The Differences Between Reach Trucks and Forklifts

Reach trucks and forklifts are ideal for moving and lifting materials in a warehouse setting. While forklifts are better suited for moving heavier objects at minimal heights, reach trucks are optimal for lifting lighter materials to increased elevations. Before investing in either one, you should know the differences between the two and how each can benefit your application.

What Are Forklifts and Reach Trucks?

While some of their functions can overlap, reach trucks and forklifts have distinct features that make them more efficient for specific tasks.

Forklift Overview

When most people refer to forklifts, they are talking about counterbalance forklifts. These machines typically consist of forks in the front, a counterbalance in the rear, a cab that houses the operator and tires that help control the steering. Counterbalance forklifts are among the most well-known and versatile material handling equipment types.

A forklift’s primary functions are lifting, moving and stacking pallets or contained units. While various models have different load capacities, most devices can comfortably handle up to 10,000 pounds.

Reach Truck Overview

Reach trucks are typically smaller than forklifts, providing enhanced mobility and maneuverability. They usually have slimmer bodies, making them better suited for warehouse operations with tighter spaces and more narrow aisles. Instead of using a counterbalance, reach trucks have two stabilizing outer legs that distribute load weight.

Reach trucks can usually accommodate a smaller load capacity than most counterbalance forklifts. However, they typically offer much higher height capacities when lifting.

Forklifts vs. Reach Trucks

Some of the specific differences between forklifts and reach trucks include the following:

  • Visibility: Forklifts are front-facing and often have limited visibility when moving large loads. Reach trucks are usually sideways-facing, providing operators with a broader vision range.
  • Turn radius: Reach trucks often have a much smaller turn radius than forklifts, allowing them to maneuver better in compact spaces.
  • Lifting height: On average, most forklifts can lift to 20 feet, while some reach trucks have lift capacities exceeding 40 feet.
  • Weight capacity: Most reach trucks have lift capacities ranging from 3,000-5,000 pounds, while many forklifts can comfortably transport loads double that size. Some heavy-duty forklift models can handle loads weighing over 25,000 pounds.
  • Power sources: Many reach truck models typically operate on a 36-volt battery, while forklifts can use various power sources, like gasoline, diesel or an electric battery.

Find Reach Trucks and Forklifts for Sale at Burns Industrial Equipment

Whether you’re considering buying a forklift or reach truck, Burns Industrial Equipment offers an extensive selection of new and used models. We also offer flexible rental plans to meet your short-term needs. Contact us online, call 330-468-4900 or visit one of our convenient locations in Western Pennsylvania, Northeast Ohio or West Virginia today to learn more about forklifts vs. reach trucks.

Find Reach Trucks and Forklifts for Sale at Burns Industrial Equipment
Greater Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania

210 Thorn Hill Road,
Warrendale, PA 15086