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Industrial Uses of Forklifts

by Carole Simm

Forklift trucks have revolutionized the way in which businesses move large and heavy items from place to place. They were first invented during the early part of the twentieth century, and are now an integral part of the modern-day industrial world. The trucks are named after their fork-like prongs, which slide underneath a load and scoop it up, ready to transport it to a new location.

Construction Sites

Industrial forklifts are very useful on construction sites, as they can be used to transport heavy building materials over fairly long distances, across rough terrain. They combine the functions of a vehicle and a lifting tool. Forklifts can unload pallets of bricks, steel girders and other construction products from the delivery truck and carry them to parts of the construction site that are not accessible to other vehicles. Many haulage firms now carry truck-mounted forklifts with them, which can be quickly off-loaded and then used to remove the delivery from the trailer and transport the goods to the required location.


Forklifts are used for stacking pallets in warehouse operations.

Forklifts are almost indispensable in a large warehouse operation. They are used for loading and unloading trucks and for transporting goods. Forklifts come in many different styles and sizes to suit particular lifting operations. They range from small, pedestrian-operated machines to heavy-duty, driver-operated trucks. Some are compact in order to fit through narrow aisles. Pallet trucks are used for unloading and stacking goods that are delivered on pallets, such as cartons and canned goods. Shelf stackers are used for safely storing goods on shelving and racking systems, sometimes at great heights. An attachment known as a "man basket" can also be used for lifting human beings---for example, to replace an out-of-reach lighting strip. These have railings to prevent the person from falling out, as well as brackets for affixing a safety harness.

Recycling Operations

Forklifts are commonly used in recycling operations for unloading the recycling trucks or containers and transporting their contents to the sorting bays. Cage attachments can be used for carrying items such as tires, which would otherwise fall off the forks.


Forklift trucks have been used in the loading and unloading of ships and barges since the Second World War, when the need arose for a quick and efficient method of loading arms and supplies. Today, heavy duty forklifts are used for transporting large containers from delivery trucks to dockside storage areas, and then to the ships. Forklifts are also useful for carrying shipments of wood and steel, once they have been off-loaded from a cargo vessel.

Snow Plows

Businesses can buy or hire an attachment for an industrial forklift which allows it to shovel snow. This is a much cheaper option than hiring a proper snow plow. The forklift can quickly clear snow from the parking lot, outdoor walkways and operating areas so that business is not disrupted by bad weather conditions.

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