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What Is a Piggyback Forklift?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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A piggyback forklift is a machine that mounts, or piggybacks, to the rear end of another vehicle for transport; once the vehicle arrives at a specific location, the piggyback forklift can be unmounted from the host truck and used to load or unload goods to and from the truck. This type of forklift is often mounted to the rear of flatbed trucks or box trucks so it can be used to load and unload materials at construction sites, factories, warehouses, retail establishments, and more. The blades of the forklift are used to secure the lift to the truck during transport.

The rear of the truck is effectively obscured by the piggyback forklift while it is mounted, so the lift itself must be hardwired to the truck so brake lights are visible while driving. The lift itself also needs to be secured with safety chains to prevent the piggyback forklift from accidentally dismounting during transport. The specific processes used to mount and dismount the lift may vary according to manufacturer, but in general, the procedures are fairly similar and back-up systems are in placed should one mounting system fail.

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One of the more common piggyback forklift designs features three wheels: two in the front of the vehicle and one in the rear. The rear wheel is primarily responsible for steering, while the two front wheels are responsible for stability during pallet transport. The lift itself is usually smaller than other types of lifts so it is compact enough to be transported easily. The lift is usually highly maneuverable, and able to lift pallets to the height of the truck's bed. It may be able to lift pallets much higher than that as well for easier maneuverability on-site.

The weight limit of the piggyback forklift will vary by model. These types of lifts tend to have lower weight capacities than other, larger forklifts, since they are used for more limited purposes, though this does not mean they are inferior models. They usually feature pneumatic tires for added stability and maneuverability, particularly on rough or rocky terrain, as opposed to solid rubber tires that are not as flexible or maneuverable on uneven surfaces. Like other types of lifts, the piggyback forklift is likely to feature a safety cage that protects the operator from falling objects as well as injuries resulting from rollover accidents, which are possible if the lift is overloaded.

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