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Intro and types of Forklift Operation

Intro to Forklift : Chapter 1

Introduction to Forklift Operation

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

Describe what is meant by forklifts,

Explain the importance of forklifts, and

Describe the history of forklifts. Skip to quiz!


A forklift is a truck with long forks used to lift and move materials over short distances. It is also called a lift truck, jitney, hi-lo, fork truck, fork hoist, and forklift truck. Forklifts are of many types that are used for different purposes and depend on the type of power used.

Forklifts have additional levers to operate, which differentiates them from normal cars. Different types of forklifts have different components, but the main components remain the same. So, let's discuss the key components of a forklift truck.

The key components are:

  • Forks,

  • Mast,

  • Carriage,

  • Power source,

  • Truck frame,

  • Tires,

  • Counterweight,

  • Overhead guard, and

  • Load Backrest.

Forks: These are the prongs that carry loads. It is similar to how the eating fork is used to carry food. Mast: The mast raises and lowers the load. It also has interlocking rails that provide horizontal control. Carriage: The carriage is the base of the forklift and is fixed on mast rails to move up and down easily.

Power source: Forklifts can be powered by things like fuel cells, propane gas, gasoline, diesel fuels, or batteries. Truck frame: The frame is the machine's base, and all parts are attached to it. Tires: Forklifts use solid tires that are used both indoors and on hard, flat surfaces.

Counterweight: This weight stabilizes the forklift and keeps it from tipping over. Overhead guard: It is the section of the forklift that protects operators from a load if it falls. Load backrest: It is the part that keeps the load from shifting backward.

Forklifts use a combination of hydraulics, a pulley system, and other things to lift heavy materials across different distances. It is used in warehouses, construction sites, and other places that need to transport lots of heavy materials.

We know where it’s used, but how does a forklift work? To answer that, we put together this guide to break down what a forklift is used for, its different parts, and how it works.


1867 saw the first patent for a device that could both lift and transport materials. The landmark event occurred in 1917. The Clark Material Handling Company introduced the Tructractor, often regarded as the original forklift, to the world. This vehicle was specially designed for warehouses and factories and was the first seated counterbalanced truck

Then the forklift was developed in the early 20th century by various companies, including Clark, which made transmissions, and Yale & Towne Manufacturing, which made hoists. Since World War II, the use and development of the forklift truck have greatly expanded worldwide.

In 1919, the Towmotor Company and in 1920 Yale & Towne Manufacturing entered the lift truck market in the United States. Continuing development and expanded use of the forklift continued through the 1920s and 1930s. The introduction of hydraulic power and the development of the first electric power forklifts, along with the use of standardized pallets in the late 1930s, helped to increase the popularity of forklift trucks.

Today's forklift has its roots in the original fork trucks of the early 1900s. Thanks to technological advancements, including standardization and battery improvements, today’s forklifts can help your warehouse thrive.

More than 500,000 people operate forklifts daily, leading to a direct and measurable benefit to many businesses. These vehicles are vital in the global economy and help power commerce worldwide.

If the history of forklifts has shown anything, it’s that manufacturers are constantly trying to improve designs for better safety, efficiency, and cost reduction. Forklifts have become indispensable pieces of equipment in manufacturing and warehousing.

In 2013, the top 20 manufacturers worldwide posted sales of $30.4 billion, with 944,405 machines sold. Automation is expected to play a bigger role in factories where human workers are in short supply.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning can help improve tasks such as equipment utilization.

A forklift is a truck with long forks used to lift and move materials over short distances. Forklifts have many components, but the key components remain the same, like forks, mast, carriage, counterweight, and many more.


Types of Forklifts

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

Describe forklift types, and

Explain some of the types of forklifts. Skip to quiz!

Forklift Types

The size of a forklift depends on its function, but although they are versatile machines, you'll need the right size.

Types of forklifts:

  • Warehouse Forklift

  • Side Loader

  • Counterbalance Forklift

  • Telehandler

  • Heavy-Duty Forklift

  • Rough Terrain Forklift

Standard forklifts generally measure between 4 and 7 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet long. Outdoor or rough terrain forklifts can be greater than 10 feet long, while narrow aisle forklifts like walkie stackers and side loaders can measure less than 5 feet.

However, it's important to consider the aisle width if you are using a forklift in a warehouse setting. Standard counterbalance forklifts require aisles of approximately 13 feet wide to turn, navigate and move pallets effectively.

Another measurement to consider is height. Most standard forklifts can reach heights between 10 and 15 feet, but special forklifts like the telehandler can lift as high as 55 feet, depending on the telehandler size you select.

Marine forklifts are specialized vehicles that are designed to operate in harsh marine environments featuring unique specifications such as:

  • waterproof components,

  • saltwater-resistant materials,

  • corrosion-resistant coatings,

  • higher ground clearance and flotation capabilities

  • specialized tires that provide better traction on wet, slippery surfaces

Marine forklifts are effective at moving boats, stacking heavy shipping containers, and more. All these features allow marine forklifts to work efficiently in a marine environment, making them an essential tool for boat shipyards and other marine industries.

The size of a forklift depends on its function. Standard forklifts are used in warehouses. Marine Forklifts are used to stack containers and relocate them.


Question #1: Why is a forklift used?

  1. Lift materials

  2. Disassemble materials

  3. Open materials

  4. Pack materials

Scroll down for the answer...

Answer: Lift materials

A forklift is used to lift materials

Question #2: What is the main component of a forklift which identifies it?

  1. Tires

  2. Chain

  3. Forks

  4. Battery

Scroll down for the answer...

Answer: Forks

Forks are the main component of a forklift which identifies it.

Question #3: Which welding is used in ancient times?

  1. Forge welding

  2. Heat welding

  3. Oil welding

  4. Coil welding

Scroll down for the answer...

Answer: Forge welding

Forge welding is used in ancient times.

Question #4: What is one of the functions of marine forklifts?

  1. Move furniture in a warehouse

  2. Release boats

  3. Lift cruise

  4. Stack containers

Scroll down for the answer...

Answer: Stack containers

Marine forklifts are used to stack containers and relocate them.


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