What Is a Pedestrian Forklift?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A pedestrian forklift is a piece of heavy machinery designed to lift heavy pallets to shelves or other high locations. This specific type of forklift requires the operator to walk behind the unit rather than ride inside it like one would do with other, larger forklifts. The pedestrian forklift is very often used in light-duty applications and narrow aisle warehouses or retail stores, as the maneuverability of the machine allows it to be repositioned quickly and easily. Most forklifts of this size and type run on battery power rather than on gasoline.

The walk-behind pedestrian forklift has a control handle that features brake levers, a throttle, and a button to sound a horn. This yoke will also contain the controls to raise and lower the forks of the forklift. In many cases, the yoke can be pulled to one side or the other to steer the pedestrian forklift, which makes maneuvering the machine quite easy. The yoke is usually attached to one wheel in the rear of the vehicle, which provides steering capabilities. The two wheels in the front of the machine provide stability. It is likely that the yoke will also feature some sort of emergency shut off switch that will cut off power to the lift in the event of an emergency.

These lifts tend to be smaller and more compact than full size forklifts. They are ideal for indoor use, and while they can be used outdoors in some scenarios, they are not suitable for use over rough or uneven terrain. The floors indoors must also be flat and even for the most part; otherwise, the lift may not function properly. A pedestrian forklift is also likely to be less expensive than larger lifts, though maintenance costs may be similar to other lift designs. The batteries must be charged daily in order for the lift to function properly; many owners plug the unit in overnight to charge so it is ready for use during daytime or business hours.

The fork blades will move up and down on a vertical track. Sometimes the pedestrian forklift will feature sideshifting blades, which can move laterally as well. This makes positioning the blades for insertion into a pallet much easier, as the user will not have to position the entire vehicle if the blades do not line up correctly. The blades might also rotate to accommodate uneven surfaces or odd positioning of the machine in relation to the item being lifted.

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