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Choosing The Right Forklift For the Job

Forklifts represent a costly investment for any business. It is crucial that you choose the most effective model for type of work you intend to use it for. There are several different types of forklift and many can be fitted with exchangeable components. Here is a quick guide to help make sure you choose the right forklift for you!

What Will Your Forklift be Doing?

It makes sense that your choice of forklift should reflect the work you expect to be doing with it. Ask the following questions to yourself:

  • Will you be using it indoors or outside?
  • What sort of loads will you be moving?
  • Are there any space restrictions where your forklift will be going, like narrow aisles or barriers?
  • Is there more than one type of job you might need it for?
  • Are there any special considerations you should make, such as for inclines or tight corners that operators will have to work with?

By identifying the features you want in a forklift, you will be able to find the most suitable model for your company.

Forklifts for Indoors

Using machinery and equipment indoors means you have to be aware of air quality. Since you’re working in a closed space, you won’t want the machines you use to release any harmful gases. Electric forklifts are an emission-free solution. This makes them perfect for work in enclosed buildings, keeping the air clean and the temperature down with their increased efficiency. The dense batteries also contribute towards the counterweight required to offset heavy loads. They are nimble and easy to move around in tight spaces. They are extremely common, so you should start here if you want a forklift you can use indoors.

Next you should take a look at the height and width of your aisles. If they’re particularly tall, industrial reach forklifts (pictured below) are available. These have the greatest lifting heights out of all warehouse vehicles. They are suitable to use on flat surfaces and have good manoeuvrability, making them useful within all but the most narrow aisles. You should get an industrial reach forklift if your pallet racking is above 4.5 metres (15 ft).

reach forklift
© Wacker Neuson Ltd.

If horizontal space is an issue, a side-loading forklift may be the required solution. The fork is at a right angle to the rest of the machine, meaning the forklift doesn’t have to turn within aisles. Also referred to as a VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) truck, this type of forklift is the best option to use if your warehouse has extremely narrow aisles which cannot feasibly be turned around in.

Space may not be a big problem in your warehouse, in which case you should consider a typical counterbalance forklift. These are the most common type of warehousing forklift, and perform as an ‘all rounder’ solution. They have good load capacities, manoeuvrability, and are easy to understand and operate. Provided your warehouse has no special requirements for a forklift, the wide selection and simplicity of a counterbalance truck make them an excellent option.

Forklifts for Outdoors

If you’re not working in an enclosed space, a forklift with an engine can be used. These offer several benefits when working outside, such as higher top speeds, more available power and the ability to move across uneven terrain with greater stability. These machines come with features such as tyres with thick treads and stronger chassis, making them more robust.

Rough terrain forklifts are a common outdoor solution. They can transport loads over virtually any type of terrain, and have a precisely calibrated counterbalance to maintain stability across surfaces such as mud, stones and ice. These machines have great handling and are well-suited to traverse busy areas. They’re great for transporting heavy loads across uneven ground, and you should consider one if you want a powerful and sturdy outdoor solution.

In the construction and agriculture industries, it can often be beneficial to have a machine with a very long reach, able to transport goods up multiple storeys. A telescopic handler forklift (pictured below) is a great solution for this case. They have a large telescopic arm, capable of extending to over 20 metres in some cases.

telescopic handler forklift
© Peter O’Connor (Flickr)

These types of forklifts are also often found with different attachments, for transporting different types of goods or even people. You should consider a telescopic handler if you’re after an outdoor machine with incredible versatility!

Scissor Lifts

You may want a piece of machinery more suited to lift pedestrians for maintenance purposes. In this case you should look into scissor lifts. Available as both indoor and outdoor solutions, they are ideal for maintenance, cleaning, fitting wires and plumbing. They can also be used to collect smaller items from high racking in warehouses. If you intend to lift pedestrians primarily, a scissor lift is the best machine for the job.

scissor lift
© Cramo Group (Flickr)

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