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Forklifts with Hydrostatic Transmissions

Though they come in a variety of styles, capacities, and engine types, forklifts have one basic function: moving materials from one place to another. In addition to differences in engine type (gas, electric, or hybrid), forklifts have different types of transmissions. One option is a hydrostatic transmission, which provides a variety of benefits as regards ease-of-use and repair.

What is a Hydrostatic Transmission?

To understand a hydrostatic transmission, it may be easier to first consider the transmission in your vehicle. An automatic transmission, as you know, requires no action on the part of the driver to change gears. Gear shifting occurs automatically with speed changes. With a manual transmission, the driver shifts gears by pushing the clutch and moving the shifter.

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A hydrostatic transmission requires no clutch or changing gears. Instead, the forklift operator uses pedals and a speed selector to guide the vehicle's direction and speed. Moving the selector forward causes the vehicle to move forward, attaining greater speed the further forward the operator moves the lever. Moving it backward slows the vehicle when it's in forward motion, and sends it backward from a stopped position.

Hydrostatic Transmission Benefits

As a transmission option in a standard automobile, this type of transmission doesn't work well. However, when operating heavy equipment, such as a forklift, hydrostatic transmissions provide numerous benefits.

This type of transmission provides a great deal of power with short bursts of speed, though not much in the way of sustained speed. Of course, in a forklift, that's exactly what you want.

Operators also have an easier time, since there is no clutch. Controlling speed and power is simple, even without engaging a brake. In addition, eliminating the need to repeatedly engage the clutch saves the operator's calf muscles.

Disadvantages of a Hydrostatic Transmission

Though there are disadvantages, most have to do with soft surface operation. This means they rarely apply to forklifts, which typically operate on hard surfaces. The way this transmission transfers power sometimes causes a malfunction in the gearbox. The result is too much torque, which may cause wheels to spin in soft terrain. An additional challenge is the operator gaining dexterity in controlling speed, though this happens fairly quickly as operators regularly use the machine.

Finally, a hydrostatic transmission engine tends to carry a higher price tag, as well as more expensive replacement parts and repairs.

Why Choose a Hydrostatic Forklift?

This type of forklift provides a great deal of precise maneuverability, making it simple to steer around obstacles. What's more, the motor cannot stall as in a manual clutch transmission.

It also requires fewer products to maintain and operate the machine. Common items you no longer need to stock include brake and clutch linings, as well as differential and transmission oils. The drive boasts 90 percent efficiency, double the efficiency percentage of a diesel engine.

If your facility's flooring is uneven, you may prefer a hydrostatic forklift, as this transmission type ensures wheels constantly retain traction.

Finally, operating costs are typically lower, despite higher repair costs. This is due to using 30 percent less fuel and the fact that you can wait 6,000 operating hours before completing an oil change.

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