Construction forklift

Forklifts are one of the most powerful vehicles in construction. They can move heavy loads in a warehouse or construction field, forklifts can safely lift heavy objects making them very important in construction sites. This article is for you if you are looking to know about the most common and useful forklifts. There is a wide selection of models and styles of forklifts to choose from. This guide covers all the different types of forklifts whether you are looking to rent or purchase one to help you choose the best forklift for your needs.

The most popular forklift types on the market today are;

This article is a guide to construction forklifts, their uses and popular manufacturers and models.

Construction forklift types

Warehouse Forklift

The warehouse forklift is the most recognizable type of lift truck, as it resembles a yellow golf cart with twin forks extending from the front. It is most common in facilities with a large inventory. Warehouse forklifts are useful during loading and unloading pallets and balanced materials as well as unloading transport vehicles and transportation items from them.

Examples of popular warehouse forklift models include the Hyster 36-38T, Komatsu 20 BX50 Hyster, and the Toyota 3-Wheel Electric Forklift. Most industrial forklifts can handle 5,000 lbs of weight, though some heavy-duty forklifts can carry up to 25000 lbs. There are few subtypes of the warehouse forklift, including the side loader and counterbalance forklift.


A side loader is a type of warehouse forklift that is usually found in steel service centres and manufacturing facilities with heavy and bulky items. The operator stands in a sideways compartment and the side loader unloads objects from its side. Its sideways operation enables sideload forklifts to easily drive up alongside racks and load and unload without having to turn. This makes the side loader suitable for navigating narrow aisles and handling long roads like timber and pipes. Leading brand manufacturers of side loaders include; Toyota, Raymond Corporation, Yale, and Hyundai.

Counterbalance forklift

It is a popular forklift with forks in the front and weights at the back of the vehicle to counterbalance the weight of the load. They have no extending arms, enabling them to move directly to the load. There are a few different types of this kind of forklift. The 3-wheel variant is ideal for situations requiring the operator to turn in circles. The stand-up counterbalance forklift allows operators to easily hop on and off between loads. Popular manufacturers of counterbalance forklifts include; Mitsubishi, Toyota and Crown.


It is also known as a telescopic or reach forklift. It has a boom and arm, making a combination of a crane and forklift. The twin forks attached to this arm are used to move pallets of the ground. A standard telehandler is capable of lifting 5500 lbs of materials from up to 19 ft in the air and is great for reaching tight spaces and odd angles.


Popular telehandler models include JCB, Genie, Bobcat, Haulotte, and Caterpillar. Some models like the JLG 1644 are adept at larger capacity jobs being able to lift to 55ft high.

Industrial forklift

It is also known as a large capacity forklift as it combines the functionalities of a warehouse forklift with that of a telehandler. While it may not be able to reach difficult angles like a telehandler, it is capable of lifting greater loads of up to 30000 lbs. The industrial forklift’s power is required for specialized jobs. The utility of this forklift is narrow compared to telehandlers and warehouse forklifts. There are 20 popular forklift manufacturers including NACCO Industries and Mitsubishi. Some of the popular models boast an impressive capacity of 36,000 lbs.

Rough terrain forklift

It is also known as the straight mass forklift and is designed for outdoor job sites and uneven surfaces as well. They have strong pneumatic tires that help them navigate rocky ground. The tires are oversized and threaded, increasing their balance and stability. It is rarely required for indoors work, but they are vital for outdoor construction and other outdoor applications. Popular Rough terrain forklift models include the JCB 950 and CASE 588H with four-wheel drive options. Another advantage of rough terrain forklifts is their capacity of 6000 lbs and 8000 lbs.

Pallet Jack

Pallet Jacks are also known as pump trucks and they are usually small in size, restricting their capacity to carry big loads. They have a small footprint to allow them to fit in tiny spaces and lift loads in small quarters. It is cheaper to rent a pump truck at the expense of power and manoeuvrability. Popular pallet jack models include the Mighty Lift 20 x 36 inch Pallet Truck and Vestil Electric Pallet Truck. Buyers or people looking to hire can choose from a manual pallet jack or an electric variant.

Pallet Jack

Walkie Stacker

They have a strange look and utility. These material handling vehicles lack cabs, unlike other forklifts. The operator walks behind the stacker and uses an attached handle to steer the walkie Stacker. Like a pallet jack, it also lacks maneuverability, power and speed, however they are ideal for situations that require more height than pallet jacks can offer. It can reach bigger heights compared to the pallet jack.

Current leading walkie stacker manufacturers include; Hyster, Jungheinrich, and Toyota. Toyota’s 6BWC20 is ideal for 4,000 lb loads, while Jungeinrich’s EMC 110 is suited for narrow aisles.

Order Picker

Order pickers are a subtype of the walkie stacker that picks and delivers material from storage. It reaches heights of up to 32 feet and is designed to lift operators to warehouse racks instead of bringing down full pallets and loads. Their versatile design enables them to handle items of various sizes from auto parts to fortune.

Reach fork truck

The reach forklift is a warehouse truck that is mainly used for indoor work as it can extend its forks beyond the compartment and reach into warehouse racks in a way that standard forklifts cannot. It has an open compartment allowing the operator to have great visibility. Although it is excellent for indoor use, it isn’t suitable for outdoor work due to its undercarriage clearance. Some of the best reach forklift manufacturers include UniCarriers, Clark Materials, and Yale.

Reach fork truck

Forklift classification

Forklifts are organized according to their classification. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has outlined seven forklift classes describing their fuel options and use. Forklift operators must beware of necessary forklift safety practices for each classification and certified on each forklift to operate. Different levels of forklifts include;

These forklifts are electric. They are mainly used indoors where air quality is a concern

Forklifts in this class operate on battery power and are used to move inventory in narrow or tight spaces.

These forklift types operate on battery power and are used to quickly upload trucks over short distances.

These forklifts have gas or diesel engines and are used for situations that require low clearance.

They operate on gas or diesel and are used indoors and outdoors in areas with rough surfaces.

These forklifts operate on gas or diesel. They are used on construction sites, uneven ground and high elevation lifting.

Most forklifts come equipped with an electric motor or a traditional internal combustion engine. They also contain cushion” tires — tires made of mostly solid rubber — or pneumatic” tires, which are tires filled with air depending on the workload. Pneumatic tyres do well at handling larger capacities while cushion tires are ideal for smooth surfaces.