Design and analysis of fluid power forklifts for industrial applications



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Material handling tools like forklifts are essential in today's industrial environment for speeding up a variety of tasks, from manufacturing to warehousing. Due to its capacity to provide high power-to-weight ratios, precise control, and fluid manoeuvrability, the integration of fluid power systems, particularly hydraulic mechanisms, has attracted considerable interest. The research is crucial in helping to enhance industrial machinery as the demand for sophisticated and adaptable forklift solutions rises. The current research focuses on fluid power forklifts that have been meticulously designed and thoroughly analysed for optimum performance in industrial environments. The project's primary goal is to create a hydraulic forklift circuit with a significant lifting capability of 20kN. In order to ensure improved efficiency and efficacy of forklift operations, the research intends to dive into the complex intricacies of hydraulic systems through the expert use of simulation techniques inside the MATLAB environment.


This project's main aim is to build and evaluate a fluid power forklift system primarily for industrial applications, concentrating on a hydraulic circuit capable of lifting weights with a capacity of 20 kN.



  • To Design a 20kN Hydraulic Forklift Circuit
  • To simulate and analyse the system
  • To inspect and monitor the Safety and Reliability of the system
  • To check for further Efficiency Enhancement 


The scope of this project includes several key aspects:

Hydraulic System Design

The project comprises the thorough design of a hydraulic forklift circuit, which includes the choice of parts like pumps, valves, and cylinders. The forklift's stability, efficiency, and lifting capability are all intended to be optimised by the design.

Matlab Simulation

With the use of this simulation-based methodology, numerous operational situations may be thoroughly investigated, and system performance can be evaluated.

Performance Analysis

The project focuses on analyzing the hydraulic system's performance parameters such as load-carrying capacity, energy usage, and control accuracy, which aids in identifying potential areas for improvement.

Literature Review

Working Components and Principles of Hydraulic Forklift

A precisely selected group of components make up the hydraulic forklift. The coordinated operation of the hydraulic pump, reservoir, control valves, actuators, forklift forks, and control system allows for the controlled lifting, lowering, and tilting of heavy loads. This is an illustration of how fluid power concepts are using industrial material handling applications.

Hydraulic Pump

The hydraulic pump is an essential component that transforms mechanical energy into hydraulic energy. It pressurises and removes hydraulic fluid from the reservoir, allowing power to be sent throughout the hydraulic system. The pump powers the lifting and tilting operations of a forklift, supplying the required force to lift and move big items (Yang et al. 2022).


Hydraulic fluid is kept in a reservoir, which acts as a storage container. It keeps the system's fluid supply consistent and aids in cooling down the system's operating heat. The reservoir's hydraulic fluid is essential for maintaining the lubrication, cooling, and sealing of the system. It is essential to guarantee the longevity and efficient operation of the hydraulic system.

Control valves

Control valves manage the system's hydraulic fluid's flow and direction. These valves regulate the forklift's movements properly by simply directing pressurised fluid to designated actuators. Control valves of a hydraulic forklift are in charge of operations including fork lifting, fork lowering, and fork tilting. For the necessary load management and placement, their precise functioning is crucial.

Actuators (Cylinders)

Actuators are in charge of transforming hydraulic energy into mechanical motion, often in the form of hydraulic cylinders. These cylinders raise, lower, and tilt the forks of the forklift by extending or retracting in reaction to pressurised fluid. The actuators enable the ability to accurately control heavy loads by utilising the force created by the hydraulic fluid (Gao et al. 2020).

Forklift Forks

The load-bearing parts attached to the front of the forklift are the forklift forks, sometimes referred to as tines. These robust arms slip beneath pallets, crates, or other items to lift and move them with the forklift. Actuators and control valves in the hydraulic system cooperate to change the position of the forks, resulting in effective and secure material handling.

Relief Valves

The relief valve serves as a safety valve that is intended to open and discharge hydraulic fluid when the system's pressure rises above a specific limit. The relief valve's spring-loaded mechanism is defeated when the pressure hits this crucial level, enabling a predetermined volume of hydraulic fluid to bypass the system and return to the reservoir or tank. This regulated discharge ensures that the system runs within safe limits and prevents pressure from increasing to hazardous levels (Wang et al. 2023).

Return Line

The return line is particularly important in the context of a hydraulic forklift during the forks' lowering phase. The return line offers a dedicated route for the hydraulic fluid to return to the reservoir when it is released from the lifting cylinders to lessen the load. The forklift's motions are kept accurate and quick thanks to its regulated return, which also prevents hydraulic fluid from being wasted.


Hydraulic System Design

The research's hydraulic system design phase establishes the hydraulic forklift's functionality. Component selection and circuit layout are two important issues covered in this step.

  • Component selection

    The research team examines all hydraulic parts, such as pumps, valves, and cylinders, in-depth during this subphase. This assessment is based on knowledge gleaned from a thorough analysis of the literature as well as the particular needs of the forklift system. 
  • Circuit Configuration

    The circuit configuration seeks to mitigate potential issues like pressure surges or overheating that might jeopardise system performance and safety. The configuration helps the hydraulic forklift achieve optimal load handling, stability, and overall efficiency by carefully placing components and fluid routes. 

Matlab Simulation Setup

  • Model Development

    A precise mathematical model of the hydraulic forklift system is created using MATLAB. Equations regulating fluid flow, component dynamics, and load-carrying behaviour are all included in this.
  • System Inputs

    The simulation model takes into account pertinent inputs including the characteristics of the hydraulic fluid, the components, and the external environment.
  • Control Algorithms

    To simulate real-time forklift operations, control algorithms are coded into MATLAB. Lifting, lowering, and tilting motions fall under this category.

Simulation and Analysis

  • Dynamic Analysis

    The simulation model is run to analyse the hydraulic system's dynamic behaviour. This entails evaluating variables like as response time, force distribution, and energy usage during various activities.
  • Stability Analysis

    To guarantee safe and dependable forklift operation, stability is assessed under various load circumstances and control tactics.
  • Efficiency Assessment

    In order to find areas for improvement, the hydraulic system's energy efficiency and heat generation are quantitatively assessed.
  • Safety Considerations

    The simulation is intended to evaluate safety features, such as the relief valve's effectiveness in preventing an excessive buildup of pressure.

Optimization and Enhancement

The researcher can detect possible hydraulic system inefficiencies using the findings of the simulation. The system efficiency, energy losses, and overall performance are optimised by iterative changes to component sizes, fluid routes, and control algorithms.

Data Collection, Analysis and Interpretation

In order to accumulate the data for proper analysis a combination of simulation-generated data and secondary data from the various articles and journals are considered.

Data from Simulations: MATLAB simulations generate a plethora of information about the behaviour of the hydraulic forklift system. These factors include fluid flow rates, pressure profiles, cylinder motions, and control inputs. These values are recorded by the simulation model during various operational situations, producing a substantial dataset for study.

The data analysis involves several important steps such as

  1. The distribution of the data may be summarised using descriptive statistics like mean, median, standard deviation, and range. Understanding the key trends and variances within the Excel dataset is aided by these statistics.
  2. To verify the correctness of the simulation model, simulation data may be compared with secondary data. This stage makes sure that the simulation findings match actual data, which boosts the simulation's predictive power.
  3. Data trends and correlations can be represented graphically using graphs, charts, and plots. For example, time-series graphs for pressure or flow rate fluctuations offer an easy way to see how the system behaves over time.

Interpreting findings and making judgments are crucial aspects of analyzing data. This involves identifying areas where hydraulic systems meet requirements, pinpointing potential issues, validating simulation models, and comparing results. 

Design and Analysis

In this research the full design and analysis of a modern hydraulic forklift system with greater weight-carrying capacities while emphasising safety and control has been performed. The suggested system incorporates efficient flow control, pressure control, and directional control techniques in an effort to achieve better control. The design places a strong emphasis on the inclusion of the ideal number of valves and controlling mechanisms to ensure accurate and effective functioning.

Design of Enhanced Load-Carrying Capacity

In order to increase efficiency and effectiveness in industrial material handling, the project aims to build a hydraulic forklift system with an increased load-carrying capability. The system is made to lift higher weights with more steadiness and precision by utilising cutting-edge hydraulic components and creative design techniques.

Integration of Safety Measures

Safety is the first priority throughout the design process. The hydraulic forklift system is painstakingly designed to uphold strict safety requirements, assuring the safety of both users and the machinery. This entails the addition of safety measures such as pressure release valves, fail-safe systems, and improved load stability.

Incorporation of Control Mechanisms

The main innovation is the use of sophisticated control systems to direct the actions of the hydraulic forklift. In order to provide accurate and quick motions, the system includes flow control, pressure control, and directional control, all of which are carefully coordinated. The system architecture incorporates these control methods in a deliberate manner to guarantee smooth synchronisation of hydraulic fluid flow, pressure levels, and movement directions.

Efficient Flow Control

The design gives particular attention to improving fluid flow control. Flow control valves must be included in order to control how quickly hydraulic fluid is delivered to the actuators. The system achieves tighter control over lifting, lowering, and tilting movements by adjusting the flow rate, improving the precision and effectiveness of load management.

Precise Pressure Control

An essential component of the hydraulic forklift's operation is pressure control. Precision pressure control valves that are included in the system ensure constant pressure levels in the hydraulic circuit. This control makes sure that the forklift's prongs move smoothly and steadily, which improves the precision and security of handling loads.

Seamless Directional Control

The direction of the hydraulic forklift is controlled by directional control devices. The system's design incorporates directional control valves, which provide the operator with the most precise control over the forklift's movements. This results in better manoeuvrability, enabling operators to move goods precisely in limited locations.

Optimization of Controlling Devices and Valves

The hydraulic forklift system is built with a careful selection of regulating elements and valves to find a balance between operational complexity and effectiveness. The goal is to minimise extraneous components while achieving optimal control. This tactical decision guarantees efficient operation and makes maintenance easier without sacrificing performance.


The research focuses on the design and analysis of an advanced model that excels in load-carrying capabilities, safety, and control accuracy, and concludes by launching a thorough investigation of hydraulic forklift systems. The project's success is evidenced by the creation of a painstakingly built hydraulic forklift system that exhibits improved load-carrying capacities by using cutting-edge hydraulic components and design concepts. The system has protection features that safeguard the safety of both personnel and equipment with a strong emphasis on safety. The system delivers a degree of manoeuvrability, reactivity, and precision in load management that has never before been possible by seamlessly integrating flow control, pressure control, and directional control.


Gao, M., Li, L., Wang, Q. and Liu, C., 2020. Energy efficiency and dynamic analysis of a novel hydraulic system with double actuator. International Journal of Precision Engineering and Manufacturing-Green Technology, 7, pp.643-655.

Wang, F., Wu, J., Xu, B. and Sun, Z., 2023. A novel hydraulic load-sensing control solution to working functions of mobile machine. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part I: Journal of Systems and Control Engineering, p.09596518231154455.

Yang, J., Liu, B., Zhang, T., Hong, J. and Zhang, H., 2022. Application of energy conversion and integration technologies based on electro-hydraulic hybrid power systems: A review. Energy Conversion and Management, 272, p.116372.