Which Forklift to Choose: A Comprehensive Guide for Buyers

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If you are in the market for a forklift, you know that choosing the right one can be a daunting task. With so many different types, fuel options, and safety features, it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the right forklift for your needs, from assessing your requirements to considering cost and warranty options.

Assessing your needs is the first step in choosing the right forklift. Consider the types of loads you will be handling, the height you need to lift them, and the amount of space you have to maneuver. You will also need to think about the fuel type that best suits your needs, as well as the ergonomics and safety features that will keep your operators comfortable and safe while working. Once you have a clear idea of your requirements, you can start to narrow down your options and find the perfect forklift for your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Assess your needs before choosing a forklift
  • Prioritize safety features and operator comfort
  • Consider cost, warranty, and compliance options

Assessing Your Needs

When choosing a forklift, it is important to assess your needs to ensure you select the right type of forklift for your business. This section will guide you through the three main factors to consider when assessing your needs.

Type of Materials

The type of materials you will be handling is the most fundamental factor to consider when selecting a forklift. Different types of goods necessitate different types of forklifts. For example, if you will be handling heavy loads, you will need a forklift with a high weight capacity. If you will be handling fragile goods, you will need a forklift with a gentle touch.

Environment and Terrain

The environment and terrain in which you will be using the forklift is another important factor to consider. If you will be using the forklift indoors, you will need a forklift with a low emission engine. If you will be using the forklift outdoors, you will need a forklift with a high clearance and large tires to navigate rough terrain.

Load Capacity Requirements

The load capacity of the forklift is another important factor to consider. You should assess the maximum weight you typically handle to ensure the forklift’s load capacity meets your requirements. Additionally, consider the lift height you need to reach. Different forklifts offer varying lift heights, so selecting one that matches your lifting needs is crucial.

Types of Forklifts

When it comes to choosing a forklift, there are several types available to suit different material handling tasks. Here are some of the most common types of forklifts you might consider:

Counterbalance Forklifts

Counterbalance forklifts are the most common type of forklift. They have a weight at the back of the machine that counterbalances the load at the front. These forklifts are ideal for indoor use and can be powered by electricity or gas. They are typically used for lifting loads up to five tonnes.

Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks are also called pallet trucks. They are used for moving pallets around a warehouse or factory. They are simple machines that are easy to operate and maintain. They are typically used for lifting loads up to two tonnes.

Pallet Stackers

Pallet stackers are similar to pallet jacks, but they can lift pallets to higher heights. They are ideal for use in warehouses where space is limited. They are typically used for lifting loads up to two tonnes.

Reach Trucks

Reach trucks are designed for use in narrow aisles. They have a mast that can reach up to 12 metres high. They are ideal for use in warehouses where space is limited. They are typically used for lifting loads up to 1.5 tonnes.

Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklifts are designed for use in outdoor environments. They have large tyres that can handle rough terrain. They are typically used for lifting loads up to five tonnes.

When choosing a forklift, it’s important to consider the type of work you will be doing and the environment you will be working in. Each type of forklift has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

Fuel Types and Efficiency

When choosing a forklift, one of the most important factors to consider is the fuel type. Each fuel type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one can greatly impact the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your operation. In this section, we will discuss the different fuel types available for forklifts and their respective efficiencies.


Lithium-ion battery-powered forklifts are becoming increasingly popular due to their high efficiency and low maintenance costs. They are ideal for indoor use and are emission-free, making them environmentally friendly. Lithium-ion batteries also have a longer lifespan than traditional lead-acid batteries, reducing the need for frequent replacements.


Electric forklifts are another popular option for indoor use. They are emission-free and have low noise levels, making them ideal for use in noise-sensitive areas. Electric forklifts are also more energy-efficient than other fuel types, reducing energy costs and increasing overall efficiency.


Diesel forklifts are best suited for outdoor use and heavy-duty applications. They are known for their high torque and power, making them ideal for lifting heavy loads. However, diesel forklifts are not as fuel-efficient as other fuel types and emit more pollutants, making them less environmentally friendly.


LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) forklifts are a popular choice for outdoor use due to their high power and fuel efficiency. They emit fewer pollutants than diesel forklifts and are more environmentally friendly. LPG forklifts also have lower fuel costs than diesel forklifts, making them a cost-effective option.


Hybrid forklifts combine the power of an internal combustion engine with the efficiency of an electric motor. They are ideal for indoor and outdoor use and are more fuel-efficient than traditional internal combustion engine forklifts. Hybrid forklifts also emit fewer pollutants than diesel forklifts and have lower fuel costs than electric forklifts.

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Ergonomics and Operator Comfort

When choosing a forklift, it is important to consider ergonomics and operator comfort. Forklift operators spend long hours in their machines, and a comfortable operator is a more productive operator. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating the ergonomics of a forklift:

Cabin Design

The cabin design is an important factor in operator comfort. A well-designed cabin should be spacious, with enough room for the operator to move around comfortably. The seat should be adjustable and provide good lumbar support. The cabin should also be well-ventilated, with good air conditioning and heating, to ensure that the operator is comfortable in all weather conditions.

Controls Layout

The layout of the controls is another important factor in operator comfort. The controls should be easy to reach and operate, with intuitive placement and clear labelling. A well-designed control panel will reduce operator fatigue and the risk of error. The steering wheel should also be adjustable to ensure that the operator can find a comfortable driving position.

Heli 1.5-3.8T Lithium Forklift Details


Good visibility is essential for safe and efficient operation of a forklift. The operator should have a clear view of the load and the surrounding environment. A clear view reduces the risk of accidents and makes it easier for the operator to manoeuvre the forklift in tight spaces. A forklift with a well-designed cabin and good visibility will reduce operator fatigue and increase productivity.

Safety Features

When choosing a forklift, one of the most important considerations is safety. Forklifts are powerful machines that can cause serious damage and injuries if not operated safely. Therefore, it is essential to choose a forklift that has the right safety features to protect both the operator and other workers in the area.

Operator Restraints

Operator restraints are an essential safety feature in forklifts. They keep the operator securely seated in the cab while the forklift is in use. This prevents the operator from falling out of the cab if the forklift tips over or collides with an object. The most common type of operator restraint is a seatbelt, which should be worn at all times while operating the forklift.

Warning Devices

Warning devices are another critical safety feature in forklifts. These devices alert other workers in the area that a forklift is in use, reducing the risk of collisions and other accidents. The most common warning device is a horn, which should be used to alert other workers when the forklift is moving or reversing.

Load Handling

Load handling is another crucial safety feature in forklifts. Forklifts are designed to lift and move heavy loads, and it is essential to ensure that the load is secure during transport. To prevent the load from shifting or falling off the forklift, forklifts are equipped with load backrests, which keep the load from sliding backward. Additionally, some forklifts have clamps or other attachments that can be used to secure the load to the forklift.

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Cost Considerations

When choosing a forklift, cost considerations play a crucial role in the decision-making process. Here are some cost factors that you should consider before making a purchase:

Initial Purchase Price

The initial purchase price of a forklift varies depending on the type, brand, and model. Electric forklifts are typically more expensive than their propane or diesel counterparts, but they have lower maintenance costs and are more energy-efficient. On the other hand, internal combustion forklifts are cheaper to purchase but have higher fuel and maintenance costs.

Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance and repairs are an inevitable part of owning a forklift. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and safety of the forklift. It is important to factor in the cost of maintenance and repairs when deciding which forklift to purchase. Electric forklifts have lower maintenance costs than internal combustion forklifts because they have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance.

Fuel Consumption

Fuel consumption is a significant cost factor to consider when choosing a forklift. Internal combustion forklifts run on either propane or diesel fuel, and their fuel consumption varies depending on the model and usage. Electric forklifts, on the other hand, have lower fuel costs because they run on electricity. However, it is important to note that electric forklifts have higher upfront costs than internal combustion forklifts.

In summary, when choosing a forklift, you should consider the initial purchase price, maintenance and repair costs, and fuel consumption to make an informed decision.

Warranty and Dealer Support

When choosing a forklift, warranty and dealer support are important considerations. A warranty ensures that you are covered in case of any issues that may arise with your forklift. Some dealers provide limited warranty support, while others provide more comprehensive coverage. It is worth having this information in mind when purchasing a forklift.

It is important to choose a reputable brand when purchasing a forklift. Look for a company with a strong track record and a good reputation for customer service and support. A reliable and experienced provider ensures timely and effective after-sales support. When selecting after-sales support for a forklift, consider the availability of spare parts and maintenance services, the competence and expertise of the support team, response time and communication channels, and warranty and service agreements.

At Liftwise, we provide comprehensive warranty support for all our forklifts, including new and used models. Our warranty periods and coverage may vary depending on the forklift or material handling equipment being purchased, but we ensure that our customers have peace of mind when making their purchase.

When choosing a dealer, make sure to choose one that offers good after-sales support. Liftwise suggest you choosing a dealer with a good reputation for customer service and support. A good dealer will offer maintenance services and spare parts, as well as warranty and service agreements.

Compliance and Standards

When choosing a forklift, it is crucial to consider compliance and standards in your state. Compliance with the regulations and standards set by Safe Work Australia is mandatory to ensure the safety of workers and the smooth operation of the workplace.

One of the essential standards to consider is the National Standard for Licensing Persons Performing High-Risk Work, which requires forklift operators to hold an appropriate National Licence. Operators must also undergo a health assessment to ensure they are fit to operate a forklift.

Another critical standard to consider is the AS2359 series of standards for forklifts, which provides guidelines on the design, testing, and maintenance of forklifts. It is also essential to ensure that the forklift complies with the relevant state and territory regulations, such as the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations.

Below is an overview of the national regulations for forklift operation in Australia. It is crucial to also familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and requirements within your state or territory to ensure complete compliance and safety.

National Standards and Regulations

  • Safe Work Australia Guidelines: Nationwide standards for forklift operation, including the National Standard for Licensing Persons Performing High-Risk Work.
  • National Licence Requirement: Mandatory for forklift operators under the High-Risk Work license category.
  • Health Assessments: Required to ensure operator fitness for forklift operation.
  • AS2359 Standards: Pertains to design, testing, and maintenance of forklifts for safety compliance.

State and Territory Specific Regulations

New South Wales

  • Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations: Detailed guidelines on forklift operation and safety protocols.
  • Local Training Requirements: Specific training programs mandated by the NSW government for forklift operators.


  • Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations: Guidelines similar to WHS, with additional state-specific requirements.
  • Licensing Endorsements: Specific endorsements on the High-Risk Work license for forklift operation.


  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland: State-specific health and safety guidelines for forklift operations.
  • Forklift Operation Permits: Requirements for obtaining and maintaining operation permits in QLD.

Western Australia

  • WorkSafe WA Regulations: Regulations emphasizing forklift safety and operator training.
  • Licence Renewal Process: Details on how often and under what conditions forklift licences must be renewed in WA.

South Australia

  • SafeWork SA Guidelines: Focus on operator safety and workplace hazard management.
  • Equipment Compliance Checks: Regular checks and compliance requirements for forklift equipment.


  • WorkSafe Tasmania Regulations: Specific safety guidelines and operational standards for forklift use.
  • State-Specific Licensing: Additional licensing requirements unique to Tasmania.

Australian Capital Territory

  • WorkSafe ACT Standards: Emphasis on comprehensive training and safety measures.
  • Periodic Safety Audits: Regular audits and inspections to ensure compliance with ACT regulations.

Northern Territory

  • NT WorkSafe Regulations: Guidelines tailored to the unique working conditions in NT.
  • Operator Competency Assessments: Regular assessments to ensure ongoing competency of forklift operators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the appropriate forklift for your warehouse needs depends on various factors such as the type of goods you want to move, the height you need to lift them, and the width of the aisles in your warehouse. You should also consider the type of floor surface, the amount of space available, and the number of hours the forklift will be in use. To make an informed decision, it is best to consult with Liftwise forklift experts who can guide you through the selection process.

To determine the lifting capacity required for your forklift, you should consider the maximum weight of the loads you will be moving. It is important to choose a forklift with a lifting capacity that exceeds the weight of your heaviest load. However, you should also consider the height to which you need to lift the load, as the lifting capacity of a forklift decreases as the lift height increases.

The most commonly utilised forklift in industrial settings is the counterbalance forklift. This type of forklift has a weight at the back of the machine that counterbalances the weight of the load being lifted at the front. Counterbalance forklifts are versatile and can be used indoors and outdoors, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

When operating a forklift on ramps, you should consider the gradient of the ramp, the weight of the load, and the condition of the ramp surface. It is important to ensure that the forklift is equipped with the appropriate tires and brakes to prevent slipping and sliding. Additionally, you should always travel up and down the ramp with the load facing uphill and avoid turning on the ramp.

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