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The term forklift truck falls into the category of Industrial trucks and is intended as a transport aid for pallets. The forklift truck has its name from the two prongs called "forks". It is not only possible to transport pallets, but also boxes or even logs. They have a drive and are controlled by persons.

Before using a forklift truck, instruction on its use and safety is mandatory. The person driving the forklift truck must also present a forklift license. If the use of the forklift truck is involved in road traffic, the road traffic regulations must also be observed.

The two forks (also known as tines), which are usually moved upright by hydraulics, pick up the goods. The other essential part is the lifting unit or lift mast. The lifting capacity of the truck varies according to size and weight. A forklift truck can be powered by liquid gas, diesel, natural gas or electric motor drives. The electric version is particularly suitable for enclosed spaces such as warehouses, as it prevents the emission of pollutants. The hydraulics enable tilting, lifting and, in some cases, steering (in the case of combustion engine flow transmissions). To achieve a small turning circle, the forklift trucks have a large steering angle (rear steering).

A forklift truck can have three or four wheels, with the single wheel being at the rear in the case of three-wheeled trucks and the wheels being connected to a swinging axle in the case of four-wheeled trucks. The axle is connected to the forklift truck and can therefore retain its manoeuvrability. The four-wheeled truck is more stable, as the risk of tipping is lower than with the three-wheeled truck. Axle suspension increases the safety of the truck (on four-wheeled trucks, vibration dampers can also be fitted). The most common lifting capacity is eight tonnes and up to a height of six metres (lifting height). However, it is possible to purchase forklifts with higher masts (up to 12 metres).