Pallet Trucks 101: The Ultimate Guide

What is a pallet truck?

A pallet truck is a device on wheels, which is designed to assist with the handling and moving of goods. The design and features of pallet trucks can vary, but the standard pallet truck design is a truck that is an L shape, that has a wheeled fork platform, and a long handle which can be adjusted for easy moving of the load. The handles also often have a hydraulic pump feature, which means that the fork can be lifted and lowered.

What are the different types of pallet truck?

There is a huge variety of pallet trucks on the market, but they fall into 3 categories generally:

Manual pallet trucks

Manual pallet trucks are the most widely used form of pallet truck. Manual trucks usually have strong polyurethane wheels, which means that the truck can get a good grip, especially on smooth surfaces. The truck handles often have 2 available functions; to allow the user to pull the truck and guide it, and a pump switch allows the user to lower or raise the fork as needed.

Electric pallet trucks

These trucks are usually similar in design to manual trucks, but their electric function eliminates all user effort. This can make these trucks easier and more efficient to use, and come in handy when you’re moving a high volume of goods or loading goods onto lorries. These trucks usually have an emergency stop feature which allows the user to override the movement of the truck if it is necessary, which means they are safe to use.

Specialist pallet trucks

A wide range of trucks fit into this category, and they usually have a broad range of extra features. They are meant for use in specific conditions and are designed to be used for certain loads. Here are some examples of specialist pallet trucks:

High lift pallet trucks

These include a scissor lift which means you can elevate the fork higher

Rough terrain pallet trucks

These have pneumatic tyres instead of wheels, and are designed for use in areas where the ground is uneven and harder to navigate than a smooth surface.

Extra-long pallet trucks

These have longer forks so you can fit more onto the pallet truck, which is useful for abnormally sized loads.

Manual truck or electric truck?

Obviously, the best truck to opt for is the one that most closely suits your requirements, so here is a little summary of the pros and cons of manual and electric trucks to help you decide:



Manual pallet trucks

Manual pallet trucks are widely used in industry, because they are reliable and durable. They can be used for lifting, lowering, and moving pallets.

The pros of manual pallet trucks

They are usually less expensive than electric models

They are very versatile

They require less maintenance and repair generally than electric models

They reliable and durable.

The cons of manual pallet trucks

They are more strenuous to operate for the user and have the potential to cause more injuries


Electric pallet trucks

These eliminate a lot of the work that the user would normally do. Some electric pallet trucks are large enough that you can stand on the machine along with the pallets, which means you can move around the warehouse or building with it.

The pros of electric pallet trucks

They are easier for the user to control and they are generally less likely to cause injuries

They are more efficient as they allow the user to move more quickly around the workplace to carry out tasks

The cons of an electric pallet truck

The use of an electric truck will require more training on how to operate it than a manual truck

They need to be repaired more often, and are more expensive to buy, though you need to weigh this up against efficiency savings that an electric pallet truck will bring.

How to use pallet trucks

Whether you opt for an electric or manual pallet truck, knowing how to use it correctly will make your job easier and safer. Here’s a guide on how to use the different pallet trucks:

How to use a manual pallet truck

1) Find the release lever. This lever allows the base of the truck to drop closer to the floor and to fit underneath the load you need to move. The release lever is usually located on the pallet truck handle.

2) Once you have lowered the base, you can place the forks beneath the pallet.

3) Pull the handle towards you on a diagonal to lift the pallet off the floor.

4) Make sure the pallet is completely off the floor before you attempt to move it. You should be able to move the pallet truck away easily once this happens.

How to use an electric pallet truck

1) Use the controller on the truck’s handle to lower the forks to the floor. You should see up, down, left, and right levers on the handle.

2) You can then steer the truck using the controls towards the load you need to move or lift

3) Slide the forks under the load using the lift and lower functions on the handle. You can then move the load wherever you like using the electronic control.