Understanding Different Forklift Types

Understanding Different Forklift Types

The term "forklift" might conjure a singular image in most minds. Think of a small vehicle with a pronged device in front. See it zipping around warehouses, lifting and transporting items.

Yet, different forklifts types are a diverse lot! They each come with a special and specific design for unique tasks and environments. Whether you're a manager or operator intrigued by these machines, diversity is key!

Understanding the different types of forklifts can be enlightening. Let's navigate through this world and unveil the various forklift types.

Most Common Different Forklift Types: Counterbalance Forklifts

The counterbalance forklift is what most people picture when they think of forklifts. They have forks at the front and a counterbalance weight at the back. Their design prevents them from tipping while carrying heavy items.

They can be electric or combustion-powered. They're ideal for straightforward lifting and moving jobs. You'll find these machines in warehouses, construction sites, and other industrial areas.

Reach Trucks Are Next on the List of Different Forklift Types

Designed for warehouse operations, reach trucks live up to their name. They are capable of 'reaching' great heights. This is thanks to their high lift height capability.

Their unique design includes stabilizing legs and an open compartment. This is for the operator, allowing them to pick pallets from towering racks.

Side Loader Forklifts

Side loaders are particularly adept at handling long loads like timber or piping. As the name suggests, they pick up the load from the side. This design means the load goes in the direction the truck is moving.

As you can imagine, this makes navigation through narrow aisles easy.

Pallet Jacks or Pallet Trucks

These are the simpler, more compact cousins in the forklift family. Pallet jacks lift pallets a few inches off the ground to move them short distances. They're great for moving items in stores or for fast jobs in warehouses.

Order Pickers

Order pickers are for manual handling of individual items, rather than full pallets. The operator's platform lifts alongside the forks. This allows the operator to hand-pick items from racks.

They're used in a range of distribution centers and warehouses. This is especially true where individual item retrieval is common.

Rough Terrain Forklifts

Built with large tires and an efficient suspension system. Rough terrain forklifts are for challenging outdoor environments. This includes mountainous areas or construction sites.

They have a powerful engine! They're also generally diesel-operated. This ensures they can handle uneven surfaces and heavy loads with ease.

Telehandlers or Telescopic Handlers

Telehandlers are a blend of a crane and a forklift. They have an extendable arm. This makes them useful for reaching over obstacles or into tight spaces.

These are often seen in agriculture and construction. That's because they're capable of tasks ranging from moving pallets to lifting materials.

Container Handlers Are Among The Different Forklift Types

For ports and dockyards, container handlers lift heavy shipping containers. They come in two main types. First, reach stackers which is for stacking many containers.

The second type are the dedicated container handlers for transporting. These are to move containers over short distances. Most often, they move containers from ships to storage areas or transport vehicles.

Their sturdy design and powerful lifting capabilities are perfect for the heavy loads. Additionally, both types have features to grip and maneuver containers. This ensures safe and precise handling in busy dock environments.

Different Forklift Types for Industrial Forklifts

Also known as large capacity forklifts, these powerhouses are for heavy-duty tasks. They lift several tons at once and are, most times, found in manufacturing facilities. They can also be in other environments where enormous items need moving.

These industrial forklifts have strong engines and durable builds. They're made for lifting heavy and bulky items. With special attachments, they can handle many diverse materials.

These forklifts are vital in sectors like construction, mining, and heavy machinery management. They often feature larger tires and bodies that resist harsh weather. This enables them for outdoor work and storage.

Their strength makes them essential for large-scale, heavy operations.

Articulated Forklifts and Turret Trucks

Designed for super tight and congested areas, articulated forklifts can turn their forks. Their uniqueness is that they can do this without moving the entire truck. This ability makes them perfect for small storage facilities with narrow aisles.

Turret trucks are a tad bit different. Designed for narrow aisles, turret trucks can rotate their forks 90 degrees. The operator moves up and down with the forks, allowing for high stacking in tight spaces.

Their storage efficiency by operating in tighter spaces is unlike any other. Turret trucks are particularly useful in warehouses where maximizing storage space is crucial. They can reach higher shelves and place or retrieve loads without needing a lot of room.

This is a key advantage in dense or packed environments.

Walkie Stackers

These are a step above the hand pallet jack. They're for lifting and transporting pallets short distances. Walkie stackers are pedestrian-operated, meaning the operator walks behind it, guiding its movements.

They are electric and can lift pallets to significant heights. This makes them the ideal for small warehouses or retail spaces.


Dockstockers, or walkie riders, are like larger versions of walkie stackers. The key difference is that they come with a platform for the operator to stand on. This design suits longer periods of use.

In particular for when it's not practical to walk behind the machine. They're particularly handy in dock operations, where they get their name from. The standing platform allows operators to move fast over longer distances.

Additionally, their design makes them ideal for handling heavy loads.

Automated Forklifts

In the age of automation, forklifts aren't left behind. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are forklifts that can operate without a human driver. They follow set paths determined by embedded wires or markers.

These wires or markers travel are in factory floors. Other systems use vision cameras and sensors. As industries move towards Industry 4.0, the role of these forklifts becomes more crucial.

Multi-Directional Forklifts

Breaking the traditional movement mold, multi-directional forklifts move sideways as well. This capability makes them ideal for handling long loads like timber and steel beams. Their adaptability reduces the need for large turning circles.

This maximizes space efficiency, especially in confined storage environments.

Aerial Work Platforms or AWPs

AWPs, also called aerial lifts or boom lifts are not exactly forklifts. Still, they're important for lifting people and tools to high places. They help workers reach high areas, which is essential for some jobs.

Some examples include fixing buildings, cutting trees, or construction. There are different kinds. To name a few, there are scissor lifts, cherry pickers, and telescopic boom lifts.

Each has its own way of reaching different heights and moving around.

Evolution of Eco-Conscious Different Forklift Types

With the global shift towards sustainable practices, the forklift industry is also evolving. Many manufacturers are now focusing on producing electric forklifts that produce zero emissions. These eco-conscious forklifts reduce the carbon footprint.

Also, they lower operational costs. That's because electricity can be cheaper than gasoline or diesel. Another detail to mention is noise reduction.

This can be an unexpected bonus for those seeking help with indoor operations.

Finding The Right Machine Among Different Forklift Types

There you have it; the many different forklift types! The world of forklifts is diverse with each type bringing its set of capabilities to the table. Each type of forklift, pallet jack, or the telehandler has a certain job.

As businesses and industries change and get bigger, forklifts will also improve. This means there will always be a forklift that can handle any job. Want to see if one of these machines can take you business to the next level?

123Forklift offers new and used forklift options for all needs. Discover its benefits firsthand!