Forklifts have been used since the early 20th century to optimise workflows. A forklift is basically a small truck that lifts and moves loads using a fork. Forklifts are indispensable in modern industry. As a result, forklift suppliers go the extra mile. A forklift supplier will be able to provide good information and competitive prices. You can purchase or rent a forklift. Your supplier should offer repairs and maintenance packages. Your relationship with your forklift provider should extend beyond purchase.
In the industry, we take for granted that there are many different types of forklift. Forklift types vary depending on the mechanism they are designed to use. This article explains the types of forklift, and how each is used. In this article we cover ten different types of forklift. We start with the counterbalance forklift, and cover the top ten forklift types. We include tow trucks, pallet trucks, and rough terrain forklifts, and their uses.
The counterbalance forklift is the most common type of forklift. The forks protrude from the front of the machine, at floor level. The forklift is narrow so it can manoeuvre right up to the load. It requires no reach facility. They are relatively simple to use. Counterbalance forklifts can run on petrol, diesel or electricity.
Counterbalance forklifts are named for their design. The weight sits at the rear of the forklift, offsetting a load. Electric counterbalance forklifts have a battery. The battery serves as a ballast as well as power. Electric machines can operate with a smaller counterweight. Many different types of forklift use counterbalance forklift technology.
Reach Truck Forklift
Reach truck forklifts are commonly seen in warehouses. They are easy to manoeuvre and incorporate a square-shaped cabin. Reach truck forklifts offer maximum lift height. The dimensions of the square cabin make it easy to get in small spaces. The maximum height can reach over 10 metres. It can also reach out beyond the stabilising legs. There is no need for a counterbalance weight, because of the battery and legs.
Reach trucks are mainly suited to indoor work. They are often fitted with cameras on the fork carriage. The camera transmits the view to the cabin so the operator can navigate. They also have very low clearance under the carriage. This means they are unable to clear bumps or uneven surfaces.
Telescopic forks are attachments that sit on most other forklift trucks. They are often called “Kooi®” forks, after the popular brand of attachments. Telescopic forks can be extended through in-cab hydraulics. It can save a lot of time if the operator needs to regularly fit and remove extensions.
Telescopic forks are mainly seen in agriculture and industry. Telescopic forklifts function like a crane. The telescopic boon extends both upwards and forwards. On the end an operator can use a bucket, forks, grab, or winch.
Order Picker Forklift
Order picker forklifts are designed to pick warehouse orders. Order picking trucks are also known as order pickers. They are similar to a reach forklift truck. The operator rides in a cage on the fork. They wear a harness to minimise the risk of a fall. The operator is lifted and transfers items onto the pallet. The pallet sits on a special toothed grab on the fork.
There are other types of order picker forklifts. Some can get into very narrow aisles and are counterbalanced. The order picker is an efficient way to pick shipments, especially those less than a pallet load. The order picker forklift is common in large distribution centres.
Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Forklift Trucks
In a packed and busy warehouse, companies like to increase room for their stock. The very narrow aisle (VNA) forklift truck takes less room. It can get in very tight spaces so the company can increase warehouse density. Companies buy them to increase storage capacity in their warehouse.
The VNA forklift has many functions. It can lift and drive at the same time. It can perform pallet handling and high-level order picking. The driver stays in the cabin, which can be air conditioned. They can be used with wire or rail guides, and can lift over 14 metres.
Tow Tractor Forklift
A tow tractor is also a type of forklift. You will see this type of forklift when you are at the airport. Tow tractor forklifts are commonly used to carry cargo. They are also used in factories. Tow tractors can tow very heavy loads. They can pull multiple carriages at a time, to form a train. They are very similar to other forklifts but without front forks.
Tow tractors are either electric or have a combustion engine. Electric engines are smaller and more efficient. However, they are less powerful. Combustion engines are mainly used outside. They give off exhaust fumes. They are so strong they tow aircraft back before departure.
Pallet Forklift Truck
Pallet trucks are used to lift or move pallets. A pallet truck is the most simple of all types of forklifts. They are used to move loads in a warehouse. It doesn’t have a cabin, but has a lever that acts both for steering and as a pump. This is attached to forks which can lift up and down. On the inside of the forks are wheels for movement. The operator walks behind the pallet jack and steers it.
A pallet truck is also known as a pallet jack or a manual pallet jack. Pallet trucks are small. They can be used inside trailers. In retail and small warehouses, they use a manual pallet jack. There are many different types of hand pallet jacks. They are functional and robust. They are powered by hydraulics so they are reliable. They are also customisable, so they are suitable for many applications. They can be used for order picking, loading, unloading and stacking.
Electric Pallet Trucks
Electric pallet trucks look very similar to pallet forklift trucks. They are designed the same way but they are electric. Electric pallet trucks are also known as powered pallet jacks. A powered pallet jack is heavier and more powerful than a manual pallet jack. They may even have a platform for the operator to stand. The operator stands and drives using steering on the handle. This is easier than a manual pallet truck, which is also called a ‘walkie’.
A powered pallet jack is moved by a throttle on the handle. You can move it forward or backward and swing the handle to steer. Some also have a ‘dead man’s switch’ which applies emergency brakes. A powered pallet jack is designed to lift heavy loads and pallets. Powered pallet jacks are the simplest powered forklift. They are also the most cost-effective. Consider a powered pallet jack for loading heavy pallet loads.
Rough Terrain Forklift
Made for rough terrain, including the type found on farms. They are found on construction sites. They are often used in military operations. Mining, heavy farming, agricultural, and construction industries all use this type. You can identify them by their unevenly sized front and back tyres. Some models are four-wheel drive, but not all of them. Rough terrain forklifts are also known as ‘all-terrain’ forklifts. They are reliable for moving loads outdoors.
Most rough terrain forklifts are powered by diesel engine. They have heavy lift capacity and varying dimensions.
Container Handling Forklift
These types of forklift are dedicated to handling containers. They are very different to counterbalance forklifts. They are huge machines that can, when loaded, weigh over a hundred tonnes. They are mainly used to move containers to and from trucks and trailers. Container handling forklifts can lift heavy and large loads from the top. The forks on this lift do not always lift from the bottom. Like most forklifts, you require a licence to operate a container handling forklift.
You may have seen a reach stacker near docks and ports. A reach stacker is a common type of container handling forklift. It is used in ports and terminals. It can take a large container and move it a short distance. It then stacks it on top of another container to pile them up. You can see this in dockyards with shipping containers.
Summary of the Different Forklift Types
Forklifts are indispensable in modern industry. They have become so versatile that their applications are varied. They can be large or small, powered or manual, and can lift heavy or light loads. Different types of forklifts are used in many different industries. Rough terrain forklifts are even used in military operations. The purchase of a forklift leads to efficiencies in time and capacity. Choose a forklift supplier that offers end-to-end service.
Singapore Forklift Experts
Purchasing a forklift is a decision that will provide innumerable benefits. Consider the work a forklift could optimise in your factory or warehouse. Discuss your workflow with Forklift Singapore, one of Singapore’s largest suppliers. We offer rental services and competitive purchase prices. Contact us to find out more about our lowest forklift rental rates now!