There are a variety of forklift trucks out there, and when it comes to choosing the right one for the job, a few factors need to be taken into consideration.
They need to be able to handle whatever is required of them, which will mainly involve taking the pressure of handling extremely heavy workloads. Any forklifts that are chosen need to prove that they can be reliable, cost-effective and long-lasting. It’s always best to think about exactly what work needs to be carried out before selecting a forklift.
Two of the most popular types of forklift, are counterbalance forklift trucks and reach forklift trucks. Both of these have their own unique uses and differences, but both are equally prevalent in the industry.
Counterbalance trucks are the most common type of forklift, and they adhere to the stereotypical image of what most people think a forklift looks like. A counterbalance forklift truck is more than equipped to handle the heaviest of loads, thanks to a large dense weight that’s built into the rear of the truck. The weight, as the name of the truck suggests, provides a counterbalance to any load on the frontal forks.
The forks on a counterbalance truck stick out at the front, allowing it to be driven and maneuvered easily to the exact location of any racking or loads. This type of forklift truck is primarily used indoors, on a smooth surface but can still operate effectively outdoors.
As well as being powered with gas, electric or diesel, counterbalance forklift trucks can also be fitted with a wide range of attachments, and there are three-wheel models available for better maneuverability in narrow spaces. Some models can have a lifting capacity of up to 9,000 kg, and lift loads to heights in excess of 3 to 6 metres.
Some counterbalance forklifts are designed to operate in really confined spaces such as containers. Trucks can have low masts that can also be tilted using hydraulic cylinders. As the forklift operator is loading cargo, the masts can pivot back and forth, which adds to the models flexibility.
The other most popular type of forklift is the reach truck, which is designed to be used in warehouses that store pallets and other loads at high levels. As the name suggests, reach forklift trucks are ideal for those who require extended lift with flexible maneuverability.
These forklifts have the ability to use their fork carriage to ‘reach’ out beyond the stabilising legs, enabling them to lift to heights of up to about 12 metres, while still working effectively in tight narrow spaces. No counterbalance weight is needed as the trucks stabilising legs and batteries keep it evenly balanced.
Reach forklift trucks are predominantly battery powered with a lifting capacity of around 2,000 kg or more. Operators will generally sit sideways in these forklifts, although some models allow for the operator to stand, ideal for when they need to jump out quickly at regular intervals.
Unlike counterbalance forklift trucks, reach trucks aren’t particularly suited to working outdoors, mainly due to the fact that their low undercarriage clearance causes issues on rough and uneven surfaces. However, a few models can be fitted with cabs and tyres suitable for outdoor use.
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