They say one of humanity’s greatest inventions was the wheel. In that case, its second greatest invention must have been the pneumatic tire. Thanks to the simple idea of surrounding a wheel with inflatable rubber, wheels can handle more treacherous terrain and significantly heavier loads, which we can all appreciate as forklift owners.
Simple as it is, the technology behind pneumatic tires is genius, and understanding it can help us get the most out of our tires and forklifts.
Nearly all forklift tires use vulcanized rubber. This process, which has been around since the early 1800s, involves treating rubber with sulfur and other materials. This makes the rubber more durable without losing its original shape. Because of this, vulcanized rubber can hold up great weight while being resistant to abrasion and moisture. These features are all essential to a good set of tires, especially forklift tires.
To fathom the science behind pneumatic tire technology, it’s useful to imagine an old-fashioned carriage with simple wooden wheels. When carriages travel down a dirt or cobblestone road, they tend to jostle over every stone and bump in the road. The thin wheels take the shock, transferring it to the rest of the vehicle. The extra layer of air provided by tires helps absorb the shock, allowing for a smoother ride.
When you are driving a vehicle, the laws of physics are constantly working against you. Friction is working against your tires, slowing you down. The effort your tires need to work against this friction and maintain their speed is referred to as a vehicle’s rolling resistance. The higher the rolling resistance, or the more energy needed to make your tires roll, the less fuel-efficient your vehicle is.
Because of the attributes already mentioned, pneumatic wheels tend to have low rolling resistance. The use of vulcanized rubber makes them less likely to deform, which would throw off their ability to roll consistently. And the layer of air absorbing the shock of the road keeps the wheel from slowing down. This allows a forklift to travel at greater speeds with greater fuel efficiency.
Pneumatic tires truly are a marvel of modern science. If you need to replace your forklift tires, our Toyota forklift parts dealer can get you the best quality pneumatic tires for your forklift.