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What is a Reach Truck?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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The reach truck is a loading device that is used by a number of different types of businesses that maintain a storage area that involves the arrangement of supplies and finished goods on pallets that are inserted into tall shelving structures. The truck provides safe and easy retrieval of the loaded pallets, as well as efficiently storing pallets of goods that are not required for immediate use.

A basic reach truck has an outrigging mechanism on the front of the truck. Mounted to the outrigging is a set of telescoping forks that move up and down. The forks also include a hydraulic setup that allows the operator to pick up the load and reposition it over the outriggers. This not only provides a more even balance of the load, but also makes it easier to maneuver the truck into narrow aisles between the storage shelves.

When the truck arrives at the shelves designated for the pallet, the hydraulics allow the forks to swing and lower the pallet into the shelving, sliding the pallet into place. Generally, these machines easily fit into an aisle that is less than ten feet across with no problem, assuming there are not pallets sticking out from the shelving.

There are several models of reach truck. The stand-up reach model is the most simple. This will slide the forks under the pallet, transport it to the desired storage location, and slide it into place. For shelving units that are no deeper than required to place one pallet of goods, this model is ideal.

The double-deep reach truck performs in the same basic manner as the stand-up type, but has telescopic forks that are long enough to slide a pallet into place when the shelves are deep enough to accommodate two pallets of goods. Because the double-deep model can easily place the pallet at the back of the shelving unit, there is no need to push the pallet back when there is another pallet to go into the same shelving section.

Straddle reaches are a third variation of the reach truck. They can not only slide under the pallet, but also grab the sides as well, the straddle reach model works well when grasping the sides of the pallet and goods will not result in damage. These can be helpful when the shelving units are accessible for more than one direction, allowing the easy retrieval of a pallet that may be third or fourth in the line.

Warehouses often make use of one or more types of reach trucks, as well as the supply areas for many textile firms and manufacturing facilities. Using a reach truck to store supplies, pallets of finished goods, and in general to keep the storage area in order is a common practice.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon259527 — On Apr 06, 2012

Thank you. This is helpful in understanding the purpose of using reach trucks in a warehouse.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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