky object, and the plates are held in place by a hydraulic system. Once the plates are in place, the object can be lifted by the forklift and moved safely. One of the problems with forklift clamps such as these is the likelihood of crushing; the operator will need to ensure the clamps have secured the load, but he or she will also need to ensure they are not grasping the object too tightly.

Other types of forklift clamps feature curved arms that are useful for grasping round objects such as barrels or pipes. These clamps are commonly used in industrial settings, as they can grab metal canisters, piping, or other materials easily. The claw-like clamp opens and closes like a set of jaws, and the clamps are usually able to rotate to make them even more versatile.

Sometimes the tines of a normal fork on a forklift can be used as a clamp. Specially designed fork blades are able to move inward and outward using a hydraulic system; this is most often used to pick up pallets of various sizes, though when the tines of the fork move toward each other, it is possible to clamp down on an object. This is not necessarily the safest method, though it can be effective, especially if the forklift blades can rotate as well, further adding stability to the lifted object. Some warehouses and factories will not allow this method to be used because of safety concerns.

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