When making the purchase of a forklift truck, there are a range of aspects that need to be considered. One of the first things that need to be decided is the type of forklift truck that will best suit the needs of your warehouse and business. Each type does slightly different jobs, explained below.
Counterbalance Forklifts: the standard option
A counterbalance forklift truck is the vehicle that one tends to picture when thinking of a forklift. These are by far the most common trucks in operation around the world, with forks at the front of the vehicle and no supporting legs or arms needed to carry out its lifting and carrying duties. Because of its small operating footprint, this sort of truck can get right up to the items and locations your goods will be moved to, meaning that there is no need for a reach facility. Counterbalance forklifts are therefore the simplest trucks to operate. The counterbalance alludes to the heavy weight situated at the rear of the vehicle to counteract the effect of the load being lifted. Generally speaking in electric vehicles, the battery provides this ballast.
Three wheeled counterbalance trucks: increase manoeuvrability
A three wheeled counterbalance forklift works very similarly to its four wheeled brother, with easy access to racking and goods, but the orientation of the wheels contribute to a vast improvement in manoeuvrability. The fact that there is a single central wheel at the rear of these forklift trucks dramatically reduces their turning circle, making them ideal for warehouses with smaller operating spaces. Similarly, given that three wheeled counterbalance trucks have a relatively high ground clearance, they are ideal if they need to be used both inside and out.
Reach trucks: when you can’t get where you need
Reach trucks are named for their ability to reach into warehouse racking to deposit or retrieve goods. Due to the use of stabilising legs, reach trucks do not need to have an onboard counterbalance, making them far lighter and they also retain their manoeuvrability. These trucks are perfect in a tightly packed warehouse, as they allow a great deal of versatility in their use. Some reach trucks have tilting cabs to allow the operator a better view of their load when dealing with high racking. Due to low ground clearance, a reach truck is not recommended for use outside.
Pump trucks: fun for the whole workforce
Although necessary for the operation of most warehouses, forklift trucks do come with their sticking points: mainly that all operators need to have a license in order to drive one. Whilst that will be fine for your warehouse staff, if other workers need access to items from the warehouse, it is a great idea to have a fleet of hand pump trucks so that all staff can retrieve their goods, so long as they’re stored at ground level.
A forklift truck can be a fairly large investment. Whether buying new or second hand forklift trucks, choosing the correct variant can help to increase productivity.
Rob Jewell has written articles for Trucks Direct UK and other companies about a wide range of subjects. When he is not writing, Rob can often be found listening to new music and wondering why none of it is any good anymore.