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Common Types of Forklifts

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Knowing what type of forklift you need can be a big struggle. Here are some basic descriptions of the most common types of material handling equipment available.

Counterbalance Forklift Trucks

Counterbalance forklift trucks are the most common type of forklift and the type that most people generally think of when renting a forklift. On counterbalance forklifts, the forks protrude from the front of the machine, with no outrigger legs, meaning the forklift can drive up to the exact location of the racking or load. Counterbalance forklifts are available as electric, LP gas, gasoline or diesel powered and come in a wide range of lift capacities. Most will have sideshift attachments and forks, but can be fitted with a variety of other types of attachments as well. As the name suggests, counterbalance forklifts operate a counterbalance weight design, with a weight at the rear of the truck, off-setting the load to be lifted at the front. On electric counterbalance forklifts, the battery is the main source of the counterweight and also powers the equipment.

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3-Wheel Electric Counterbalance Forklift Trucks

3-wheel counterbalance forklifts works the same as regular counterbalance machines, however it has a steer wheel in the center of the rear of the machine that ensures maximum maneuverability. 3-wheel counterbalance forklifts are perfect for use in applications where space is limited, such as narrow aisles, due to their tight turning radius.

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Stand-Up Electric Reach Trucks

Reach trucks are designed predominantly for warehouse operation. They offer maximum lift height with excellent maneuverability. The name refers to the ability of the carriage to reach out beyond the outrigger legs and therefore reach into racking. The combination of this reach capability and the outrigger legs means reach trucks can lift to great heights (up to 30′) while still operating in very tight work spaces.

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Electric Powered Pallet Jacks

Electric powered pallet jacks operate very similar to hand pallet jack. The difference is travel and the lifting of a load are powered by an electric motor. Typically, there is a “paddle” control to select forward or reverse direction, and button control to raise or lower the forks. As with electric powered forklifts, the batteries contained within electric pallet jacks need to be charged. Battery packs often have an internal charger that can be plugged into a wall outlet and charged without the need of a stand alone charger.

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