May 7, 2018

Types of Forklifts: Classifications and Descriptions of Different Forklift Trucks

Types of Forklifts: There are many different types of forklifts out there.  Each one of these trucks has a different purpose and it is important to know which type of forklift you need based on the task at hand.  While a forklift truck may appear to be capable of handling a job there may be a better alternative that can speed up the work greatly.  The list of forklift types below has all the information you need on the different types of forklift trucks.

Types of Forklifts

This guide covers the different forklift trucks organized by OSHA standards.  OSHA has seven different classifications of forklift trucks of which this guide reviews.  This guide is ordered starting from type one and ending at type seven.

Counterbalance Truck

 

 

 

 

What is a three-wheel counterbalance truck?

A typical reach truck seen in a grocery store or small warehouse may be a counterbalance truck.  This is because they have a very good turn radius and are able to maneuver around tight spaces.

  1. Motor: Electric
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor
  3. Weight: 500 – 4,000 lbs
  4. Use: Narrow aisles to stack products
  5. License Required to Operate: Class II Forklift License (Class 1)

Electric Reach Truck

What are Electric Reach Trucks?

Reach trucks are forklift trucks that typically are used in narrow aisles to stack or move products.  They are typically electric but some reach trucks with double masts may have an internal combustion engine.  A double mast allows for a higher loading capacity on a forklift truck.  Reach Trucks are one of the most common types of forklift trucks and are often seen in warehouses and stores.

  1. Motor: Electric
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor
  3. Weight: 2,000-5,000 lbs
  4. Use: Narrow aisles to stack products
  5. License Required to Operate: Class II Forklift License (Class 2)

Electric Reach Trucks are basically more advanced versions of the electric pallet jack.  These reach trucks can lift more while also operating in narrow aisles.  These trucks have a counterweight attached to the back of them in order to operate heavier loads without the risk of tipping over.  Click to see a diagram of the parts of a typical forklift truck.

Pallet Jacks

 

 

 

 

What are Pallet Jacks?

Pallet Jacks are electric or manual lifts used to manually move loads.  They are simple to operate and typically a much cheaper alternative than a forklift truck.  There are two types one being manual and the other being motorized.  They are used indoors or outdoors but only on very smooth surfaces.  They are used for moving loads short distances.

  1. Motor: Electric or Manual
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor
  3. Weight: 500 – 2,000 Lbs
  4. Use: Typically used in Warehouses
  5. License Required to Operate: Class III Forklift License (Class 3)

Types of Pallet Jacks

Manual Pallet Jack – The manual Pallet jack is used to move objects short distances.  They require a lot more effort than a regular forklift as you have to manually ‘pump’ the jacks to lift the objects.  Typically not used for loads more than 2,500 lbs.

Electric Pallet Jack – Electric Pallet Jacks are just manual pallet jacks with an electric motor.  They are much easier to use as everything is motorized.  They are able to carry loads further distances and are often more stable than typical pallet jacks.  The only downside is that these need to be charged and require more maintenance than manual jacks.

Internal Combustion Forklifts (Solid/Cushion Tires)

 

 

 

 

What is an Internal Combustion Forklift (Solid/Cushion Tires)?

An internal combustion forklift is a forklift that uses an internal combustion engine.  Because of the solid/cushion tires they are used indoors or on smooth surfaces.  These types of forklifts may have a wide range of lift capacities and may move a wide variety of objects.

  1. Motor: Internal Combustion (Gasoline, Diesel, or Propane)
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor
  3. Weight: 5,000-10,000 lbs
  4. Use: Raise and Lower a large variety of objects
  5. License Required to Operate: Class IV Forklift License (Class 4)

Internal Combustion Forklifts with solid/pneumatic tires are the most standard form of a forklift truck.  Many companies use these in their day to day operations.

Internal Combustion Forklifts (Pneumatic Tires)


What is an Internal Combustion Forklift?

Internal combustion forklifts with Pneumatic tires are used for outdoor use.  These tires are a bit harder to maintain than cushion/solid tires as they require air and need to be replaced more often.  These forklift trucks may be used for small to medium construction sites outdoors and for moving objects of regular weights.

  1. Motor: Internal Combustion (Gasoline, Diesel, or Propane)
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor
  3. Weight: 5,000-10,000 lbs
  4. Use: Move objects as long as space is provided
  5. License Required to Operate: Class V Forklift License (Class 5)

Forklift Tractors

What is a Forklift Tractor?

The final type of forklift truck is the forklift tractor.  These are typically seen at airports and used to pull luggage from one location to another.  Unlike the typical forklift, these trucks work via pulling and pushing rather than lifting and lowering.

  1. Motor: Internal Combustion (Gasoline, Diesel, or Propane) or Electric
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor/Indoor
  3. Weight: 2,000 – 5,000 Lbs
  4. Use: Push or Pull objects from one location to another
  5. License Required to Operate: Class VI Forklift License (Class 6)

All Terrain Forklifts

 

 

 

What is an all-terrain Forklift?

All-terrain Forklifts are a type of forklift truck typically used outdoors.  They are generally much bigger than the standard forklift truck and are able to lift much heavier loads.  In order to operate an all-terrain forklift, you need a class VII forklift license.  There are two main types of all-terrain forklifts.  The first is the Vertical mast truck.  The vertical mast truck operates like a regular forklift but with much higher capacity.  The second type is the variable reach truck.  This truck can pick up heavy loads at great distances.

  1. Motor: Internal Combustion Engine (Diesel, Gasoline, or Propane)
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor
  3. Weight: 10,000 – 20,000 lbs
  4. Use: Heavy duty outdoor use typically at construction sites
  5. License Required to Operate: Class VII Forklift License (Class 7)

Main Types of Rough Terrain Forklifts

Vertical Mast Truck

The rough terrain vertical mast truck is basically a larger forklift with a larger mast.  It operates the same as a typical forklift but has a much larger loading capacity.

Variable Reach Truck

The variable reach truck can lift objects at great distances.  This is perfect for picking up telephone poles or placing objects in ditches that a typical forklift can’t reach.

Trailer Mounted Truck

A trailer mounted truck is very useful for loading and unloading objects on or off a truck.  These are typically used to move objects such as trees, pipes, and other heavy objects that are hard to move.

Sideloaders


What is a Sideloader Forklift?

Sideloaders are a type of forklift truck that pick up and carry loads on the side of the truck.  They are great for long heavy loads as they offer much more stability than a typical forklift truck.  Not only this but they are able to operate in narrow aisles while picking up long loads.  One downside to sideloaders is their large turn radius.  They can not make sharp turns like a counterbalance truck can.

  1. Motor: Internal Combustion Engine (Diesel, Gasoline, or Propane)
  2. Indoor/Outdoor: Both
  3. Weight: 10,000-15,000 lbs
  4. Use: Move Long, heavy loads
  5. License Required to Operate: Class VII Forklift License (Class 7)

Pros
1) Operating in Narrow Aisles
2) Clear view even when loads are

Cons
1) Large Turn Radius

Conclusion

There are 7 main types of forklifts which are categorized by forklift classification.  OSHA requires each forklift operator to have a license based on the forklift classification.  Each of these trucks has different uses so it is important to know what type of forklift you will be operating prior to getting licensed.  Check out our free forklift licensing guide!  We hope you enjoyed our guide on the different types of forklifts.

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