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By Sher Ali on April 27, 2022

Types of Forklift: The Ultimate Guide

What are Forklifts?

A forklift is a small industrial vehicle with a front-mounted electric fork platform that can be lifted and moved up and down under cargo.  Forklifts meet the needs of a variety of industries, including warehouses and other large storage facilities. A forklift is powered by a battery or internal combustion engine. Some forklifts allow the operator to sit while driving or operating the machine, while others require standing.  They are widely used throughout many industries for the transportation of materials and goods. A forklift is made up of a wide range of technologically and mechanically coherent parts that work together to complete the operation of lifting. A forklift's performance is dependent on everything from the truck frame to the power source and the counterweight. The most important parts of a forklift are the hydraulic system and forklift controller. Both the systems are important to the performance and lifting capacity of the forklift. Let us briefly discuss essential components of parts of a forklift;

  • Truck Frame - The truck frame is the most important component, as it serves as the machine's foundation much like the chassis for a car. The truck frame supports all of the forklift's major components, including the wheels, counterweight, and mast.

  • Counterweight – A cast iron weight attached to the rear of the forklift. The purpose of the counterweight is to balance the load being lifted. In electric forklifts, the counterweight is attached to the lead acid battery and prevents the machine toppling over when lifting.

  • Powersource – It is the most important component and is also regarded as the life power of a forklift since it supplies the power. It can either be fueled by LPG, Diesel, CNG or natural gas.

What are the different types of forklifts?

There are a wide variety and range of forklifts that are used and brought into operation according to the project’s demands. Here are some of the most common types of forklifts;

Counterbalance Forklifts

A common lift with forks in the front and a weight in the back to counterbalance the weight of the load is the counterbalance forklift. Because counterbalance forklifts do not have extending arms, they may travel directly to the load.

Counterbalance forklifts come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The 3-wheel version is perfect for circumstances where the operator must turn and navigate in tigt circles. Operators can quickly hop on and off the stand-up counterbalance forklift between loads. Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Crown are all well-known brands in this category.

Reach Forklifts

Reach forklifts, or as they also known as Reach Trucks are warehouse technology vehicles mainly used for indoor work. The key capability of a reach forklift is to extend the fork over the shelves to reach the storage rack in ways that traditional forklifts cannot. It also has an open compartment that gives the operator a better view. Reach trucks are great for indoor use, but their low undercarriage clearance makes them unsuitable for outdoor work. UniCarriers, Clark Materials, and Yale manufacture some of the highest quality reach trucks in the marketplace.


Stackers or walkie stackers are unique in appearance and specific in utility. Unlike other forklifts, these material handling vehicles don`t have cabs. Instead, the operator walks behind the stacker and steers it by using an attached handle. These units lack power, maneuverability and speed but are ideal for situations where you need a taller pallet jack. Stackers reach much higher off the ground than traditional pallet jacks. Current stacker forklift manufacturers include Hyster, Jungheinrich and Toyota. Choice of forklift matches the need, Toyota`s 6BWC20 is ideal for large loads up to 4,000lb, while Jungeinrich`s EMC 110 is suited for narrow aisles.

Pallet Trucks

The lifting height of the pallet truck is as low as about 20 cm or less. Therefore, this handling device is suitable for handling on the ground and transporting luggage on pallets. Pallet trucks are not designed for stacking. Both manual, semi-electric or electric pallet truck use and application are very easy. They are mainly used in the food processing industry as well as in the transportation, wholesale and retail fields.

Depending on the type of goods to be transported and the luggage to be moved, pallet trucks to suit your needs may have long forks, optional scales made of certain materials such as stainless steel, or higher than standard lifting heights.

Order Pickers

An order picker is a subtype of the stacker forklift used to pick and deliver materials from a warehouse. Up to 32 feet high, these machines are designed to lift operators into storage racks and transport individual units. Order pickers are excellent in customer order storage and warehousing because they can choose individual units without having to unload the complete pallet. Their versatile design can handle objects of various sizes, from auto parts to furniture.


Telescopic Handler is a versatile hydraulic lift that is commonly used in construction, agriculture and agriculture. The telehandler forklift is an agile hybrid machine that provides the load-bearing capacity of a forklift in the lifting range of a crane. Telescopic telehander is equipped with a telescopic boom that can be fitted with various attachments to allow the unit to perform different functions. An easily maneuvered hitch design of telehandler allows the operator to quickly and safely switch attachments according to the task at hand. There are usually three types of main steering techniques deployed on telehandlers

  • Four-wheel steering is employed on construction sites or when the terrain conditions necessitate wheel driving for traction.

  • Front wheel steering: When travelling on the road, front wheel drive is most commonly used.

  • 'Crab' steering: In small and cramped up spaces places, all four wheels move and rotate in the same direction.

Rough Terrain Forklifts

The rough terrain forklift is made for working on uneven areas in the outdoors. These forklift trucks have larger and ridged pneumatic tires that provide improved balance and stability for transporting products on difficult terrain. If you perform most of your work indoors, you probably won't need one, but rough terrain forklifts are essential for outdoor applications and building sites. The JCB 950 and CASE 588H, both with four-wheel drive, are popular models. Rough terrain forklifts also have the advantage of being able to lift bigger loads.

Side Loader Forklift

Side loaders, are a type of warehouse forklift, and are commonly seen in steel service centers and industrial facilities that handle big and bulky objects. While a side loader unloads things, the operator stands in a sideways compartment. Side load forklifts can simply drive up alongside racks and load and unload without having to turn due to its sideways action. As a result, they're well-suited to maneuvering narrow corridors, alleys and transporting long cargoes such as timber and pipes.

Frequently Asked Questions on Forklifts

  • What types of forklifts are used in warehouses?

In warehouses and stores, hand pallet trucks are the most frequent types of forklifts used. They work on very basic principles, with the operator placing the forks beneath the pallet, raising the fork with the hydraulic jack, and shifting the weight with the handle.

  • What is the most common type of forklift?

The most common type of forklift is the counterbalance forklift. They are usually a unit with front tires and a big counterweight in the back to help counteract the load weight and keep the unit stable and prevent it from tipping forward. Small battery electric counterbalance forklifts, such as the Hyster J Series, offer improved mobility and a shorter turning circle to maneuver in confined places.

  • Which forklift is best for dirt and gravel?

Based on the number of reviews and user profiles, the Toyota Large IC Pneumatic Forklift has a lifting capacity of 17,500 pounds and can navigate gravel, dirt, and asphalt with ease. Apart from this, when speaking in general terms, usually rough terrain forklifts are said to have better efficiency and maneuverability when it comes to handling in areas and construction sites where gravel and dirt is prevalent.

  • How to Choose Between IC (gas-powered) or Electric Forklifts?

Electric forklifts, on average, last longer than forklifts powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). This is mainly due to the fact that electric forklifts have considerably less moving parts than ICE forklifts. Electric forklifts are also easier to maintain. There are no engine tune-ups, spark plugs, or other maintenance procedures. Another major selling feature is that electric forklifts emit no tailpipe emissions, resulting in a cleaner and safer work environment for your employees.

  • How do I choose the right forklift for me?

The carrying capacity, lifting height, kind of motor, tire composition, and operator ergonomics are the most important factors to consider when purchasing a forklift.

When it comes to selecting the correct equipment, the distinctiveness of your work site is a deciding factor. In addition to this, there are other factors that need to be considered including constraints of height at the construction site or project site and how accessible are the elements/load/freight that need to be transported at the location.

Published by Sher Ali April 27, 2022