What Are the Different Types of Industrial Forklift?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2019
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There are four main versions of the industrial forklift. These types include electric, internal combustion, narrow aisle and rough terrain. Each type is ideal for specific situations. Most indoor warehouses use an electric industrial forklift, while rough terrain and internal combustion lifts are more suitable for outdoor use.

An electric industrial forklift is ideal for indoor use. It does not operate on fuel, which eliminates the need for proper ventilation and worries about pollution from emissions. These types of forklifts tend to cost less than gas or diesel forklifts since they operate on a rechargeable battery that can last for up to six hours. The battery on an electric forklift usually needs about eight hours of charging time and another eight hours to cool before it can be reused.

Narrow aisle is another type of electric industrial forklift. Instead of taking up to 11 feet (3.35 m) of aisle space, these machines are able to fit through aisle spaces that are anywhere from 6 to 10 feet (1.83 to 3.05 m) wide. One of the special features of narrow aisle forklifts is that they are able to be driven straight and can pick up items that are located on the side of the aisle. These types of forklifts are also ideal for indoor warehouses.


An internal combustion industrial forklift is able to lift heavier loads. It is more suited for outdoor use since this type of forklift typically runs on gasoline or diesel fuel. There are some models that use propane and natural gas. The initial purchasing cost tends to be less with an internal combustion forklift, but the costs to run the lift are higher than those of an electric model.

Internal combustion forklifts can be used safely outdoors, which is a primary advantage over their electric counterparts. They are good for pushing and towing objects. This type of forklift also tends to operate at higher speeds and is able to accelerate more quickly.

Rough terrain forklifts are the ultimate type of lift to use outdoors. They use an internal combustion engine, but come equipped with special tires that are able to provide better traction over hazardous materials and concrete surfaces that contain cracks and potholes. A rough terrain forklift also features the same high speed capabilities as a regular internal combustion forklift. Large loads can be carried, pulled and towed with a rough terrain forklift, which makes them ideal for use in construction yards or on landscaping projects.


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