Lift trucks are also commonly known as forklifts and are used to move loads over short distances by inserting their forks under a load and lifting it. Their main purpose is to lift and store a load in a higher location. There are various types of lift trucks such as: standard forklift, order selector, swing mast, reach, turret and motorized pallet trucks. These small, but heavy vehicles are used in a wide variety of places such as: airports, warehouses, assembly shops, manufacturing units, mines, transportation companies and on construction sites.
These trucks are made to work in various sized spaces and they are classified based on their width as either wide aisle, narrow aisle or very narrow aisle. Lift trucks can run on either electricity, battery, or diesel power. They are selected based on the height to which the forks can be raised, the maximum load they can lift, their horsepower and width.
It is important that you use the right type of lift truck for the job at hand as it has to be able to maneuver through the space and has to be strong enough to lift the load.
- A standard forklift is a wide aisle forklift truck that is generally used to lift and stack loads under 20 feet high. Available options and attachments for this vehicle include side shifts, hydraulic clamps, and slip sheet attachments.
- A reach truck is a narrow aisle truck that is designed for racked pallet storage and only for racking areas. Reach trucks can be used for lifting to a height up to 40 feet.
- An order selector is a lift truck that is specifically designed for manual handling of less-than-pallet-load quantities in racking. This very narrow aisle truck is ideal for cycle counting and physical inventories.
Electric powered lift trucks are non-polluting vehicles and are good for indoor use when moving light to medium loads. Diesel units, on the other hand, can move heavier loads, but are polluting because of the exhaust they emit. The tires on lift trucks are made of cushioned rubber or pneumatic tires. The devices can also be fitted with special attachments such as, side shift, fork positioners, fork pivot, prongs, fork extensions or fork tilt control.
Lift trucks can be quite dangerous and they should only be operated by trained, qualified and certified drivers.