Forklift is a versatile machine that has been around since the 1920s. After almost a century of existence, forklifts are now used far and wide and in every sort of industry imaginable.
Forklifts are most commonly used in industries such as agriculture and construction as well as for poultry and industrial distribution.
It is estimated that there are over 855,000 forklifts currently in use in the United States alone. This makes forklifts an integral part of any workforce operation that takes place in warehouses or operational sites.
If you are just starting out in the material handling industry, it is imperative for you to come to grips with forklifts. This includes knowing how they work, how they are made and most importantly, all the different types used in operation.
Once you are equipped with this knowledge, it would be easier for you as a fleet manager to decide whether to buy a brand new forklift or purchase used forklift trucks for sale. This decision is, in fact one of the most important you will make as the fleet manager for a material handling business.
In this article we shall be going over the general classification of forklifts. It is important to note here that the classification of forklifts is not the same as types of forklifts.
Where the types of forklifts can be determined on the basis of their functionality, the classification of forklifts relies predominantly on their construction and features.
As such, it is essential to understand the different classifications of forklifts before we move onto the various types.
So let us take a look at the main classes of forklifts and how they are used in operations in various industries.
How are Forklifts Classified?
As mentioned above, forklifts are classified on a number of factors including uses. The classification of forklifts is done on the following basis:
- fuel options
- features of the forklift
Keeping these factors in mind, experts classify all forklifts into seven classes. Let us take a quick look at each one of them.
1. Electric Motor Rider Trucks
As the name suggests, these forklifts are powered by industrial batteries and not the conventional combustion engine. This makes them eco-friendly and efficient.
Due to their efficiency in maintaining eco-friendly standards, they are used in places where environmental laws are strict. They are also used in places where air quality needs to be considered and carbon levels need to be kept in check.
These classes of forklifts are usually used in the loading docks and storage facility. You can consider purchasing this class of used forklift trucks.
However, it has to be from a reliable retailer such as Truck Forklifts who are renowned for providing dependable used equipment.
2. Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
They are most commonly used in warehouses and storage spaces. They are designed in a way to occupy minimum space. This makes them ideal in navigating narrow aisles and increasing the efficiency of work in a confined space.
3. Electric Motor Hand-Rider Trucks
These forklifts are also powered by electric motors; however they do not have automatic controls for forklift operation. Instead the operator sits at the front of the forklift and operates it through a steering tiller.
The tiller has all of the controls mounted on it. This allows the operator to steer it from side to side to control the movement of the forklift.
4. Internal Combustion Engine Truck with Pneumatic Tires
The next class of forklifts is built with the good old combustion engine. This makes them more powerful, having greater weight lifting capacity and speed.
However, that does mean they put out more carbon into the air. This particular type of forklift has pneumatic tires that are excellent for traction on the ground. As such, they are used in warehouses but can also be used outdoors.
5. Internal Combustion Engine Truck with Cushion Tires
The internal combustion forklifts having cushion tires are used most commonly indoors. The cushion tires stick to the surface and have low ground clearance. This makes them ideal for use in indoor operational sites but not so great for outdoor operation.
6. Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Trucks
These are the next generation in truck forklifts used nowadays. They can be equipped with either an internal combustion engine or an electric battery and are ideal for use indoors.
Due to their dual engine and battery option, they do generally cost more than other classes of forklifts.
7. Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks
These are specially designed for rough terrain. As such, they have large floatation tires for outdoor use on difficult surfaces. This is why they are most commonly used in construction, agriculture, and poultry and sometimes for industrial distribution.
These were the seven main classes of forklifts used today. Be sure to read up on the types of forklifts as well to gain a better understanding of them.