Fork Wear Gauge inventor Matthew Kennedy – Q&A


Fork Wear Gauge inventor Matthew Kennedy, after more than 25 years in the materials handling sector, had a simple but brilliant idea for a fork wear tool that would make measuring fork heels for wear quicker and easier than ever before.  

Why is it important to measure forks for wear? 

Forks are a safety critical component and so detailed measurements to identify wear and damage are required by law as part of a Thorough Examination (the forklift equivalent of an MOT for cars) under two pieces of Health and Safety legislation – LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998).  

If forks are worn beyond 10%, the capacity of the truck reduces by 20%, and there is a risk of them snapping or bending and losing their load, which could lead to serious injury or even death. At 10% wear, the Competent Person carrying out the Thorough Examination has a legal duty to inform HSE (the Health & Safety Executive) or the local enforcement office. 

How have forks been measured historically? 

During my time as a forklift truck engineer accredited under the CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services) scheme, I have carried out thousands of Thorough Examinations using a Vernier caliper. It’s a time-consuming method that involves many measurements and calculations to arrive at a wear percentage. There are wear gauges that exist already, but these are ‘worn or not worn’ gauges, so cannot tell you how close you are to the limit. 

How did you come up with the idea for the Fork Wear Gauge? 

Strangely, the idea came to me in a dream. My father-in-law also works with forklift trucks, and I dreamt that in the cabinet in his workshop was a ‘how much worn’ gauge for fork wear. I spoke to him and others in the industry, but nobody knew of such a gauge. I wondered why somebody had not created one before because if I were carrying out Thorough Examinations, I would absolutely want this tool in my kit. 

How did you develop it together with FB Chain? 

I made a few mock-ups and contacted FB Chain as I was familiar with the FB Professional Chain Wear Gauge, which works on a similar principle to give a percentage wear for mast chains on forklift trucks. FB Chain already had the manufacturing and distribution know-how – and if Competent Persons routinely use the FB Professional Chain Wear Gauge in Thorough Examinations, why wouldn’t they use an FB Professional Fork Wear Gauge too? We discussed various designs but ultimately, we agreed on the initial simple idea I had in my dream.  

What difference will the FB Professional Fork Wear Gauge make to the industry? 

In my current role as a technical manager for CFTS, I spend most of my time visiting our members, carrying out planned audits of their workshops and assisting them with any technical queries. So I have the privilege of meeting lots of forklift engineers and I know that many of them will appreciate being able to simply read off a figure to write down during their inspections. The FB Professional Fork Wear Gauge will make their job quicker and easier.