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Know the Different Types of Forklifts


Forklifts come in a variety of classes that are designed to accomplish specific tasks on a work site. It is important to learn about the various forklift classifications to be the most productive. And so operators can be trained to operate each correctly and safety, reducing the risk of any accidents happening as a result of ignorant drivers.

Here are the seven basic types of forklifts and how they are used on worksites:

1.       Class 1 Electric Motor Rider Trucks

Also known as a three-wheel forklift, class 1 forklifts consist of counterbalanced rider and stand up forklifts, with either cushion or pneumatic tires. They are mainly used indoors, in warehouses, or on smooth surfaces where four-wheel forklifts cannot move efficiently. They are electric powered and are used for unloading trucks and moving pallets.

2.       Class 2 Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Forklifts

Narrow aisle forklifts are used to rack pallets on smooth surfaces between narrow warehouse aisles. The single reach forklifts can extend the distance of one pallet while double reach forklifts can extend the distance of two pallets. Outriggers are used to support the weight of the load. All of these types of narrow aisle forklifts are electrically powered.

3.       Class 3 Electric Motor Hand Trucks

Class 3 forklifts consist of hand and hand/rider forklifts which are used for loading and unloading trailers and transporting loads within short distances. They are not driven like rider and narrow aisle forklifts but are “walk behind” controlled instead.

4.       Class 4 Internal Combustion Engine Forklifts with Cushion Tires

Counterbalanced forklift with cushion tires are not powered by an electric motor, but by propane, gasoline, or diesel engines. They can generate more power than electric trucks and can move faster over long distances. They are used for unloading trucks and moving pallets and other loads.

5.       Class 5 Internal Combustion Engine Trucks with Solid Tires

These forklifts are the same as class 4 internal combustion engine trucks, but they are fitted with solid, or pneumatic, tires. This class has greater ground clearance than internal combustion forklifts with cushion tires and can travel on a variety of surfaces.

6.       Class 6 Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Trucks

A class 6 powered industrial forklift is a sit-down rider and is used to transport personnel around a warehouse in a quick fashion. One-man trucks come with three wheels, and larger four-wheel trucks come with beds on the back for hauling loads. They can be powered by electric motors, or diesel, gasoline, and propane engines. They also come with either cushion or pneumatic tires, depending on the terrain type.

7.       Class 7 Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklifts are designed for natural and uneven terrain on construction sites. The three basic types of rough terrain forklifts are vertical mast forklifts which are designed for outdoor use, variable reach forklifts which come with a telescopic boom to access various heights, and trailer mounted forklifts which are portable, self-propelled lifts that are used to unload heavy items from the truck or trailer at a job site.

For more information regarding forklifts and how you can get certified to operate the various classifications, check out





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