How to Choose the Right Type of Forklift

by Rob Webb, on May 13, 2019 7:00:00 AM

How_to_choose_the_right_forkliftFinding the right forklift for your application and budget can seem overwhelming, but answering a few key questions can make the decision easy. Read on to find out:

  • What applications should always use electric forklifts
  • When mast height really matters
  • How busy multi-shift operations can save money
  • Other great tips to help you buy with confidence

Compare Forklifts and Find the Right Lift Truck for Your Application

Quickly and easily compare forklifts with Toyota Forklift’s online tool. Or, get started by reviewing our guide to purchasing a forklift below.

Lift Height
How high do you need to lift your loads? If you need to load/unload from trailers, pay attention to the lowered mast height of the forklift.

What is the maximum weight you need to lift? It's important to buy a forklift that can handle more than your heaviest load. Keep in mind that attachments will reduce your forklift’s capacity. The most common forklift capacities are:

  • 3,000 lbs or less
  • 3,000 - 6,500 lbs
  • 6,500 - 8,000 lbs
  • 8,000 - 12,000 lbs
  • 12,000 - 17,500 lbs
  • 17,500 +lbs

Load Type
Forklift capacities are based on a standard pallet with a 24″ load center. If you don’t use pallets, or if the load is long, wide, or oblong (such as pipe, trusses, etc.) that affects capacity. Working with a material handling expert can help you identify what capacity works best for your operation.

How wide are your aisles and doorways?
Three-wheel and stand-up rider forklifts are designed to work in narrow aisles (less than 10 ft, or 10-12 feet). In some cases, a narrow aisle order picker or reach truck may also be your best solution. Before buying a lift truck, measure the narrowest space where your equipment will traverse. Standard forklifts are designed to work in areas 12 feet or wider.

Indoor? Outdoor? Both?

The environment where your forklift will operate helps determine the type of fuel you choose and also the type of tire that will work best in your application.

Concrete or Rough Terrain?
Your forklift will use either cushion or pneumatic tires. Cushion tires are designed for concrete areas (indoor warehouses and loading docks). Pneumatic tires are best for indoor/outdoor or 100% outdoor use including asphalt, dirt or gravel.

Fuel – Electric or Internal Combustion (IC)?

IC forklifts use traditional engines that run on different types of fuel (CNG, diesel, gas, or liquid propane). Electric forklifts are powered by batteries. If you handle food, you'll likely need an electric forklift to adhere to emission requirements. However, many applications that once used IC forklifts are finding that electric conversion saves both time and money.

How many hours per day and how many days per week will you use the forklift? A used forklift can be an economical option for operations that only need a lift truck a few hours per day. Busy multi-shift operations can save money by partnering with a material handling expert who can complete an analysis of their application to determine best fuel and equipment solutions.

Buying a forklift is a big decision. Sometimes it’s better to rent first before committing to a purchase.

For over 65 years, we have helped customers just like you. Let us know how we can help. Give us a call at one of our nine locations, or contact us online. Our goal is to become your trusted business partner and help you find the best forklift for your needs and budget. Get more done with SST and Toyota. Contact us today.

Jacksonville (904) 764-7662
Ocala (352) 840-0030
Orlando (407) 859-3000
Tampa (813) 642-3524
Winter Haven (863) 976-8551

Albany (229) 338-7277
Macon (478) 788-0520
Midland (706) 660-0067
Valdosta (229) 247-8377

Further Reading
Guide for First-Time Forklift Buyers


Topics:New EquipmentForklifts

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