What is a Forklift Truck?

September 13, 2012

These trucks go by several names including forklift truck, fork truck, and lift truck. They are used to lift and move large loads. They are used in many industries such as distribution centers, warehouses, lumber yards, grocery stores, home improvement stores, and recycling facilities. This machinery has been around since 1917 and have been refined through the years to the essential piece of equipment we have today. There are several types to meet various weight limits and customer needs. Most work in a specific application but some can be multiple uses.

The prongs, or tines, jutting out of the front are a crucial element to the device. You use the prongs by inserting them under your material and raising it above the ground. Once you have properly lifted and secured your load, it can safely be relocated. By carefully using the machine’s controls, you can then lower and release the materials.

Trucks are categorized in eight classes by the Industrial Truck Association:

Class I – Electric motor rider truck

Class II – Electric motor narrow aisle truck

Class III – Electric motor hand truck

Class IV – Internal combustion truck, cushion tires

Class V – Internal combustion truck, pneumatic tires

Class VI – Electric and internal combustion tractor

Class VII – Rough terrain forklift truck

Class VIII – Hand pallet truck

Electric varieties are powered by batteries that require frequent charging. They cost less to operate than those that are gas-powered and they are much quieter. These types of lifts are normally used indoors where there isn’t much ventilation. They can lift up to about 15,000 pounds.

Internal combustion varieties are fueled by gasoline, diesel fuel, liquid propane or compressed natural gas. These are normally used outside due to the fumes from the fuel. They can lift anywhere from about 15,000 – 35,000 pounds.

Manual varieties mainly consist of a handle for pushing and steering and have adjustable blades and a pressure pump for raising and lowering the blades. These are primarily used for lifting only a few inches off the ground. They are used in many grocery stores and can lift up to about 5,000 pounds.