What Is a Pallet Truck and How Does It Work?

Pallet truck by Monroe

There are other ways to move pallets besides using a forklift. A pallet truck, for instance, offers a quick and easy way to move pallets. Also known as a pallet jack, it allows a human operator to effortlessly lift and move loaded pallets. What is a pallet truck exactly, and how does it work?

What Is a Pallet Truck?

A pallet truck is a wheeled device that’s designed to lift and move pallets. It features a pair of fork-like arms. While operating a pallet truck, you can slide these arms under a loaded pallet, after which you can raise the arms. Raising the arms will lift the pallet off the ground. Thanks to the wheels on the bottom pallet truck, you can then roll the pallet to the desired location.

How Pallet Trucks Work

Unless you’ve used one in the past, you might be wondering how pallet trucks work. There are three primary types of pallet trucks. While they all share a similar design and are used for the same purpose of lifting and moving pallets, each type works in a slightly different way.

The three types of pallet trucks include the following:

  1. Manual: The most common type, manual pallet trucks feature a lever-attached handle. Pumping this handle will engage a hydraulic pump that raises the pallet truck’s arms off the ground.
  2. Powered: Powered pallet trucks are electrically powered. They feature one or more heavy-duty batteries, which they use to lift and move pallets. Some powered pallet trucks also feature a safety mechanism known as a dead man’s switch. You can use the dead man’s switch to quickly stop the pallet truck.
  3. All-Terrain: There are also all-terrain pallet trucks. Most all-terrain pallet trucks are electrically powered via a battery or batteries — just like their powered counterparts. The difference, however, is that all-terrain pallet trucks are designed for use on rugged and uneven terrain.

Pallet Trucks vs Forklifts

Pallet trucks aren’t the same as forklifts. One of the ways in which they differ is maneuverability. Pallet trucks are typically more maneuverable than forklifts. You can easily turn and maneuver them in small spaces, which may not be possible with a traditional forklift.

Forklifts, on the other hand, typically have a higher load capacity. They are larger and more complex vehicles, so they tend to support heavier loads. With that said, many pallet trucks have a high load capacity. Some of them can support over 3,000 pounds, whereas other pallet trucks can support over 5,000 pounds.

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