Forklift Terminology

There is a plethora of jargon surrounding forklifts from technical terms to abbreviations. The following, intends to provide a simple guide to simplify these terms:

Forklift Masts

The mast of a forklift is the raised vertical support that allows loads to be raised and lowered. On a standard counterbalance forklift, the mast is situated at the front of the forklift directly in the operators line of sight. There are several different mast options available:
Duplex Masts have two sections. An outer section that does not move and an inner section that raises and lifts both the carriage and forks.
Triplex Masts have three sections. An outer section and two inner sections. The two inner sections raise as the mast is extended. These masts are suitable for use when a height restriction is present.
Container Spec Masts allow a forklift to operate within a standard shipping container by using FFL (Full Free Lift) masts which allow a load to be raised without the mast extending. Therefore, loads can be handled without the roof of the container being a concern. Both Duplex and Triplex masts can possess FFL.

Forklift Carriages

The forklift carriage is where the forks are mounted along with the loadguard and any attachments you fit (the forks are not connected directly to the mast). Carriages have 5 different classes which determine what forks and attachments will fit your forklift. These are as follows:
Class 1 – Carriage height 330m, lifting capacity up to 999kg
Class 2 – Carriage height 400mm, lifting capacity from 1,000 to 2,500kg
Class 3 – Carriage height 500mm, lifting capacity from 2,510 to 4,999kg
Class 4 – Carriage height 635mm, lifting capacity from 5,000 to 8,000kg
Class 5 – Carriage height 710mm, lifting capacity from 8,001 to 10,999kg

Forklift Tyres

There are three basic types of forklift tyres – cushion, pneumatic and solid. Each type of tyre is designed for specific applications:
Cushion Tyres are made from solid rubber and are directly pressed onto the wheel. As a result of sitting lower to the ground, they offer a smaller turning radius which improves maneuverability. These tyres are mainly suited for indoor usage or use on paved surfaces as they can struggle on uneven surfaces.
Solid Tyres are made of solid rubber and are the most popular tyre on the market nowadays. Solid tyres are suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage. Although they cost more upfront, they have a very long lifespan.
Pneumatic Tyres are made of rubber but filled with air much the same as a car or truck tyre. These tyres are most suited for rough terrains such as gravel.

Forklift Batteries

An electric forklift battery has two functions. The first is to provide a source of power and the second is to act as a counterweight.
The Battery Case holds the battery’s individual cells. Depending on the voltage, it can contain up to 40 battery cells (forklift voltages range from 24v to 80v).
The Battery Cells are small individual batteries made of closely stacked lead plates filled with Sulfuric Acid.
Battery Bars are pieces of lead that connect all of the individual battery cells to create a complete circuit. Therefore, every cell in the circuit will be subject to an even amount of draw when in use.
Battery Chargers are responsible for charging the forklift batteries as quickly as possible without reducing the lifespan due to overheating and overcharging. Modern battery chargers contain preset parameters to prevent overcharging and damage.

Forklift Safety Features

Below are some of the safety features present on a forklift:


Overhead Guards are a cage like structure that covers the forklift operator. The guard helps to protect the operator from falling objects and materials by deflecting them.
Load Guards are a metal guards that are mounted on the forklift carriage. They protect both the forklift and the operator from the load that is being transported by preventing the load from pushing against the mast.
Seatbelts protect the operator in the case of a forklift tipping over which is one of the more common forklift accidents.
Horns/Reverse Beepers act as an important safety feature as noise alerts people about the movement and locations of a forklift.
Lights are another important safety feature as they communicate important messages to other people in the area.