Forklifts vs Reach Trucks - Everything You Need To Know

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

To achieve safety, convenience, and efficiency, machines were created. It was designed to benefit everyone and has undergone several modifications and uses. Machines and people still collaborate in today’s world in all facets of work and daily life. Reach trucks and forklifts are two examples of these cutting-edge machines.

Both are used in commercial heavy lifting, and their utilization calls for extensive training and technical expertise. There are also forklift hire companies that can offer lifting assistance services. You can’t simply take the key and start the car. Even now, people mistake the 2 for different automobiles. Reach trucks, on the other hand, are a class of forklifts. 

Read further and join us to dig into the differences between the two lifting equipment.

Forklift vs Reach Trucks: How Do They Differ

What is A Forklift?

A forklift is a small industrial vehicle with an attached, power-operated forked platform that can be raised and lowered to fit underneath cargo to lift or transfer it. Forklifts are used by forklift operators in many industries, including extensive storage facilities like warehouses.

Combustion engines or electric batteries power forklifts. While operating and driving some forklifts, the operator is required to stand while using other models. It is widely utilized throughout the sector to transport commodities and merchandise.

A basic forklift truck features parallel metal parts attached to its front that may be vertically adjusted, resembling the culinary fork tool. The counterbalance forklift is the most popular types available on the market.

Table of Contents

Components of a Forklift:

Truck Frame

The truck frame is an essential part of the machine’s foundation. The truck frame is where the forklift’s central components, including the wheels, Counterweight, and mast, are fastened.


A cast iron weight called the Counterweight is fastened to the forklift’s back end. The Counterweight’s use is to counterbalance the load being lifted. The lead-acid battery is linked to the Counterweight of an electric forklift.

Power source

An internal combustion engine serves as the forklift’s power source. LPG, CNG, diesel, and natural gas are all good fuels for machines. Fuel cells or lead-acid batteries are used to power forklifts electric.


The carriage supports the forklift. The carriage can be moved up and down quickly because it is fixed to mast rails.

Types of Forklifts

Warehouse Forklift

The most well-known kind of lift truck is the warehouse forklift. It has a golf cart-like appearance with twin forks jutting out from the front. This forklift is most frequently used in a facility with a large inventory of commodities since it works well for loading and unloading pallets and moving goods to and from delivery vehicles.

Side Loader

Side loaders a warehouse forklifts are typically seen in steel service centres and manufacturing plants with large, heavy, and awkwardly shaped products. While a side loader unloads the objects, the operator stands in a sideways compartment. Side load forklifts can drive up alongside racks and load and empty without turning because of their sideways action. They can thus handle long items like pipes and lumber and even maneuver in confined spaces.

Counterbalance Forklift

A standard lift with forks in the front and weight in the back to balance the importance of the load is called a counterbalance forklift. Because their arms cannot extend, counterbalance forklifts can maneuver right up to the bag.


The telehandler, also known as a telescopic forklift or a reach forklift, combines a crane and a forklift with a boom and an extensible arm. Pallets are raised off the ground using the two prongs attached to the arm. A conventional telehandler is excellent for reaching small areas and awkward angles and has a lifting capacity of 5,500 pounds of objects up to 19 feet in the air.

Heavy-Duty Forklift

The heavy-duty forklift, also known as a big-capacity forklift, combines the capabilities of a telehandler with a warehouse forklift. It can carry more oversized objects far higher off the ground than a warehouse forklift. Still, it can’t reach awkward angles as a telehandler can. Although the heavy-duty forklift has a starting lift capacity of 30,000 pounds, you should only require that much strength for specific tasks. In comparison to the telehandler and warehouse forklift, this limits its application.

Rough Terrain Forklift

The rough terrain forklift also referred to as a straight mast forklift, is made primarily for outdoor job sites with uneven surfaces. These trucks have solid pneumatic tires that are large and threaded, which improves their stability and balance when transporting products across uneven terrain. If you work primarily inside, you probably won’t need one. Still, rough terrain forklifts are essential for outdoor applications and building sites.

Pallet Jack

Pallet jacks are highly specialized. These forklifts, called pump trucks, are too small to lift heavy objects. Pallet jacks have a compact footprint in exchange for power, which enables them to fit into minor locations and raise small goods there. Although you give up strength and mobility, a pallet jack is far less expensive to buy and rent.

Walkie Stacker

Walkie stackers are distinctive in appearance and limited in their use. These material handling vehicles lack cabs, unlike regular forklifts. Instead, the operator controls the stacker by walking behind it and using an attached handle. These machines lack speed, mobility, and power, yet they are perfect when a giant pallet jack is required. Compared to conventional pallet jacks, the reach of the walkie stacker is significantly greater.

Order Picker

A walkie stacker subtype called an order picker is used to pick and distribute items from storage. These devices are intended to raise operators to warehouse racks and move individual units. They can reach heights of up to 32 feet. They flourish in storage facilities and warehouses that handle customer orders because they can pick specific items without bringing down entire pallets. They can take various goods, from furniture to auto parts, because of their adaptable design.

Uses of Forklifts

  • Transport building materials over distances and through rugged terrain
  • To store items in a warehouse, unload and reload trucks
  • Unload recyclables and move them to the appropriate sorting stations.
  • Load large goods onto and off ships and barges, especially when quick loading is required.
  • Utilize a specific attachment to remove snow.

What is a Reach Truck

A reach truck is a right-angle stacking truck with a narrow aisle intended to handle unit loads with a rack interface. These lift trucks work best for storing and retrieving pallets from racks since they are designed to maneuver in tight spaces. They have a single set of wheels in the back and two outer legs that help disperse the weight of the cargo.

Reach trucks are frequently used for cold storage (refrigerated warehousing), navigating tight spaces, moving heavy loads, and loading and unloading trucks.

Types of Reach Trucks

Pantograph Reach Trucks

A pantograph reach truck has a scissor-like shape. Its reach mechanism can reach into racking using either a single or double reach configuration design. The purpose of these reach trucks is to maneuver into the racking and load pallets.

Pantograph Reach Trucks

If you choose to include steps in your design for a retaining wall, it will appear that the fence is there out of convenience rather than need. In your yard, decorative steps make it easy to transition from one level to another without negotiating a steep drop. They provide visual interest to a location that would otherwise be rather dull and simple. 

Because the stairs must begin higher than the wall itself and descend lower, you will need to account for this while developing your retaining wall idea. To keep people off the grass, the staircase can lead to a path that meanders through your garden or the remainder of your yard.

Moving Mast Reach Trucks

A moving mast reach truck uses a hydraulic system, which is based on rails and helps the entire mast advance. Because they are equipped with conventional larger-diameter wheels, which provide them with better ground clearance, these trucks can maneuver effectively in narrow aisles and dockside. Without a fork extension adapter, the main drawback of these trucks is that they cannot handle double-deep racking.

Reach Straddle Trucks

Reach straddle trucks are an uncommon variation of either kind of reach truck. As a result, it permits the unit to straddle the pallet. The unit’s legs are spaced apart wider so that they may encircle the pallet. This type of arrangement is not recommended since it prevents pallets from being stacked as closely, increasing the required storage space.

When to use a Reach Truck?

Reach trucks are an excellent option for companies looking to make their warehouse more space-efficient because they are primarily built to work down tight aisles and are exceptionally well suited for indoor operation. Because they relocate whatever item they hoist back within the wheelbase, less weight ends up sticking out from the truck itself, and they can operate in significantly smaller aisles.

The wheelbase of a reach truck is nearly identical to that of a typical counterbalance truck. Still, the reach truck’s body is substantially smaller. As its name suggests, a reach truck can reach exceedingly high while maintaining capacity and has very flexible manoeuvrability.

Specific Differences Between Forklifts and Reach Trucks


The visibility of forklifts is restricted since it is faced forward. Reach trucks are typically sideways-facing, giving operators a more expansive visual space.

Ability to Maneuver

Reach trucks may drive more efficiently in remote locations than forklifts because they frequently have significantly smaller turn radiuses.

Lifting Height

Most forklifts can typically lift anything up to 20 feet. On the other hand, reach trucks can lift objects to 40 feet.

Weight Capacity

Most reach trucks can lift between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds, although many forklifts can quickly transfer loads twice that amount. Some versions of heavy-duty forklifts can carry loads that weigh more than 25,000 pounds.

Energy Source

Compared to forklifts, which can use various power sources like gasoline, diesel, or an electric battery, many reach truck types normally run on a 36-volt battery.

Final Thoughts

In a warehouse setting, reach trucks and forklifts are perfect for moving and lifting products. Reach trucks are ideal for lifting lighter things to more significant elevations. In contrast, forklifts are better suited for transferring larger objects at low heights. It would be best if you understood the distinctions between the two and how each can help your application before purchasing either.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top