Types of forklift? You mean there’s more than one? Professionals in construction, logistics, and even retail know that not all forklifts are the same. Those on the shop floor, around the machines everyday, can pick the right type for the job without even thinking about it. There’s different types of forklift not only in models, but also how they’re powered.


Types of forklift by model

4WD/All-terrain: These are the ‘tough guys’ on the work site. All-terrain forklifts are suitable for working in rougher conditions. It’s not fit for purpose in a warehouse setting. Four wheel drive models can work in mud, dust, sand, and uneven terrain thanks to their larger tires and engine power. These models are commonly seen on military bases and outdoor work sites.


Container handler: These machines really do ‘make light work of heavy lifting’. You’ll find them mostly on dockyards, large open worksites, and some warehouses. Hyster models are capable of carrying 46,000 kilograms. Lift capacity varies among the different models; some only carry empty containers and others can shift a full load.

Like the all-terrain models, container handlers can lift several tonnes. Their tyres, tread, and rear counterbalancing make it easier to load and transport goods with relative ease. Developments in ergonomics, like enclosed cabins with aircon and better rear vision, let the drivers work in relative comfort.


Aisle masters: They’re the workhorses in the warehouse, the factory and any other place that loads and unpacks heavy stock.

Aisle masters, also called counterbalance forklifts, come in three and four-wheeled variations. They can lift a couple of thousand kilos and take care of most basic heavy lifting jobs.


Pallet truck, manual and powered: Pallet trucks are the babies of the forklift world, but don’t discount them because of their size. When using a regular model forklift is too much, these guys come to the rescue.

Pallet jacks let people pull up to two tonnes of stock with little effort. Powered varieties are ideal for delivery services and they’re commonly seen in shopping centres. Both manual and powered pallet trucks are small enough to move around shop floors, like in a supermarket or a furniture display store.


Types of forklift by power source

Diesel: This fuel type is common among all forklift models. Innovations are being made to shift away from diesel to other power sources, but this will be the mainstay for years to come.


LPG: Gas isn’t just for the barbecue! LPG forklifts are easy to power and are commonly  found in warehouses in remote areas. Canisters are simply swapped out when they run out of gas, eliminating the need for an on-site petrol station.  


Electric: Cars that run on electricity? Forklifts were way ahead in that game. These types are only found in regular counterbalance models and some pallet types at the moment. They don’t emit a lot of noise and no petrol fumes. This makes better working conditions for the driver and less of an impact on the environment.