• A forklift is a small industrial vehicle, having a power operated forked platform attached at the front that can be raised and lowered for insertion under a cargo to lift or move it. Forklifts serve the needs of various industries including warehouses and other large storage facilities.
  • Forklifts are powered by electric battery or combustion engines. Some Forklifts allow the operators to sit while driving and operating the machine while others require the operator to stand. It is being extensively used throughout the industry for transporting materials and goods.


Journey of Forklift


  • The middle nineteenth century through the early 20th century saw the developments that led to today’s modern forklifts. The forerunners of the modern forklift were manually powered hoists that were used to lift loads.[4]
  • In 1906, the Pennsylvania Rail Road introduced battery powered platform trucks for moving luggage at their Altoona Pensylvania, train station.
  • World War, Isaw the development of different types of material handling equipment in the United Kingdom by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies of Ipswich.
  • This was in part due to the labor shortages caused by the war. In 1917, Clarkin the United States began developing and using powered tractor and powered lift tractors in their factories.
  • In 1919, the Towmotor Company, and Yale & Towne Manufacturingin 1920, entered the lift truck market in the United States.[2]
  • Continuing development and expanded use of the forklift continued through the 1920s and 1930s.


  • The introduction of hydraulic power and the development of the first electric power forklifts, along with the use of standardized palletsin the late 1930s, helped to increase the popularity of forklift trucks.[4]
  • The start of World War II, like World War I before, spurred the use of forklift trucks in the war effort.[6]
  • Following the war, more efficient methods for storing products in warehouses were being implemented. Warehouses needed more maneuverable forklift trucks that could reach greater heights and new forklift models were made that filled this need.
  • For example, in 1954, a British company named Lansing Banslin, now part of the KION group developed what was claimed to be the first narrow aisle electric reach truck.
  • The development changed the design of warehouses leading to narrower aisles and higher load stacking that increased storage capability.
  • During the 1950s and 1960s, operator safety became a concern due to the increasing lifting heights and capacities.


  • Safety features such as load backrests and operator cages, called overhead guards, began to be added to forklifts produced in this era.[4]
  • In the late 1980s, ergonomic design began to be incorporated in new forklift designs to improve operator comfort, reduce injuries, and increase productivity.
  • During the 1990s, exhaust emissions from forklift operations began to be addressed which led to emission standards being implemented for forklift manufacturers in various countries.
  • The introduction of AC power forklifts, along with fuel cell technology, is also refinements in continuing forklift development.

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