The Pros and Cons of Walk Behind Forklifts
Most forklifts require the user to sit or stand inside the vehicle in order to operate it. A walk behind forklift allows employees more freedom of movement while transporting large loads. But within that design there are both advantages and disadvantages.
Here's a quick rundown on some of the most common issues related to purchase, as well as what you can expect to pay for leading brands.
Advantages of a walk behind forklift
As its name indicates, this type of forklift allows employees to walk behind it and use the handle to guide the vehicle where it needs to go. Since the controls are simple and straightforward, it's relatively easy to train employees on how to properly use this equipment.
The walk behind forklift is ideally suited for several different applications, including:
- Retail outlets. It's not uncommon to see a walk behind forklift in use at grocery and warehouse stores, especially late at night. If your employees have to restock shelves in areas where customers are trying to shop, this can be a good choice for your business.
- Narrow aisles. Some storage facilities have extremely narrow aisles, which your staff can easily navigate with this transport vehicle. It also can lift loads to storage areas several feet above the floor.
- Pallet stacking. You can find walk behind forklifts designed for transporting and stacking pallets full of products and supplies.
- Unloading trucks. When deliveries arrive, your employees can use this equipment to quickly move products from the loading dock to the sales floor or storage area.
Because the operator isn't forced to sit inside the vehicle, their visibility is much better than with other types of forklifts. Most models also are electrically-powered, which makes them an efficient and green option for your company.
Disadvantages of walk behind forklifts
Before you can purchase a walk behind forklift, there may be a few reasons why it wouldn't work for your particular business:
- Speed. Walk behind forklifts top out at around 5 mph which may be too slow for some environments. If your employees have to transport several products across a large storage facility, you may want to investigate other options.
- Capacity. On average, a walk behind forklift can only handle loads of 1 to 2 tons, which makes it unsuitable for heavy-duty applications. If loaded improperly, this lift truck also could become top-heavy and topple over.
- Safety issues. Because operators tend to use these lifts in high-traffic areas, accidents involving employees and customers are quite common. If your staff is restocking shelves, they could possibly run over the feet of shoppers or other employees if they aren't careful or well-trained.
Estimated costs for leading brands
What you end up paying will largely be determined by the size of the lift you select and the manufacturer (though most are pretty competitive on their price points). Leading brands currently include Big Joe, Crown, Mighty Lift, and Wesco.
Depending on lift capacity, you can expect to pay at least $2,000 for a quality new walk behind forklift with around 3,000 lbs of load capacity, and that measures about 48" by 26". Higher-end machines start between $5,000 and $8,000 and are commonly used as pallet jacks or stocking shelves and racking in a warehouse. These models typically support 6,000 lbs of load capacity, yet also remain highly compact, measuring 48" by 12" in many cases.
To determine if a walk behind forklift is best for you, it's smart to talk to multiple dealers before you make a purchase. BuyerZone's quick and easy request for forklift quotes service can match you up to dealers in your area to help you make informed purchasing decisions.Ready to Compare Forklifts Price Quotes?