Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Side-Shift Fork Positioners

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklift Basics

There are many attachments available that can be installed and utilised to increase forklift productivity.

This blog post will look at one of the most readily used positioning attachments: side-shift. It will provide a brief explanation of side-shift as a concept, the advantages of side-shift and then look at some examples of side-shift positioners and other positioner attachments available.

When installed on a forklift a side-shift allows a carried load to be moved left or right within a given span. The major advantage of side-shift is the ability to move the fork carriage without having to move the whole forklift.

Some other benefits of side-shift include:

  • Ability to shift loads in tight spaces
  • Precise moving of heavy loads and equipment
  • Ability to position cargo during loading/unloading
  • Ability to centre-align fork carriage with forklift pallets

There are two main types of side-shift attachment installations, these being:

  • Integral – installed by the manufacturer
  • After-market – installed after purchase

Newer Hyster forklift models come with an integral side-shift direct from the manufacturer. Adaptalift has access to a full range of after-market side shifts as well as specialist attachments including:

  • Load guard fork positioner
  • Clamping fork positioner
  • “Kissing forks” fork positioner

This blog will now provide a summary of the different attachments.

Integral Side-Shift

Installed by the manufacturer’s at the time of production of the forklift. Integral side-shift offers the following benefits:

  • Manufacturer’s rated lifting capacity is not compromised.
  • The overall length of the forklift is not increased
  • Maximum visibility is maintained through integral side-shift design and routing of hydraulic hosing.
Side shift

After-market Side-Shift

After-market side-shift options can be installed at any stage of a forklifts life and will operate the same as an integral side-shift.

One thing that needs to be taken into consideration when installing an after-market side-shift is the effect it will have on a forklifts lifting capacity.

The installation of an after-market side shift will ultimately lower a forklifts lifting capacity, due to the following reasons:

  • The side-shift mechanism is heavy and will therefore takes up a certain amount of the forklifts rated lifting capacity, therefore the forklift will not be able to carry as heavy loads.
  • The side-shift will alter the load centre of the forklift, meaning the forklift may have reduced lifting capacity as the load is further out.
  • Lateral stability should also be taken account, particularly at height, to avoid tip over.

Load Guard Fork Positioner

A load guard fork positioner has hydraulic cylinders installed which attach to the fork tynes , which facilitates the movement of the fork tynes to the correct position to safely enter a load. This style of fork positioner has an integral load guard for protection and load stability.

Fork Positioners are available with independent fork tyne movement, or the more popular simultaneous movement.

Load guard positioner

Clamping Fork Positioner

A clamping fork positioner will allow awkward loads such as crates, bails or tyres to be clamped between forks for easy manoeuvring.

There are various types of fork tynes available to suit varying load applications.

Clamping Fork Positioners are also available with a rotating feature, very handy for emptying on bins in various applications.

Clamping fork positioner

Kissing Fork Positioner

Normal forklift tynes when hydraulically positioned together will always have a small gap between them.

This gap can be eliminated with the installation of a kissing fork positioner, which will bring the tynes together so they are touching. This is particularly useful when lifting objects that need to be lifted in the centre, and there is only a small gap available, such as rolls of carpet, tyres and cable wheels.

Kissing fork 01

Through our national parts and service network Adaptalift are able to source and install all the types of positioning attachments mentioned in this blog post.