Stainless steel forklift attachments: what are the benefits?
When it comes to forklift attachments, stainless steel products are generally a more expensive option than their mild steel counterparts. And yet, there are many reasons why it can be a better choice and worth the extra expense.
The first is the non-corrosive nature of stainless steel: because the structure contains at least 10.5% chromium – which has a strong affinity to oxygen – it has increased resistance to corrosion. Of course, you can’t guarantee a stainless-steel forklift attachment will never rust, but it’s definitely less likely to than a mild steel alternative.
This is especially important if you’re working in environments where the attachments are likely to be exposed to sea water, for example. The initial higher investment you made in order to opt for a stainless-steel attachment would then see you rewarded with a far longer service life.
Another environment where considering the material used is highly important is in a potentially hazardous or explosive atmosphere, where flammable gases, dust and/or air could mix. In this situation, using equipment which can mitigate the risk is absolutely essential. A spark caused by metal to metal contact could cause a fire or explosion and so should be avoided at all costs.
Forklift attachments made entirely from stainless steel would be needed in a potentially explosive environment in order to get the equipment ATEX certified (which is required by the 94/9/EC EU directive, also known as the ATEX directive).
Under the directive, workplaces are divided into different zones depending on what the risk within that particular area might be (more information here). It’s important to ensure the equipment used in each zone is compliant – and this can be achieved by using spark-proof stainless steel.
Within many sectors, it’s vital to minimise the risk of contamination (for example, within the food and drink industry); attachments manufactured from stainless steel are the ideal choice for waste handling operations within these industries, thanks to their corrosion and pitting resistance abilities.
It’s also an added bonus to know that the long service life and recyclable nature of stainless steel means an attachment has less of an impact on the environment than a mild steel option.
Far from being a simple comparison of costs, choosing the material used within your forklift attachment requires careful thought – with the benefits across the whole life of the attachment taken into account rather than simply the initial investment.