How Forklift Classifications Help With Purchasing

The evolution of the forklift has given many industries better options for their material handling needs. Two main factors determined how forklifts are classified – the fuel type and the job type. Because each class operates differently, forklift drivers must be trained on each class of forklift they intend to operate.

Forklifts have been given seven different classifications in order to ensure safety and efficiency on the job. Having a dedicated salesperson that understands your material handling objectives will help you best determine the class of forklift you need.

Forklift Classifications

Class 1 – Electric Motor Rider Trucks

This forklift type is often found in indoor warehouses, but may be used with cushion or pneumatic tires. Pneumatic tires will allow the lift to be used in dry outdoor applications, while the cushion tires are suited for smooth indoor flooring. Electric models are powered by industrial batteries.

Class 2 – Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks

Designed for small indoor spaces, narrow aisle trucks come in narrow or very narrow aisle (VNA) models. Narrow aisle trucks allow for more storage space in your facility.

Class 3 – Electric Motor Hand or Hand-Rider Trucks

Pallet jacks and pallet trucks (also known as walkies) can either be manual or electric. These are utilized to handle load capacities around 4,500 – 6,500 pounds. They are typically used in dock work where the operator is loading and unloading trailers at short distances.

Class 4 – Internal Combustion Engine Trucks – Cushion Tires

Perhaps one of the most versatile forklift classes, ICE trucks can be used in most any application. ICE trucks are available for use with gasoline, diesel, and natural gas fuels. These are sit-down forklifts designed for indoor applications. They are practical for moving pallets from the loading dock to storage. Cushioned tires allow the truck to sit lower to the ground, making them ideal for low clearance situations.

Class 5 – Internal Combustion Engine Trucks – Pneumatic Tires

Similar to Class 4 in versatility, design, and load capacity. These forklifts contain pneumatic tires, which optimizes them for outdoor work. Pneumatic tires can also come in solid models suitable for more rugged outdoor work, whereas air models are typically used for indoor applications.

Class 6 – Electric & Internal Combustion Engine Tractors

These handling trucks are geared towards hauling or pulling rather than lifting, and are commonly found in outdoor settings (though they can be optimized for indoor use in certain applications). They are also referred to as “tuggers” and can be spotted at airports pulling luggage carts from the terminal to the plane.

Class 7 – Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklifts are often found on construction sites, such as lumber yards, commercial buildings, and junkyards. The large flotation tires make these forklifts safe for difficult outdoor surfaces.

Knowing Specs for the Sale

Though many of the mentioned classifications are versatile in use, not every forklift is right for the job. Some things your used forklift wholesaler should ask:

  • What is your industry?
  • What’s the environment like?
  • How many hours a day will you be operating the machine?
  • Will the lift truck travel a long or short distance to move material?

Your forklift pro will only suggest forklifts in classes suitable to the nature of your work. If you currently operate with a certain forklift class, but believe it might not be the best (or safest) choice for your operations, we can help with that, too.

Reiteration of having trained operators is incredibly important. Because each forklift type requires a different skill set, OSHA requires your forklift operators to be trained on each forklift class in operation at your facility.

Contact us to discuss how we can match you with the best used forklift (at the best price) for your specific requirements.