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De-stacking with a Counterbalance forklift truck

In this Counterbalance forklift training explainer video, our instructor demonstrates how to safely de-stack with a counterbalance forklift truck. This is a common truck for Novice (beginner) forklift training.

Visit our various forklift training courses for more information or to book your session today.

De-stacking with a forklift truck

The stack should be approached squarely, carefully and the fork arms, should be around about 15 cm, (6 inches), away from the stack. This is to discourage pedestrians from walking through the gap.

It helps considerably if the truck’s steering wheels are straight at this stage.

Secure the truck whilst de-stacking

It is necessary to apply the parking brake and engage the gears in neutral when using the truck’s hydraulic controls. This is true even for very minor adjustments of the hydraulic controls and failure to do so leads to a serious penalty during a forklift test. It would be fair to say that this is one of the most common faults on test especially for those undergoing refresher training.

Reduce rear tilt to minimum

The next step is to reduce the rear tilt to a minimum amount. On some occasions it is necessary to remove rear tilt completely an example being when stacking a tall load into a tight racking space. It is, however, usual to teach trainees at this stage to leave a small amount of rear tilt applied to ensure load stability.

Raise the fork arms to the correct de-stacking height

The Fork Arms should now be raised to the correct height for that particular stack. Before doing this the operator should look upwards on high stacks in case of overhead obstructions. A glance to either side is usually a good idea too in case pedestrians are around. Operators should not permit anyone to walk near or underneath a raised load.

Note that it is not necessary to go too high as this makes subsequent lining up of the stack more difficult. As a guide, leave about 10 to 15 cm clearance. (4 to 6 inches)

Drive forwards

After releasing the handbrake and engaging forwards direction the truck can be driven so that the fork arms are under the stack.

Because a small amount of rear tilt remains it is necessary to stop a little bit “short” to allow for this to be adjusted.

Once in position the handbrake is applied again and neutral engaged.

Tilt Mast Forward to the vertical position

If a small amount of rear tilt has been left, now is the time to bring the mast to the vertical position. This should be done carefully so as not to accidentally engage too much forward tilt which, in the case of metal stillages could cause the load to slide off the forks.

Raise the load onto the Fork Arms

The load should now be carefully raised onto the fork arms ensuring that it is engaged all around and secure. Care should be taken to ensure that the load is right to the back of the fork arms.

Prior to reversing from the de-stacking position

The operator should look all around and check properly over both shoulders before reversing out with the load. The safest approach is to look behind last thing i.e., engage reverse and release the parking brake first whilst keeping the service brake applied. After looking behind, check that the forks are coming out of the stack without fouling anything and then continue to look behind with occasional glances at the load.

Some trucks are fitted with mirrors. Whilst there is no harm in using them as an additional check they should not replace a physical look behind.

Reverse out with the load

The truck should be reversed until the load is about 15cm, (6 inches) away from the stack. This gap serves two purposes as it presents a barrier to a pedestrian and ensures that the forks will clear everything when being lowered.

Once at this distance the parking brake should be re-applied and neutral engaged.

Engage the forks and load in the travel position

The load ad forks should now be returned to the laden travel position. Reverse gear can now be selected and the parking brake released. It is essential that the operator looks over both shoulders before reversing and then continues to look in the direction of travel

Although a relatively high stack is shown in this sequence the actual steps required to de-stack a load are basically the same for any height of stack. For obvious reasons it is usual to teach low level, eye level and high-level de-stacking in that order.

Summary steps on how to De-stack at High level

  • Follow the correct procedure to move off; Gear, Observation, Handbrake release and final Observation (GOBO)
  • Drive forward in a slow steady speed in the centre of the aisle looking at the direction of travel
  • Line up front wheel axle (pivot point) to the centre of load
  • Apply handbrake and full lock steering towards the load and gently accelerate, maintaining observation in all directions
  • Stop 6 inches before racking, apply handbrake and transmission in neutral
  • Using tilt hydraulic adjust the mass into vertical position to have the fork arms straight
  • Complete all round especially above looking out for obstructions above ourselves
  • Lift fork arms towards the height of the load
  • Complete all round check and follow GOBO and gently drive forward in to the load
  • Once into position and ready to pick up, apply handbrake and transmission into neutral
  • Gently raise the fork arms to lift the load up ensuring looking above the load for any obstructions
  • Follow GOBO procedures, twist body, arm behind seat looking at direction of travel and slowly creep back in reverse
  • Concentrating 80% in direction of travel and 20% at the load ensuring clean exit from the racking
  • Stop 6 inches away from racking and apply handbrake and transmission in neutral
  • Lower the load into travelling position, 4-6 inches off the ground
  • Follow GOBO and twist your body posture behind the seat and full lock steering towards the direction of travel.

For more information on our Counterbalance forklift training or to book your course today on how to operate a counterbalance forklift truck, call us:

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