Loading, transporting, and storing metal coils is pretty standard procedure at a metal service center, but we realize that might not be the case for other businesses, production facilities, and local artists we work with. Still, regardless of frequency, properly transporting metal coils will keep internal employees safe and protect the product from damage. Two things every business wants. In this blog, I’m providing a basic how-to for safely loading and transporting metal coils with a forklift. Let’s get started.
How To Safely Load Metal Coils with a Forklift
To set the scene, a metal shipment has just arrived at your facility. The truck is backed up to your loading dock, and inside is a neatly packaged coil of tempered spring steel, weighing about 240 lbs. The coil’s already slit to the tolerance you need to run, so all that’s left to do is bring the coil from the back of the truck to your workstation.
If transporting coils isn’t a common practice at your facility, it’s safe to assume you might not have specific steel coil handling equipment, like coil lifting hooks. Instead, I’ll assume you have access to a forklift to get the job done.
Step 1: Basic Safety Preparations
Before loading or unloading a trailer at a loading dock, operators should:
- Inspect the floor of the trailer to ensure that it will support the lift truck and the load.
- Chock the wheels of the trailer.
- Make sure that dock plates, boards, and ramps are in place and secure.
- Perform a safety check on your forklift.
Step 2: Loading the Coil
Follow typical procedure for loading your forklift with a heavy palette. Using both forks, bring them to pallet height and secure them under the load. Bring the forks to ground level before traveling.
Step 3: Transporting the Coil
With the coil in its lowest position, tilt the load towards the cab. This shifts the center of gravity and increases stability during transport. While speeds will depend upon the environment and the experience of the operator, maintain a safe, slow speed during transport.
Step 4: Offloading the Coil
Once you’ve arrived at the coil’s destination, come to a complete stop. Next, redistribute the load so that your forks are parallel to the ground. Next, raise them to the appropriate height, place the pallet on its resting place, and withdraw the forks.
Additional Forklift Tips
While you’re loading, transporting, and offloading coils of material, it’s important to remember that the most important safety device on your lift truck is you. Here are a few extra tips you can follow to support your own safety, protect the safety of those around you, and keep materials from becoming scratched, dented, dropped, or otherwise damaged.
- Check your forklift’s lift capacity to ensure it's designed to handle the weight of the load before picking it up.
- Never stand under the forks, even if the engine of the lift truck is turned off.
- Always keep your hands and feet inside the operator’s compartment during transport.
- If the lift mechanism on your lift fails, do not try to repair the chains (or hydraulic system) yourself.
- When transporting a load, avoid raising it more than 8” off the ground.
Maintaining safety in and around your forklift is always important. When transporting loads with a forklift, there’s a lot that can potentially go wrong. But, if you stay focused on the task and follow these tips and guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to getting the job done and keeping everyone safe in the meantime.