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Forklifts and material handling equipment come in multiple capacities and have different specialized functions. From product storage and shipments in a warehouse, raw materials, finished goods, or in a construction zone, the forklift is the basic tool for which there is no substitute. There are many different kinds of material handling equipment designed for different functions. It’s important to understand what this equipment does, and which one would be best for your type of business.

Pallet Jack

This is the most basic type of equipment, and it can be electric powered or manual. The powered unit is steered by an operator who uses hand controls while walking behind or riding on the machine. The pallet jack is simply for moving pallets from one place to another on the ground not for stacking. The hydraulics raise the load a few inches off the ground so the pallet can be moved. Some pallet jacks are capable of moving loads of 4 tons (8,000 pounds).


Industrial Counterbalance Forklifts

These are the forklifts most commonly seen in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Units made for indoor use are called cushion tire forklifts, and units made for outdoor use are called pneumatic tire forklifts. Both cushion and pneumatic forklifts can be used outdoors as long as the surface is stable, even, and paved with blacktop or concrete. However pneumatic tire units are designed for outdoor applications and will perform much better there due to the type of tires, higher ground clearance, and wider wheelbase.

Counterbalance forklifts are relatively simple to operate and are the workhorses for most lift truck applications where narrow-aisle use is not required. They can be electric powered using industrial batteries or use internal combustion engines powered by gasoline, diesel or LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). These forklifts can come in three or four-wheel sit-down units or stand-up versions.


Komatsu BX -IC Cushion









Industrial Reach Forklift Trucks

Ideal in warehouses where storage capacity is at a premium, reach trucks are designed to operate in these narrow aisle (NA) to very narrow aisles (VNA) applications where a product is placed in high racking. These lifts have the capability for extended lifting heights. Some types of reach trucks can go over 540 inches high which is over 45 feet. The “double-deep” version reach truck is similar but has a larger extending pantograph allowing the load to be placed farther back onto special double deep racking. This allows for even greater storage volume in the warehouse.

Clark reach truck


Order Picker

Found mostly in warehouses order pickers or order selectors are used for applications that require picking multiple SKU’s (Stock-Keeping Unit) items, or pulling a variety of items for a particular order. These lift trucks have an “operator up” platform on which the operator stands and is elevated along with the platform. The items can be selected from the racking and placed on a pallet that is attached to the operator platform. All operators are required to wear a harness which is attached to the order picker to prevent operators from falling off, or sustaining other injuries.

Clark order picker


Industrial Side Loader Forklifts

The side loader specializes in long or wide loads. They can be electric powered with industrial batteries or powered by an internal combustion engine. The side loader can be found in companies that work with long pieces of lumber, piping or steel. It can also work in narrow aisle applications because the forklift is configured so that the forks are mounted to the side and center of the truck. The side loader can come in an indoor or outdoor version with an enclosed cab. There is also a multi-way version on which all the wheels rotate 90 degrees, giving it the ability to bear loads in any direction without turning.

Combilift side loader

Rough Terrain Forklifts

These trucks have pneumatic tires with thick treads to provide greater traction on uneven ground, mud, and snow. The engines are more powerful than on other forklifts so they can reach higher speeds. They are also more robust, durable and have higher ground clearance. Rough terrain forklifts are designed for more difficult terrain and heavily counterbalanced to carry heavy front loads.

rough terrain forklift

Telescopic Handler Forklifts

These are ideal for use in the agricultural and construction industry. In many ways, these high handler forklifts resemble front end loaders, not conventional forklift trucks. The telescopic handler incorporates a single telescopic boom. This type of equipment can mount a number of useful attachments, including a lift table that gives the forklift the potential to serve as a low-rise elevator. It comes with a bucket so it can serve in dredging operations and a grapple bucket for grabbing and carrying loose material from the ground or a cargo truck. Many telescopic handler forklifts are equipped with front outriggers to maintain stability so that the telehandler is able to work in uneven terrains where standard forklifts can’t.

Genie Telehandler


Mid Atlantic Industrial Equipment, LTD is a leading seller, service provider, and renter of forklifts and material handling products in the Central Pennsylvania region. If you’re in need of material handling equipment please contact us for assistance. Our trained sales professionals can do an on-site inspection to help identify the ideal equipment for your application.