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Forklift Classes


Forklifts - for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term - are heavy duty operator assisted motor vehicles used to push, lift and/or stacks stock and supplies. Forklifts typically run on either normal internal combustion engines or on electric motors. Forklift uses are numerous - construction, lumber and building supplies and/or other warehouse operations.

Two important functions that are often discussed when referring to forklifts are their lift capacity and their vertical lift trave. The lift capacity simply refers to the maximum amount of weight that the vehicle can work with or lift. The vertical lift travel, is another name for the distance between the lift when it is at it lowest and highest positions.


Five separate forklift classes exist, before we look at these in detail there are a one or two concepts that you may have to familiarize yourself with:

•  Cushion / solid tires do not need air inflation and as a result puncture less easily and therefore require less monitoring and significantly less maintenance than pneumatic tires. On the other hand though pneumatic tires give load padding and allow for increased traction.

•  Counterbalancing basically prevents the lift from toppling over by using a series of weights. This method is far more convenient than the other alternative of placing supports under the loads.

Below are the five classes of forklifts.






Electric motor

Stand-up or seated

Three wheeled with cushion or pneumatic tires.


Electric motor

Varies with Make

Extra reach and swing for narrow aisle work.


Electric motor

Stand-up / walk behind

Counterbalanced automated pallet and high-lift.


Internal Combustion

Sit-in Cab

Counterbalanced with cushion tires


Internal Combustion

Sit-in Cab

Counterbalanced with pneumatic tires.

There are features that are common to nearly all forklift classes such as tilting and rotating frames and wheels to increase the vehicles overall manoeuvrability and resultant efficiency. Some wheels also may be fitted with stabilizing outriggers.
The lifts themselves can have safety rails installed to minimize the risk of a load sliding or falling off. It also has become customary for such heavy duty vehicles to have a flashing audible siren mounted on them - this way other workers are aware of its movements and this reduces the chance of an accident occurring.

The decision to purchase such an expensive and complex piece of hydraulic equipment ion is not something to be taken likely. A lot of thought and consideration needs to go in to how such a piece of equipment well benefit operations. You might find that by considering the following questions you will be better equipped to make your final decision.

  • Have other alternatives been considered? Have you looked into other hoisting devices and the practicality of them?
  • Would the work space accommodate the use of such a vehicle, or would it interfere with the smoothness of other operations?
  • Could the use of a lift truck minimize the current safety risks that employees are exposed to?
  • What would be the most difficult and challenging task that it would face?
  • How often would such a machine be utilized?
  • Would other attachments be needed to further increase efficiency?

For further information please contact your nearest dealer.