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What’s the Difference Between a Reach Truck & a Counterbalance Forklift?

This is a highly popular question among the material handling industry and there’s a relatively simple answer. Here at Hire Forklifts, we’ll be taking you through the capabilities of both a counterbalance forklift and a reach truck and explain how they differ from each other in order for you to make the best decision for you.

What is a reach truck?

A reach truck, as the name would suggest, is designed to offer maximum lifting capacity alongside impressive maneuverability functionality. This combination alone is enough to improve and enhance warehouse operations, regardless of the industry or sector you work in.

The idea of a reach truck is that it’s able to reach out further than its stabilising legs, allowing it to access stock from even the tallest of shelves in and around your premises. If you have particularly narrow aisles, then reach trucks will make short work of navigating around them safely, even whilst being operated to their full potential.

There’s no need for a counterweight when it comes to reach trucks thanks to the batteries contained within it and the stabilising legs that are fitted to it. In addition to this, many manufacturers design their reach trucks with a tilt mechanism for ultimate convenience. This way, the cab will be able to tilt slightly in order to provide the operator with full visibility and a more comfortable viewing positioning in general.

Alternatively, some reach trucks have been designed with a completely open overhead guard in order to achieve the same level of visibility as its tilting counterpart. Cameras can also be fitted to the vehicle, ensuring footage is captured from all angles and available for viewing live from the cabin as and when needed.

Reach trucks are particularly suited to indoor use as opposed to outside and for one simple reason – it has a low under-carriage clearance. This will make navigating across uneven surfaces exceptionally difficult and also unsafe for the driver. Unless you have the tyres replaced that will raise the chassis and are suitable for outdoor terrain, keep your reach truck for indoor use only.

Reach trucks in summary:

  • Offers maximum lifting capacity, making it easy to reach even the tallest of shelves
  • They can navigate around exceptionally narrow aisles with complete ease
  • Tilting mechanisms and open overhead guards allows for excellent visibility
  • There’s an option to fit high-quality cameras to the vehicle that offers a live feed
  • Better suited to indoor use as opposed to use outside

What is a counterbalance forklift?

This is one of the most common, conventional forklift trucks available throughout the material handling industry. The forks stick out in front of the vehicle in order to pick up pallets and other products. Unlike the reach truck, there aren’t any protruding arms or legs present on or around a counterbalance forklift. This allows for the forklift to be placed, closely, alongside the warehouse racking in order to pick up or offload any pallets it might be carrying.

A reach function isn’t necessary when it comes to a counterbalance forklift, mainly because there isn’t the room to implement a two-in-one functionality. This is often why a warehouse owner will need a reach truck and a forklift in order to ensure operations are able to run as smoothly as possible.

Counterbalance forklift trucks can be operated with complete ease, only when fully-trained drivers are behind the wheel. Although, it’s important to note that counterbalance forklifts can be fuelled by diesel, electricity or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and each one of those fuel types have their advantages.

Diesel forklifts are exceptionally powerful, electric forklifts are eco-friendly and LPG forklifts are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Therefore, it’s up to you to choose a machine that’ll effortlessly suit your needs and your budget. But if you’re looking to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, then opt for an electric forklift or an LPG vehicle.

The majority of models also have a mast tilt capability, together with the inclusion of sideshifters and a sturdy driver’s cab for absolute peace of mind when it comes to the health and safety of your employees.

A counterbalance forklift gets its name from how it was designed. A large counterweight is positioned on the back of the forklift in order to off-set the load that’ll be applied at the front of the truck when pallets are lifted and transported around the premises. However, electric forklifts are able to operate smoothly with a lighter counterweight at the back due to the considerable weight of the battery that’s located nearby.

Counterbalance forklifts in summary:

  • Forks stick out the front in order to load, transport and unload stock with ease
  • No protruding arms or legs present on or around the forklift
  • They can be positioned close to racking to ensure the safe loading and unloading of pallets
  • Can be fuelled in three different ways: diesel, LP gas and electricity
  • Electric and LPG forklifts are the most eco-friendly machines
  • Diesel forklifts aren’t sustainable, but they’re incredibly powerful
  • Sideshifters, sturdy driver’s cab and mast tile capability available
  • Large counterweights placed at the back of the vehicle
  • Lighter counterweights are located at the back of an electric forklift thanks to a weighty battery

Can I hire a forklift or a reach truck?

If you choose Hire Forklifts for all of your material handling needs, then you’ll be able to hire an electric forklift, a diesel forklift and also an LPG forklift as and when needed. In addition to counterbalance forklift trucks, you’ll also be able to rent a reach truck along with other pieces of warehouse equipment.

We have a number of different contracts available, whether short-term or long-term hire is needed, you can always look to our specialists here at Hire Forklifts to provide you with a transparent, flexible and reliable hire service.

For unrivalled customer assistance and high-quality machinery that you’ll always be able trust, look no further than Hire Forklifts for a seamless, effortless solution. No matter what you require, we’ll be able to enhance your warehouse operations by improving efficiency and productivity when you need it most.

For more information about the reach trucks and forklifts we have available for rent, get in touch with a member of our dedicated, expert team today – we’re always on hand to help.

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