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Orlando: 407-859-8750 | Tampa: 813-374-1133   

Choosing the Right Lift Truck for Your Business

Forklifts, also known as lift trucks, have revolutionized material handling across industries by offering diverse solutions tailored to specific operational needs. Choosing the right lift truck for your specific business needs can be challenging, but we’re here to make the process easy. 

In this article we’ll be taking an in-depth look into six popular types of lift trucks including three and four wheel sit-down forklifts, heavy-duty forklifts, pallet stackers, order pickers, and pallet jacks. 

Key Considerations

When buying a lift truck, there are many things to consider because each type hast its own set of distinctive features, applications, and benefits. However, starting off with three basic questions will help ensure you find the right equipment for your needs.

1. What is the maximum lift height necessary in your operation?

Determine the maximum height you need the forks to reach, then add about 6-8 inches to that number. This will allow your forklift operators the necessary room to position pallets correctly. Also, keep in mind that lift height capabilities may also be affected by other factors, such as the weight of the load being lifted, the forklift’s load center, and the forklift’s overall stability.

2. Do you need a highly maneuverable lift truck for a smaller space, or does your facility have ample space to accommodate a standard forklift?

Maneuverability is a critical factor that affects safety, efficiency, productivity, and overall operational effectiveness in environments where space is limited. Choosing a lift truck with the appropriate level of maneuverability for your specific needs can contribute to more productivity, better space utilization, and a safer work environment.

3. How much weight do you need the equipment to lift? 

Weight capacity, also known as load capacity, refers to the maximum weight that a forklift can safely lift and carry. Choosing the right weight capacity is crucial for maintaining safety and preventing accidents in your workplace. Overloading a forklift can lead to instability, tipping, or damage to both the forklift and the load.

When considering your weight capacity needs, always keep in mind:

  • Average & Max Load Weight: Consider the average and maximum weight of the loads you’ll be handling. Choose a forklift with a weight capacity that comfortably accommodates your typical loads but that can also handle heavier loads as needed.
  • Load Distribution: Be aware of how the load’s weight is distributed. Some loads may have an uneven distribution, which can affect the forklift’s stability.
  • Attachments: If you plan to use attachments (such as clamps, rotators, or extensions), ensure that the the equipment’s stated capacity accounts for the added weight and changes in load dynamics.

Four Wheel Forklift: Productive Powerhouse

A four-wheel forklift, known as a “counterbalance forklift,” is a widely used industrial lifting machine designed for handling various types of materials. The popularity of the four-wheel forklift stems from its versatility, stability, and ease of use. Its ability to handle a broad range of tasks, from loading and unloading to navigating tight spaces, makes it indispensable across industries. 

Typical Applications:

  • Warehousing: 4-wheel forklifts excel in moving and stacking palletized goods, both indoors and outdoors. Their robust construction and ability to navigate various surfaces make them indispensable in large storage facilities.
  • Manufacturing: These forklifts are commonly used for loading and unloading raw materials and finished products onto production lines. Their versatility allows them to adapt to different production setups.
  • Construction: On construction sites, 4-wheel forklifts play a crucial role in transporting construction materials, equipment, and machinery.


  • Versatility: These forklifts can operate on a wide range of surfaces, making them suitable for different industries and environments.
  • Lifting Capacity: 4-wheel forklifts are designed to handle substantial loads, ensuring efficient material movement.
  • Maneuverability: Despite their size, advanced steering systems allow for precise maneuvering even in confined spaces.

Three Wheel Forklift: Compact & Capable

Three wheel forklifts offer a balance between maneuverability and capacity, making them ideal for lifting and transporting inventory in smaller spaces or warehouses with narrow aisles. They’re tailor-made for environments with limited space, making them particularly well-suited for applications such as retail and warehousing.

The improved visibility afforded by the design of 3-wheel forklifts enhances operator safety while their electric variants contribute to reduced emissions and quieter operation, aligning with contemporary sustainability goals.

Typical Applications:

  • Limited Floor & Storage Space: 3-wheel forklifts typically have a tighter turning radius as compared with four wheel models, making them useful for areas with limited floorspace.
  • Narrow Aisles: Their compact size and advanced steering mechanisms enable seamless navigation through narrow aisle environments which allows you to maximize your space utilization.


  • Improved Visibility: The design of 3-wheel forklifts provides operators with enhanced visibility, reducing the risk of accidents and collisions.
  • Electric Variants: Many 3-wheel forklifts are electric, contributing to reduced emissions, quieter operation, and lower operating costs.

Heavy-Duty Forklift: Handle Large Loads with Ease

Heavy duty forklifts are engineered to handle the bulkiest loads encountered in shipping yards and heavy industries.

Their high lifting capacity is particularly vital in heavy industries such as mining, steel, shipping and lumber, where they excel in handling substantial raw materials and equipment. The durability of heavy-duty forklifts ensures longevity, even in rugged conditions, and their versatility is further enhanced by specialized attachments that enable the handling of irregularly shaped loads.

Typical Applications:

    • Shipping Yards: These forklifts play a pivotal role in loading and unloading large shipping containers and managing oversized cargo efficiently.
    • Heavy Industries: Industries like mining, steel, and lumber heavily rely on these forklifts for lifting hefty raw materials and equipment.


    • Durability: Heavy duty forklifts are purpose built to withstand extreme weights and rugged conditions on an everyday basis, ensuring an extended operational lifespan.
    • Specialty Attachments: Equipped with specialized attachments, heavy-duty forklifts can be adapted to unique tasks
      such as lifting and transporting irregularly shaped loads.

Pallet Stacker: Economical & Efficient

Electric pallet stackers are purpose built to provide many of the benefits of a full sized forklift in facilities with space limitations such as narrow aisles. They’re also an excellent option if you’d like to supplement your existing fleet with additional lifting equipment at minimal cost.

Whether manually operated or electric, pallet stackers optimize vertical space utilization and enhance efficiency in accessing goods stored at different elevations.

Typical Applications:

  • Warehousing: Pallet stackers excel in organizing and accessing goods stored at varying heights within warehouses, contributing to streamlined inventory management.
  • Retail: These stackers can prove indispensable for managing retail inventory on shelves and racks, facilitating efficient restocking and inventory control.


  • Cost Effective: Pallet stackers are an excellent alternative to a full sized forklift, especially for facilities with space limitations.
  • Vertical Stacking: Pallet stackers excel at lifting loads to significant heights, maximizing vertical storage capacity.
  • Manually Operated and Electric Models: While manual pallet stackers suffice for smaller operations, electric models enhance efficiency and reduce operator strain, particularly for heavier loads.

Order Picker: Expedite the Picking Process

Order pickers, also known as cherry pickers, are specialized forklifts that play a critical role in streamlining order fulfillment processes. Their ability to access specific items at varying heights reduces picking time and enhances accuracy.

Typical Applications:

  • General Retail & E-commerce: The surge in e-commerce has elevated the importance of order pickers, streamlining the process of selecting items for online orders in vast distribution centers and ensuring timely customer shipments.
  • Wholesale, Warehousing & Distribution: Order pickers contribute to efficient selection for bulk orders, minimizing operational delays and increasing overall productivity.


  • Selective Picking: Order pickers enable operators to access specific items at varying heights without disturbing entire pallets, reducing picking time and enhancing accuracy.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Designed to minimize travel time between picking locations, these nimble forklifts optimize order fulfillment speed and reduce labor costs.

Pallet Jack: An Essential Tool

Pallet jacks, alternatively referred to as pallet trucks, represent a fundamental component of material handling operations. These simple yet essential tools are used for the efficient movement of palletized loads within smaller-scale environments.

The availability of both manual and electric models offers flexibility in selecting the most suitable option based on specific operational requirements.

Typical Applications:

  • Retail: Pallet jacks are essential in retail environments for efficiently transporting pallets of goods within a store, facilitating seamless restocking and merchandise arrangement in a safe and efficient manner.
  • Warehouses: Pallet jacks are also practical solutions for retrieving and transporting materials from ground level storage areas.


  • Compact Design: Pallet jacks are adept at maneuvering in tight spaces and require minimal storage, making them ideal for businesses with space constraints.
  • Manual and Electric Models: While manual pallet jacks are straightforward and require no external power source, electric models offer operational ease and reduced operator effort, especially for heavier loads.

In Conclusion

As industries continue to evolve and adapt to ever-changing demands, the knowledge and utilization of the right forklift type can be a deciding factor in staying competitive. We hope this guide was helpful in providing you with a better understanding of how each of these lift type trucks could benefit your business.

If you have additional questions about lift trucks or any other material handling equipment please feel free to contact us. Our team would be happy to help!