Forklift Terminology And Definitions

March 27, 2023 10:09 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Forklift Terminology And Definitions

A forklift is a piece of material handling equipment that lifts, positions and lowers loads. They are commonly used in warehouses to transport products and pallets. Many people who work with forklifts have trouble making sense of the lingo associated with these machines. This article will explain the most common terminology that you’ll hear when you’re working with a forklift.

Lift Cylinders

The cylinders that control the amount by which the mast structure, forks and carriage may be raised or lowered in the vertical are known as lift cylinders. The cylinders also control the direction of a forklift’s tilt. These cylinders are hydraulically powered and push in one direction. The cylinders are also controlled by a control valve that directs the flow of hydraulic fluid to them and backs it up through a return line to the sump (tank) when in the lowering position.


A forklift carriage is the front-end “platform” that holds a load backrest, load forks, and often an attachment. Attachments are a part of the forklift that aids in the engagement of the load. They may be permanently attached or temporarily installed on the forklift to aid in the loading of the load. Knowing your forklift’s specific carriage class is critical when buying new or used equipment.

Cushion Tires

Pneumatic tires are a good option if you’re going to be using your forklift outside, such as in construction sites and lumber yards. They have a strong grip on rough or uneven surfaces and are very popular for outdoor work. Cushion forklifts have poor traction compared to pneumatic tires, but they are better at handling in tight spaces and have a smaller turning radius. They’re also durable when used in proper environments.

Mast Height

When selecting a forklift you should consider the height of the mast and load backrest as well as any additional features that may be needed for your specific application. Understanding these dimensions is essential to your safety and productivity.

Triplex: Often considered the most versatile mast type, this type of mast provides full free lift by incorporating a three-rail assembly, including one stationary rail and two inner, movable rails.

Quad: Using four sets of rails and chains, these specialized masts allow for lift heights that are much higher than the other types.

These masts require special training and can be challenging to operate due to their complexity. They are only used in specialized material handling applications that require high lifts.

Overhead Guard

In the same way that a car roof protects the passengers from rain and other elements, an overhead guard on a forklift truck also prevents loads from falling onto the operator. Per OSHA and ANSI standards, this safety feature is required to be installed on any forklift that can lift loads above the operator. While an overhead guard is designed to deflect smaller loads, it cannot withstand the impact of a full capacity load dropped from an elevated height. Some overhead guards are also designed to crush and deflect the load to one side when a heavier object hits it.

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