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The Best Type of Forklift for Your Application

Not all forklifts are created equally. A lot of thought and engineering goes into the design of a forklift so that it’s adapted to specific uses. Choosing the right forklift for your floor or terrain, passage and alley width, warehouse space and configuration and maximum rack height is critical to maximizing your speed, efficiency and safety.

At Chicago Industrial, we’ve spent years supplying customers in Chicago, IL, around the country and around the world with a wide range of forklift types, makes and models. To determine which forklift features suit your application best, we’ve put together a list of common forklift applications for industrial and construction uses

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Forklifts for Warehouses

If the main use of your forklift is for sorting and picking in a warehouse, the name of the game is agility. You also need great visibility to avoid damaging your loads and racks and adequate mast height to reach the top positions in your warehouse. Consider the following points:

  • Load rating: It’s critical to know your average load and maximum load. If you have multiple forklifts, you may only need one that can handle your heaviest loads and others that are smaller and nimbler for your regular, day-to-day material handling needs. Always account for potential load increases in the future.


  • Maneuverability: Speed is key when you’re working in a warehouse and need to supply production and shipping in a timely manner. Pick a forklift model that gives you the best response in turning, accelerating and lift speed and adjustment. The best way to be sure is to try out different brands and models.


  • Energy source: Most warehouse forklift applications mean fast work over multiple shifts, so your forklift may not get much rest. Electric forklifts are reliable and powerful, but require time for charging. If you only have one forklift, you need to be sure you can spare charging time — or opt for another power source.


Running a forklift in a warehouse has a specific set of needs. Look closely at how you operate today to choose the best forklifts for warehouses which allow you to work efficiently and safely.


Forklifts for Construction

While extreme agility is a necessity in a warehouse situation, maximum lifting power and durability is what you need on a construction site. In most cases, you’re not looking for millimeter precision, but instead you may need to transport heavy loads over uneven terrain. For construction applications, choose your forklift according to:

  • Load rating: On a construction site, you’ll be confronted with multiple types of material, supplies and equipment to move and position. You don’t want to be at the top end of your load rating all the time, so choose a construction forklift that lets you work safely and with power to spare for unplanned situations.


  • Maneuverability: While you do need a forklift that you can steer with ease, the best forklifts for construction don’t need the same precision feel as you would for storing and picking purposes. Instead, focus on the wheels and control placement for safe and comfortable transportation and positioning on rough terrain.


  • Energy source: For most outdoor construction uses, diesel or CNG forklifts are the common choice. The ability to quickly fill or change the fuel tank means you can get back to business quickly. Diesel and fuel-powered forklifts also give you the best performance possible and a wide range of models to choose from.


A forklift is a welcome addition to any construction site and project, as long as you select a model that meets the extreme load and terrain requirements.


Forklifts for Narrow Aisles

It might be easy to assume that the only criteria to consider when looking for the best forklifts for narrow aisles is the size of your forklift. This is a mistake. You need to consider many other factors to ensure you’re allowing your employees to work in a safe and efficient manner:

  • Load rating: Most forklifts that fit into narrow aisles are naturally small. Don’t simply choose the most compact forklift available, as you risk choosing a model that can’t meet your load ratings. Several manufacturers offer high-load compact forklifts that combine small size with impressive performance.


  • Maneuverability: This is a key factor when choosing a forklift that you’ll be using in narrow aisles and tight spaces. Width and length come in to play, as do the type and size of tires. Remember that the length of your forks will also affect how well you can turn in your aisles, though mast height isn’t a problem.


  • Energy source: In most cases, the energy source (electric, diesel or CNG) won’t have a direct effect on the ability to run your forklift in narrow spaces. Think more about how often you’ll need to recharge or refuel, and which power source will be the most convenient and avoid the most downtime.


When you’re working in narrow aisles, it’s important to be familiar with the operation and controls of your forklift. Start with the right-sized model with the performance and reach you need, and you’ll be able to work quickly and safely.


Chicago Industrial for All Your Forklift Needs

You can trust our experience to help you find the right forklift for your specific needs. Contact us today and tell us about your forklift requirements for warehouse, construction or narrow aisle situations. You can fill in our online form to obtain a free quotation, or give us a call at 815-744-8811.

If you already have an idea of which type or model of forklift you’d like, you can also filter through our forklift inventory above. You can work smarter and faster when you equip yourself with the right industrial equipment from Chicago Industrial.