What is Forklift? Working Mechanism & Where it is used?

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.

Let’s discuss the key Components of Forklift, Forklift Mechanism, and its Applications in detail.

Key Components of Forklift You Need To Know

Forklift consists of variety of components required to handle the task effectively. From Truck Frame, power source to counterweight are essential for the forklift to function efficiently.

  1. Truck Frame

Truck Frame is the most vital component which forms the base of the machine. All of the key components of the forklift including wheels, counterweight and mast are attached to the truck frame.

Forklift_Truck frame

  1. Counterweight

The Counterweight is a cast iron weight attached to the rear part of the forklift. The aim of the counterweight is to counter balance the load that is being lifted. On Electric Forklift, Counterweight is fixed to the lead-acid battery.


  1. Power Source

The forklift’s power source consists of an internal combustion engine. The engine can be fueled by LPG, CNG, diesel and natural gas. Electric Forklifts derive power from fuel cells or Lead Acid Batteries.

 Forklift battery power

  1. Carriage

The carriage serves as the base to the forklift. The Carriage is fixed on mast rails so that it can be easily moved upward and downward.


  1. Mast

The Mast is a vertical part that lifts up and pushes down the loads. The Mast component consists of Interlocking Rails that offers horizontal control. Like Carriage, Mast may be equipped with rollers.

mastHow a Forklift Works?

Forklifts derive their power from two entwining mechanisms:

  • A Pair Of Hydraulic Cylinders
  • A Pair Of Roller Chain Pulleys
  • Controls

forklift hydrolic cylinder

Lifting Mechanism: Hydraulic Cylinders

The lift handle is attached to an electrical air pump at the base of the forklift. Once the handle is pressed, it triggers the air pump that draws the outside air through a filter and forces it into a tube reaching to the hydraulic cylinders.

A hydraulic cylinder comprise of a hollow tube closed at one end with a flexible lubricated piston fitting into the other. Air gets entrapped through the base of the cylinder that allows gasses to enter without leaking them out.

The volume of gas in the cylinder raises the pressure inside it. The pressure applied to the area of the piston head generates an upward force. This force causes the piston to move up, increasing the volume of the gas and minimizing the pressure. It creates physical equilibrium at the forklift height and an equivalent force from the Gas and the Forklift’s Load.

  • To Elevate The Load

The Operator pushes the handle in a forward direction, signaling the forklift to pump excess air to the cylinders.

  • To Lower the load

The operator pulls the handle in backward direction that signals a special valve to discharge gas from cylinders.

Lighten Your Lifting Process With Forklifts…

Lifting Mechanism: Roller Chain Pulley

The hydraulic pistons are attached to the two main vertical structures known as “masts”. Forks that are meant to carry the load are attached to the main body of the forklift by a pair of roller chain pulleys whose fulcrum forms a gear at the top of the mast.

Hence, when the hydraulic pistons push the masts in upward direction, the gears on the masts is pressed against the roller chains. It happens because the one side of the chain is fixed to the immovable frame of the forklift, and the only way by which masts can move upward is when gears rotate in clockwise direction and pull the forks overhead.

The significance of this mechanism is that it let the forks go far away from the reach of the cylinders. If it is not meant for roller chain pulleys then forklifts would require much taller cylinders to lift up the load to an equivalent height.

pulley chain


Forklifts possess two set of controls: One for Steering and other for Lifting.

The Steering Control

The steering control works similar to those of a golf cart, having acceleration pedal, steering wheel, brake, reverse gear and forward gear. Forklifts use rear wheel steering. When you turn on the steering wheel, the wheel at the rear axle starts to turn back and forth. This is intentionally designed to allow operator to take greater degree of rotation and precision while handling a cargo.


Lifting Control

The Lifting Control comprises two levers: One for Lifting the Fork up & Down and Other For Tilting the Load Back & Forth.

Lifting Control work same as lifting mechanism discussed above. The Tilting Mechanism is somewhat different. There are two pairs of additional hydraulic cylinders attached to the base of the masts.

  • Once the Tilt Handle is moved in forward direction, the air automatically fills up the chamber. The rise in pressure is enough to push the head of the piston and let the masts go away from the vehicle’s body.
  • Once the Tilt Handle is moved back, the air gently passes away from the cylinder and get pumped to other part of the mast-attached cylinders. When the pistons are pushed forward, the masts are pushed back to the vehicle.

lifting control

Industrial Uses of Forklifts

Forklifts have entirely transformed the storage and shipping industries. Forklifts were first invented during early part of the 20th century and now had become a vital part of the modern-day industrial world. Forklifts are named after their fork-like prongs that lift up the load.

Forklifts Are Basically Used At:

#1.Construction Sites

Industrial Forklifts serve as very useful equipment at the construction sites, as it can be used to carry hefty building materials over long distances, across the rough terrain. It merges and balances the functions of a lifting tool and a vehicle. Forklifts can unload pallets of bricks, construction materials and steel joists from the delivery truck and transport them to the job site. Most of the shipping firms now carry truck-mounted forklifts with them to easily off-load the construction products.

forklifts on constuction sites


Forklifts are most often used in the warehouses. Forklifts are mainly used for loading and unloading trucks and for carrying goods. There are extensive ranges of forklifts available which include pedestrian operated machines to heavy duty driver operated trucks.

Forklifts vary in size, ranging from one ton capacity for general warehouse related work to 50 ton capacity for shipping container work. A plate on the forklift determines the highest weight it can lift. Forklift operators can lift up and lower the forks, use side shifters to move loads and tilt the mast so the load doesn’t slide off the forks.

Pallet trucks are used for unloading and stuffing goods that are delivered on the pallet such as cartons and tinned goods.


#3.Recycling Operations

Forklifts are also used in recycling operations for unloading the recycling trucks or containers and transporting their contents to the sorting bays. Forklift trucks can efficiently load and unload straight trucks, tractor trailers, elevators and railway cars. Cage attachments can be used for transporting materials such as tires, which may slide off the forks.

forklift recycling operations

Before initiating the loading/unloading operation, the work area must be well-prepared. The vehicle’s brake should be set up. Fixed Jacks that supports semi-trailer which is not coupled to a tractor, must be installed to avoid overturning of the forklift. Make sure that the height of the vehicle’s entry door clears the height of the forklift by at least 5 cm. Also, make sure that docks as well as dock plates don’t have any blockades and are completely dry. The forks should be kept pointed down when traveling without a load and kept pointed up while traveling with a load.


Forklift trucks have been used in stacking and unloading of ships and barges during world wars when the need arises for a quick and efficient way to load arms and supplies.

forklift on dock yard

Nowadays, heavy duty forklifts are being used to transport bulky containers from delivery trucks to dockside storage regions and then to ships. It is used for transporting shipments of wood and steel, once they are off-loaded.

#5.Snow Plows

Forklift can also serve the need of snow plows. Entrepreneurs can buy or hire an attachment for industrial forklift which will help to shovel snow. It is a much reasonable option than hiring a snow plow. It can easily clear off the way covered by snow in parking lot and outdoor walkways.Forklift snow plow

Torcan Lift Equipment offers fast, well-bred and consistent Forklift Training & Rental Services in and around GTA since 1999. Torcan has been offering its customers with quality personnel and exceptional services in material handling equipment. We also offer several options to our customers for lift equipments sales and rental.

We cover your material handling requirements from Rough Terrain, Battery/Electric, Low mast, LPG/Petrol/Diesel forklifts and Telescopic forklifts from 1.5 to 16 tons. Our Forklift covers the height of 79” to 258”.

We offer Right Lifting Solution For Your Business…


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