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Ross Grassick

A Guide to Buying a Forklift

There are many factors you need to consider when purchasing a forklift for your business. This guide can be used as an overview and information sheet to ensure you are considering the correct features when selecting a forklift. Forklifts serve as an integral part of many businesses and it is important that you select a forklift that is suitable to your application. Forklifts are manufactured and fitted in so many different ways that it can be difficult to know what type of unit is right for you.Having said this it is also important to know that forklift ranges are so versatile they can be fitted to suit your needs. These are the fundamental facts to help you choose the correct type of forklifts based on your most basic needs.


The most crucial feature you will need to assess when selecting a forklift is the capacity. Forklifts are rated based on capacity. To select the correct capacity you will need to know the size, weight and dimensions of the load you will be lifting and moving. From this information the maximum lifting capacity will be determined and you will have a better understanding of the range of forklift options that will suit your needs. Another factor to consider under capacity is the load centre, which is the distance from the centre of gravity and the sides of the load. These are usually 500mm, 600mm and 1200mm based on the size of the forklift.

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Once you have correctly determined the desired capacity required to move and lift your loads ensure you are aware of the space that you are working in. The size and height of the forklift will determine the area in which you can safely operate the forklift. Consider if you will be working indoors, outdoors, narrow aisles or container spaces because this is also critical factor that will determine the size of the forklift you can use.


Forklifts can be fitted with different types of tyres to suit your specific application. There a three main types of forklift tyres; cushion tyres, pneumatic tyres and solid pneumatic tyres.

Cushion tyres are generally fitted to forklifts that are used indoors and usually found on electric forklifts. You can also purchase cushion tyres that are non-marking to maintain a tyre mark free warehouse floor.

Pneumatic tyres use compressed air and are suitable to outdoor applications. These are generally fitted to forklifts that are operated on uneven surfaces.
Solid pneumatic tyres are equipped on rough all terrain big trucks and used in heavy applications and are made up of solid rubber. These are for durability and tough trucks applications.

Fuel Type

Now that you understand how capacity, size and where you will be using the forklift will determine the forklift type you need to purchase you can begin to consider the fuel type. This is the ultimate ongoing cost along with maintenance.

Electric forklifts are the most suitable for long term savings costs in fuel and maintenance. Electric forklifts are most suited to indoor work, have zero emissions and have long life deep cycle batteries for longer operating hours.

If you need a more powerful forklift for outdoor work you will need to look at forklifts with other fuel types which include diesel, petrol, LPG or dual fuel with the option of using petrol or LPG. The fuel will significantly increase ongoing costs compared with electric forklifts. It will ultimately depend on the application of your forklift. With newer technology in the market manufacturers have designed effective ways to decrease emissions and provide better fuel economy. Purchasing a newer machine with these technologies will mean a bigger outlay in budget from the offset but will reduce ongoing costs compared with older models. This will depend on the budget you have set and this information is designed to assist you to consider all the correct information to make a smart forklift purchase decision.

Other things to consider

Safety standards in Australian workplace safety are some of the most regulated in the world. If you purchase your forklift from a trusted local dealer you can be assured that it meets all operating regulations and manufacturers’ specifications. Ensure that your operator’s are licensed and briefed on how to use equipment correctly. Technology in the market today is teamed with some of the most advanced mechanical and electrical technology from all over the world to deliver world class equipment in newer forklifts on the market.

Forklift standard specifications that are provided by dealers are there to be used as a guideline. Forklifts can be fitted with a variety of attachments and features to suit your applications. For example you can fit forklifts with different types of masts, man cages, clamps, jibs and this is just to name a few types of attachments.

Sideshift is an option that can be fitted to a forklift to give you sideways movement when handling your load as well as up and down motions.

Tilting masts allow you to move the load forwards and backwards at an angle to assist you with handling loads on uneven surfaces.

Container masts are the most sought after type of mast allowing you to enter spaces with a low entry point.

So, where do you start looking for the correct type of forklift to suit your business’ lifting and moving requirements? Start by researching trusted local dealers that can help assess your needs and give you information and suggestions based on your application requirements and budget. The internet is the information highway and this should point you in the right direction of reputable dealers, makes and models. Dealer webpages should give you a clear outline of the types of forklifts that are available and they usually advertise on third party websites as well, which will provide you with a variety of available options.

Buying a forklift might seem overwhelming because you do need to consider so many different things – however buying the right forklift to begin with will save you time and money from the get go. This guide will give you the main point on where to begin. Make sure you do your research and go about it systematically to make the right purchase. Remember too that there are trained and experienced forklift dealers that can answer your questions and point you in the right direction.


Ross Grassick

Ross Grassick

Ross founded Lencrow Group with his father back in 1976. Since then Ross has built a nationwide business, pioneered new technology and services in the materials handling industry. Ross is an industry veteran, an advocate for vocational training and a fountain of knowledge on all things mechanical.
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