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What Is a Reach Truck?

What Is a Reach Truck?

A reach truck is a narrow-aisle forklift primarily used for indoor warehouse work in narrow aisles where conventional forklifts can’t fit. Reach truck forklifts lift vertically and extend horizontally to lift and move pallets in high and deep racks.

A type of electric forklift, reach trucks are classified as electric Class II narrow aisle trucks. However, reach trucks are unique from other forklifts and lift trucks because of their design. A typical reach truck is built with a narrow chassis for narrow aisle operations, and an extending mast used to reach high places, upwards of 46 feet. Outriggers help balance and stabilize loads when the mast is extended.

BigRentz has a wide variety of forklifts, including reach trucks, to meet the needs of any job. If you’re unsure what equipment you need, read on. In this post, we go over what a reach truck is, when to use it, and the differences between reach trucks and other forklifts.

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what is a reach truck

Reach Truck Uses

Reach trucks are a type of narrow aisle forklift, meaning they’re specially designed to work places that are too tight or narrow for standard-size machines. They’re used indoors, specifically in warehouses and distribution centers.

Uses typically include:

  • Moving indoor crates through a warehouse with narrow aisles
  • Loading and unloading trucks for stacking items and maximizing storage space
  • Storing pallets at container freight stations
  • Moving and organizing pallets at production or manufacturing facilities
  • Transporting food and perishable items with delicate handling
  • Retrieving and placing items in high-rise storage systems
  • Handling fragile goods or hazardous materials that require precision and stability, especially when the mast is extended
  • Lighter loads that need to be lifted to great heights
  • Stacking pallets or goods in a specific order when space is limited

Because of their compact size, reach trucks may have limited lifting capacities compared to other types of forklifts. If you need more load capacity, you might consider using a counterbalance forklift. These forklifts are slightly bigger, counterbalanced with a weight at the back of the machine opposite the load on the forks. And while they’re less maneuverable and can’t achieve the same lift heights as typical reach trucks, they can handle heavier loads.

Types of Reach Trucks

All reach trucks are built for material handling, but some are designed for more specific applications. The design itself can vary too—for example, some reach truck models come with front-facing operator cabs and forks, while others have forks on the side of the cab.

Here are some common types of reach trucks, including how they differ and when to use them.

  • Multidirectional reach trucks are designed to handle bulky, wide loads. Built for horizontal travel, these reach trucks can navigate narrow aisles and store and retrieve loads without needing to turn.
  • Moving mast reach trucks are built to handle both indoor and outdoor applications. A hydraulic system and tilting cab allow the mast to extend loads further without compromising the center of balance.
  • High capacity reach trucks are designed to lift heavier and higher than standard models, usually handling up to 4,500 pounds or more.
  • Sit-down reach trucks allow the operator to sit in the cab while operating the machine for comfort during long shifts.
  • Stand-up reach trucks are designed to allow operators to stand in the cab while operating the machine, offering superior visibility and convenience for workers who need to get on and off the truck frequently.

Reach Truck Specs

Reach truck specs can vary by brand and model. Some important specs to keep in mind are load capacity, lift speed, and lift height. These specs basically determine how your reach truck functions on the job—how much it can hold, how high it can lift, and how fast it can lift.

Here’s an overview of specs for reach truck models by popular brands.

Model Brand Load Capacity (lb) Lift Speed (FPM) Lift Height (in)
RF1-BE2X25 Toyota 2,500 40 252
NDR030EC Yale 3,000 78 444
NR14N2L Cat 3,086 78 189
N35ZR Hyster 3,500 75 230
FHS 55 P Palfinger 5,500 144


Considerations for Renting a Reach Truck

If you’re looking for a reach truck for your next job, make sure the machine you choose can meet the needs of your project. Here are some considerations to keep in mind during your search.

  • Jobsite specifications: Is the jobsite small? Are you working indoors? Do you have limited space to work with? Make sure your machine is appropriate for the work environment. Many reach trucks are suited for narrow aisles, but some might be better for certain configurations than others. For example, if you have narrow aisles where you can’t turn easily, you might benefit from a multidirectional model.
  • Maneuverability: Do you need easy maneuverability for tight spaces? Most reach trucks are built for maneuverability, especially over other material handling equipment, but some are better in this department than others. Usually, a more compact machine comes with more precise handling and a tighter turn radius.
  • Load: Are you working with light loads that need to be lifted high? Heavier loads? The load capacities and lift heights you need will determine which truck can help the most. Typically, a smaller machine can lift higher at the expense of lifting lighter. If you need both power and height, you might benefit from a moving mast or high capacity model.

Reach Trucks vs. Other Forklift Types

A reach truck can be an asset in many indoor applications. It’s especially great in warehouses with high racking systems and narrow aisles—the extending mast easily reaches into the system to pick and place loads.

But reach trucks aren’t your only option for material-handling equipment. Depending on your needs, you might consider another type of machine instead or in addition.

reach trucks vs other forklift types

Here’s how reach trucks compare to other types of forklifts.

Counterbalance Forklifts

  • Reach Trucks:
      • Primarily for indoor use
      • Can lift loads to significant heights
      • Designed for narrow aisles
  • Counterbalance Forklifts:
    • Can be used both indoors and outdoors
    • Have a counterweight at the back to balance the load
    • Suitable for a broader range of general tasks

Order Pickers

  • Reach Trucks:
      • Used for placing and retrieving pallets from racking
      • Operator stays within the truck during operation
  • Order Pickers:
    • Designed for manual handling of individual items
    • Operator can be elevated with the load to pick or place items

Pallet Jacks

  • Reach Trucks:
      • Electrically powered
      • Can lift loads to great heights
    • Manual or electrically powered
    • Used for moving pallets at ground level

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Rough-Terrain Forklifts

  • Reach Trucks:
      • Designed for smooth surfaces, primarily indoors.
      • Electrically powered.
  • Rough-Terrain Forklifts:
    • Designed for uneven surfaces, primarily outdoors
    • Often diesel-powered and have large, robust tires

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Telescopic Handlers

  • Reach Trucks:
      • Fixed mast with an extendable reach
      • Primarily for warehouse operations
    • Have a boom that can extend forwards and upwards
    • Often used in construction and agriculture for lifting to great heights

How to Get Reach Truck Certified

OSHA requires all forklift operators to be formally forklift certified. Employers aren’t allowed to have non-certified workers operate forklifts in the workplace.

Here’s how you become forklift certified according to OSHA standards.

1. Take a Forklift Certification Course

The first step in getting forklift certified is taking a forklift certification course that is OSHA-approved. Once you pass the course, you can move on to hands-on training.

2. Receive Hands-On Training from Your Employer

Your employer should provide hands-on training, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate what you’ve learned and receive guidance on how to handle the machine. It also gives you a chance to get a sense of how handling the machine feels and what it’s like to operate on the job.

3. Pass a Performance Evaluation

Your employer will evaluate your performance as a forklift operator. OSHA has an evaluation form that you can review in advance, so you know what skills you’ll need to pass the test and receive full certification.

Ready to Rent a Forklift?

If you have material handling needs, there are a lot of machines you can choose from. From forklifts and telehandlers to pallet jacks and walkie stackers, BigRentz has a wide variety of equipment to meet the requirements of any job.

While we don’t offer reach trucks specifically, many models in our fleet of forklifts and material handling equipment are equipped to handle indoor and warehousing work. Browse our directory to see what we can offer to help your next project succeed.


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