From Wikipedia: “A forklift (also called lift truck, fork truck, fork hoist and forklift truck) is a powered industrial truck used to lift and move materials over short distances. Forklifts have become an indispensable piece fo equipment in manufacturing and warehousing”.
If we stopped at the “simple” definition of Wikipedia, we would have to deal with a working tool like so many others. But its importance to who handles materials is VITAL. An essential part of almost any company production and organization system. Such a primary component that has finally since 2008 a dedicated regulation (see reference).
The forklift was born at the beginning of the 20th century, but its history is very current and remembers somehow the classical success story of the young American full of ideas that, illuminated by the desire to change the world, closed into a garage create the first computer, the first graphics interface for the computer, and so on. It was 1903, and the newly-born steel industry was booming. The world began to travel on rails and even the planes began to have their own space. The executive of Illinois Steel Company, at the time the true reality of US metallurgy and steel factory, decides to create a small separate company that deals with drills: George R. Rich Manufacturing Company. However, they realize that the market was not covered satisfactorily and the company becomes aware that the problem is in the very realization of the drills and especially in the electrical system.
To overcome the problem, the Management decides to hire a young engineer, Eugene B. Clark (who will name the company that everyone knows) expert about electrical engineering. It was time of transition from steam to electric power and professionality with that knowledge was very much on demand. Some adjustments and drill work! The problems were solved and the company started the business. The business could expand and the invention of the car created new business opportunities and a new business unit was created. The company produces automotive disc wheels, and although it does work, Eugene B. Clark has a different vision, in particular the interest in industrial vehicles such as trucks and tractors, seeing the cars (and at the time it was right ) as a luxury vehicle with few business opportunities. The vision was right and in 1916 the young engineer invented Clark’s axle, a particular heavy duty axle.
The Clark Axle achieves industry respect: it is perfectly balanced and stongly-built. Eugene Clark founds two companies: Celfor Tool Company and Buchanan Electric Steel Company to create Clark Equipment Company. The story begins to be written and the first “Tructractor” (relative of the tractor) is built at Buchanan in Michigan by employees of the CLARK Equipment Company. It is the first industrial combustion truck / tractor. The original configuration provided a flat loader at the back used to transport materials from one side to the other of the plant. Business visitors are impressed for efficiency and convenience and ask CLARK to produce it for them as well.
After the first export to France the product became increasingly important and in 1922 an internal combustion engine truck was introduced: the Trucklift. The Truclift was the first “internal combustion truck” worldwide that used hydraulics and not mechanical gears to lift a load. Tructractors and Truclifts begin to be produced in a new CLARK plant until the first forklift truck production on 1924, the first of many other products around the world.