Types of Forklifts

There are a variety of forklift types that all have various capabilities. Let’s take a look at some especially common ones:

Options for Forklifts

1. Hand Pallet Jack (Lift Truck)

A hand pallet jack uses a hydraulic jack to raise and move pallets. The wheels are located under each fork.

The fork separates from the front wheels and lifts the pallet to create enough clearance to transport the pallet about the workplace.

2. Electric Pallet Jack (Lift Truck)

An electric pallet jack is motorized with a battery-powered electric engine. They are designed for faster handling and movement of pallets. Key differences between pallet jacks are driver standing position and fork length.

3. Manual Stacker

Manual stackers are operated by hand and are designed for pallet handling and lifting. They require manual action to lift loads up to five feet. These low-reach forklifts are suitable for double floor stacking and low-level racking and shelving operations. However, manual stackers are slow to operate and are only recommend for very low volumes such as one to five pallets per day.

4. Walk behind Electric Pallet Stacker

Electric “walkie” stackers come in a variety of different models and types. They are basically a pallet truck with a mast, and they use the battery and engine compartments to counter-weight the load. These forklifts can come with lifting heights of up to 20 feet.

5. Order Picker

Order picker forklifts are specially designed devices that are used to optimize the speed and ease of picking stock from both sides of a warehouse aisle.

6. Counter-Balance Internal Combustion Forklift

A counter-balance internal combustion forklift uses an internal combustion (IC) engine to power the lifting mechanism. The counter balance forklift comes with a balance weight, usually a cast iron bulk, at the rear. The balance of the forklift is achieved by this weight while the forklift is working or lifting. These types of forklifts are designed to run on a variety of fuel types, the most common being liquid propane and diesel.

Counter-Balance Internal Combustion Forklift

7. Counter-Balance Electric 3-Wheeled

A 3-Wheel electric drive configuration consists of a dual steer wheel(s) mounted centrally beneath the counterweight. One of the key advantages of a 3-Wheel Electric is that they offer a smaller turning radius than the traditional 4-Wheel electric forklifts.

8. Counter-Balance Electric 4-Wheeled

A 4-Wheel configuration consists of a single steer wheel on each rear corner controlled by a dual acting hydraulic ram. They offer more stability when turning and are better suited for rougher yard and warehousing floor applications due to the articulated rear steer axle. With capacities ranging from 3,500-18,000 pounds, the 4-Wheel Electric Counter-Balance can be used for specialized heavy lifting applications such as machinery and tool installation. They can also be used for retail outlets, hardware stores and other light-duty work.

9. Reach Truck

Reach trucks are designed to work in narrow aisle warehousing spaces. They have two outer legs that distribute the load weight with a wheel configuration of two or one wheels per leg. The drive wheel is located under is the same length as a normal counter-balance forklift, however, the body is more compact. When lifting a load, a reach truck moves the load back within the wheelbase, meaning less of the load is protruding from the reach truck. This allows the reach truck to work in much narrower aisles.

10. Turret Truck (VNA)

A turret truck is specifically designed to do one task, and that’s to operate in very narrow aisles. The turret truck is often abbreviated to VNA which stands for Very Narrow Aisle truck. Turret Trucks are battery operated machines that use both the electric engine, battery and operator compartment to counterweigh heavy loads.

11. Articulated Forklift

An articulated forklift has a fork carriage which pivots on a joint and can swing back and forth. An example of an articulated forklift is the aisle master, as it can be used in very narrow warehouse applications that also require the loading and unloading of trailers

12. Rough Terrain Forklift

A rough terrain forklift is a wheeled type forklift with a vertical mast and/or a pivoted boom. The machine has a variable reach or fixed length which may be equipped with attachments. This type of forklift is best suited to natural environments.

Forklift Rough Terrain

13. Side Loader Forklifts

Side Loader forklifts have been popular in the past as they were the first forklift designed specifically for long load handling. These machines allow the operator to handle loads sideways, allowing for narrower aisles and greater storage space. Side Loaders also have holding platforms around the forks to stabilize loads and to ensure safer long load handling. Side Loader popularity has been declining due to the more advanced multi-directional forklift that has taken its place as the king of long load handling.

14. Multi-Directional Forklifts

Multi-Directional Forklifts are able to drive in all directions, allow for improved storage space and also prove significant increases in handling times. The operator is able to manoeuvre long loads with greater precision and accuracy.