Electric forklifts are superbly versatile and adaptable pieces of equipment, and their efficient, emission free engines make them ideal for a variety of uses both indoors and out. However, there are a wide variety of electric forklifts available for sale or hire, varying in every capacity from the power of their engines to the amount of wheels they possess.
You might think that more wheels on your forklift is always better, since stability and traction are so important to safe forklift operation. However, some electric forklifts are available with three wheels, and these unusual-looking machines can outperform traditional four-wheeled models in certain circumstances. To make sure your new forklift is well-suited to the tasks it will be required for, keep the following advantages and disadvantages of three-wheeled forklifts in mind as you shop:
What are the advantages of three-wheeled electric forklifts over four-wheeled models?
Three-wheeled forklifts have a single wheel at the back of the vehicle, rather than the linked axle of two wheels seen on the rear of conventional lifts. The central position of this single wheel allows it to turn more sharply while remaining stable, and as a consequence most three-wheeled forklifts have significantly smaller turning circles than four-wheeled models of equivalent size.
As you can imagine, the extra degree of maneuverability three-wheeled forklifts offer makes them especially useful for working in compact areas or heavily-stocked warehouses, environments in which electric forklifts are commonly found. A three-wheeled forklift can be far easier to navigate around closely-stacked shelves and is able to turn around almost within its own length to avoid getting caught in dead ends and cul-de-sacs.
However, the potential advantages of three-wheeled electric forklits aren't limited to improved maneuverability. They also tend to be considerably cheaper than four-wheeled forklifts, and are cheaper to run due to their decreased weight. With one less wheel to worry about, inspecting and replacing your forklift's tyres becomes a less frequent task, so keeping your electric forklift well-maintained can also be both easier and less expensive.
What about the disadvantages of three-wheeled electric forklifts?
Unfortunately, the loss of a wheel does mean three-wheeled forklifts have certain limitations, and the amount they can safely lift without becoming overloaded or over-balanced is generally considerably smaller than that of an equivalent four-wheeled forklift. Less stability also means that three-wheeled forklifts cannot be used safely on unsure footing and rough terrain, so three-wheeled forklifts tend to be limited to working within buildings and on smooth, paved outdoor surfaces.
You should also bear in mind that three-wheeled forklifts handle differently to their four-wheeled cousins, and forklift operators trained in conventional forklift operation may be unfamiliar with how to operate them safely. You should make sure that any operator who will be using a three-wheeler is trained in their safe and efficient operation, as driving one in the same manner you would a four-wheeled lift can lead to overturning and other dangerous mishaps.