Like equipment for any industry, forklift selection must be intimately tied to your needs. If you are looking to purchase or rent forklift equipment, you should be intimately aware of the purposes for each type of lift, relative to your specific uses. Below is a short summary of the types of forklifts and their uses, for your basic understanding. Visiting a forklift retailer and detailing your needs will solidify exactly the type of forklift you will want, but the following will give you some cursory information so that you are informed relative to the questions you will ask and the advice you will receive:
- Counterbalance Forklifts: If your need includes heavy lifting, this type of forklift is a must. Weight of any load must be counter-balanced by weight in the back of the truck. These lifts have four wheels and allow the driver to maneuver directly up to the load to be lifted; as well, they come in electric, gas or diesel. Counterbalance forklifts are safe but perhaps not as maneuverable as others.
- Three-Wheel counterbalanced Lifts: The rotational possibilities of a single rear wheel allow the operator to work in tight spaces, and this may be important to your individual needs.
- Reach Trucks: If you will need to lift product relatively high, a reach truck will give the maximum height lift; these vehicles are relatively easy to maneuver, but remember that they operate well only on smooth surfaces – they are set too close to the ground for uneven outside terrain.
- Pump Trucks: These are hand-operated forklifts with no cab for the driver. The lift is hydraulically operated by a pump, and the operator controls the lift by standing behind it. This type of lift is for small loads and is best used on smooth surfaces. If you have a tightly-spaced warehouse and only require a small lift from the ground, this type is for you.
- Sideload forklift: If you have wide loads to move, such as piping or long timbers, this type of forklift will be the best choice, but it is not appropriate for other types of loads.
- Tele-Trucks: If you have the need to pick loads up off of trucks or high pallets, this lift offers the capacity of a boom; be aware, however, that these lifts are very pricey, compared to others. Still, if this is what you need, then it will be your best option.
The other major decision you will need to make is whether you want to invest in the purchase of a new or used forklift or whether it makes better sense to rent one for the occasions in which one will be required. Owning a forklift means maintenance and repair costs, as well as regular safety inspections that conform to local and federal regulations, and insurance. Other considerations relate to type of power sources – gas, electric, or diesel – and you should consult a reputable dealer for advice, again, based upon your specific uses.