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What are Forklift dimensions?

  • September 13, 2013

What are Forklift dimensions?

“What size forklift should I get for my warehouse?” is often a question asked by business owners and operation managers.  Forklift Dimensions can be tricky and unique to every application. Virtually every forklift dimension could potentially impact an operation, and create a safety hazard if not specified correctly and carefully.  Because of the complexity of each individual dimension this article will give overview of the different types measurements that need to be taken into consideration when shopping for a forklift, and which applications each is ideal for.

Forklift Dimensions: Height

Overall Height (OAH)
This is the measurement from ground level to the highest part of the truck with the mast fully extended upright, often times being the carriage, mast or load backrest.  The OAH will indicate whether your forklift can put pallets on a top beam or if it could possibly interfere with racking, lighting, sprinkler heads etc. when the carriage is raised to the highest level.  With a load backrest attached, the overall height can be increased by up to 6 feet more than the Maximum Fork Height.

Max Fork Height (MFH)
This is the measurement from ground level to the top of the fork tips when fully raised.  This number is typically lower than the overall height, and needs to be safely 8” minimum higher than the top of the highest shelf that the forklift must service to allow a cushion for “liftoff”.

 Lowered/Collapsed Height
The three most commonly used masts are duplex (2 stage), triplex (3 stage), and Quad (4 stage), the height of a lowered or collapsed mast is the measurement from the floor to the top of the highest part of the lowered mast.  The average standard opening of a semi-trailer door has a height of 9 feet or 105 inches, when operating in and out of semi-trailers the lowered height of a mast should be no taller than the opening of a trailer.  Some types of containers and in particular overseas containers can have much shorter openings, so the smallest truck and/or smallest container that the lift truck will service must be accounted for.

Forklift Dimensions: Length

Overall Length (OAL)
This is the distance from the most forward point on the front of a forklift to the farthest rear point of the forklift.  OAL may or may not include the length of the forks and/or the length of the load.  OAL affects Outside Turning Radius (OTR) and Right Angle Stacking (RAS).  You will find that forklifts with higher capacities will typically be longer, and shorter length OAL’s are found in narrow and very narrow aisle forklifts.

Fork Length
There are hundreds of forks and forklift attachments that vary in shape and size. These will also affect the overall length of a forklift.

Forklift Dimensions: Width

Combined with the length of a forklift, the width dimension is a crucial measurement that often defines what category a forklift fits into.  Below are most of the forklift categories and a general estimate of the length and width of each type.

Standard – typically the trucks with a standard width will be class 1, 4, or 5 and will measure in between 4 to 7 feet (it may vary more and less). These trucks are designed for standard to wide aisles because of the wide turn radius, lengths in the standard category can measure anywhere from 8 feet to 10 feet long.

 Wide – most outdoor/all-terrain trucks can be greater than 10 feet in length, 5 feet wide, and usually categorized in class 4 and 5.

Narrow Aisle – these are versatile trucks designed for warehouses with racking separated by approximately 8 to 9 feet.  Narrow aisle forklifts include reach trucks and order selectors that measure less than 5 feet in width.  The compact nature of Narrow Aisle trucks are engineered for tight outside turning radiuses.

Very Narrow Aisle – VNA trucks are a unique category, these articulated trucks designed to help warehouses maximize rack space.  As you can see in the illustration, a popular VNA forklift will be able to fit into aisles just larger than 4 and ½ feet wide.  The length will vary depending on the capacity and frequency of use.Forklift Dimensions Narrow Aisle

Ultimately, forklift dimensions are specific to each individual truck and application.  A mistake in calculation and measurements could mean a forklift won’t be able to turn around or fit into an aisle.  Specifications are determined during a complete site-survey, and should only be conducted by a trained forklift professional. If you have any questions or would like a free site survey please give Yale/Chase Equipment and Services a call, serving all Southern California Counties since 1993.


Forklift Dimensions Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article serves as an overview of forklift dimensions. Racking, warehouse design, and all other material handling purchase decisions should be consulted with a warehouse professional.  The measurements provided in this article are not to the exact dimensions specifications for all trucks and classes. Yale/Chase Equipment and Services, Inc. is not responsible for any miscalculation of forklift dimensions not completed by an employee of the company.

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