Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

What are the Most Common Forklift Types?

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Forklifts

Due to the wide range of forklifts and materials handling equipment available in today’s market, it can be hard to determine which type of unit is best suited for your application.

Some of the most common and popular forklifts and materials handling equipment include:

In this week’s blog we profile the most common and popular types of forklifts and materials handling equipment to assist in choosing the correct unit for your application.

Manual Hand Pallet Jack

  • Model: Liftsmart Premium Pallet Jack
  • Lift Capacity: 2,500kg
  • Lift Height: 190/200mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics, Freight Handling, Retail and Wholesale

Hand pallet jacks are a staple of freight handling industries.

They are a simple, economic and reliable means to lift and manoeuvre pallets up to a maximum capacity of 2,500kg.

Pallet jacks have a small footprint allowing them to fit into and lift loads in tight quarters.

Whilst you sacrifice lift capacity compared to using a battery electric pallet jack, the purchase or renting costs of hand pallet jacks are much lower.

Due to the manual nature of operation they can be operated by any employee without a special license.

Lifsmart Hand Pallet Jack

Battery Electric Pallet Jack/Truck

  • Model: Liftsmart PT15-3
  • Lift Capacity: 1,500kg
  • Lift Height: 190/200mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics, Freight Handling, Retail and Wholesale

With the assistance of battery power pallet jacks such as the Liftsmart PT15-3 operator efficiency and safety is improved.

With hydraulic raising and lowering mechanisms these units allow for the effortless raising and lowering of loads to be placed in desired positions by operators at the simple press of a button, thus eliminating the need for operators to manually pump the handle to raise the load which can put unnecessary strain on the body depending on the weight of the load.

These units also lower the risk of operator injury, product and facility damage as operators do not have to strain to manually move heavy loads as the unit as the lithium ion battery provides 4-5 hours runtime on a fully charged battery (may differ based on application).

The units are also fitted with an emergency brake button that can stop a fully loaded unit safely in an emergency.

Walkie Stacker

  • Model: Liftsmart LS10
  • Lift Capacity: 1,200kg
  • Lift Height: 3,500mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics, Freight Handling, Retail and Wholesale

Walkie stackers allow the operator to walk behind the unit, steer and control raising and lowering operations from the unit’s multi-positional tiller handle.

Whilst able to lift and move weights similar to manual and electric pallet jacks, walkie stackers have the advantage of being able to lift loads higher into racking making them the ideal solution for working in warehouse aisles.

Walkie stackers greatly increase safety in operation as operators are able to stand to the side of the unit improving their visibility when lifting loads high up whilst also ensuring in the event of an emergency operators are never trapped between the unit and racking.

Walkie Reach Stacker

  • Model: Liftsmart WRT15
  • Lift Capacity: 1,500kg
  • Lift Height: 6,000mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics, Freight Handling, Retail and Wholesale

Walkie reach stackers/counterbalance stackers include all the lifting abilities and safety benefits of standard walkie stackers, however with the added advantage of a pantograph installed on the carriage that allows the tynes to reach forward and retract to pick-up or drop loads.

Liftsmart WRT15

Low Level Order/Stock Picker

  • Model: Hyster LO2.0
  • Lift Capacity: 2,000kg
  • Lift Height: 120mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics

Low level order/stock pickers such as the Hyster LO2.0 have been designed to allow quick and efficient picking of stock at low height levels from both sides of a warehouse aisle.

These units are particularly beneficial to warehouse picking operations where it is often individual or small amounts of an item are needed to be picked from large bulk storage on a regular basis such as order fulfilment as opposed to the movement of full pallets of stock.

Hyster Hyster LO2.0–2.5

Medium – High Level Order/Stock Pickers

  • Model: Yale OS030BF/EF & FS/SS030BF
  • Lift Capacity: 1,360kg
  • Lift Height: 6,096mm
  • Applications: Warehousing, Logistics

Similar to low level order/stock pickers medium to high level order/stock pickers allow operators to quickly and efficiently pick stock from warehouse aisles with the added benefit of being able to quickly and safely raise the operator high up into racking to pick stock.

The ability to raise the operator high up into racking allows warehouse racking systems to be designed to fully maximise available vertical storage space benefiting businesses as more stock is able to be stored.

Yale OS030BF EF

Reach Truck

  • Model: Hyster N35–45ZR N30–35ZDR
  • Lift Capacity: 40,000kg – 50,000kg
  • Lift Height: 12,650mm
  • Applications: General Warehousing, Retail and Wholesale, Groceries, Narrow Aisle Warehousing 2,800-3,000mm width aisles

The key feature of reach trucks is its ability to extend its tynes forward and reach into warehouse racks thanks to its pantograph design.

The units open compartment provides the operator with greater visibility as they manoeuvre the tynes in amongst products and racking.

Due to the almost non-existent ground clearance reach trucks are mainly used for indoor applications where there is no risk of undercarriage damage.

Hyster N35–45ZR N30–35ZDR

Counterbalance Forklift

  • Model: Hyster J Series, Hyster XT Series, Hyster XM Series
  • Lift Capacity: Up to 32,000kg
  • Lift Height: Unit Specific
  • Applications: Container and Freight Handling, Transport and Logistics, Ports, Retail and Wholesale

Counterbalance forklifts are the most popular model of forklift.

Typically they are a unit with tynes at the front and a large counterweight in the back to help offset the load weight and keep the unit stable and prevent it from tipping forwards.

There are a number of different categories of counterbalance forklift with small battery electric units such as the Hyster J Series offering superior maneuverability and a tighter turning circle to manoeuvre in smaller spaces.

Combustion engine models such as the standard sized XT series offering greater lifting capacities up to 3.5T thanks to its engine that offers more power than battery powered J Series.

For heavy duty applications the Hyster XM series offers lift capacities up to 32T in the same compact counterbalance design.
Due to the wide range of models and fuel types available counterbalance forklifts are suitable for almost all general industries and applications.

Hyster H16.00–18.00XM(S)–12

Side-loader/Multi-directional Forklift

  • Model: Combilift SL-Series
  • Lift Capacity: 4,500kg – 6,000kg
  • Lift Height: 4,040mm
  • Applications: Building and Construction, Steel, Timber, Aluminium, Plastics, Long and Heavy Loads

Side-loaders such as the Combilift SL series are the ideal materials handling solution for long and heavy loads such as steel and timber.

The units are designed so that long loads sit to the side of the operator cabin and are fully supported either side of the tynes.

The position of the load greatly increases safety as the operators view is unobstructed as they travel.

The multi-directional nature of the Combilift side-loader provides added advantages over standard side-loaders as they units are extremely maneuverable and able to operate in narrow aisles increasing available storage space.

Articulating Narrow Aisle Forklift

  • Model: Aisle-Master
  • Lift Capacity: 1,500 – 2,000kg
  • Lift Height: 4,750 – 7.050mm
  • Applications: Very Narrow Aisle Warehousing 2,000 – 2,800mm, Storage, Logistics

The Aisle-Master is an advanced VNA articulated forklift, able to operate in aisles as narrow as 2m wide.

Units are available in either battery electric or LPG models.

The mast is able to articulate left, right and straight ahead independently of the counterbalance body allowing seamless stacking to occur on either side of an aisle, thus increasing available storage space by up to 50%.

Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Forklift

  • Model: Hyster C1.0–1.5
  • Lift Capacity: 1,000 – 1,500kg
  • Lift Height: 8,760 – 17,500mm
  • Applications: Very Narrow Aisle Warehousing 2,000 – 2,800mm, Storage, Logistics

Turret trucks are a very narrow aisle materials handling (VNA) solution that allows the carriage and tynes to rotate 180 degrees allowing for the easy picking of items in narrow aisles between 4.2 and 4.8m wide.

The carriage and tynes move independently of the truck itself.

Similar to reach trucks turret trucks are ideal solutions for applications where vertical storage space is being maximised and pallets need to be lifter efficiently and safely high up.

Hyster C1.0–1.5

Rough Terrain Forklift

  • Model: Liftsmart Rough Terrain Forklift Range
  • Lift Capacity: 2,500kg – 5,000kg
  • Applications: Building and Construction, Agriculture

The Liftsmart range of rough terrain forklifts offer economic and reliable materials handling in both 2WD and 4WD models.

The Liftsmart range of rough terrain forklift have lift capacities from 2.5T to 5T giving them the ability to carry even the most heavy loads of farm produce or building supplies.

The compact units are able to operate in narrow areas such as tightly planted crop fields, orchards or narrow warehouse aisles without causing damage to crops, trees, warehouse racking or the forklift itself.

Units come standard with a wide variety of features with an extensive list of optional extras that allow owners to create the ultimate rough terrain forklift specifically suited to a desired application.

Rough terrain forklift


  • Model: JCB – 525-60C Telehandler
  • Lift Capacity: 2,500kg
  • Lift Height: 6,000mm
  • Applications: Agriculture, Construction, Outdoor

Telehandlers are a hybrid unit with a boom and extendable arm.

They combine the lifting range of a crane with the lifting ability of a forklift.

A telehandlers ability to lift heavy loads up to a specific height without having to engage the services of an expensive crane may provide extensive cost savings on projects.

Telehandlers are able to move diagonally which allows them to pick-up and transport loads that a standard forklift would be unable to lift.

Telehandlers provide easier access to odd angles and tight spaces with their extendable arm and boom, making them an ideal solution for operating in confined spaces.


Truck Mounted Forklifts

  • Model: Moffett Truck Mounted Forklifts
  • Lift Capacity: 1,500kg – 3,500kg
  • Lift Height: 3,000 – 4,040mm

Truck mounted forklifts are mounted on the rear of a truck or its platform where it is easily dismounted, allowing for the quick and efficient transportation of goods to their destination.

When compared to standard forklifts truck mounted forklifts are lighter and more agile, so they can be used in places where accessibility maybe a challenge.

Some examples of applications where truck mounted forklifts can be utilised are:

  • Building supplies (e.g. bricks)
  • Distribution
  • Agriculture and poultry
  • Beverages

Container Handler

  • Model: Hyster H40.00–50.00XM–16CH
  • Lift Capacity: 40,000kg – 50,000kg
  • Lift Height: 12,650mm
  • Applications: Container and Freight Handling, Transport and Logistics, Ports

Container handlers are large vehicles able to lift and manoeuvre loaded ISO 20’ and 40’ containers up to weights of 50,000kg.

Units are designed and manufactured with large counterbalance’s to ensure depending on model specifications heavy containers can be safely and efficiently lifted.

They offer the ability for fast paced vertical stacking and shunting makes a laden container handler a cost effective alternative to other larger more expensive container handling vehicles like a ReachStacker.

Container handler

Empty Container Handler

  • Model: Hyster H10.00–12.00XM–12EC
  • Lift Capacity: 10,000 – 12,000kg
  • Lift Height: 7,000mm
  • Applications: Container and Freight Handling, Transport and Logistics, Ports

Empty container handlers are smaller in size compared to container handler as they do not need as much power to complete their specific operations as empty shipping containers weigh significantly less.

Empty container handlers are able to quickly and efficiently manoeuvre around and stack empty ISO 20’ and 40’containers in storage and port facilities up to 6-7 container high depending on the unit, allowing the maximum utilisation of available storage space.


  • Model: Hyster RS45–46
  • Lift Capacity: up to 45,000kg
  • Lift Height: 15,150mm
  • Applications: Container and Freight Handling, Transport and Logistics, Ports

Reachstackers provide an alternative container handling unit to a container handler.

They are able to lift ISO 20’ and 40’ containers up to weights of 45T.

The added benefit of a reachstacker is that they are able to provide increased stacking density as their boom allows operators to stack containers up to three rows deep, compared to a standard container handler that can only stack one row deep.

They also provide maximum flexibility as they are able to drive under any height restrictions and turn a container up to 180 degrees when working in narrow aisles.

Straddle Carrier

  • Model: Combilift Straddle Carrier
  • Lift Capacity: 35,000 – 125,000kg
  • Applications: Ports, Container Handling, Steel, Timber, Large Oversize Loads

Combilift’s Straddle Carrier is the ultimate materials handling solution for large heavy oversized loads such as containers and long lengths of steel and timber.

The units can be customised to meet specialist lifting and transport applications from 35,000kg up to 125,000kg.

The Straddle Carrier is able to seamlessly load, transport and unload long and heavy loads from the bed of a truck or the factory floor with its unique ability to drive directly over the load and then use suspended chains from its undercarriage to have the load safely attached for transport and then unloaded at its destination.

The units increased manoeuvrability and light footprint coupled with its high level of customisation make it the ideal materials handling solution for the commercial steel, timber and container industries.

In this blog we have provided a brief overview of the main types of forklifts and materials handling equipment available in the market today.

Adaptalift Group offers a full suite of all the most popular forklifts and materials handling equipment from leading trusted brands Hyster, Yale and Combilift.

For assistance in finding the right forklift to suit your needs contact our team on 13 22 54 or fill out a contact form.