If you are looking for one or more forklifts, you have many options available to you. Some of the many standard forklift types that forklift suppliers sell include walkie forklifts, sideloaders, platform trucks, straddle trucks, stand up forklifts, narrow aisle forklifts, order picker trucks, and turret forklifts.

Walkie forklifts are electric forklifts that allow forklift operators to safely drive them on smooth concrete in indoor settings. The reason they allow this is their wheels, which are designed for motion on smooth concrete.

Sideloaders have a lifting platform that extends from the side of the forklift, while all other types have a lifting platform on the front of the vehicle. Heavy duty lift applications require the use of sideloaders.

Platform trucks are not technically a type of industrial forklift, but they are a type of industrial truck that can be used in some similar applications. Most often, this is when a pallet needs to be moved across a floor or loaded into a tractor trailer. A platform truck is composed of a simple flatbed on wheels that can fit under a pallet. Operators use a handle to control manual transportation, and a lever allows them to raise or lower a load just a few inches off of the ground. If a lift is expected to carry extremely heavy loads, manufacturers can add stabilizing bars to reinforce the platform as it raises and lowers loads.

Straddle trucks are a type of forklift that feature a wider base than a typical forklift. Manufacturers design them with this base so that they can operate in heavy duty settings and lift large loads higher than normal forklifts.

Stand up forklifts are small forklifts designed for expedience. They do not offer a place for the operator sit, which is why they’re called stand up forklifts. Using stand up forklifts, operators can perform quick and frequent indoor loading and unloading tasks. Because they are small, stand up forklifts are especially useful in tight spaces.

Narrow aisle forklifts are specifically designed to move in small spaces.

Order picker trucks, also known as reach trucks or warehouse forklifts, allow warehouse workers to reach products or equipment (equipment forklifts) stored on high shelves. They often do so in the service of filling orders, thus the name.

Turret forklifts can raise a load high off of the ground and rotate it at a 90-degree angle.

All of these forklifts fall into one of seven forklift classes. These classes divide the forklifts based on factors like the type of tires used and the engine type. To a lesser degree, these classes also consider forklift counterbalancing methods. (Counterbalancing is the use of weighted items to keep the forklift from falling over from too much weight.)

Class 1 forklifts are electric motor rider trucks. They may be either seated or stand-up models with three-wheel designs. Usually, they feature counterbalancing in the form of pneumatic wheels or cushioning.

Class 2 forklifts are narrow aisle electric motor forklifts. Narrow aisle forklift trucks allow operators to maneuver in small spaces, like narrow aisles. To assist with user applications, class 2 forklift equipment may have swing mast or extra reach features.

Class 3, or electric hand riders, are forklifts that operators operate either while walking behind or standing on them. Examples of class 3 forklifts include high lift forklifts and pallet lift trucks (pallet trucks).

Class 4 forklifts are those forklifts that feature internal combustion engines and cushion tires (cushion tire forklifts). Typically, they also have seated controls and cabs.

Class 5 forklifts are similar to class 4 forklifts. Like class 4 forklifts, class 5 forklifts feature internal combustion engines, seated controls, and cabs. Unlike class 4 forklifts, they (usually) also feature pneumatic tires and counterbalancing.

Class 6 forklifts are tractors that feature either internal combustion engines or electric engines.

Class 7 forklifts include those forklifts that can work in rough terrains (rough terrain forklifts), like construction areas.

Equipment Components

Forklift trucks generally feature wheels, a fork or lift platform, a lift mechanism, operator controls, and an engine.

Wheels of a forklift truck can be fitted with outriggers for stabilization. They vary from solid rubber to pneumatic.

Forks or platforms are the space on which operators carry and transport material loads. They can be adjusted to different widths depending on their use. Most pallets have a standard size to accommodate the forks of a lift.

Lift mechanisms, which are literal fork lifts, designed for forklifts are usually powered with hydraulic hoses.

Controls may be next to a driver’s seat, or they may be in an area designed for the operator to stand and control the unit. Either way, controls allow the operator to raise and lower the load once it has been moved to the desired space. Also, the driver is always behind the forks so they can visualize the pallet they are lifting.

Forklift engines are either an internal combustion engine (gas powered) or an electric motor.

To increase maneuverability, many forklifts have tilting or rotating frames and wheels.

Forklifts are also loaded with safety features and attachments designed to protect drivers and the people around them. These features include sirens, horns, flashing lights, headlights, signal lights, a seat belt, and guard rails.