The forklift (also known as a forklift truck, fork truck or a lift truck) was first developed in the 20th century and is a powered industrial truck. A forklift is predominately used to lift and move goods short distances. The use of the forklift truck and the development of pallets for stacking came in to popular use during the Second World War whereby logistics became essential to the war efforts. It’s rare you will find a warehouse in the world without a forklift as it has become an essential piece of equipment for anyone storing or handling cargo worldwide.
Shortly after the Second World War the need for manoeuvrable forklift trucks became evident. Warehouse facilities were looking for more efficient methods for storage and having the need for an industrial piece of equipment that could store things higher, neater and quicker became essential.
It was actually a British company, Lansing Bagnall, that introduced the first narrow aisle electric reach truck. This allowed warehouses to have narrower aisles and higher cargo stacking which increased their storage capabilities.
Types of Forklifts
There are many types of lift truck types. The types most commonly used today are:
Hand pallet truck – As the name suggests this has no on-board power system. The muscle power of the manual operator is used to jack the truck up and move loads.
Power pallet truck – As above, but powered electrically.
Walkie stacker – Electrically powered for the high stacking of goods.
Reach truck – These are a little more specialist and are perfect for small aisles. They are named a reach truck because the forks can extend to the load.
Electric fork lift – These are powered by lead-acid batteries and last for approximately 6 hours. These types of forklifts are predominantly used on indoor flat surfaces. The electric fork-lift is eco-friendly and is popular in food processing and healthcare sectors.
Internal Combustion Engine Powered Counterbalanced Forklift – The engines of these forklifts can be diesel, natural gas, kerosene or propane fuelled.
Sometimes certain loads might need a little extra help. There are a few common attachments that are used to supplement forklifts worldwide. Here are just a few:
Fork Positioner – This hydraulic attachment removes the need for the operator to manually adjust the forks.
Side shifter – This hydraulic attachment means that the operator can move the forks and backrest laterally. Without having to re-position the truck you can easily place the load.
Pole Attachments – As the name suggest these are often used to move longer materials such as carpets or metal coils.