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Which Forklift Is Right for Your Job?

There are several kinds of forklifts, and each one is suited for a particular job. For example, some can be used for indoor jobs and others are only safe to operate outside. These are some common tasks that call for a forklift and which machine is right for you.

Inventory Management: Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks are ideal for simple inventory management and other tasks in which you have to move light pallets over short distances. These aren’t the type of forklift you drive, but they’re the most basic type of material handling equipment that you can rent. Both manual and electric pallet jacks are available.

Retail Shipping and Receiving: Walkie Stackers

Walkie stackers get their name from the fact that the operator has to walk or ride behind these motorized lifts. These forklifts are designed to lift goods higher than what you can manage with a pallet jack but can’t handle weights greater than 5,000 pounds. Small storerooms and warehouses easily traversed on foot benefit from this type of machinery.

Warehouse Management: Warehouse Forklifts

Image via Flickr by darkday.

These forklifts are designed to handle the unique demands of a warehouse. The driver needs to maneuver between aisles and boxes, so these machines can turn on a dime and have enough power to travel quickly across the warehouse floor. Warehouse forklifts are equipped with either pneumatic or cushion tires. The former are geared toward heavy lifting, and the latter provide a tighter turning radius at the expense of some ground clearance.

Construction Management: Rough Terrain Forklifts

For outdoor projects, you may need to rent a rough terrain forklift. This equipment is specifically designed to traverse rocks and some sloped terrain while carrying a load (usually under 8,000 pounds). These machines are equipped with a straight mast, which is what you’ll find with warehouse forklifts and some walkie stackers.

Farming: Telehandlers

Telehandlers come in a range of sizes and weight capacity ratings, typically from 5,000 to 20,000 pounds. This is the only forklift option with a boom, which makes the machine look like a hybrid between a crane and a forklift. The telescopic arm gives operators a wide range of motion for loading, and these machines can be equipped with large wheels for rough terrain. This makes them ideal for agriculture and similar industries.

Container Shipping: Industrial Forklift

Industrial forklifts are made to handle projects that deal with a massive amount of weight. Warehouse forklifts come rated from roughly 5,000 to 25,000 pounds, but industrial forklifts can handle between 30,000 and 36,000 pounds. This is ideal for cargo containers and other large loads. If you plan to hire a contractor to complete a project with a rented industrial forklift, you’ll need to confirm that they carry proper insurance.

These are six types of forklifts that you might consider for your next project. Once you know what type you need, you’ll have to determine what lift height, load capacity, tire type, and fuel type is appropriate for your work. This will ensure that you have sufficient functionality to complete your job, and it will help you avoid paying for more than you need.