Understanding The Different Types Of Forklift Trucks And Their Applications

Forklifts and lift trucks have been around for more than 100 years now, and it is commonly used in warehouses, manufacturing, and other industrial operations. And if you look closely, you can see that there are many different forklift truck varieties each serving a unique purpose.

Knowing the classifications of these machines is essential to meet your needs and ensure productivity and efficiency at the job site. And if you’re looking for more information on this topic, you’ve come to the right place.

Read more as we’ll explain the different types of forklift trucks that are commonly used and their various applications in today’s article.


Forklift Measurements

small forklift

The standard size for forklift trucks usually ranges between 8 ft.-10 ft. long by 4 ft.-7 ft. wide while rough terrain forklifts used in outdoor workplaces can go as much as 10 ft. in length. On the other hand, the size of narrow-aisle lift trucks like side loaders and walkie stackers is less than 5 feet.

However, if you’re planning to use the machine inside a warehouse, you have to consider the aisle width that is no less than 13 feet wide as standard counterbalance forklifts need this space to effectively turn, move pallets, and navigate.

Another thing to check is the height of the lift truck you’re going to buy. To be specific, the vehicle should be able to reach a height of 10 ft.-15 ft., but can go higher up to 55 ft. for telehandler forklifts.

Forklift Elements To Consider

While size is important when choosing a forklift, you also have to look into these elements:

Lift Capacity – This is the weight that the lift truck can carry safely. This element is also vital for maintaining the vehicle’s stability.

Load Center – This pertains to the distance of the fork from the forklift’s center of gravity. The amount may vary according to the lift angle, load weight, and tilt angle.

Stability – This is the capacity of the forklift to maintain the center of gravity to prevent the vehicle from tilting over.

Forklift Types And Classifications

There are 7 types of forklifts, and the operator has to be certified before operating any of these trucks. The lift trucks are classified according to their applications as well as their respective features and the types of fuel used.

If you’re about to purchase, rent, or lease one, it’s important that you read this information first so you’ll be able to get the right truck according to its intended use in your factory or warehouse:

Electric Motor Rider Forklifts

These types of lift trucks run on electric motors and industrial batteries. And these machines are suitable for work areas where fuel fumes are a concern and maintaining air quality is a top priority. Most Class 1 forklifts are typically used indoors as they are made with cushion tires which are ideal for smooth floors. Although, pneumatic tires can also be outfitted for dry and outdoor applications.

Class 1 lift trucks come in various models from the sit-down units to the stand-up riders, each having a capacity of 8,000 pounds (lbs.) or more. And because they are powered by electric batteries, they drive quieter with no emissions than those forklift models with an internal combustion system.

Electric motor rider forklifts are recommended for indoor warehouse applications like handling pallets and unloading tractor-trailers.

Electric Motor Narrow-Aisle Forklift Trucks

Class 2 Narrow-aisle lift trucks, as the name suggests, are suitable for narrow aisle applications, and are recommended for industries that maximize storage space by using narrow-aisle handling equipment such as order pickers and reach trucks to move inventory around and handle pallets. Electric motor narrow-aisle forklift trucks are powered by electric motors and only need a small space to operate.

Also, these machines have unique features to boost efficiency and speed while minimizing the space occupied at the same time.

Electric Motor Hand Forklift Trucks Or Hand-Rider Forklift Trucks

These Class 3 forklifts and pallet jacks are hand-controlled machines or a type of lift truck where the operator needs to be in front to operate the machine through a steering tiller. A hand-rider forklift truck is designed to carry loads a few inches above the ground and they come in rider and walk-behind models.

Class 3 forklifts can unload delivery trucks quickly and are recommended for small warehouses. The weight capacity of the machine is between 2,000 lbs. to 8,000 lbs.

Internal Combustion Engine Forklift Trucks – Cushion Tires

Class 4 ICE forklifts come with cushion tires for indoor applications on smooth and dry floors for moving palletized loads from the loading dock to the storage area and vice versa, and they have a capacity of 3,000 lbs. to 15,000 lbs.

Cushion-tired lift trucks are lowered compared to forklifts with pneumatic tires. And because of this, they’re ideal for low-clearance applications.

Internal Combustion Engine Forklift Trucks – Pneumatic Tires

A Class 5 forklift is the one that you usually seen inside warehouses. They are similar to lift trucks with cushion tires, but designed with pneumatic tires so they can be used outdoors.

Forklift trucks with pneumatic tires are powered with gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquified petroleum gas (LPG), or diesel fuel. And their lifting capacity is between 3,000 lbs. to 55,000 lbs. which are ideal for loading/unloading large crates and containers.

Electric And ICE Tractors

Class 6 forklifts, also known as tuggers or tow tractors, are versatile vehicles used in different applications. Their weight capacities are between 3,000 lbs. to 6,000 lbs. and can be batteries for indoor use and an internal combustion engine for outdoor use.

One thing to remember though, Class 6 forklifts are used for towing loads rather than lifting them.

Rough Terrain Forklifts

Class 7 types of forklifts are typically seen in construction sites and lumberyards. These vehicles have massive tires and are outfitted with a telescopic mast. And for that reason, a special certification is required to operate this type of forklift.

Rough terrain forklifts can lift between 6,000 lbs. to 12,000 lbs. (even more). And their engines are powered with diesel fuel because these machines are used for lifting and transporting building materials and lumber.

Watts Equipment in California can help you if you need to rent a forklift or buy forklift equipment. Check out their website today.

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