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Types of Forklifts

Debopriya Bose
Forklifts are vehicles that are used to move heavy loads in warehouses and by families who change homes. Read on to know about the different types of forklifts.
Forklifts are like mini-trucks that are used for lifting and transferring heavy loads.
Forklifts have two forks (also known as blades) in the front that are used to lift loads that may weigh up to thousands of pounds.
The steel blades can be moved forward and backward, and also up and down for lifting and moving cargo. The distance between the blades can be adjusted according to the size of the weight that needs to be lifted.
Some of the forklifts can be operated on gas, while there are those that run on electricity.
Though forklifts are widely used in warehouses to move heavy loads, these vehicles are also useful in moving heavy furniture, while moving from an old home to a new one.

Different Types of Forklifts

Based upon the structure, forklift trucks are of the following types:

Standard Trucks

These are the large, sturdy forklift trucks, that are used in warehouses. Standard trucks can lift weights that range between 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. The blades can lift cargo up to a height of 20 feet.

Reach Truck

These are narrow-aisle forklifts that usually run on electricity. They are designed for pallet storage, and can lift loads up to a height of 40 feet. If you are looking to lift and unload weights quickly over long distances, reach truck is not the one for you.

Order Selector

These are very narrow-aisle trucks that are useful for moving racked loads which are smaller than the pallet size. They can lift both the load as well as the truck operator to a height of 40 feet.

Motorized Pallet Trucks

These trucks are also known as walkies, riders or walkie riders. These vehicles derive their names from the fact that the operator does not have to sit inside the vehicle to operate it. In fact, he walks along the side of the truck as it moves the load.

Swing Mast Trucks

These are vehicles with a narrow aisle. They are similar in appearance to standard trucks. However, their masts can swing up to 90 degrees in one direction only.

Turret Trucks

Turret trucks also have a very narrow aisle. Like the order selector, they can lift both the load as well as the operator. However, in addition to that, turret trucks can swing the forks 90 degrees on either side.
Based on whether gas or electricity is used to run them, forklifts are of two types:

Internal Combustion Forklifts

These vehicles run on gas, liquid propane, diesel or CNG (compressed natural gas).
Although the forklifts that run on liquid propane can be used indoors, the gas-run forklifts are meant to be mainly used outdoors as they emit pollutants, and also can work even when it is raining.
They can lift weights that range between 15,000 to 35,000 pounds. These vehicles cost less than the electric-run forklifts. However, effectively they are more expensive to use than the electric forklifts due to the fuel and maintenance costs.

Electric Forklifts

These run on batteries that need to be charged electrically.
As they do not burn any fuel, there are no polluting emissions from these vehicles. Due to this reason, these are more suitable to be used indoors than the internal combustion forklifts.
Also, these are quieter and do not require fuel storage units. However, they can't lift loads greater than 15,000 pounds, and have a slower acceleration than those that run on gas.

Types of Attachments

Just like there are many types of forklifts, there are many special attachments too. Various attachments can be installed on a forklift. These attachments help to reach and lift objects easily.
However, one should do a bit of research before buying any attachment for forklift. Because, using an unapproved or inappropriate attachment can alter the lifting of the forklift. This can also lead to imbalance of the forklift and overturn the forklift or cause other accident.
There are many useful attachments that one can buy, but make sure it is compatible with the type of forklift you are going to install it on. There are hoist attachments which have a hook on them. These help to pick up large and heavy objects.
There are also some special attachment which allow to lift a specific shaped object, like the drum grabber attachment. One can also find many personnel platform attachments. Other attachments are sideshifter, rotator, multipurpose clamps, scales, etc.
Forklifts have made moving heavy loads very easy and quick for us. However, as is the case with other vehicles, forklift accidents are also common. There are certain safety rules that need to be followed, the most important of which is recruiting a trained operator.
There a wide range of forklifts available in the market. The decision of selecting the right one depends upon the load that needs to be shifted, and whether the forklifts would be required to work indoors, outdoors or both.
With a proper understanding of the different types of forklifts and one's requirements, buying the right kind should not be a problem.