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What is a High Lift Pallet Truck?

By Ken Black
Updated: May 17, 2024

A high lift pallet truck is an industrial tool used to move freight, and lift it to heights than would otherwise be impossible with a traditional pallet truck. These pallet trucks may be operated entirely by hand, or could be operated by battery power. The cost of a high lift pallet truck is typically more than a model that keeps the freight close to the ground, but is useful when stacking heavy pallets on shelves.

There are two ways in which the high lift pallet truck can lift pallets off the ground. One is through an accordion method, where intersecting legs underneath the fork extensions slowly come together to lift the extensions up, similar to the concept used to raise an ironing board to a useful level. The other type uses a telescoping mast, very similar to some forklifts, to lift up the freight to much higher levels than the first method could achieve. Those using a telescoping mast are often called pallet stackers.

The height of the high lift pallet truck is largely determined by the type of pallet truck it is. Those using the accordion method can usually lift between 30 and 33 inches high (76 to 84 cm). Those using a telescoping lift method are only limited by the mast height and the amount of counterweight it has. These models can lift to heights of approximately 17 feet (5.2 meters) or more.

The pallet stacker is an electric pallet truck that often includes a spot for the operator to ride on, but walk-behind models are also available. The operator maneuvers this type of high lift pallet truck by using a series of levers and buttons on a control panel, located at the waist level. At the end of a work shift, this type of pallet truck is often in need of being recharged to ensure it is able be used continuously the next day. As with all tools with rechargeable batteries, the battery pack will need replaced from time to time.

Generally, a high lift pallet truck is able to lift weights of between 2,000 and 3,300 pounds (907 to 1,500 kg), though it may be possible to find some higher end models that can lift slightly more. Though it may be possible to lift heavier objects than what the pallet truck is rated for, extreme caution should be taken when doing so. Any damage from use beyond the manufacturer's recommendations could void the warranty, and potentially put nearby personnel in danger.

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Discussion Comments
By shell4life — On Jul 29, 2012

@StarJo – My husband works in a food distribution warehouse, and he operates a pallet lift truck. Yes, he did have to undergo weeks of training and observation before being allowed to operate the truck.

The warehouse where he works is all about safety and adhering to the rules. A person can get into a lot of trouble for breaking the rules, even if no harm was done.

He has to lift heavy crates of perishable food like yogurt and orange juice, and he uses the high lift pallet truck to help him do his job. His production is sometimes negatively affected by the battery running out, because he has to take the time to go all the way to the other end of the building to get a new battery. The company really needs to replace some of their machinery, because many people are having problems with these batteries not lasting very long.

By StarJo — On Jul 28, 2012

Operating this type of machinery sounds dangerous. I am accident prone, so I would never take a job that required me to work with stacks of heavy things and machinery that lifts them high into the air. That is just an accident waiting to happen!

Workers must have to go through some sort of pallet truck safety training before using one of these. I can't imagine an employer letting someone work this type of truck without first drilling the rules of operation into his brain.

I would think that even with safety training, there would still be a high potential for accidents. Anytime you have heavy things being stacked high, there is danger.

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