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What Types Of Forklifts Are Used In Warehouses

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  • 30-11-2021
What Types Of Forklifts Are Used In Warehouses

What types of forklift are used in warehouses? Forklift trucks offer a range of important benefits for warehouses. Find out more.

What Type of Forklift is Best for Your Warehouse?

Whether you're an experienced forklift operator and tradesperson or new to the game, this is a good time to invest in a forklift for your business. 

The many different types of forklifts is a daunting thing to look at, and as more and more attachments, modifications, and forklift classes are being created every day, it can become more challenging.

You need to make sure that you have the best model for your requirements, as some forklifts are designed to navigate narrow areas and cannot carry as much weight, for example. If the wrong model is chosen, you will find your business running no smoother than before, and you would have invested in a vehicle you have no use for. 

Certain models have been designed for indoor warehouses and stores, whereas others excel at outdoor applications and work. 

Keep reading this article as we go over the best forklift types available to you, and hopefully, you can make that important decision today. 

What Types Of Forklift Are Used In Warehouses?

Types of Forklifts for Indoor and Outdoor Work

Summarising every type of forklift truck would take a long time, and many modifications can be attached for specific use. 

For example, did you know that you can use a forklift to wash, sweep or mop large areas of floor? With a simple attachment, your forklift can help with cleaning the floor of your warehouse.

However, here are the most common types of forklift trucks for indoor and outdoor work:

This is the type of forklift you will be most familiar with and have seen the most. With large dual forks at the vehicle front, this forklift works by loading and carrying large amounts of goods throughout warehouses.

Some are designed to lift the products directly to the shelves, while others will only transport the goods from one place to another at the same height. Depending on your needs, you can get different sized models. 

Most warehouse forklifts are a variation of a counterbalance and are designed for such locations. A counterbalance at the back of the vehicle will counter the heavier loads lifted by the hydraulic pistons and forks. It's essential to understand the carrying capacity, as some forklifts can only lift up to 5,000 lbs.

If this were exceeded, the counterbalance wouldn't work, and the machine would topple over, harming the driver or the vehicle itself. You have the option of getting an electric forklift instead of a diesel or petrol-powered engine, but this typically comes at the cost of efficiency and a smaller counterweight.

As with any of these models, having a calibrated counterbalance is of the utmost importance.

Rough terrain forklifts will be commonly used on exterior construction sites. This is because they have increased stability on uneven ground due to their thicker tired treads.

They can navigate uneven and rough ground while carrying heavy loads. Larger models with oversized, pneumatic tires can carry a lot more than a simple forklift as they also come with much larger and more powerful engines. This means that no amount of snow, ice or rough terrain will stop these forklifts, granted the hydraulic jack is still working.

Another common forklift to see in warehouse use, a Side loader, works similarly to the traditional model but features forks on the side of the truck instead of the front. While outdoor models will feature an enclosed cab for the operator, Side loaders used indoors will allow the user to stand instead.

Warehouses with narrow aisles will benefit from such models, as they are great at carrying loads without the need to turn when going down an aisle. This does mean that Side loaders have less manoeuvrability than other models, but they excel at carrying metal, pipes and timber throughout warehouses.

Multi-way trucks are also a variation of Side loaders, and they can come installed with a mechanism that allows 90 degree turns within the wheels, meaning that swift turnarounds can be done even in tight spaces. 

Although more commonly compared to cranes, telescopic handlers are still a variation of forklift. Shortened to telehandler, this forklift features a long extendable arm and telescopic boom, meaning that it can carry weights to much greater heights than any other forklift.

Due to this, many construction sites will favour them, and you'll most commonly see them there. On larger models, attachments can be added, allowing buckets, lift tables, or pallet forks to be used, meaning more specific materials can be transported. Despite their overall cost being a lot higher, their reach of 40 to 50 feet appeals to many businesses.

These are also used in warehouses but on much smaller scales. Commonly called hand pallet trucks, these are used by a single operator and can transfer pallets with the front two forks. 

Of course, this means that the amount of weight that can be carried with this model is significantly less than any other type of forklift, and it cannot achieve high lifting much more than ground level, so it cannot stack shelves. The forks simply slide beneath the pallet and transfer where needed.

They can prove much cheaper to hire or buy, though. Small-scale storage facilities could benefit from these but not for transporting heavy loads. 

Remaining similar to the hand pallet trucks, these work with the operator walking behind the truck and steering, not operating it from within or on top.

The electric motor within makes them easy to run, and they can actually reach greater heights than a pallet truck in some cases while still being small and affordable. You will see these types of forklifts in homeware and building supply stores, as the ground is typically flat and even, meaning it can move around efficiently.

The operator can move the vehicle and the forks as needed with a paddle control, which can be easy to understand. If you're looking for any form of high rise pallet racking, then these are the models for you. 

Technically this is a sub-category of pallet trucks but can reach much higher. The driver can also be lifted with it, giving them increased visibility of the task.

However, the downside is that a cherry picker forklift isn't designed to carry large loads, instead safely transporting one or two units. This is why it's preferred in customer order warehouses, where only one order will be moved at a time.

If you're looking for something that falls between your traditional warehouse forklift and a telehandler, then an industrial forklift is ideal for you.

The telehandler does have much more manoeuvrability in comparison, but an industrial forklift can lift goods much higher than a traditional warehouse one. 

Working in the same way as a normal counterbalance forklift, these are equipped with three wheels instead of four. This is the main difference but can prove better than the standard four wheels.

Operators will notice an increase in control over the vehicle and an ability to access narrow aisles. The counterbalance is just as efficient, and the weight-bearing load isn't lost due to one less wheel and can even be used outside. 

Many forklifts are named after what they excel at, and a reach forklift is exactly the same. These types of forklifts were designed to provide an extended lift and can reach higher than a traditional warehouse model, sometimes upwards of 10 meters. 

Working without a counterweight, they can balance the load with their front stabilising legs and many work on an electrically powered battery instead of diesel or petrol. For this reason, reach forklifts aren't advisable to use outside, as the electrical system could easily break down after being exposed to rough terrain.

The motors also aren't strong enough to carry weights and navigate severely uneven surfaces. However, variations have been made to reach trucks, and you can get a Double-Deep Truck, which is made with longer forks. This allows more pallets to be transferred at once. 

How to Choose the Right Type of Forklift

How to Choose the Right Type of Forklift

Ensuring that you understand your needs for your particular business will make the search process for a forklift much more efficient. What materials you move, how often you move them, the layout of your warehouse and how a vehicle could successfully move around that space are all factors you should begin considering.

The type of tire you believe would benefit you is something that many don't consider before buying a forklift. If you are working predominantly outside, on rockier, uneven ground, then a pneumatic tire or solid tire is a better fit. Pneumatic tires are designed for serious heavy lifting and work in the same way that car tires do.

Solid tires are durable and heavy duty, so they won't pop as often. Due to this, they are advisable for construction sites, recycling plants and centres and other areas where sharp objects could be left lying around.

Cushion Tires are the third most common wheel option for forklifts, as they provide a lift that rides lower to the ground and is used in situations where goods need moving, not raising. Cushion tires will be used indoors more than they will be used outdoors, though.

You can buy or rent a forklift depending on the regularity you imagine it being used. Some plans will work out more cost-effectively for the company, but if a forklift would improve daily productivity, you should consider buying. Many warehouses and storage facilities see the benefits of hiring a forklift and how it can positively impact their workforce and productivity. 




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.