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The Benefits of Narrow Aisle Forklifts

August 7, 2023

Warehouse operations all over the world use forklifts. This essential equipment comes in numerous configurations, each with uses, benefits and functions that make it ideal for a specific task. Narrow aisle forklifts represent a specialized design that allows warehouse managers to make the most of their available space.

As the name suggests, this type of forklift is designed to work in constricted areas. They are easy to handle, highly efficient and an excellent solution for warehouse managers facing unique material handling challenges. 

Difference Between Narrow Aisle Forklifts and Other Forklifts

The most notable difference between a narrow aisle forklift and other types of forklifts is the ability to navigate tight spaces while carrying heavy burdens. Using this type of forklift allows you to do more with less room. A warehouse aisle will typically measure 12-13 feet to accommodate standard pallets and counterbalance forklifts. However, it is common for warehouses to have aisles as narrow as 7 feet or less in some circumstances. 

Standard and counterbalance forklifts struggle to move in tight spaces — if they can fit into them at all. That’s one of the key benefits of narrow aisle forklifts. Loading and unloading materials in high places and tightly packed aisles is much easier when you make these capable material handlers part of your warehouse vehicle fleet. 

These forklifts can still safely accommodate heavy loads while being smaller and easier to drive than other forklift models. Some models, like the Landoll Bendi line, are even articulated so operators can fit into aisles as narrow as 6 feet in width — and still use them to carry loads across the warehouse floor. If you’re working with limited square footage and making every inch count, a narrow aisle forklift is a valuable asset. 

The Benefits of Narrow Aisle Forklifts

Even a skilled forklift operator may find it challenging to manoeuvre a standard forklift through tight spaces in storage facilities. The risk of damaging goods, harming the driver and damaging the forklift itself is too high to justify doing things this way. When limited storage demands a tighter organizational structure, a narrow aisle forklift is the solution.

The following are a few benefits of adding this specialized equipment to your fleet.

Greater safety

Moving materials in tight spaces comes with many safety challenges to overcome, so modern narrow aisle material handling equipment is made with safety in mind. One of the biggest safety risks of driving down narrow aisles is the lack of visibility stemming from high racking setups. Narrow aisle forklifts combat this by providing a panoramic view for the operator, making it safer and easier to drive through tight spaces without colliding with other equipment, storage structures or product. 

Easier navigation

Even if your warehouse doesn’t demand narrow aisle equipment, there is a lot to gain from investing in compact forklifts. These lift trucks make it possible to travel through crowded facilities quickly and safely while maintaining visibility and avoiding blockages. The best narrow aisle forklifts have additional safety features and assistance functions like automatic speed adjustment around corners.

Cost-effectiveness

Narrow aisle forklifts are highly cost-effective. Because they are purpose-built to handle unwieldy loads on a compact frame, they utilize premium materials and advanced engineering, resulting in a durable product that tends to offer excellent longevity when properly maintained. Plus, the lack of backswing and improved navigation will lower the risk of product damage, and the small form factor will let you make the most of your warehouse’s square footage for even more savings.

Improved handling

Along with the enhanced visibility, narrow aisle forklifts are often easier to handle than larger, more cumbersome models. They feature an intuitive design and are easy to operate, even for novices. Additionally, their compact form factor makes them very agile, accelerating order picking and product placement.

Increases productivity

The assistant systems and functions common on narrow aisle forklifts allow you to make significant boosts to your productivity. This technology will help you handle loads quickly, reach tall heights effectively and ensure other personnel in the area stay clear so you can operate safely.

Comfortable to operate

Moving materials in a warehouse is a repetitive, ongoing process that requires diligence, accuracy and precision. Operating a heavy vehicle to perform these tasks demands that personnel stay alert, which requires that they be comfortable so they can focus on the work. That’s why manufacturers are producing narrow aisle forklifts with ergonomics in mind. A purpose-built design that prioritizes operator comfort minimizes the strain of repetitive tasks and keeps the mind sharp.

Types of Narrow Aisle Forklifts

There are several different types of narrow aisle forklifts on the market. Each offers distinct value and features to serve different purposes. The following are a few of the common narrow aisle lift trucks found in today’s warehouses. 

Reach trucks

Reach trucks are designed to reach even the highest storage shelves in your warehouse. Though they require more room to turn than some other designs, their efficiency and reach height place them among the best narrow aisle forklifts for high-traffic warehouses and storage facilities. Reach trucks use their extendable masts to help you gain access to difficult-to-reach pallets safely. 

Articulated forklifts

Articulated forklifts allow the forks to move in an arc, making it possible to access pallets in extremely narrow spaces while retaining the speedy operation and comfortable seat of a traditional counterbalance forklift. Landoll Bendi narrow aisle forklifts are an excellent example of this design, offering ample lifting capacity in a compact form factor that affords tight turns.

Order pickers

Order pickers are known for their compact size and precise controls. This type of lift truck includes a platform that lifts the operator as well, making them an efficient method of picking items directly off shelves. They are especially useful for warehouses with many small-item orders that might be tricky for larger vehicles to handle delicately.

Turret trucks

Turret trucks feature a rotating turret head that allows you to pick up pallets without moving the body of the machine. As such, they are capable of moving loads in even the tightest aisles. However, unlike articulated forklifts, turret trucks are best suited to working within the aisles rather than carrying loads beyond them, so you will need other material handling solutions to move products beyond your storage area. 

Pantograph reach trucks

Pantograph reach trucks are a unique type of narrow aisle forklift. They are equipped with a scissor mechanism that can extend and retract the forks while keeping the unit’s body completely still, allowing them to reach considerably further to the front than other models. They are most useful when dealing with double-deep racking layouts and narrow aisles.

Find the Best Narrow Aisle Forklifts in Canada With Alta Material Handling

At Alta Material Handling, we offer some of the best narrow aisle forklifts and other material handling equipment on the market to help you optimize efficiency while protecting your personnel, facilities and products. We also offer an expansive range of forklift operator training courses to help you train and educate your operators. We’ll make sure your team has the right equipment and all the knowledge needed to use it to its full effect.

We provide narrow aisle forklifts Canada can trust. To learn more about our new and pre-owned equipment offerings, contact us online today to get in touch with one of our experts.

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