A forklift trailer is a heavy-duty device used for transporting a forklift. Typically manufactured with a low, tilting deck to facilitate the loading and unloading of a forklift, a forklift trailer is manufactured using very strong steel and components to withstand the extreme weight of a forklift. Since a forklift is a machine with no suspension and typically is equipped with solid rubber tires, the forklift trailer must have a suspension system designed to support the heavy load and absorb the impact and rebound experienced when encountering a rough road. The tilt bed of the trailer must also double as a loading ramp for a machine that is commonly equipped with smooth tires and very low ground clearance.
One of the difficulties in transporting a forklift is the inability of the lift to negotiate steep inclines. This requires a forklift trailer to be very low to the ground. The extremely low ground clearance requires a tilting bed so that no ramps are required to load the forklift onto the trailer. Smooth tires on the forklift mandate a tread be added to the trailer bed to aid in traction as the lift is driven onto the trailer. Extremely strong tie-down points are required to withstand the potential of a loose lift pulling against the tie downs.
Forklifts are very heavy, so the tires on the forklift trailer must be constructed with several plies to withstand the load without giving way and squashing down. Trailer brakes are required on a forklift trailer to assist in slowing and stopping the trailer when loaded. Without the trailer braking system, a sudden stop could easily turn into a jackknife situation as the heavy load might attempt to push past the tow vehicle. Heavy springs are also a must on the forklift trailer due to the extreme weights of the intended load.
The typical forklift trailer is designed and manufactured with a steel floor. Wooden floors are susceptible to failure; as the wood ages, the weight of the forklift can cause it to break through the wooden floor and damage both the trailer as well as the forklift. Many forklift trailer designs include the addition of a strong winch at the front of the trailer. This makes it possible to winch a disabled forklift onto the trailer when service and repair are required. The main problem with a trailer is the inability to load the forklift directly off of a raised dock. Access to the warehouse floor is required to load the forklift unless an access ramp is available to bring the forklift down from the dock to road level.