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The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Forklifts

The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Forklifts

The global forklift market is expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 12.8% from 2022 to 2030. This growth is attributed to increased demand for better forklifts, the thriving construction industry, and transformations in warehouse operations.

Forklifts are some of the most versatile vehicles and can be used for different applications. These vehicles can move and lift heavy objects that humans cannot. Whether you are looking for a forklift to move loads in your warehouse or construction site, there are different types of forklifts that you can choose from.

Here are some of the common forklift options that you can consider.

Industrial Forklift

Also known as a large-capacity forklift. It combines the traditional style warehouse forklift with the abilities of a telehandler. Though it cannot reach all angles provided by a telehandler, it can still lift heavier loads than warehouse forklifts.

This forklift is also much narrower than the warehouse forklift and the telehandler. It can hold a load with a maximum weight of 30,000 lbs. Its key feature is the hydraulic levers, which combine a balance of reach and power.

Warehouse Forklift

This is one of the most common commercial forklifts. The warehouse forklift looks like a golf cart with twin forks extending from the front. This forklift has a compact design and is used in warehouses with large inventories.

Warehouse forklifts can lift up to 5,000 pounds of weight and some models can elevate at least 25,000 pounds. The forklift is ideal for transporting items to and from delivery vehicles. Also for loading and unloading. Check out https://99lifts.com/ for quality forklifts.


It is also known as a reach forklift or a telescopic forklift or, a telehandler. This forklift has a boom and an extendable arm, which allows it to work like a crane and a forklift.

A telehandler has two forks attached to its arm, which can be used to move pallets from the ground. The single telescopic boom makes the machine more versatile. It is also more powerful than standard forklifts.

A regular or standard telehandler can lift a weight of 5,500 lbs up to 19 feet in the air. This forklift can reach materials in tight spaces and work at odd angles that normal forklifts cannot reach. Some telehandler models can lift loads up to 55 feet high.

Since this forklift is versatile, it is popular in different industries, including the agriculture and construction industries.

Side Loader

The side loader is a subtype of the warehouse forklift. It is mainly used in steel service centers and manufacturing facilities for handling heavy and bulky materials. The side loader is available in two variations; the more common stand-up version for indoor use and an enclosed cab for outdoor use.

This forklift derives its name from its sideways style of operation. The forklift allows its operator to stand in a sideways compartment as its side loader unloads objects. Because of its sideways operation, this forklift can load and unload without turning and can drive up alongside racks.

This feature makes the side loader ideal for handling long loads like timber and pipes and navigating narrow aisles. The vehicle has a multi-way version, with each wheel designed to rotate by 90°. This allows for easy transportation of a load in any direction.

Side Loader

Counterbalance Forklift

Counterbalance forklifts are industrial forklifts that are common for indoor warehouses. However, forklifts are versatile and can also work in outdoor areas with stable surfaces. The forklift features forks in the front and weight in the back. The back weight acts to counterbalance the weight of the load they carry.

Since these forklifts have no extending arms, they can position themselves directly against the load. Counterbalance forklifts come in different designs. This includes the stand-up machine, which allows the operator to climb in and out while handling loads.

The other design is the 3-wheel variant which allows the machine to turn in a circle. The counterbalance forklift is available in gas and diesel options. The 3-wheel counterbalance forklift designs are almost all-electric.

The electric models have an economical motor, which increases productivity while offering relatively low costs of operation.

Rough Terrain Forklift

The other forklift option is the rough terrain forklift. As the name suggests, this forklift is designed for use in outdoor areas with uneven surfaces. The forklift features sturdy pneumatic tires for navigating rocky ground.

Also known as a straight mast forklift, the machine can support heavy loads that range from 6,000 to 8,000 lbs. It has extra-large and special threaded tires that enhance stability and balance, which allows the safe transportation of loads.

The forklift features a counterbalance to the rear that reduces the risk of falling. This while also ensuring it can be driven in ice, snow, and mud. Rough terrain forklifts are commonly used in the construction industry. They have a load capacity of 6,000lbs.

Some models can lift up to 8,000lbs. These forklifts can handle high speeds with improved maneuverability.

Pallet Jacks

Also known as pump trucks, pallet jacks are smaller forklifts that cannot lift heavier loads. These forklifts are battery-powered and can fit into tight spaces.

Pallet jacks are commonly used in warehouses or storage facilities and can move pallets fast. The forklifts feature a set of forks that slide beneath a pallet. The forklift operator has to manually pump the handle to lift the forks from the ground.

The forklift also has front wheels, which are positioned below the forks and can separate vertically as the pallet is raised. Pallet jacks are available in different options, including all-terrain jacks, long and short forked, low profile machines and some with narrow or wide fork spreads.

Other types of forklifts include stackers and reach forklifts. Whether you are buying a used or new forklift, ensure you choose one that can handle your project.

Select the Right Types of Forklifts for Your Projects

Choosing the right forklift is vital for your safety and the success of your project. When buying a forklift, consider these types of forklifts and their uses and choose one that fits your application.

The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Forklifts

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