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What Are the Different Types of Forklifts?

Forklifts are an essential piece of equipment in many warehouses and factories. But did you know that there are different types of forklifts, each with their own specific uses? In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to the different types of forklifts and their uses.

Classification by power type

The two main power sources for forklifts (powered industrial trucks) are internal combustion and electric.

Wikipedia lists several types of forklifts based on power and type. Those lift trucks powered by internal combustion engines have a load capacity of around 10 to 20 tonnes. In contrast, electric forklifts are smaller and less powerful that can only carry around 10-20% of the weight of an internal combustion forklift.

internal combustion forklift trucks

Forklift Classifications by Osha

Forklifts are also organized based on their classification. There are seven forklift classes outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that describe their fuel option and use. Forklift operators must be aware of the necessary forklift safety practices for each classification and be certified on each class of forklift to operate it.

The different forklift classifications are:

Class I – Electric Motor Ride Truck

Fuel Type: Electric

Use: Indoor settings where air quality is a concern

Class II – Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Truck

Fuel Type: Battery

Use: Moving inventory in narrow or tight spaces

Class III – Electric Motor Hand Truck

Fuel Type: Battery

Use: Quickly unloading delivery trucks across short distances

Class IV – Internal Combustion Engine With Cushion Tires

Fuel Type: Gas or diesel

Use: Low-clearance situations

Class V – Internal Combustion Engine Trucks With Pneumatic Tires

Fuel Type: Gas or diesel

Use: Indoor and outdoor with rough surfaces

Class VI – Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

Fuel Type: Battery, gas or diesel

Use: Hauling or towing loads

Class VII – Rough Terrain Forklift Truck

Fuel Type: Gas or diesel

Use: Construction sites, uneven ground, high-elevation lifting

The common types of forklifts by application

There are many different types of forklifts available on the market, each with its own unique set of features and benefits. In fact, there are four basic types of forklifts that you will run into in the warehouse or on construction sites:

  • Reach Trucks – This type of a forklift is used for grabbing and transporting pallets on narrow aisles.
  • Electric Pallet Jacks – Since these are electric, they can easily be used anywhere in any building as long as you have outlets to plug them in.
  • Powered Pallet Jacks – These are very common and what most people think of when they hear the word forklift.
  • Telescoping/Dry product forklifts – Also known as bottleskills or bottlejacks, these can be very useful at home or in the factory setting if you need to lift large objects like 55gal drums or gas tanks that cannot be picked up by a powered pallet jack lift truck because it is too heavy for the forks.

how to select a forklift?

There are different types of forklifts for different purposes. Some are made for heavy lifting, while others are better suited for smaller tasks. All types of forklifts have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

So, how do you select the right one for your needs? Here are a few factors to consider when deciding which type of forklift is best for you: load capacity, lift height, maneuverability, and cost.

forklift capacity

For example, if you need to lift heavy loads from 10 feet off the ground, then a material handling forklift would be most appropriate. If instead you need to move boxes within warehouses or make small deliveries in crowded urban areas then an electric pallet truck would be better suited. If you select a diesel forklift truck, you need to learn an important thing: what must be done daily before using a forklift.

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