There are several varieties of forklift available in material handling and each one fills a role. Deciding which truck is ideal for your operation can be difficult but determining factors in your workplace such as the environment you work in, shelving and the materials you’re handling can determine which specific lift truck your operation needs.

Let’s go through the different types of forklifts commonly used, and if you need help choosing a forklift to buy or rent in the Kentuckiana area, YKI is here to help.


Counterbalance forklifts is the standard lift truck people think of when they hear the word “forklift.” They’re easier to operator compared to other types of lift truck, with a seat for the operator and a straightforward lift mechanism.

Since counterbalanced forklifts are so common, there are many different models that are tailored towards a work environment.  They can vary in fuel type (electric, LP or diesel), tires (cushion or pneumatic), and weight capacity (3,000-6,000 lbs for most models but can go up to 36,000lbs!)


Typically referred to a “reach trucks” these forklifts are designed for moving materials on and off tall shelving. Most reach trucks are operated with the operator standing and tend to be more difficult to operate compared to a counterbalanced forklift. All Yale reach trucks are electric and use cushion tires but vary weight capacity and maximum reach height.


There’s a good deal of overlap between narrow aisle forklifts and reach trucks but differ in shelving space. Narrow aisle and very narrow aisle (VNA) allow for aisles to be narrower allowing you to maximize your shelving space! Yale’s VNA truck includes a side loader that makes use of as much vertical space as possible, allowing you to build up rather than out.


Order Pickers are like reach trucks because they are primarily used for picking at a greater height than most counterbalanced trucks. However rather than picking pallets by fork, they’re used for individual case picking by hand onto a pallet. The operator is standing but instead of raising forks, the operator’s platform is raised allowing the operator to pick the materials they need onto the pallet in front of them.  Order Pickers are battery powered so the main difference in models will be lift height, length of forks and operator options.



Rough terrain forklifts are exactly what they sound like, a forklift built to handle all the tough work done outdoors.  Whether that means working on a grade or navigating through gravel and earth, rough terrain forklifts and built with high powered engines and heavy-duty pneumatic tires to handle the most treacherous of work environments.


Don’t worry if you’re still not sure what forklift is right for your line of work, that’s what we’re here for! Call your local YKI branch today and get in touch with one of our forklift experts who will gladly help you find the best fit for your operation.