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Forklifts are a necessity across multiple industries, with a variety of styles and types designed for different applications and environments. Of all the different types of forklifts, side loaders are the heavy lifters, with various specifications among them. It is important that you do the proper research on side loading forklifts to determine whether they are the right choice for your business.
What Is a Side Loader Forklift?
Unlike traditional forklifts, the forks on a side loader are perpendicular to the lift's drive direction, which allows this type of forklift to be operated easily in narrow spaces. Not only are the forks themselves perpendicular to the drive direction of the forklift, they extend and retract perpendicularly as well. Side loader forklifts come in a variety of fuel and mechanical types, each with its own particular advantages based on the environment you work in. For example, you likely do not want an electric powered unit if your job site does not have easy access to electricity. And, you may not want a fuel-powered unit if working in an enclosed space, as the fumes may be dangerous.
Types of Side Loaders
There are three main types of side loader forklifts. The first is essentially a combination of a counterbalance forklift and a reach truck; it works by placing the forks underneath a load to pick it up and then turning the wheels to move it in any direction. Next is the standard side loader forklift, with forks perpendicular to the drive direction that extend and retract in that same direction. The last type of side loader (often called a front side loader) has the forks facing forward, but the mast can move 90 degrees, which allows side loading capabilities. Front side loaders are incredibly versatile and can be useful when both standard and side load forklift applications are required.
Side Loader Forklift Accessories
There are several accessories available for side loader forklifts, such as beams, extenders, and tilting arms. Each accessory offers different features and is meant to be used for specific applications, so it is important to do your research and ensure both that you are getting the appropriate accessory for your business and that it will work for your forklift. Also make sure that any accessories you purchase are compatible (and safe to use) with the style of side loader forklift that you are looking to or already have purchased. Accessories add to the overall cost of your unit, but they may actually save you money by increasing productivity or saving you from buying another piece of equipment.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Side Loader
Forklifts are no different than any other product, with each style and type offering its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on the intended use. Side loader forklifts offer a few perks that don't come with standard forklifts. For example, side loaders are designed for narrow spaces, making them a great choice for smaller warehouses or sales floors. And with the load being carried on the side, the driver has a clear view, so they can be safer to operate. They also handle longer loads (lumber, piping, etc.) better than standard forklifts, since the load is facing the travel direction and does not add extra width to the vehicle.
Side loaders also have some disadvantages when compared to standard units. While they do work well for small spaces, they are not as maneuverable as standard forklifts. They are also a more specialized vehicle, so consider what you haul before choosing a side loader. This type of forklift is ideal for awkward or lengthy loads, but don't forget to factor in all of the load types you currently work with, as well as any future load types you may work with before making any final decisions.
How Much Does a Side Loader Forklift Cost?
A variety of factors influence price, including vendor, area, size, capabilities, and whether you choose any accessories. The following estimates should help you budget.
- LTMA Machinery FTS30T Side Loader Forklift, 2.5 ton lift capacity, 495BPG diesel engine, hydraulic transmission, pneumatic tires, 64" fork length, price range: $21,000 to $23,000
- Noelift TD30 Side Loader Forklift, 3 ton lift capacity, 3-stage mast, 48V/400ah electric engine, polyurethane solid tires, Curtis controller, price range: $22,000 to $30,000
- Combilift FDS50 Side Loader Forklift, 7 ton lift capacity, 48" fork length, Isuzu 6GB1 diesel engine, 20 percent gradeability, price range: $60,000 to $80,000
- LTMA Machinery FDS100 Side Loader Forklift, 65" fork length, 10 ton lift capacity, hydraulic transmission, pneumatic tires, LR6105G diesel engine, price range: $85,000 to $105,000
You'll save around 50 percent with a used side loader forklift. The main price variants are brand and hours of use. Before purchasing used, request a live demonstration to determine whether the machine is in proper working order.