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How Does an Electric Forklift Work?

Updated April 17, 2017

Electric forklifts are used to carry heavy loads, to move items or stock in a warehouse or a factory, and to load and unload goods on trucks. Electric forklifts are powered by rechargeable batteries (lead-acid batteries), which can be hazardous.

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Forklift Basics

A forklift is a small vehicle with attachments that enable it lift and move different types of loads. It's useful in factories and warehouses. A forklift operates on rear-wheel drive, and this makes driving tricky. Also because it carries loads at the front, the centre of gravity always changes and results in the forklift being unstable.


On a forklift, the driver usually sits in an area called the "cat," which has metal protection that stretches overhead like a roof. On the front is the mast, the mechanism that lifts and lowers the load by the use of hydraulic cylinders.

Uses and Capabilities

Forklifts may be used in factories and warehouses for moving contents from one location to the other. They usually have a load ability of about 1 and 5 tons. Depending on their load capacity, they can be used to lift shipping containers and loads of about 50 tons.

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About the Author

Daniel Boateng has been writing since 1990, focusing on academic writing. He has been a contributor to online sites like eHow. Boateng holds a Master of Arts in international journalism from Brunel University.

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