A forklift is among the most versatile vehicles. Whether it’s moving heavy loads in a construction site or warehouse, distribution center, or industrial facility, the truck can safely lift things the average human can’t. This makes them indispensable on any workstation.
You need a machine that befits the intended application for the best results. But the market is filled with a broad selection of models and styles, making it challenging to find the ideal machine.
If this is your current situation, don’t fret. This detailed guide will cover the official forklift classifications, the most popular types, and their applications.
The Different Forklift Classifications
A forklift, also called a lift truck, is a power-oriented industrial vehicle that lifts, carries, or moves large objects across a short distance. The machine features a front-facing forked platform that raises and lowers using hydraulics.
There are vast categories of lift trucks depending on their size, maximum weight, and ideal terrain for optimal operation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies the following seven primary classifications of powered industrial trucks:
This class of electric motor rider trucks leverages industrial batteries and serves indoors and outdoors. The machines feature cushion or pneumatic tires and come in three or four-wheel styles with a load capacity ranging from 3,000 to 8,000 pounds.
This category covers electric motor narrow aisle trucks for maximizing storage efficiency. They may comprise specialized attachments for specific tasks. In addition, the trucks have a lifting capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 pounds, hence ideal for confined areas.
This class has electric motor hand trucks or hand-rider trucks, ideal for short distances and small warehouses. Operators use hand control to steer the forklifts, handling a maximum capacity of 8,000 pounds. These forklifts excel at unloading delivery trucks and moving loads near the ground.
This group comprises internal combustion engine trucks leveraging liquid propane or diesel and featuring smooth indoor or outdoor surfaces. The machines have a low-clearance sit-down design and cushion tires and can lift between 3,000 and 15,500 pounds.
The fifth category comprises internal combustion engine trucks featuring pneumatic tires for indoor and outdoor surfaces. These machines leverage compressed natural gas, liquid propane, or gasoline and boast an impressive lifting capacity of 3,000 to 55,000 pounds.
This group comprises electric and internal combustion engine tractors. Also called “luggers,” these forklifts primarily tow loads rather than lift and can operate indoors or outdoors. The trucks can handle 3,000 to 6,000 pounds and provide versatility in various settings.
The last category comprises rough terrain trucks for challenging outdoor terrains. They feature large tractor-type tires and use diesel fuel. With a lifting capacity of 6,000 to 12,000 pounds or more, they serve heavy-duty applications in rugged environments. Also, operating them may require specialized training or a license.
The Most Common Types of Forklifts and Their Applications
With an idea of the different classes of lift tracks, you’re in a better position to learn the most common types in the market and their areas of use. These include:
Side loaders are specialized forklifts for handling heavy and bulky items in manufacturing facilities and steel service centers. A side loader’s distinguishing feature is the sideways compartment that enables movement in the load direction.
The machine’s unique sideways operation allows it to easily navigate narrow aisles and load or unload alongside racks without turning. This ability makes it ideal for lifting long and heavy items like timber and pipes. Top brands include Toyota, Raymond, Yale, and Hyundai.
Explosion-proof forklifts minimize the risk of explosions or fires in hazardous workspaces. The trucks feature sealed electrical components and bronze elements to reduce the chances of sparks. In addition, the lifts have monitors that detect dangerous gases, prompting the machine to shut down in unsafe environments.
Explosion-proof forklifts are predominant in locations like paint factories that store flammable materials.
Marina forklifts are a particular variety designed for heavy-duty lifting and transportation of boats. The trucks comprise rubber forks that can withstand seawater’s corrosive effects. Thanks to their efficient boat handling, the most common use areas include marinas and boat storage facilities.
Cushion Tire Forklifts
Cushion tire forklifts may appear similar to their counterparts with solid pneumatic tires, but they lack the same level of grip. Instead, these tires are plastic wrapped around a metal band, providing a straightforward, durable indoor use option.
The trucks are also smaller, offering a tighter turning radius. As a result, they’re suitable for maneuvering narrow spaces and tight corners. But since they lack traction, the forklifts aren’t recommended for outdoor applications.
The telescopic, also known as a reach forklift or telehandler, features a boom and extendable arm, combining the features of a crane and forklift. This truck has twin forks, hence ideal for lifting pallets off the ground. A standard telehandler can lift 5,500 lbs of materials to a height of 19 feet and can access tight spaces and awkward angles.
The outstanding features of the telescopic forklift are its extended arm attachment and articulating boom. These key attributes make them ideal for lifting loads to higher elevations.
Order Picker Forklifts
An order picker, known as a “cherry picker,” is a specialized pallet truck that can reach 32 feet high. The truck can lift the driver’s cabin as well during operation. Unlike traditional forklifts, order pickers specifically handle individual units or a few items rather than entire pallets.
These forklifts are standard in distribution centers and customer order warehouses where precise picking and order fulfillment is key. Users can efficiently and conveniently access products stored at various heights.
An industrial or large-capacity forklift is the typical forklift that comes to mind. The truck resembles a blend of telehandlers and warehouse forklifts and is ideal for construction sites. Industrial forklifts feature a sturdy build and can tackle rough terrain. Therefore, you can effortlessly transport heavy materials like bricks, steel beams, and stones across long distances.
These mighty machines are ideal for industrial setups and construction sites. They can streamline construction operations by unloading and delivering materials right where they’re needed.
Rough Terrain Forklifts
As the name suggests, rough terrain forklifts can navigate and conquer rugged, unpaved surfaces thanks to their pneumatic tires that offer exceptional traction. The trucks are the largest members of the forklift family, making them the masters of heavy-duty lifting.
The distinguishing feature of the rough terrain forklift is its extended and sturdy body, which makes them more durable and costlier. These robust machines find utility in military applications and construction sites.
Choosing the Best Forklift
In the forklift world, the options are as diverse as the tasks they tackle. Thus, choosing the proper machine requires careful consideration of environmental factors, lifting capacity, and maneuverability.
Are you ready to enhance your career by learning to operate a forklift? You can count on ROI Safety Services for the best forklift operation training! Our training courses will equip you with the skills to further your career and be among the best operators in the industry. Call us today at (714)520-1608 and begin your journey to success.