Whilst a forklift is an important piece of equipment for any warehouse, it is important that you have thought carefully about what type is best. They will all provide the capability to lift and transport heavy loads from one end of the warehouse to the other, but some will benefit you in other ways, too. There are so many different types of forklift to choose from that making a final decision on which one best suits your needs can become problematic.
There are several classifications of forklift, including:
- Class I – general forklifts or electric motor rider trucks
- Class II – electric motor machines for narrow aisles
- Class III – electric motor hand trucks or hand/rider trucks
- Class IV – internal combustion engine machines
- Class V – internal combustion engine tractors
- Class VI – electric and internal combustion engine tractors
- Class VII – rough terrain forklifts
Choosing the Right Class for your Warehouse
Forklifts are powered by one of two sources – internal combustion or electric engines. An internal combustion engine might be fueled by gas, petrol or even diesel whilst electric ones are powered by an onboard battery. It should also be noted that forklifts are graded by a lift code, which further classifies them according to the type of mast, carriage or fork that the machine is equipped with. The type of warehouse that you run will dictate the appropriate type of machine.
A warehouse with a conventional rack storage system, for example, could utilise a counterbalance lift truck with either an electric or internal combustion engine. You will find these types of forklift in Class I and Class IV. A warehouse that has a narrow aisle storage system most likely cannot accommodate the width of a counterbalance lift truck. In these situations, reach trucks and pickers might be more appropriate. These are found in Class II.
Additional considerations when choosing
There are some other important considerations that should be taken into account when making your selection. One of these is the availability of space within your warehouse for fuel storage and the noise output of your chosen forklift. These concerns may, however, be outweighed by your need for a heavy lifter versus one that is both agile and able to operate in confined spaces.
Internal combustion engines have the ability to lift between 6000 and 16,000kgs and generally cost less than electric ones. It is important to note, however, that they operate at a higher noise level and actually cost more to maintain and fuel. Electric forklifts are higher in cost initially, but do operate at lower costs as there is no need for fuel storage (just a power source).
We hope that the information provided above has enabled you to choose a forklift that meets the needs of your warehouse perfectly. As you can see, there are a number of different forklifts on the market – each of them offering different benefits and drawbacks. This is why it is important that you have carefully considered each option in relation to your own needs, otherwise you risk making the wrong choice (which can be disastrous).