different types of forklifts

Some jobs require you to move heavy loads or work high above structures. Forklifts and boom lifts are extensively used in such situations, especially in warehousing, construction, and maintenance projects. But are they the same? If not, how do you distinguish them?

This article provides a comprehensive review of forklifts and boom lifts. We´ve highlighted their applications, types, key differences, and advantages and downsides. We have also highlighted the factors to consider when choosing the right one for your project. 


Boom lifts are specialized equipment engineered to work on high platforms. They are designed to lift materials, supplies, and personnel to elevated worksites, principally outdoors. They have an arm-like extension, like a crane, and a bucket at the tail end.

On the other hand, forklifts are equipment primarily designed to lift heavy loads from one point to another, usually over a short distance. Unlike boom lifts, forklifts are used indoors to unload and move packages. However, you can also use them outdoors to clear debris or carry bricks/pallets. They are composed of an open cabin and a square frame. In addition, its end has an attached fork that picks items.


Forklifts are primarily used to unload and transport packages in warehouses or manufacturing factories. They can also transport materials over short distances in construction sites. 

On the other hand, boom lifts are primarily used to reach high worksites. You´ll typically use them when constructing or renovating tall structures. They can lift personnel and materials to higher heights. 

Types – Boom Lifts

There are several types of boom lifts, as shown below. 

Telescopic Boom Lift

A telescopic boom lift is a boom lift with a rotating base and a linear stretching boom arm. The rotating base allows the operator to position the boom lift appropriately before extending its arm. Its unique arm construction lets it reach extended horizontal distances. Also, it is more stable and reaches extensive lengths. 

Telescopic boom lifts are further categorized into electric-powered or diesel-powered models. The diesel-powered models, having more power, are ideal for outdoor use, while the electric models are ideal for indoor use. Lastly, these lifts have varied sizes, commonly 40, 60, 80, 120, 150, and 180 feet.

Articular Boom Lift

An articulating boom lift, also a knuckle lift, has an articulating boom arm with joints that allow it to move in different positions and directions. Thus, the operator can reach challenging worksites. 

Its ability to maneuver around obstacles makes it ideal for tight working environments. Therefore, they are commonly applied in sprinkler installation, HVAC repair, and ceiling renovation. 

There are varied sizes of articular boom lifts; however, the standard ones can reach 30, 45, 60, 80, 120, 150, and 210 feet.

Types – Forklifts

Forklifts come in different types and models, as listed below. 

Hand Pallet Jack 

A hand pallet jack is a type of forklift with a hydraulic jack. The hydraulic jack raises and moves items, mostly pallets, from one point to another over a short distance. Its wheels are found under each fork. When moving pallets, the forks adjust their position and lift loads in tight spaces. 

Electric Pallet Jack 

An electric pallet jack is a forklift with a battery-powered electric engine. They handle and transport pallets more efficiently than hand pallet jacks. 

Manual Stacker

A manual stacker is another type of forklift manually operated with hands. They are ideally used to handle and lift pallets to five feet high. Since they reach limited height only, they are ideal for low-level racking. They are also suitable for shelving operations and double-floor stacking. 

The only downside to manual stackers is their slow operation speeds. You can only use them with low-volume operations, typically five pallets daily. 

Other Types of Forklifts


Boom Lift – The significant advantage of a boom lift is its ability to reach great heights. You can use them to lift personnel and materials when working on tall structures. You can also use it to lift loads up and down, forwards and backward. Since it can move in different directions, it can handle multiple tasks. Boom lifts are also highly versatile. You can approach loads from different angles. 

Forklifts – The most significant advantage of a forklift is its lifting capabilities. Heavy-spec forklift models can safely and efficiently lift and transport heavy loads to different points without tipping over. Their sizes allow them to be used indoors safely. 


Boom Lift – They have different motion ranges. Without proper knowledge, their operation can be challenging to the operators. They are also not ideal for indoor use. 

Forklift – Forklifts have limited lifting capabilities – they can only lift loads vertically. Loads located beside the forklift can´t be picked up. Instead, the operator must drive around the load and position it in front of the forklift before they can lift it. Forklifts also lift loads to limited heights only – you can´t use them to lift loads when working on tall structures.  

How to Choose the Right Aerial Lift for Your Job

Below are the factors you should consider when choosing the right lift equipment. 

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ROI Safety Services can help your company achieve its goals seamlessly. We offer comprehensive machinery handling training, including forklift training, to employees. Our training program will enhance your employees with the right skills for handling these tools on the worksite and help drive your company to achieve its goals. Contact us to begin your success journey today!

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