A large purchase for many business' is a Forklift. Forklift's can incur a high cost and can affect productivity. In some cases, you may need more than one type for efficiency and safety. Finding the perfect fit may seem challenging, however, below we have broken down the 7 different classes of forklifts to help pave the path to choosing the right forklift for your business.
Choosing the right type of Forklift.
The Forklift revolutionized the industrial industry by allowing people to move more product faster and efficiently. Forklifts date back to the First World War and since then equipment has evolved from the basic lifting of a pallet off the ground. Now a days, forklifts are found in every warehouse operation around the globe. Today’s forklifts are designed for all different kinds of jobs and applications.
Due to the wide range of forklifts and material handling equipment available in today’s market, it can be hard to determine which type of is best suited for your business.
Forklifts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each of which have unique features, functionalities, and applications that make them ideal for different types of jobs. Choosing the right forklift for your specific project can make it easier for you and your employees to meet your company objectives.
What 5 things you should consider before selecting a Forklift?
Environment: Your business environment directly influences the type of forklift you should choose. Consider the floor surface and conditions the forklift will be working on. Is it smooth or does it have rough surfaces? Will you be using this forklift Inside, outdoors, or both? How many hours per day will the forklift be used?
Load Size / Capacity: It is crucial to ask yourself; What type of stock will the forklift handle? What is your average load weight? What is the heaviest load you need to lift? What is the width of your loads? You will need to select a forklift that has a large enough capacity to handle your weight requirements.
Height: What is your typical lift height? What is the highest point the forklift needs to reach? Are there any height restrictions to consider? (example: ceiling beams or low hanging lights). You must also consider the collapsed height of the mast if you require the forklift to move underneath a fixed height structure, for example: a garage or container door.
Forklifts come with many options for Mast height. You will need to select one that reaches the height levels. Mast heights can range from 80" - 278" inches or more.
Fuel Type: There are now 4 types of fuel options for forklift trucks – electric, gas, diesel and propane. Some newer models are now being offered with natural gas.
Internal combustion engine forklifts operated by gas, diesel and propane can lift much bigger loads and move faster and more efficiently. Hence, you should select them if you need a forklift for heavy lifting or outdoors. As well they are easy to refuel. Electric forklifts are growing in popularity due to being environmentally friendly. They are also suitable for industries like those in food production. Battery forklifts do however need to be charged, therefore you need to account for this time between operation.
Tires: There are various types of tires available for forklifts. The most common are solid ) cushion tire) or pneumatic (air filled with tread). Each with their specific use and suited to certain environments. Cushion tire is for indoor use on even, level surfaces. While pneumatic tires are more suited for rough terrain or outdoors.
7 Classes of Forklifts to choose from.
There are seven main forklift classes which have been complied by the ITA ( Industrial Truck Association). These classes are recognized by the MOL and OHSA.
Class I, IV, V : Counter Balance - Electric Rider Trucks & Internal Combustion Engine
Counter Balance is probably the most recognized type of Forklift truck. It is versatile and offers indoor/ outdoor use and many weight capacities. It not only transports loads on to and off of racking, but can be used to load/ unload trucks and trailers.
Class I: Forklift Counter Balance Rider Trucks can be stand up or sit down.
These types of lift trucks are equipped with pneumatic or cushioned tires.
This equipment is powered by industrial batteries and use transistor motor controllers to control travel and hoist functions.
The average weight capacity of Class I Counter Balance Forklifts is 2,500 to 12,000 lbs.
Class IV: These Counter Balance forklifts are used inside on dry smooth floors for transporting loads to and from the loading docks. These are cushioned tired and are lower to the ground than a counterbalance pneumatic tire which allows a low clearance application. They have an internal combustion engine.
The average weight capacity of Class IV Counter Balance Forklifts is 3,000 to 15,500 lbs.
Class V: This types of Counter Balance truck has an internal combustion engine and can be used indoors or outdoors. Due to the large capacity range, they can be found handling small single pallet loads to 40-foot containers. The average weight capacity of Class IV Counter Balance Forklifts is 3,000 to 36,000 lbs. Some custom Class V Forklifts can run up to 55,000 lbs.
Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks
These types are made for businesses that opt for very narrow aisle operations. They offer maximum use of storage space, and minimize the space occupied by the truck as well as improve speed and efficiency.
Reach Trucks have dual forks in the front that rise while the operator stays on the ground level. They offer an outrigger and telescoping forks which allow the operator to pick loads up and retract them. Narrow Aisle Lift trucks are built to perform the same task, lifting pallets / product to the top of racks and shelves. Thus, class II machines are kept indoors and are the best fit for warehouses with many materials stacked on shelves. They are operated by batteries.
Order Pickers have a platform that rises with the forks so that the operator can be eye to eye with the pallets. It has operators ride up and down with the load and they must be secured to the truck using a safety harness. This is perfect type for piece picking.
The average weight capacity of Class II Trucks is 1,500 to 5,500 lbs.
Class III: Electric Motorized Hand or Rider Trucks
Also known as Walkie / Rider Pallet Lift Trucks. These are are made to unload and horizontally transport pallets or carts around warehouses quickly. The do not have a mast and use pallet forks or a platform to haul loads several inches off the ground.
They can come in Walkie Pallet Truck - which is without a operator platform and operators walk with the truck.
A Rider Pallet Truck which is equipped with an operator platform, whereas the operator will "ride" on the trucks.. The most common use for these trucks are unloading semi-trailers and moving pallets to a staging area.
Please note: There is a make of a electric motor hand walkie which do have a mast - called a Walkie / Stacker.
The average weight capacity of Class III Walkie / Rider Pallet Trucks is 2,000 to 12,000 lbs.
Class VI - Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors
These vehicles are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. They are equipped with either internal combustion engines or for outdoor use or battery-powered electric motors for indoor use. The average weight capacity of Class 6 Tractors is 3,000 to 6,000 lbs.
Class VII - Rough Terrain Forklift Truck
These trucks have pneumatic tires and are almost exclusively operated by diesel engines and used outdoors on construction sites to transport and lift building materials. Some trucks are equipped with traditional (fixed) mast, while others use a telescopic style mast. Rough terrain forklifts are typically intended for use on unimproved natural terrain and disturbed terrain construction sites. There ae 3 basic types - Vertical, Variable Reach and Self Propelled which are usually mounted to the the back of a truck / trailer. Rough terrain forklifts are for outdoors use on difficult surfaces.
The average weight capacity of Class VII Rough Terrain Trucks is 3,000 up towards 125,000 lbs.
Invest in the Right Forklift for Your Business. Choosing the proper forklift for your business can improve productivity and keep your operational costs down.