What Is a Narrow Aisle Forklift?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2020
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A narrow aisle forklift is a type of heavy machinery used to lift and lower pallets of goods from high shelves or other storage spaces. This particular type of forklift is designed to operate in narrower spaces, such as warehouses or retail establishments with narrow aisles. The tires of the narrow aisle forklift are often quite small for added maneuverability, and they are usually made of solid rubber. The front tires turn much like automobile tires, and in some cases, they may be mounted to a separate unit that allows the lift to

The cockpit of the narrow aisle forklift is usually quite small, and the operator will generally stand up rather than sit down in it. This allows the body of the narrow aisle forklift to be shorter and even narrower, though some forklifts do feature a sit-down cockpit. If this is true, the lift attachment is usually able to pivot to the sides to allow the lift to be operated without repositioning the entire machine. This type of machine will generally have four wheels, while a stand-up cockpit forklift may only have three: two in the front for stability, and one in the rear for quick and easy steering.


It is not uncommon for a narrow aisle forklift to feature an electric engine. This allows the machine to operate quietly and with no exhaust fumes in enclosed areas. This is especially convenient when operating the vehicle in a retail space, as the machine will be less of a disturbance to customers. The lift may feature a gasoline-powered engine as well or even a diesel engine. Diesel engines tend to be quite loud and they will produce a fair amount of exhaust, so they are generally not used indoors.

The lift is more likely to feature different attachments on a narrow aisle forklift for more maneuverability and versatility. A sideshifter, for example, is a set of blades that can be moved laterally in addition to up and down so the blades can be positioned easily without having to reposition the entire vehicle. This may be necessary in narrow aisles since the entire machine may not be able to be positioned properly to get the forks lined up completely straight with the pallet. A sideshifter prevents this issue by allowing the operator to line up the forks with hydraulic controls rather than by repositioning the lift itself.


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