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Heavy-duty coil tongs - RUD India

Jan 24, 2024

Coil Tongs vs Forklifts - Which coil handling tool is more useful?

Industrial material handling is a heavy-duty process full of intricate technicalities and complexities. This is especially the case with handling coil-shaped objects like steel, aluminum, and paper. Their bulky form and inherent instability demand specialized equipment for safe and efficient maneuvering. This is where industrial appliances like coil tongs and forklifts come into the picture. While both of them are used to handle coil-shaped materials and transport them from one place to another, many businesses grapple with the question: which one is better suited for their needs?

While they both serve the same purpose, they are both useful in different scenarios. Coil tongs and forklifts have their own unique sets of advantages and drawbacks. There is no “better” choice. It comes down to what your specific needs are.

Coil Tongs excel at tasks that require precision

Think of coil tongs as large, industrial-sized kitchen tongs. They’re aptly named because of their incredible vice-like grip. These are designed to handle cylindrical objects like barrels, cylinders and bales. Their U-shaped jaws are often lined with protective padding and cradles the coil securely, minimizing the risk of slippage or damage. It is this level of precision and control that makes coil tongs such an appealing option for industrial applications where safety and accuracy are the need of the hour. Additionally, tongs are also great in tight spaces and capable of intricate maneuvers. Their compact profile allows for navigating narrow aisles and performing delicate rotations, making them ideal for warehouses and production floors with limited room.

Such precision always comes at a cost, however. The initial investment required for Coil Tongs is significantly higher compared to forklifts. Additionally, operating coil tongs requires dedicated personnel with specialized training, increasing the human resources required to operate them. They are also incredibly narrow in their application. This makes them a much more expensive affair overall.

Forklifts are great all-purpose appliances capable of handling different materials

Forklifts, the ubiquitous workhorses of material handling, offer a compelling alternative to specialized appliances like coil tongs. They are capable of transporting a wide range of materials including pallets, boxes, small containers, racks in addition to coils. This makes them an incredibly cost-effective solution for businesses and industrial operations that deal in a variety of materials. Forklifts are also capable of handling higher loads and boast a higher threshold for capacity than coil-based appliances. They’re a practical solution with a wide range of attachments, and their modular nature makes them cater to various handling scenarios, from simple lifting to complex stacking and transportation.

It’s not all bells and whistles with forklifts, however. Their pronged design, while great for flat objects, can be unstable with coils. This increases the risk of slippage or damage significantly, especially with inexperienced operators or in fast-paced environments. They’re also cumbersome and not necessarily the easiest to operate in compact environments and tight spaces. 

Should you choose coil tongs or forklifts?

Simply put, there isn’t a singular choice in this regard, and the answer depends on various factors. Coil Tongs are specifically designed for precision and managing just coil-shaped materials. Forklifts are heavy-duty appliances with industry-wide applications that also happen to feature the capability to handle coils.

  • Coil weight and size: For heavier or larger coils, forklifts' superior lifting capacity might be the deciding factor.
  • Frequency of coil handling: If coil handling is a frequent activity, the dedicated precision of tongs might outweigh the versatility of forklifts.
  • Space constraints: Tight spaces favor the maneuverability of tongs, while open warehouses might benefit from the flexibility of forklifts.
  • Budget: The upfront and operational costs of tongs can be significantly higher compared to forklifts.
  • Operator skill set: Inexperienced operators might be better suited for the stability of tongs, while skilled personnel can leverage the full potential of forklifts.

Taking all the above factors into account, you’ll be making the decision based on your specific needs. There are also cases in which both share a symbiotic relationship and can be used in the same factory or industrial unit. While industrial coil tongs offer precision and safety, they require a significant investment in specialized manpower and operating costs. Forklifts, on the other hand, come with the benefits of being heavy-duty and multi-purpose. They can handle a wide range of materials in addition to coils and also boast a higher capacity. But they come at the risk of imprecise handling and struggle to operate in tight spaces. 

Both appliances also come with specialized options. Forklifts are usually modular in terms of design and come with a wide range of attachments to transport different objects. Coil tongs come in various shapes, sizes and capabilities. Vertical coil tongs and horizontal coil tongs both serve unique purposes, for example. There are also some heavy-duty coil tongs which are capable of transporting larger capacities but come at an increased cost.

Remember, the key to choosing the right equipment is understanding your specific needs and priorities. By carefully evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of both coil tongs and forklifts, you can confidently select the champion that will help your business grapple with coil handling challenges and emerge victorious. At the end of the day, you’re investing in your business and it is a necessity that you consider the long-term implications of your choice.

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