A Beginner’s Guide to Forklifts

Looking at purchasing a forklift for your company's warehouse, but lacking equipment expertise? Here is some basic information about the different types of forklifts, their operation, and their uses for anyone looking to purchase one for their company.

More Common Forklift Designs


  • Industrial Reach Forklift Trucks: Industrial reach forklifts are typically chosen for their height, which is perfect for any warehouse situation with high stacks of palleted items. Forklift operators generally sit to use this type of forklift, although standing varieties are also available.
  • Industrial Counterbalance Forklifts: These are the most common forklifts used in indoor warehouses, but can be used outdoors as well. Capable of carrying between one and five tons, these forklifts are some of the most straightforward to operate, making them a popular choice.
  • Pedestrian Operated Pallet Trucks: These forklifts are fairly similar to industrial counterbalance forklifts, with one notable exception. Rather than being ridden like the previously mentioned forklifts, the operator stands behind the lift to operate it. These smaller devices are best used for moving pallets at ground level, as their reach is particularly limited.

Specialized Forklift Designs

  • Industrial Side Loader Forklifts: Industrial side loaders are the best choice for your warehouse if you're up against long, narrow aisles or awkwardly shaped loads. Because of the unusual design of these forklifts, they are best suited to lifting long, heavy, narrow items that would otherwise be difficult to lift with a more standard forklift.
  • Rough Terrain Forklifts: These forklifts are designed specifically to tackle terrain unable to be accessed by other types of machinery. They will often be used for outdoor construction projects, even in areas where they will have to maneuver through mud, ice, or snow. However, make sure that your operator has plenty of equipment expertise for any of these terrains to ensure maximum safety.
  • Telescopic Handler Forklifts: Telescopic handlers might look more like cranes than forklifts to most people, but in reality, they are forklifts designed for reaching otherwise inaccessible areas. Their telescoping boom allows them to reach difficult heights, making them an ideal option for tree work or warehouses with especially high ceilings.

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