Guide to Pallet Handling Equipment


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The Ultimate Guide to Pallet Handling Equipment

“The best handling solutions involve the least handling. Handling adds to the cost but not to the value of the product”.

Pallets are platforms on which bulk goods can be stored & transported. Once the goods have been stored upon the pallet, the resultant load is usually far too heavy to be moved or lifted. Therefore some form of mechanical assistance is required – hence the introduction of the ForkLift Trucks.

The range of different types, styles, types & lifts capacity of these trucks is vast, with many manufacturers offering both multi-purpose & specialist equipment. The choice of the right equipment or system to optimise material flow is broadly a definition of MATERIALS HANDLING.

This guide on material handling equipment is intended to provide a very general outline view of the main types of used industrial trucks, fork lift trucks (FLT) associated with palletised storage and the Dexion P90 racking system.

Please note images & technical specifications of hand pallet, reach, counterbalance, stackers & turret trucks courtesy of Linde Material Handling.

The Application

It is essential to consider all aspects of an application in order to ensure that the most suitable equipment is specified & the best handling solution selected. Important factors are:

The Load & Pallet type

a) Pallet Details

Length; width; depth; type, i.e. any base boards; pallet under hang under forks; are the base boards chamfered? Two or four-way access?

b) Load Details

Weight; length when stacked on pallet; width when stacked on pallet; overall height of load & pallet; type of load: cartons, bags & sacks etc; is the load shrink wrapped? Heavy loads will require more robust equipment compared to medium weight loads or lighter loads, so keep this and other materials in consideration.

90 Degree Stacking Aisle

90 degree stacking aisle is the name given to the gangway or aisle required for the forklift truck to turn & face the rack in order to deposit or retrieve a pallet with the picking and lifting mechanism.
It is important to ensure that the quoted figures are realistic and relate to load face to face dimensions.


















Hand Pallet Trucks

The hand pallet truck is the simplest device for moving pallets. Comprising of a pair of forks mounted on wheels, it is used to manually transport goods around at ground level only. A hand operated, pump action handle slightly raises or lowers the forks to facilitate movement.

Lift Capacity: 1.6 – 3.0t

Lift Height: N/A

Working aisle: 1900 – 2500mm

Hand Pallet Trucks

Powered Pallet Trucks

Powered pallet transporter is a battery operated device for transporting pallets around at ground level only. Comprising of a pair of forks mounted on wheels, it is a powered version of the hand pallet truck.

Lift Capacity: 1.6 – 3.0t

Lift Height: 210mm

Working aisle: 1900 – 2500mm

Powered Pallet Trucks

Pallet Stackers

Based on a powered pallet truck & fitted with a mast to provide a cost effective combination of stacker & pallet transporter. It can’t stack pallets which have baseboards, such as the chep pallet commonly used in the UK.

Lift Capacity: 1.0 – 1.6t

Lift Height: 1500 – 5000mm

Working aisle: 2100 – 2500mm

Pallet Stacker

Reach Truck

The reach truck is a free roaming vehicle based on the moving mast principle. When transporting, the pallet is contained within the wheelbase of the truck. When loading or unloading, the mast and forks move forward / backward to deposit or retrieve the pallet. Requiring relatively narrow gangways, the reach trucks are commonly found in warehouses. In most instances reach trucks aren’t suitable for outside use due to there solid tyre compound.

Reach Truck

Warehouse Environment

Lift Capacity: 1.0 – 2.5t

Lift Height: 2800 – 12000mm

Working aisle: 2650 – 3000mm

There is a small range of reach trucks with PPR tyres specifically designed for outside operation although there performance is significantly reduced.


Lift Capacity: 1.0t

Lift Height: 5000mm

Please note that when placing or retrieving a pallet, the forks have to be lifted over the reach truck legs. The first beam level therefore needs to be 300mm higher to allow for this.

Counterbalance Truck

The counterbalance truck is regarded as a good, multi-purpose workhouse, capable of free roaming operation both indoors & outside. The weight of goods being lifted is counterbalanced by the weight of the truck itself, effectively pivoting around the front wheels. Can be electrically, gas or diesel powered. The main drawback of counterbalance trucks is that because of their bulky size they require a fairly large working aisle.

Lift Capacity: 1.0 – 50.0t

Lift Height: 2900 – 6650mm

Working aisle: 3500 – Plus

Counterbalance Truck

Flexi/Bendi Trucks

The Bendi / Flexi truck offers the benefits of a traditional Counterbalance truck (work inside & outside), but due to it’s articulated design, can turn and operate in narrow gangways. It’s become accepted as a multi-purpose fork lift truck that can replace the functions of both reach & counterbalance trucks. However prices for Bendi/ Flexi trucks will be more expensive than comparable counterbalance / reach trucks.

Lift Capacity: 1.0 – 2.0t

Lift Height: 10000 – 11000mm

Working aisle: 1900 – 3000mm


Narrow Aisle Combi Trucks

The Narrow Aisle Combi Truck, as its name implies, operates in a very narrow gangway, being guided along the aisle by an electrically operated mechanism following a buried wire in the ground (wire guided) or by heavy duty angle guide rail mounted in front of the racking. The forks & mast face sideways, moving in and out to deposit or retrieve pallets. Depending upon the guide rail design, racks may need to be fitted with a bottom beam level just above the ground.

Narrow Aisle Combi Trucks

Narrow Aisle Turret Truck

The Narrow Aisle Turret Truck operates in a very narrow aisle, being either wire guided or guided by floor mounted rails. The forks are mounted on a swivelling head such that they can be turned to face forward or to either side. This enables this type of narrow aisle truck to be far more flexible in operation. Depending upon the guide rail design, racks may need to be fitted with a bottom beam level just above the ground.

Narrow Aisle Turret Truck

Narrow Aisle Double Deep Stacker

The double deep stacker is a variation on the standard narrow aisle machine. Extending or pantograph forks enable the truck to store two pallets deep, one behind the other. The double deep principle can be used with any type of fork lift truck, but when coupled with a narrow aisle system produces a very dense storage combination. Depending upon the guidance method, racks may need to be fitted with a bottom beam level just above the ground.

The narrow aisle double deep stacker isn’t a standard mechanical offering and as such is tailored for each bespoke special application!

Narrow Aisle Double Deep Stacker

Order Picker

An order Picker can be a guided or free roaming machine which enables a person to reach & pick from palletised loads stored in racking. An empty pallet or cage is located onto the front forks. The operator then uses the rising cab to reach each unit in turn, pick the required goods & stack them onto the pallet. It is not used for storing / handling full pallet loads.

Ground Level

Low Level Order picker

Lift Capacity: 0.7 – 2.5t
Picking Height: Ground + one
Working aisle: N/A

Medium & High Lift Order picker

Lift Capacity: 1.0 – 1.2t
Picking Height: 3000 – 10500mm
Working aisle: 1100 – 1380mm

Multi Level

Walkthrough Order Picker

The Walk Through Order Picker is usually a narrow aisle machine which enables the operator to reach & pick from bulk loads stored in racking. Because the operator can enter the ‘cage’ at the front, this type of machine is usually used for handling / storing full pallet loads. Order Pickers are battery operated, & utilise either wire or rail guidance.

Lift Capacity: 0.5 – 1.2t

Picking Height: 11000mm

Working aisle: 1400 – 2000mm

Walkthrough Order Picker

Lateral Stacker / Order Picker “Combi”

The “Combi” as it is usually referred to, is both an order picker & narrow aisle stacker rolled into one machine. It can be used for storing & retrieving full pallets loads, or from picking from ready stored goods via the rising operators cab. “Combi’s are battery operated, & utilise either wire or rail guidance.

Lift Capacity: 0.5 – 1.5t

Picking Height: 4300 – 16000mm

Working aisle: 1350mm

Lateral Stacker / Order Picker “Combi”

Pallet Conveyor

Pallet conveyors, usually comprising of rollers and/ or drive chains, are used to move palletised goods along fixed transportation paths. They can be used to link transportation & storage systems or manufacturing facilities. Using computerised controls, pallet conveyors can also be used for sortation, batching & accumulating lines of goods

Lift Capacity: N/A

Picking Height: N/A

Working aisle: N/A

Pallet Conveyor

Automated Guided Vehicles (A,G,V’s)

A,G,V’s are used to transport palletised goods along fixed paths usually following guide wires buried in the ground. They can be used to link transportation and storage systems or manufacturing facilities.

Lift Capacity: N/A

Picking Height: N/A

Working aisle: N/A

Automated Guided Vehicles (A,G,V’s)

Narrow Aisle Stacker Cranes

Narrow Aisle Stacker Cranes come in a variety of shapes & sizes. They can be either operator controlled, or driverless & controlled automatically by computer. Unlike other narrow aisle machines, cranes run on precision laid rails & therefore don’t need special floors. The main advantages of cranes is that they are very fast in operation. Stacker cranes can work in very tall buildings usually referred to as ‘High Bay’ warehouses.

Lift Capacity: 1.000 – 3.0t

Picking Height: 45000mm

Working aisle: 1500 – 2000mm

Narrow Aisle Stacker Cranes


Crane Attachment is fitted to the fork carriage in lieu of forks & converts the truck to a mobile crane.

Boom (ram attachment) allows loads with a central core (tyres, coils, etc) to be handled without a pallet.

Drum Grip is a non powered device; fitted either to the fork carriage or the forks that grip automatically the top rim of the drum. Clamping arms can also be used to handle drums.

Double pallet handlers (Hydraulic, in place of arms), allows two pallets to be handled side by side allowing fast movement of uniform loads.

Load clamp (Hydraulic, in place of arms), for handling bales, cases by clamping action. There are a variety of arms to suit the load including dual purpose arms such as pivotal forks for clamping bales or other loads.

Load Stabiliser is used to stabilise high loads. The load I carried on standard forks and the attachment has a top pad hydraulically powered to exert pressure on top of the load.

Safety measures

When working with pallet trucks and pallet stackers – and pallet handling equipment in general – it is vital to maintain warehouse safety.

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and so making sure they have personal protective equipment, and that regular inspections and maintenance of the warehouse, stock and systems are completed should be your highest priority. Identifying damaged pallets or poorly designed systems can prevent injuries and protect your workers efficiently, and optimise operations.

SEC Group

If you are looking to optimise your warehouse operations in a productive and safe way; contact SEC Group, the material handling equipment and storage experts, today! We are here to support you in optimising your warehouse systems and safety.

Written by,

SEC Group

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