Types of Forklifts: Which Machine is Best for Me?

May 18, 2020

So you’re looking for forklift equipment with the right applications and features for your business and industry. Thankfully there are many different types of forklifts available, but you’ll need to learn more about each one to find the best forklift for you. 

Investing in forklift equipment isn’t a small matter. Selecting the right forklift type for your specific business is critical to efficiency and success. Each of the 7 different types of forklifts is ideal for unique applications and uses.

If you’re looking for equipment, Forklift Inventory is here to help. We offer free resources that cover everything you need to know about forklift equipment so that you can choose the best forklift for your operation. Get information on all your options before you buy a forklift.

The 7 Different Types of Forklifts

There are 7 main types of forklifts to choose from. Consider each type of equipment and the forklift applications to determine the best forklift for you. Here’s a quick guide to the 7 different types of forklifts:

1. Counterbalance Forklifts

Counterbalance forklift inside a warehouse

The first major forklift type is also the most common type. Counterbalance forklifts are sit-down lift machines with a heavy battery or weight in the rear of the vehicle used to off-set the front load. This forklift equipment is often found in warehouses and is ideal for a wide variety of indoor forklift applications.

Counterbalance forklifts, also known as sit-down riders, can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes, depending on the tires. Cushion tires are made of a smooth solid rubber fitted around a metal band, making them ideal for indoor surfaces. Pneumatic tires can be used on a counterbalanced forklift for added traction on outdoor surfaces.

2. Order Pickers

Order picker used for warehouse forklift applications

In comparison to counterbalance forklifts, order pickers are a type of stand up forklift. This forklift equipment type has a platform that raises the operator to retrieve boxes from warehouse shelving. Of the different types of lift trucks, consider this equipment if you need to retrieve piece-part orders or individual boxes.

Narrow aisle reach truck in a warehouse

3. Narrow Aisle Reach Trucks

Narrow aisle reach trucks are also a type of stand up forklift and are commonly used in warehouses. This forklift equipment is used to retrieve pallets from tight warehouse spaces. This might be the best forklift for you if your warehouse aisles are less than 12 feet wide.

4. Container Handlers

Loaded container handler stacking cargo

Container handlers are used to transport large shipping containers and unload cargo. There are three types of container handlers: empty container handlers, loaded container handlers, and reach stackers. Each type has a different lifting capacity. Empty and loaded container handlers lift loads vertically via a straight mast, while reach stackers use an extendable boom to lift loads up and away from the base.

5. Telehandlers

Forklift equipment being used outside at a construction site

Telehandlers are tough outdoor forklifts designed to handle the elements. This heavy-duty forklift equipment has pneumatic tires and outriggers that make them stable over uneven terrain. They also have an extendable boom that lifts the load up and away from the base of the telehandler. These types of forklifts are particularly ideal for construction and agriculture applications.

6. Rough Terrain Forklifts

Large rough terrain forklift from Forklift Inventory

Of the 7 different types of forklifts, rough terrain forklifts are best suited for tough outdoor work. Also known as all-terrain or off-road forklifts, these machines have large pneumatic tires to help them tackle the toughest outdoor environments. They also have a straight mast that lifts heavy loads vertically. If your forklift applications include all-weather operations, a rough terrain forklift might be best for you.

Small piggyback forklift on the back of a truck

7. Piggyback Lifts

While most types of lift trucks are stationed at a job site, piggyback forklifts are ideal for loading and unloading freight. Unlike other types of forklifts, these machines are lighter weight and designed to be transported on the back of a truck. This forklift equipment is great for unloading cargo without the need of assistance.

Choosing the Best Forklift for You & Your Business

Now that you have a better understanding of each of the 7 different types of forklifts, consider which one is a great fit for your business. If you’re still not ready to decide, visit our specialty equipment pages to learn more about each type before you buy a forklift. Then, compare prices on forklifts for sale near you with Forklift Inventory.

At Forklift Inventory, we offer all types of forklifts and only partner with trusted dealers. Request free comparative quotes by selecting the forklift equipment you are looking for, enter your location, and we will send you deals from local dealers. 

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