Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Comparing Forklifts and Pallet Stackers

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklifts

There are two main types of units that are commonly used for the safe and efficient movement of palletised goods either a forklift or a pallet stacker.

In this post we compare the differences between the two unit types whilst looking at the advantages and disadvantages for of both.

What is a Forklift?

Forklifts are large scale machines designed and engineered to safely and efficiently load, lift and move heavy palletised loads.

Forklifts can be either battery electric or combustion engine (LPG or diesel) powered and are available in lift capacities from 1T up to 52T with lift heights from 3m to 10m.

Forklift Advantages

  • Due to their larger size relative to pallet stackers, forklifts are able to lift larger heavier loads
  • Forklifts are able to maneuver loads easier due to their engine compared to pallet stackers that rely on the operators strength to move the unit and load
  • Forklift operators are less likely to suffer fatigue or injury due to the fact they can sit in the operator cabin and control all hydraulic functions via hand-held controls
  • With their larger tyres and high powered engines forklifts provide more versatility than a pallet stacker as not only are they able to operate indoors they can also safely navigate fully loaded across rough outdoor terrain
  • With their ability to have larger masts attached forklifts open up more vertical storage space as they’re able to lift loads to higher lift heights
  • Combustion engine forklifts are suitable for single, double and 24/7 shift operations due to their larger engine size and fuel capacity

Forklift Disadvantages

  • The initial cost of purchasing a forklift can be comparatively high and prohibitive compared to a smaller pallet stacker
  • Compared to a pallet stacker regular maintenance of a forklift can be significantly higher
  • All employees required to operate the forklift must undertake and successfully complete training to obtain their forklift licence to be legally allowed to operate the forklift
  • Battery electric powered forklifts may require the installation of expensive higher capacity power outlets and specialist recharging equipment and areas
  • Combustion engine forklifts may also require the installation of expensive storage solutions to safely store LPG or diesel fuel

What is a Pallet Stacker?

Pallet stackers are small nimble pedestrian operated warehouse equipment.

Powered by rechargeable batteries they’re able to safely and efficiently lift loads up to 2.5T to heights of up to 4m.

Pallet Stacker Advantages

  • Smaller and more nimble than some forklifts pallet stackers are often able to operate and turn around in confined areas such as narrow aisles easier than standard counterbalance forklifts
  • Compared to forklifts the upfront cost of purchasing a pallet stacker is significantly cheaper making them more accessible to a wider array of businesses
  • Pallet stackers are simple and easy to charge as they can be connected to standard mains power to recharge the batteries compared to forklifts that may require expensive charging outlets to be installed or the purchase and storage of LPG and diesel supplies
  • Operators of pallet stackers are not required to obtain and hold a licence to operate a pallet stacker

Pallet Stacker Disadvantages

  • Due to their smaller size pallet stackers concede raw power and lifting capacity compared to forklifts making them only suitable for lifting smaller loads
  • Pallet stackers have a more limited lift height they can safely lift loads to compared to forklifts that can be fitted with higher rising masts
  • Pallet stacker operators are more likely to suffer from fatigue as they must walk behind the unit as it is operated
  • As operators must manually operate and maneuver the stacker whilst fully loaded they may be more susceptible to physical injury

By comparing the advantages and disadvantages of forklifts and pallet trucks customers are able to make an informed decision when deciding which unit type is best for their application.

For further assistance with choosing the correct forklift or pallet stacker for your application contact one of our materials handling experts on 13 22 54 or fill out a contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.