A Quick Guide to Forklift Tyres

24th November 2020

Forklift tyres do far more than just help the truck travel from A to B. Lift truck tyres transmit the torque of the lift truck to the ground, helping to provide the necessary stability for movement. With such an important role to play, it’s important to select the right type of tyre for the needs of a specific application. But do you know enough about lift truck tyres to make the right choice?

To help you get started, here is our quick guide to some of the key things you should know about tyres for Hyster® forklifts.

What type of forklift tyre is best?

There are three types of forklift tyres in use today, which all bring their own advantages and disadvantages.

• Pneumatic tyres (for example radial tyres) are the same type usually used on motor vehicles. On a forklift, these tyres can offer a higher level of operator comfort thanks to their good suspension properties. They also provide good ground contact and are ideal for outdoor use, recognising the tread pattern. However, the air pressure should be checked regularly and even very minor damage to the tyre can lead to failure.

• Solid rubber tyres (sometimes recognised as cushion tyres) are usually best suited for indoor use on smooth, even surfaces. They have good puncture resistance as the tyre is entirely made of rubber with no inflation needed and has a high load capacity. For example, the compact Hyster® SpaceSaver S2.5FT lift truck is equipped with solid rubber, treadless tyres. Partly thanks to their small drum diameter, the footprint of the 2.5 tonne lift capacity truck is just about the same as that of a 1.8 tonne truck. Solid tyres are available with either a smooth tread or a tread pattern.

Foreign bodies are less likely to get stuck in fully treadless tyres, but there are disadvantages to these drum tyres too. Such as less suspension and the resulting higher stress on the vehicle and driver.

• Super Elastic tyres (also called pneumatic shaped solid tyres) are solid tyres mounted on rims that are also suitable for pneumatic tyres. They combine many of the characteristics of cushion tyres with similar comfort to air-filled tyres. For areas where there is a risk of tyre damage, super elastic tyres are usually recommended.

Since super-elastic tyres are not filled with air, they are puncture resistant, just like solid rubber tyres. They have a multi-layer structure a tread, and are somewhat harder than pneumatic tyres, but much softer than solid rubber tyres. For this reason, they can at least partially ‘cushion’ bumps and shocks.

How do you take care of forklift tyres?

It depends on the tyre type.

Pneumatic tyres must be permanently checked for residual tread depth, damage and air pressure. Forklift trucks equipped with pneumatic tyres operate at a high air pressure of up to 10 bar. The exact air pressure is noted on each tyre and must be maintained. Depending on the intended use of the trucks, the manufacturer may have special regulations. Incorrect air pressure can cause damage to the tyre.

Solid rubber and SE tyres are considered puncture resistant and are usually only to be checked for wear. Forklift tyres are constantly being developed to improve puncture resistance and reduce wear and rolling damages. The latest developments are also being incorporated into production of these tyre types, for example, in the rubber compounds used and their distribution in the tyre.

The most common damage to truck tyres is as a result of collision. With solid rubber and cushion tyres, as well as SE tyres, the truck can usually continue to be used. However, pneumatic tyres must be changed. Care should be taken with all types of tyres to avoid overheating due to use.

When should you change your forklift tyres?

Tyre replacement intervals will always depend greatly on the specific forklift operating conditions and intensity. A Hyster® forklift option that helps is Trelleborg Pit Stop Line super-elastic tyres.

The Trelleborg Pit Stop Line tyre clearly indicates when it needs to be changed. As soon as the tyre has a remaining service life of around 100 hours, a bright orange band begins to appear through the black tread. This allows companies to better plan tyre changes and avoid downtime.

For companies that use Trelleborg Pit Stop tyres, Trelleborg I-Rent is available from Hyster® dealers. The intelligent solution offer customers full-service long-term contracts and precisely calculated tyre costs.

How is tyre wear reduced on Hyster® forklifts?

Regardless of the type of tyres selected for your Hyster® lift truck, the DuraMatch™ transmission automatically reduces speed when the foot is released from the gas pedal. This extends the life of the tyres. The DuraMatch™ transmission technology also allows strong directional changes without wheel spin. Depending on the application, this can extend tyre life by 50 to 100 percent.

Hyster was the first company in Europe to develop and promote tyre protection technologies for its Empty Container Handlers. The technology helps to significantly reduce tyre costs, since tyre wear is the third largest cost factor in container handling after labour and fuel costs.

On conventional axles with twin tyres, the inner and outer wheels are rigidly connected. This means that they turn at the same speed when cornering, even though they cover different distances. This typically results in abrasion to one of the wheels at a time, which ultimately leads to conical wear. This occurs in large trucks from all manufacturers and affects all types of forklifts.

The new tyre protection technology on Hyster® trucks helps overcome this challenge. A differential located at each of the wheel ends of the axle ensures that the two wheels can rotate individually. This solution may help reduce tyre wear by up to one third on the front tyres (drive axle) and two thirds on the rear tyres (steering axle).

Ready to talk about your tyres?

For tyre replacement, maintenance or advice, contact your local Hyster® dealer now.

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