• Sales & Service


    Apply filter:
    Sales Service

  • English
  • OnlineExpress 0

Select Your Region

North America

Latin America


Middle East



Pacific Rim

Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia and New Zealand
  • English

Five Common Types Of Warehouse Pickers & Forklifts

Blog Posts - Aug 20

Five Common Types Of Warehouse Pickers & Forklifts

JLG Industries, Inc.
World-leading access equipment manufacturer
McConnellsburg, PA

Whether you need to move heavy pallets at an industrial warehouse or pick individual parcels at a small storage facility, warehouse pickers and forklifts can help you move material more efficiently.


Forklifts and other lift trucks are used in a range of settings, from picking materials for a manufacturing production line to delivering orders to a packing line at a large distribution center. Depending on the setup of your facility and the volume of inventory you handle, you may need to supplement your human workforce with specialized picking equipment.

Learn about five common types of lift trucks and how they can be used to improve the order picking process at your indoor facility.

Warehouse Forklift | Pallet Jack | Walkie Stacker | Order Picker | Reach Forklift Truck

Warehouse Pickers & Forklifts for Indoor Material Handling

Buying or renting forklifts—and other order picking equipment—can be challenging because there are so many types and models to choose from. Explore the benefits, capacity, reach height and training requirements of these five common types of warehouse equipment to help you choose the right lift truck for your needs.

1. Warehouse Forklift

Worker moving pallet with forklift
Quick Facts
  • Often used in large facilities to move high volumes of inventory
  • Handles 5,000 lb on average, with some models handling up to 20,000 lb
  • Side loaders and counterbalance forklifts are subtypes within this category
  • Forklift licenses are required by OSHA for all operators
How They’re Used
When you think of a small forklift for indoor use, you’re likely thinking of this machine type, which goes by many names from cherry picker forklift to order picker forklift. This kind of highly maneuverable lift truck is often used in large facilities to move high volumes of inventory over short distances. They also may be used on loading docks to unload items from delivery trucks.

Side loaders and counterbalance forklifts are subtypes within this category of warehouse equipment. These specialized forklifts offer options for warehouses that need to move items through compact, narrow aisles.

Load Size & Type
Because they’re designed to move pallets of materials and goods, warehouse forklifts allow facilities to load and unload balanced inventory more efficiently than they would through the efforts of the human workforce alone. The most widely used warehouse forklifts carry up to 5,000 lb, but some heavy-duty models can handle more than 20,000 lb of weight.

Required Training
By law, all forklift operators are required to be forklift certified. This certification signifies that they’ve gone through the proper training to comply with OSHA regulations. The goal of this training is to reduce the chance of workplace injuries due to unsafe operation.

2. Pallet Jack

Worker moving palletized load with pallet jack
Quick Facts
  • Used to transport palletized loads over long distances
  • Fits into tight spaces more easily than other types of lift equipment
  • Handles 5,000 lb on average, with some models able to lift up to 8,000 lb
  • Training is required by OSHA for both manual and electric pallet jacks
How They’re Used
Pallet jacks are a more accessible way to move palletized loads through a warehouse—especially over long distances. Though this type of equipment is slower and lifts less than a standard forklift, pallet jacks can more easily fit into tight spaces.

A pallet jack, sometimes referred to as a pump truck, must be maneuvered by members of your warehouse staff on foot. Both electric and manual lifting models are used within the industry.

Load Size & Type
As their name suggests, these machines are used exclusively to transport pallets. They feature two forks, typically 20 ¼ in. or 27 in. wide, and are available in various lengths and raised heights. The average capacity of a pallet jack is 5,000 lb, with some models lifting as much as 8,000 lb.

Required Training
Pallet jack training, like forklift training, is required by OSHA. Whether employees operate manual or electric pallet jacks, their training must be complete for them to be compliant by law. These training certifications are typically good for three years.

3. Walkie Stacker

Loaded walkie stacker
Quick Facts
  • Combines the compactness of a pallet jack with the reach of a forklift
  • Designed to transport lighter loads over short distances
  • Handles between 2,000 and 3,000 lb on average, with some models able to lift up to 4,000 lb
  • Operator training is required by OSHA for organizations to be compliant
How They’re Used
Walkie stackers combine the accessibility of a pallet jack with a reach closer to that of a forklift. Sometimes called a walk-behind forklift, these machines lack cabs, so a warehouse worker must walk behind the walkie stacker and steer it with an attached handle. Though this type of equipment is more compact than a forklift, it offers less speed and maneuverability.

Subtypes beneath this type of equipment are walkie straddle stackers, walkie reach stackers, counterbalance walkie stackers and ride-on walkie stackers.

Load Size & Type
These machines are designed to transport less-demanding loads over short distances, making them ideal for use in storerooms, small warehouses or in designated areas of a larger warehouse. On average, a walkie stacker can carry between 2,000 and 3,000 lb, though some heavy-duty models can lift as much as 4,000 lb. Lift heights vary by type of walkie stacker and can range from 6 ft up to over 14 ft.

Required Training
A walkie stacker is a Class III electric motor hand truck, which means operators are required to be trained on this equipment just as they would be for an indoor forklift. Training is offered through OSHA and other certifying bodies and must be complete for operators and organizations to be compliant.

4. Order Picker

Worker using ride-on warehouse order picker
Quick Facts
  • Designed to carry one or two units rather than a whole pallet of items
  • Operators ride in a platform that raises to the height of warehouse racks
  • Capacities vary by model, ranging from several hundred lb up to 3,000 lb
  • Operator training is required by OSHA for organizations to be compliant
How They’re Used
While the previous pieces of equipment are typically used to transport pallets, an order picker is a specialized machine that enables more efficient piece picking and palletless handling. Sometimes referred to as stock pickers, order pickers are designed for storage facilities, narrow aisles, and small on-demand warehouses. This category of powered warehouse equipment features models that extend as high as 32 ft and others that can drive and lift at the same time.

Load Size & Type
Operators ride on an order picker, which lifts them up to the height of industrial storage racks where they can pick items and place them on the machine’s carry deck. This process allows operators to deliver one or two units instead of a full pallet of material. Order picker capacities can range from several hundred pounds up to 3,000 lb.

Required Training
Order picker operators must obtain an order picker license by passing OSHA’s safety training requirements. Training for order pickers typically includes information about surface conditions, people traffic, load handling and exiting and entering a work area.

5. Reach Forklift Truck

Reach fork truck accessing overhead pallets
Quick Facts
  • Stabilized outrigger legs and forward-extending forks enhance reach
  • Used to stack palletized goods in racking or pick palletized materials
  • Carries loads that range from 2,500 to 5,500 lb
  • Forklift licenses are required by osha for all operators
How They’re Used
The main benefit of a reach forklift truck over a traditional forklift is its ability to reach its forks into warehouse racks for more precise pallet picking. Thanks to stabilized outrigger legs and forward-extending forks, reach trucks can access racks up to 30 ft high and items as much as two pallets deep. However, this type of forklift is restricted to indoor use because it has less undercarriage clearance than a standard forklift.

Load Size & Type
These machines are used to stack palletized goods in racking or to pick palletized materials. The cab on a reach forklift truck typically allows for a better view of overhead loads because of an open design, see-through roof guard or tilting feature that leans the operator back while picking a load. Reach forklift trucks can carry loads that range from 2,500 to 5,500 lb.

Required Training
Like standard forklift operators, those who use reach forklift trucks must be trained to comply with OSHA regulations and safety standards. This training will cover hands-on operation, inspections, safety and more.

Want to stay up to date with industry news and trends similar to this? Make sure you subscribe below to receive monthly updates from Direct Access with newly posted content, so you never miss important information.