Rough Terrain Forklifts vs. Traditional Forklifts: Which is Right for Your Business?

Forklifts are essential equipment for many industries, such as construction, warehousing, logistics and agriculture. They can lift, move and transport heavy loads across different surfaces and environments. However, not all forklifts are the same. Depending on your business needs and preferences, you may choose between rough terrain forklifts and traditional forklifts. In this article, we will compare these two forklift types and help you decide which one is right for your business.

Kaystar Pioneer35A 3.5t four wheel drive lift truck

What are Rough Terrain Forklifts?

Rough terrain forklifts are specially designed to operate on uneven, rocky and challenging surfaces. They have large, pneumatic tires that provide more stability and traction on rough terrain. They also have powerful engines that can handle higher speeds and gradients. Some rough terrain forklifts have a vertical mast that can lift loads straight up, while others have a telescoping boom that can extend the reach of the forks. Rough terrain forklifts are classified as Class VII by OSHA.

What are Traditional Forklifts?

Traditional forklifts are more common and versatile than rough terrain forklifts. They can operate on smooth, flat and indoor surfaces, such as concrete floors, asphalt roads and warehouse aisles. They have smaller, cushion tires that are suitable for hard surfaces. They have electric or internal combustion engines that run on batteries, propane, gas or diesel. They have a fixed mast that can tilt and rotate the forks. Traditional forklifts are classified as Class I to Class VI by OSHA.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Rough Terrain Forklifts?

Rough terrain forklifts have some advantages over traditional forklifts, such as:

  • They can handle harsh outdoor conditions, such as dirt, mud, snow and rain.
  • They can navigate slopes up to 45 degrees, which traditional forklifts cannot do without tipping over or getting stuck.
  • They can lift heavier loads than traditional forklifts, up to 7,000 pounds or more.
  • They can reach higher heights than traditional forklifts, up to 40 feet or more.

However, rough terrain forklifts also have some disadvantages, such as:

  • They are more expensive than traditional forklifts, both in purchase and maintenance costs.
  • They consume more fuel than traditional forklifts, which increases the operating costs and environmental impact.
  • They are less maneuverable than traditional forklifts, especially in tight spaces and corners.
  • They require more training and certification than traditional forklifts, due to their complexity and safety risks.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Forklifts?

Traditional forklifts have some advantages over rough terrain forklifts, such as:

  • They are more affordable than rough terrain forklifts, both in purchase and maintenance costs.
  • They consume less fuel than rough terrain forklifts, which reduces the operating costs and environmental impact.
  • They are more maneuverable than rough terrain forklifts, especially in tight spaces and corners.
  • They require less training and certification than rough terrain forklifts, due to their simplicity and safety standards.

However, traditional forklifts also have some disadvantages, such as:

  • They cannot handle harsh outdoor conditions, such as dirt, mud, snow and rain.
  • They cannot navigate slopes over 15 degrees, which limits their mobility and functionality.
  • They cannot lift as heavy loads as rough terrain forklifts, usually up to 5,000 pounds or less.
  • They cannot reach as high heights as rough terrain forklifts, usually up to 20 feet or less.

Which Forklift Type is Right for Your Business?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of surface you need to operate on: smooth or rough
  • The type of environment you need to operate in: indoor or outdoor
  • The type of load you need to lift: light or heavy
  • The type of height you need to reach: low or high
  • The type of budget you have: low or high

Generally speaking,

  • If you need to operate on smooth surfaces indoors with light loads at low heights with a low budget, you should choose a traditional forklift.
  • If you need to operate on rough surfaces outdoors with heavy loads at high heights with a high budget, you should choose a rough terrain forklift.
  • If you need to operate on both smooth and rough surfaces indoors and outdoors with moderate loads at medium heights with a moderate budget, you should consider a hybrid forklift that combines the features of both types.

Conclusion

Rough terrain forklifts and traditional forklifts are two different types of forklifts that have their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your business needs and preferences, you may choose one or the other, or a hybrid of both. Before making your decision, you should evaluate the factors such as surface, environment, load, height and budget. You should also consult with a reputable forklift dealer or supplier that can offer you professional advice and guidance. By choosing the right forklift type for your business, you can improve your productivity, efficiency and safety.