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Forklift Truck Repair, Maintenance and Servicing Specialists

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What Are Forklift Trucks Used For

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  • 29-11-2021
What Are Forklift Trucks Used For

Forklift trucks are essential tools for many businesses and industry. Find out more about what are forklift trucks used for? 

What Are Forklifts Used For?

Despite being around since the beginning of the 20th century, forklifts have many uses. They have adapted and changed over time as our business needs have evolved, and there are now models and attachments for almost any use.

Of course, the main use for a forklift is the heavy lifting of bulk items. Being an engine-powered, pedestrian operated unit, commercial and industrial companies can benefit from a forklift. Named after their fork-like tongs at the vehicle front, forklifts are very versatile, and the front attachment can, and regularly is, changed. These attachments can be bought if you need a forklift to become a snowplough or to brush and mop larger areas. Certain models excel at navigating narrow aisles and reaching higher shelves, whereas some can be handheld and move much smaller loads.

Due to many forklifts with various models, they are typically broken down into classes.

  • Class I: Electric Motor Rider Trucks
  • Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
  • Class III: Electric Motor Hand Trucks or Hand Trucks  
  • Class IV: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks w/ Cushion Tires
  • Class V: Internal Combustion Engine Trucks w/ Pneumatic Tires
  • Class VI: Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
  • Class VII: Rough Terrain Forklifts

When it comes to pedestrian operated forklifts, a level of training or qualification is typically required, and this can be done through OSHA approved safety training. Most drivers will begin with a Class I type, especially in warehouse operations. 

What Are Forklift Trucks Used For?

What Forklift Is Right For My Business?

Besides separating forklifts by Class, model and year, it's important to understand what each Class is designed for. Most businesses will require the heavy lifting or transportation of objects and goods, and this is where a forklift will help.

Here is a list of some types of forklifts that could benefit your business:

When moving and lifting heavy goods and products, almost any business or warehouse will have a counterbalance forklift. The dual forks on the vehicle front are recognisable and are ideal for moving loads.

Counterbalance forklifts are typically designed for inside use, so they will commonly be seen in loading bays, docks, and warehouses. 

Similar to a normal counterbalance forklift, this particular type has three wheels instead of four.

This allows those operating it to have greater manoeuvrability and is therefore adopted more by warehouses with narrow aisles that require precision when stacking shelves. 

Unlike forklifts designed for height lift, a pallet truck is designed for moving pallets from one place to another at the same height.

They still use forks and a hydraulic jack to lift heavy objects but are not designed for transporting the products directly to the shelf. 

Remaining pedestrian operated, a reach truck is designed more specifically for the loading and lifting of pallets. The most common example of a reach truck is a Stand-Up Forklift, which, as the name implies, is operated by a worker standing up instead of sitting down.

While forklifts can often change how they are operated, ranging from handheld to sitting down, models that require standing are very common. Stand-Up forklifts, or reach trucks as a whole, are ideal for saving space while increasing efficiency and can be excellent at manoeuvrability. 

Thankfully many forklifts are named after what they are good at, and a Side loader is no different. Designed specifically for transporting goods and lifting objects in narrow aisles, the forks are located on the side of the truck instead of the traditional front.

This improves visibility for the driver, as the forks aren't blocking their view, and the forklift is especially good at lifting timber and pipework. Side loaders can be used outdoors or indoors, with the outdoor model typically providing an enclosed cab. 

This is where the traditional forklift begins to blend and become specialised for a unique purpose. Telescopic Handlers are designed for height and are typically confused for cranes a lot of the time. Most construction sites would refer to them as a crane and not a forklift at all.

Their attachment of a telescopic boom allows for the transportation of materials to cover much larger distances, meaning that they are heavily favoured for construction sites or other sites that require high lifting.

Where regular forklifts would get stuck or completely fail, there was a need for a model that could navigate uneven ground.

A rough terrain forklift achieves exactly that due to its tires with thicker tread and more powerful engine. These motors can navigate most outdoor construction sites, even while carrying over 2 tonnes. 

How a Forklift Works

Almost all forklift trucks work in the same way, even those that are smaller and designed to be stood in for short periods. 

The main components of a forklift consist of:


When lifting any weight, it's important to have some form of counter to that; otherwise, the unit can topple, harming the driver or damaging the products or vehicle. This is what the counterweight is for and is generally designed of iron and attached to the vehicle rear (or opposite side to the forks). 

Power Source

Most forklifts will run off a diesel or petrol engine and must be maintained the same way any other petrol vehicle is. Some models are battery-powered or plugged in, but those are obviously not ideal for outside or larger jobs. 

Truck Weight

This is what holds all the elements together and acts as the foundation for the wheels, mast, and forks. Without this, the forklift would fall apart.


This acts as the base of the entire forklift and allows the unit to move up and down when transporting goods or products.


The final part of any forklift is the mast, which is vital in lifting and lowering any heavy loads. 

How Forklift Lifting Works?

There are two main inner workings of any forklift that allow lifting to be achieved. 

Hydraulic Cylinders

Located at the base of the forklift, the hydraulic cylinders are one of the most important features needed when lifting. These are connected to an air pump, which is typically electrically powered and then activated by the driver. Air is drawn into the filter and pushed down the tube, meeting the hydraulic cylinders, with a lubricated piston at one end. With this air now trapped, pressure begins to build within the tube and area of the piston, thus creating an upward force. All of the force generated by this process creates a physical equilibrium to the forklift's total height, meaning that different models can achieve different loading strengths.


Roller Chain Pulley

Without roller chain pulleys attached to the forklift, the forks would not move, and therefore, no lifting is achieved. These are connected to the main forklift body and the forks at the vehicle front. Working alongside the hydraulic pistons, the roller chains and gears begin to pull the forks as the mast is being pushed forward and upward. The gears must move clockwise for the mast to move upward; otherwise, nothing will happen. 

Where are Forklifts Used?

In their time spent helping tradespeople, forklifts have been used on many different sites. Industrial and commercial businesses rely on them for easing the work for their human force. Some of the most common locations where forklifts will be used are: 


It's not uncommon to see forklifts on dockyards, assisting with the unloading and loading of boats and barges. This started in the 20th century when ammunition and other cargo had to be loaded quickly to be sent to troops. In the modern world, we can use forklifts to transport goods to and from trucks at docks and move larger pieces of cargo.


When it comes to loading and unloading trucks, stocking shelves and navigating the lengthy and narrow aisles of a warehouse, forklifts are ideal. As mentioned above, depending on the scale of the warehouse, specific models can be used to stock and transport in tighter areas. 

Recycling Facilities

Forklifts can even be used at recycling facilities and significantly speed up the process of transporting various waste. Transporting from recycling trucks to sorting bays, unloading trailers or trucks are all things that a forklift can do at a recycling plant. 

Construction Sites

Finally, and most commonly, forklifts are used in construction. Moving across rough terrain, carrying bricks, concrete, metal, plastic, and any other building material would be unachievable without the help of a forklift.

Do you use forklift trucks in your industry? If you require forklift truck servicing and maintenance in Stowmarket and Suffolk contact us today. Follow the link below to find out more.