Pallet Machines Types In A Warehouse

Pallet Machines Types

In recent years, much different equipment for handling goods on pallets has appeared on the market. As a rule, these are rather expensive and highly specialized high-performance machines for performing certain operations, and their use in other conditions and for other types of work is far from being so effective. Most of the types of this technique have never been produced before, and the very first acquaintance with it can raise a number of questions related to determining the scope.

It is impossible to choose the right one for specific working conditions in some cases without the advice of experienced professionals; nevertheless, everyone who deals with storage and handling of goods will find it useful to know about the basic capabilities of this equipment.

In the article, we propose one of the approaches to the classification of intra-warehouse pallet machines by type, which has been established both abroad and in our country. We have also supplemented it with a brief description of the design and operation of the machines. Quite often, there are discrepancies in names and terms, which is explained by different interpretations during translation, so we give the original names of the main types of devices in English, German and French.

In general, all pallet machines for intra-warehouse use can be divided into three large groups:

  1. equipment for moving (transportation, loading, and unloading);
  2. pallet machine for lifting cargo onto racks (in combination with transportation);
  3. equipment for order picking (picking goods from storage).


Let’s consider the different types of pallet machines in accordance with the above classes.

Transportation with pallet machines

Hand pallet trucks are the classic and most common type of both this type of equipment and all loading warehouse equipment in general. They are used as the main tool when working with low intensity or for short transport distances. With a lifting height of 190 … 205 mm, the length of the forks on different models varies from 600 to 1800 mm, but the standard size is 1150 mm. There are models of trolleys with a high lift – up to 900 mm (scissor type), they are designed more for auxiliary work than for normal transportation.

Carts of different models have their own design features – in terms of configuration (wheels, hydraulic units), material (painted steel, galvanized, stainless steel). In addition, there are special designs – for example, a device that facilitates the effort at the beginning of the movement of the trolley (such models are produced by BT), or options with built-in scales.
Electric pallet machine (or electric carts), controlled by an operator walking nearby, are self-propelled devices with electro-hydraulic lifting, powered by a battery (24 V, 70 … 300 Ah). The operator follows the machine using the rotary handle. The lifting capacity of this type of equipment is 1.3 … 2.0 t, the lifting height of the forks is 200 mm, the travel speed is 5 … 6 km / h. In addition to standard versions, there are models with the so-called ergo lift, the lifting height of which is about 700 mm (the lifting capacity at this height is no more than 800 kg). In this case, most of the work can be carried out at the level of a person’s waist, which is quite convenient in cases when it is necessary to rearrange a part of the cargo to the transporter from the first tier of racks or from the table. However, these models are rarely used. The use of transporters is justified when the intensity of loading and unloading operations with a transportation distance of more than 20 m and when working on inclined ramps (due to good tractive effort), as well as in the case of transporting heavy loads when it is not enough to use a conventional hydraulic trolley is not enough.
Electric self-propelled pallet machines with a platform for the operator differ from the models discussed above with a reinforced structure and, as a rule, a more powerful battery (24 V, 200 … 600 Ah). The operator operates the machine while standing on the platform; if necessary, the platform is retracted and the operator follows the machine. Such models are usually used when it is necessary to perform maneuvers in confined spaces. The lifting capacity of the devices is 2.0 … 3.0 t, the lifting height of the forks is 200 mm, the travel speed is 8 … 12 km / h. Their productivity is 20 … 30% higher due to the increased speed compared to a machine without a platform. As a rule, the transporter is equipped with protective side rails for the operator’s safety and is used at very high work intensity or at extended transport distances – over 30 m.

Pallet machines with a cab for a standing / seated operator are the most productive machines with an increased lifting and movement speed and a powerful battery (24 V, 250 … 750 Ah). They are usually equipped with electric power steering and the ability to customize the operator’s workplace. The lifting capacity of the devices is 2.0 … 3.0 t, the lifting height of the forks is 200 mm, the travel speed is 8 … 12 km / h. The transporters feature

improved ergonomics of the workplace and ensure efficient work in multi-shift mode; are used for transport distances over 50 m and are often equipped with long forks to transport two pallets at the same time. There are machines specially adapted for specific production processes.
Electric tractors (towing vehicles) are a rather specific type of equipment and, unlike other intra-warehouse transport, are used exclusively for transportation and do not have forks for picking up pallets. The load placed on wheeled carts is simply attached to them or placed in the body. This technique serves to move goods over long distances between remote premises of workshops and has a high speed of movement – 7 … 11 km / h with a load, 17 … 20 km / h without a load. It is very often used for the transportation of baggage at airports and railway stations. Typical lifting capacities for such devices are from 2 to 25 tons, although some companies also produce more powerful models. Machines with a lifting capacity of 3 … 5 tons are usually very compact, driven by an accompanying operator, and equipped with a platform or seat. Larger vehicles are essentially mini-trucks. Among them, there are versions with an open/closed cab, three- and four-post models. The devices are equipped with 24- or 48-volt batteries (3-pole) or 80-volt batteries (4-pole) of different capacities. Read also: Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Solar Power.


When considering this class of intra-warehouse equipment, we will focus exclusively on stackers as typical representatives of intra-warehouse lifting equipment. Although counterbalanced forklift trucks perform broadly similar functions, we deliberately did not include them in this review, since it is generally accepted worldwide to distinguish them as a large independent class of equipment. This is a topic for a separate article, moreover, due to their large dimensions in modern high-tech warehouses, they are rarely used for servicing racks.

Support arm stackers are the most common type of this equipment. The principle of operation of the machine is as follows: the pallet rises above the support arms, like a hydraulic carriage, while the center of gravity is located between the mast and the load – in the forks area. This eliminates the need for a large counterweight, making stackers more compact than loaders. The width of the passage (in the technical specifications it is designated Ast), which is required for the stacker to be installed on the pallet racks of 1200 mm (along with the forks), is 2 … 2.6 m.

Narrow and wide support arms

A distinction is made between stackers with narrow and wide support arms. Stackers of the first type are capable of working only with open pallets, “driving” into them from the open short side. The diameter of the wheels in the support consoles is small – 80 … 90 mm, therefore, for the normal operation of the machine in the storage rooms, there must be high-quality and even floors. Stackers with wide support brackets can work both with open and closed pallets, passing them between wide brackets (it is also possible to work with a pallet from the transverse, semi-closed side). Their support wheels have an increased diameter – usually 150 mm, so such devices are easier to overcome the unevenness of the track. True, these stackers have a serious drawback: if you use them to work with racks, then the first tier of pallets with a load should be on the beams, and not on the floor, which leads to an increase in the cost of rack structures.
Manual hydraulic stackers/stackers with electro-hydraulic lifting. The simplest machines for lifting pallets onto racks are considered to be manual hydraulic stackers with a lifting height of 1.5 … 2.5 m, usually, they serve two-tier racks or remove cargo from vehicles. The loading capacity of the devices is 1000 … 2500 kg. Higher productivity – for stackers with manual travel and electro-hydraulic lifting. They usually do not differ much in size from hand stackers, but they weigh much more and, as a rule, are equipped with small car batteries. Such devices lift a load weighing 1000 … 2000 kg to a height of 3 … 3.5 m and are most often used to service three-tier racks. Both types of stackers are good because they are relatively inexpensive; however, they do not provide a high work intensity, therefore they are suitable only for warehouses with a small cargo turnover.
Self-propelled pedestrian stackers. The most common in this class are accompanied stackers (they are also driven, with a rotary handle, “with a leash”). They are made by almost all manufacturers of intra-warehouse equipment, so it is quite simple to choose the model that is necessary for terms of technical parameters and price-quality ratio. There are two main types: truly escorted stackers, followed by the operator, and machines with a folding platform, on which the operator moves around the warehouse. Stackers of the second type move faster (speed up to 8 km / h without load), therefore they are more productive.


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