What Are The Different Types Of Forklifts?

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What Are The Different Types Of Forklifts?

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Many people ask the question, “What are the different types of forklift trucks; and what do they do?” It becomes difficult to know which one is appropriate for your needs, so we’ve put together a simple guide to help you find out more about each different type of forklift you may encounter including cushion tire forklifts, pneumatic tire forklifts, electric forklifts, reach trucks, pallet stackers, and tow trackers. If you are looking for the right type of forklift for your business, contact Wayco. We can help you select the right equipment for your needs.

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What are the different types of forklifts?

 There are a wide variety of forklift types. They come in many shapes and many sizes each with distinct applications, features and benefits. When you lift or move loads from one place to another, a forklift truck is the most effective equipment you can rely upon. Lift trucks are used in warehouses, construction sites, storage facilities manufacturing, transportation and logistics industries.

The following is a summary of the different types of forklifts showing their main pros and cons as well as their uses. Read on for a more detailed explanation of each type.

types of forklifts

Cushion Tire Forklift

Cushion Forklift

The cushion tire forklift is the most common type used in the industry. If most of your lifting will take place indoors on smooth dry floors or with light outdoor usage on asphalt, then the cushion tire will do the job.

Cushion tires are made of smooth or solid rubber and have a smaller turning radius making it ideal for manufacturing facilities that have less space than a warehouse. They are great for transporting palletized loads to & from the loading dock and storage area with ease.

Cushion tired counterbalanced forklifts are lower to the ground than pneumatic tired forklifts, making them more useful in clearance application. They are available in propane, gasoline, diesel or electric and range from 3,000 lbs to 100,000 lbs. with a variety of lifting heights.

Pneumatic ForkliftDiesel Pneumatic Forklift

Typically pneumatic forklifts have a larger frame and are the best choice for rough uneven ground, gravel or asphalt. While the power source is no different from other forklifts, the lifting potential when compared to cushion and electric forklifts is generally doubled.

Heavy-duty tires found on highway trucks are similar to pneumatic forklift tires. There are two types of pneumatic tires – solid and air. Filled with air, they have deep treads and tend to give a bouncier ride than the solid tires. They work well outdoors on asphalt, in gravel and in yards. Pneumatic tires are solid: you can’t pop, puncture or gouge them, making them ideal for lumber yards, scrap yards or anywhere there is debris.

Pneumatic lift trucks can also be obtained with almost any load capacity from less than 2,000 lbs to more than 200,000 lbs.

Electric Forklift

Forklift types - Electric  Lift Truck

Electric lift trucks can be equipped with either cushion or pneumatic tires for indoor use on smooth floors and pneumatic for dry outdoor applications with less risk of failure on major components. They are available in 3 wheel or 4 wheel. The 3 wheel are known to have smaller turning radius

Electric forklift trucks are powered by an electric motor and are most environmentally friendly fume free forklifts giving no harmful emissions. Indoor air quality is greatly improved, resulting in improved employee health. They are quiet in use, and can yield significant cost savings of more than 8% in total costs. There is no replacing gas bottles or filling a tank with diesel fuel, just recharging the battery overnight on low rate tariff.

In a nutshell, the saying” pay me now or pay me later” really applies with electric forklifts, What’s more, electric trucks are highly reliable, tough and very economical.

Reach Trucks

Forklift types - Narrow Asile Order Picker Lift TrucksIf you have little room to maneuver or space concerns then a reach truck is what you need. The Electric Narrow Aisle / Order Picker forklift is the answer to your reach needs as it is perfect for optimizing storage space use, bringing reach with ease. It’s the best choice for warehousing and storage facility, grocery, light to medium manufacturing as it is designed to work in very narrow aisles and allows you to incorporate more racking into your warehouse.

They are a powered battery stand on unit with options of a single reach or double reach where space is limited with higher lift heights than a counterbalanced forklift. Electric Narrow Aisle makes the process of stacking and unstacking pallets easier and will give you the two pallet deep storage option.  

Electric Order Pickers is a piece of equipment used to pick and deliver material from storage allowing personnel to reach pallets three stories high, retrieve product from storage and requires only one operator with all controls at their fingertips. Order pickers are designed to make the order picking process easy!

Pallet Stackers

Walkie rider pallet stacker

A Pallet / Walkie stacker is smaller than a reach truck and is commonly seen in warehouse. It is ideal for production lines or any industrial material handling applications. It  is  electric powered making them friendlier to the environment and ideal for warehouse applications.

Power pallet jacks are also known as electric walk behind pallet trucks. The single or double pallet jacks are used to help lift, move and stack loads that are too heavy to lift manually and transfer from one location to another location.

Stackers can be either powered or manual with different load sizes, various walk behind or ride on types, floor conditions and space constraints to suit different applications. They are designed to suit light to medium duty load handling and warehousing applications.

You’ll want to choose the pallet stacker lift that fits in best with your routine and warehouse set-up. The most import questions you have to ask yourself is how much weight will you be lifting and how high? Typically the maximum lift height is 12’ or lower and can handle up to 3500 lbs., more than this you should consider a forklift. No more Pumping, Pushing or Pulling!

Tow Tractor

Forklift types - Tow Tractor Tuggers Personnel Carriers


A Tow tractor is a utility vehicle such as personnel carriers, burden carriers, stock pickers and tugs designed for carrying small loads and personnel in your warehouse, factory or facility. It gets you from Point A to Point B quietly in your facility by yourself, with cargo, with a passenger or with a passenger while pulling a load.

It doesn’t matter what the industry, these vehicles were designed with factories and warehouse in mind. Commonly used for moving cargo, they can tow just about anything.

Utility vehicles give your facility the power to pull loads that were previously unmoveable. These workhorses feature designs from multi-passenger, multiple cargo and seating options. Get all your hard word done, safely and efficiently. Every minute spent walking around the facility is a minute wasted. Personnel transport vehicles can get people and gear to the next task quickly. They are designed with factories and warehouses in mind.

Wayco – For Expert Forklift Training

Whichever type of forklift you decide on to assist with your work, it is essential that you receive thorough and proper training to ensure that you can operate and maintain it safely and effectively. Wayco offers experienced training to suit your chosen vehicle and work requirements. Contact us today to schedule your forklift training with our experienced and helpful trainers.