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Forklifts Overview

A forklift is a powered industrial machine (or truck) used to lift loads with the aid of hydraulics. Also, used to move loads short distances. The steering aspect of forklifts differs from other wheeled vehicles as they must have rear-wheeled steering. Rear-wheel steering gives these machines the advantage of increased manoeuvrability when faced with tight cornering situations. The exception to this rule are the Articulated counterbalance trucks. These forklifts have front wheeled steering and are designed to operate in narrow areas when loading or offloading. There are many supliers of forklifts for sale in Australia.


Forks-the forks on the machine are also known as tines or blades and operate by sliding up or down on a mast.

Mast – the mast is the vertical structure the forks are controlled with, allowing the raising, and lowering of the load by hydraulic action. The mast can be tilted forward or backwards, allowing it’s safe operating on the non-level ground, within reason. Also, the height of the mast never varies allowing it’s operation in height restricted areas such as containers.

Tires-for inside use is normally solid whereas when used mainly outdoors they are fitted with pneumatic tires.

Frame – the mast, axles, wheels, counterweight, overhead guard (cab), and power source are all attached to the frame for strength and safety reasons.

Counterweight – is attached to the rear of the forklift to counterbalance the load lifted.

Cab– secured to the frame, acts as an overhead guard, protecting the operator from falling objects.

Power sources –Internal combustion engine; powered by diesel, petrol, LPG, or CNG.

                           -Electric; powered by fuel cells or battery.

Forklift Uses, Stability & Safety


Forklifts can be unstable when carrying loads and should never be turned at speed with a raised load as they may tip over. The centre of gravity shifts with every movement of the load causing instability. Each forklift has a load limit which is displayed on a plate fixed to the machine. The load limit decreases as the forks extend and when the load is not hard back against the forks.


  • When used in a warehouse, it is critical that the building is properly set up to accommodate the safe use of a forklift
  • Forklifts are not designed to lift people or to be used as a working platform unless fitted with special safety equipment such as a cage (the cage or basket being attached by chains or strap to the forklift carriage). The cage has railings to keep the person from falling and a safety harness
  • As with any machine, a fully trained operator is necessary in all aspects of safety


Forklifts are necessary for numerous warehouses. In many cases, the design of the warehouse has the forklift in mind. With a huge range of forklifts for sale available the right forklift for sale really depends on its uses.. 


Forklifts come in a range of sizes with capacities between one and fifty tonnes and sometimes even larger. The larger machines have their uses in shipping and loading heavy containers. The smaller forklifts with the loading capacity from one to five tonnes are the norm for warehouses.

Types of Forklift

The following is a list of some of the more common forklift truck types:

  • Electric forklifts; these forklifts, powered by batteries are primarily used on flat surfaces. They are ideal for operating in a warehouse or enclosed areas as there is zero emission of fumes. Because these forklifts emit no fumes, it makes them ideal for food processing and healthcare areas. Several types of forklifts are electric: cushion tire forklifts, scissor lifts, order pickers, stackers, reach trucks and pallet jacks.
  • Hand pallet truck; the hand pallet truck does not have an on-board power system of any description; the operator must physically jack-up and move the loads.
  • Reach truck; is a variation of a rider stacker forklift, and is designed for smaller aisles. This forklift is usually electrically powered and is named because the forks can extend out to reach the load. There are two variations with this model. First, there is the “moving mast”, which is regarded the safer of the two and commonly used worldwide. Secondly, there is the “moving carriage” widely used in America but not as safe as the before mentioned lift truck.     
  • Fuel Cell Forklifts; these forklifts will work on a single tank of hydrogen for a shift of eight hours straight. Refuelling in three minutes or less is another advantage of these forklifts. And, they give out zero emissions. Furthermore, these machines are ideal for refrigerated warehouses as their performance is not affected by lower temperatures.
  • Sideloader; these forklifts may have an internal combustion engine or be electrically powered. The power source is typically propane fuelled, kerosene, diesel, gasoline, butane, or natural gas. Also, some Sideloaders have hybrid drivetrains installed.
  • Telescopic Handler; is typically run by an Internal Combustion Engine usually fuelled by diesel or sometimes kerosene. For a power boost, these engines often use propane injection. Most of these units have four stroke compression ignitions, although some of the older units are only two-stroke compression ignition. It is interesting to note that Forklifts built in countries such as Russia or Iran usually do not have emission control systems, whereas, in America and Australia, forklifts have advanced emission control systems supplied. Walkie order picking trucks (often powered electrically).
  • Rider Order Picking Truck; (sometimes referred to as an “Order Picker”). These are popular and widely used in large distribution centres. These machines have a special toothed grabbing device fitted which holds the pallet to the forks. The operator transfers the load, one article at a time onto the pallet, making the forklift very efficient in picking up less than pallet load shipments. The operator works from a cage on this machine while wearing safety harness specially designed for preventing falls.



New forklifts for sale in Australia vary in a price range of about $14,950 to $155.000 or more depending on the capacity and model. The more commonly used forklifts of around two tonne, are usually powered by gas and with a cost of between $18,500-$21,000. A discount is available when purchasing second-hand forklifts for sale.

In conclusion

Forklifts have become an essential piece of equipment in warehousing and manufacturing operations.

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