13 Types of Forklifts (What They Do and When To Use Them)

Similar but with longer forks, double-deep trucks are ideal for spaces where multiple pallet loads are stored in each bay because they will reach all the way to the back of the bay. Additionally, straddle trucks have long forks that can slide under the load and grip the edges for improved stability and access. The truck can grab loads further back, which is ideal if you have several loads in one bay that you can access from different angles.

The two main varieties of side loader forklifts are the enclosed cab, which is used primarily outside, and the stand-up model, which is better suited for tasks inside. The wheels on the multi-way version all rotate by 90 degrees, making it simple to move in any direction. They are therefore particularly helpful for lifting and moving tubing, pipes, and sheet materials in a safe and effective manner. Due to their capacity to transport long, heavy loads in small spaces, side loaders are also widely used in the timber industry.

Telescopic handler forklifts are perfect for use in all types of industry that require high lifting, including agriculture. They provide a wide range of features that greatly increase their usefulness in a variety of situations, to the point where they are frequently mistaken for small cranes rather than forklift trucks.

These add-ons allow the telehandler to carry out tasks at heights that conventional forklifts are unable to reach, and front outriggers can be used to increase lifting capabilities. Due to their greater flexibility, telescopic handlers have largely replaced manned rough terrain forklifts in both the construction and agricultural sectors where they are also used extensively.

The lift truck is more complex and has the ability to transport and lift a palletized load onto a higher level or to stack loads on top of one another. The pallet truck is simply for moving loads from one place to another at ground level, but it has limited reach.

Any type of forklift you choose to use for your work must be properly and thoroughly trained in order for you to be able to use and maintain it in a safe and efficient manner. Always work with a reputable, knowledgeable training organization that will customize your instruction to your desired vehicle and job requirements. For more information, give our friendly team a call today.

Type of Forklift Trucks

What are the different types of forklifts?

Depending on the task, setting, and weight of the load, forklifts are used for a variety of purposes. The following list of 13 forklift varieties includes usage examples:

Articulated forklifts

An articulated forklift can be useful when a standard forklift is too big or you need more maneuverability. It has a lifting fork that can turn independently of the truck’s body to the left or right, enabling the driver to drive straight while turning the fork to access loads or staging areas.

When loading and unloading trailers in constrained spaces, warehouses, cold storage facilities, and factories

Counterbalance forklifts

In indoor warehouses, one of the most widely used lifts is the counterbalance forklift. It balances loads with a weight in the back and forks at the front. This forklift comes in three-wheel and four-wheel models. The four-wheel forklift offers greater stability and maximum load weight while the three-wheel forklift offers better maneuverability. Additionally, a stand-up counterbalance forklift is available that makes it simple for users to get in and out of the vehicle while it is in use.

Counterbalance forklifts are used in indoor storage and distribution centers.

Explosion-proof forklifts

When reducing the risk of an explosion or fire, forklifts that are explosion-proof are used. Use of an explosion-proof forklift at this location would be beneficial, for instance, if a paint factory were to store combustible and flammable materials. These forklifts have non-sparking bronze elements in place of metal and sealed electrical components. Explosion-proof forklifts are frequently equipped with monitors that turn the equipment off if dangerous gases are detected in the air.

In the manufacture, handling, processing, and storage of cosmetics, paints, printing inks, pharmaceuticals, and rubbers, explosion-proof forklifts are employed.

High-capacity cushion forklifts

When a job necessitates carrying a heavy load, the high-capacity cushion forklift is ideal. There are models of these forklifts that can lift up to 110,000 pounds. These models have less adjustability and portability than other forklifts, but they can be very useful at large construction sites and other places where heavy loads are transported.

High-capacity cushion forklifts are used in manufacturing plants and warehouses.

Industrial forklifts

Because of its size, an industrial forklift has a high degree of stability and can lift loads that are heavier than those that standard forklifts can, up to a carrying capacity of 30,000 pounds. These forklifts combine the capabilities of telescopic lifts and warehouse forklifts. It can’t maneuver as easily or reach as far as a telescopic forklift, but it can carry much more weight.

Industrial forklifts are used in large warehouses.

Marina forklifts

Forklifts for marinas are made for heavy-duty lifting and moving boats into and out of storage facilities. To withstand how seawater can harm common metals, lifting forks are typically made of rubber.

Marina forklifts are used in marinas and boat storage facilities.

Order picker forklifts

A pallet truck subtype known as an order picker forklift, also known as a “cherry picker,” has a height limit of 32 feet. It is made to lift the driver while the truck is still in motion. These forklifts are made to pick up just one or two items, not whole pallets.

In customer order warehouses and distribution centers, order picker forklifts are employed.

Pallet trucks

A pallet truck, also known as a “pallet jack,” is a compact forklift used for quickly lifting and moving pallets. Because they are so small, these cars lack cabs. The forklift may have an electric motor and be operated by a person walking behind it, or it may be manual and known as a “walkie stacker.”

The most frequent application is unloading semitrailers and transporting materials to a staging area where a regular forklift can transport them to another location.

Reach forklifts

Reach forklifts have forks that extend much higher than typical models and are intended for indoor use. They have supporting legs up front to bear the bulk of the weight and keep the load steady. They are easy to maneuver and use in close spaces. Additionally, reach forklifts have an open compartment that increases the operator’s visibility while operating.

In warehouses with limited space and high storage, reach trucks are typically used.

Rough terrain forklifts

Forklifts made for rough terrain are useful when the terrain is uneven, unbalanced, or rough and are intended for outdoor use. They have substantial pneumatic tires, like those on tractors and other large vehicles, so they won’t slide around on slick surfaces or get punctured by sharp rocks. The back has a precise counterbalance that keeps them from falling over. Because of their more powerful engines than indoor forklifts, they can travel at a faster speed. A telescopic mast is typically found on rough terrain forklifts for increased reach and flexibility.

Construction sites and other outdoor locations employ rough terrain forklifts.

Side loader forklifts

A counterbalance forklift subtype made specifically for use indoors is called a side loader. Instead of the front, they have forks attached to the side. They are helpful in narrow spaces where turning is difficult. To handle long objects like metal pipes, sheets, and timbers, side loaders are used. The vehicle operator has the option of moving, lifting, and carrying loads sideways without having to turn.

Side loader forklifts are typically used in manufacturing plants.

Telescopic forklifts

The maneuverability of a forklift and the functionality of a crane are combined by telescopic forklifts, also known as “telehandlers.” These forklifts are employed for cargo unloading in awkward angles and constrained spaces. When not in use, their boom’s arm can be stored easily because it extends from a retracted position. Heavy loads can be lifted by telescoping forklifts up to 55 feet in the air.

Any task requiring high lifting or in agriculture uses telescopic forklifts.

Warehouse forklifts

A counterbalance forklift subtype used frequently in warehouses and storage facilities is the warehouse forklift. It is designed with twin forks on the front. These forklifts are made to load and unload small to medium-sized pallets from delivery trucks as well as carry multiple items simultaneously.

What is a forklift?

Forklifts are industrial vehicles that use electricity to transport heavy loads over short distances. They have a hydraulically operated forked platform attached to the front that can be raised and lowered to lift and move cargo. Forklifts are categorized according to their size, the amount of weight they can lift, and the type of terrain that is best for operation.

How to choose the right forklift

A few guiding principles will assist you in choosing the best forklift for your company out of the seven different classes of forklifts and the numerous types found within each class. You can use the steps listed below to help you focus your search and come to a more informed decision:


What are the 3 types of forklifts?

What are the different Forklift types?
  • Class I: Electric Motor Rider Forklifts.
  • Reach trucks and order pickers are classified as Class II electric motor narrow aisle forklifts.
  • Class III: Electric Pallet Jacks, Stackers, and Tow Tractors.
  • Class IV: Internal Combustion Cushion Tire Forklifts.

What are the 5 classes of forklifts?

Types & Fundamentals » Forklift Classifications
  • Class I: Electric motor rider trucks.
  • Class II: Electric motor narrow aisle trucks.
  • Class III: Electric motor hand trucks or hand/rider trucks.
  • Class IV: Internal combustion engine trucks (solid/cushion tires)
  • Class V: Internal combustion engine trucks (pneumatic tires)

How many types of forklift are there?

Classes I through VII of forklifts are the seven fundamental types. We’ll walk you through each class and describe how they differ.

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