How to Choose a Forklift for a Small Warehouse Space

By bsozak | December 20, 2017

If you own a small warehouse, you have to consider many factors before choosing what kind of forklifts you will need. The width of your aisles and if you will utilize stacked storage units are just a few considerations. We’re here to help you pick the best forklift for the job, no matter how small.


Narrow Aisle Width

Narrow aisles can be hard to maneuver and require specially designed forklifts to get the job done right without any safety hazards. Both reach trucks and order pickers are ideal for narrow aisles. Reach trucks are best for both narrow aisles and smaller warehouses. Some models have a capacity of up to 5,500 pounds and have a narrow design to navigate small spaces. The reach truck either has a single reach to hold the length of one pallet or double to hold two pallet lengths. Reach trucks can “reach” out further and lift pallets in or out of racks with its maximum lift height capacity. The outer legs of the reach truck distribute the weight, making it ideal for narrow aisles and small spaces. Order pickers also have a narrow design but are used for picking smaller, individual orders by hand off high shelves. These lift trucks are usually used when the material is located higher than what a person can reach. Some order pickers also have the capability to stack up to 3,00o pounds of material on the forks. Many models have varying sizes and maximum heights to fit any kind of warehouse situation.

Shelf Height

Similarly, smaller warehouses tend to have higher shelves in order to maximize space. Order pickers are ideal for this because some models have maximum heights of over 25 feet. This allows the operator to comfortably pick orders from higher shelves, as well as heavier orders that they can stack on the order picker’s forks. Pallet or “walkie” stackers are also ideal for getting pallets up on higher shelves. The walkie models are hand operated, while there are also powered models for ease of use. Depending on your warehouse, there are models that have different maximum heights and weights, straddling capabilities for getting up close to a pallet, or reach capabilities to move the load away from the forklift.


Small warehouses can be dangerous if you pick forklifts that let out emissions, including carbon monoxide. Electronic forklifts have low emissions and don’t produce any carbon monoxide, which can cause a dangerous amount of exposure for workers in small spaces. Electronic forklifts come in many shapes and sizes, and many of them maneuver well in small spaces without sacrificing power. For example, the Mitsubishi PWF11 walkie stacker, narrow-aisle reach trucks, and order pickers are excellent choices. These electronic forklifts are also more energy efficient, which can save you money.

Small warehouses can pose a challenge as far as maneuverability. Take our tips for the right forklifts to use in the following situations to maximize productivity and safety of your small warehouse.


Comments are closed.