What Is a Forklift Rotator?

B. Turner

A forklift rotator is a device that can be attached to the tines of a forklift to give the machine rotational capabilities. While a standard forklift moves objects up and down, a unit equipped with a rotator attachment can also tilt these objects from side to side. Like other types of forklift attachments, the rotator gives the machine an expanded range of motion, which allows it to be used for a large number of applications.

Forklifts can be attached to rotators to allow the vehicle to spin in different directions.
Forklifts can be attached to rotators to allow the vehicle to spin in different directions.

Most forklift rotator models are designed to fit directly over the tines of the forklift, where they can be attached with chains or specialty fasteners. The rotator relies on a built-in hydraulic system to tilt the load on the forklift, or even to rotate it a full 360 degrees. Different types of rotators are designed to accommodate different sized loads, and buyers should look for a unit capable of meeting the demands of each project.

Instead of simply lifting a box or pallet up and down, the forklift rotator enables the user to turn a box or bin completely over. This serves as a fast and effective way to empty boxes or other containers without the use of physical labor. A forklift rotator is often used in this capacity to empty trash, or to fill a bin or hopper as part of the manufacturing process. By combining the lifting mechanism of the forklift, users can even dump boxes into dumpsters or other vessels that are higher than the forklift.

These attachments are often designed for use with drums rather than the traditional boxes or pallets. With a rotator mechanism, users can lift a drum filled with liquid, then rapidly turn it over to empty out the contents. This makes these machines an important tool in the chemical and food industries. To prevent the barrel from tipping over, the rotator is often equipped with special chains or clamps that fix the barrel against the forklift.

Perhaps one of the most important uses for the forklift rotator is as a means of improving safety on fairly standard lifting operations. Many forklift accidents occur when a load is unbalanced, which can tip the machine over or cause the load to fall off. By rotating the load very slightly as it's lifted or lowered, users can rebalance the load as needed to prevent accidents. The use of a rotator to adjust a tilted load is particularly critical when lifting top-heavy or oddly-shaped materials.

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