If you’re considering a career in warehousing, you’ll want to understand the different types of forklifts typically used in a warehouse or factory.

And, with different forklifts come different licences, so in this article, we’ll also outline the various forklift licences available in Australia.

Forklifts overview

As you probably know, forklifts are an essential part of an efficient warehouse, allowing you to lift, transport and move materials on pallets, large bins, storage cages, and other materials around your premises or from a delivery truck into and out of your warehouse.

Found in almost every commercial and industrial business, as well as on worksites, forklifts make it quick and easy to shift heavy loads around.

Most are driven by diesel, petrol, electric or LPG, and are capable of carrying anywhere from 1 tonne of weight up to seriously heavy loads of around 50kg. Electric forklifts are often quieter and give off fewer emissions however they are at the less powerful end of the spectrum. Diesel forklifts are the most heavy-duty, being able to lift and carry very heavy loads.

  • Diesel forklifts are available in weight classes from under 3t up to 10t for the most common machines, with specialised 50t forklifts available for serious lifting jobs.
  • Petrol versions are generally available from 3t through to around 20t
  • Electric forklifts are the smallest of the bunch, with a maximum lifting capacity 5t

Different types of forklifts available

When you’re looking at a career in warehousing, supply chain, or a job as a store person, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of the types of forklifts found in warehouses around Australia.

Electric or gas powered warehouse forklifts

Warehouse or counterbalance forklifts are some of the most common types available. They are generally compact in size meaning they’re easier to drive through narrow aisles in a warehouse or through rows of pallet racking. Warehouse forklifts are the go-to equipment for shifting pallets and loading or unloading delivery vehicles.

Industrial Forklifts

Industrial forklifts can usually carry heavier loads up to around 15t, as well as having a higher lifting reach. Industrial forklifts can be used in factories and on sites where a strong lifting capacity is necessary. However, what you gain in lifting capacity you lose in manoeuvrability, as these types of forklifts aren’t as nimble in tight spaces.


Telehandlers are easy to move in narrow or confined job sites, both indoors and outdoors. Ideal for lifting, moving and placing heavy loads, telehandlers offer the added advantage of a tight turning radius. With heavy-duty all-terrain wheels and a telescoping fork attachment, they are very stable and allow precise placement of loads with their up/down and side to side movements. They are a good solution for high lifting requirements that aren’t quite serious enough to require a crane.

Order pickers

Order picking forklifts are like regular warehouse forklifts, however, they have the addition of a personnel cage that allows the operator to be lifted safely off the ground so that they can pick stock high up in racking or warehouse shelving. These low profile machines are also known as VNA or very narrow aisle trucks. You need a specific license to operate an order picking forklift due to the fact that there is a height safety element involved.

Pallet Jacks and Stacker/Lifters

Pallet jacks and other smaller pallet machines such as ‘walkie stackers’ are ideal for simple, low-level lifting jobs. Pallet jacks can be manual or electric, shifting small loads around commercial spaces, and stacker lifters are generally electric-driven machines that are very compact and have a small lifting range. These machines are best for tight spaces, light loads, or occasionally lift and shift requirements. You can attend pallet truck training to learn how to safely operate these machines however you don’t need a specific license to operate them.

What type of forklift licence do you need?

Whether you’re working on a construction site shifting building materials around or loading a truck at your warehouse, it’s important to have the right forklift licence and be confident operating one.

Being a licenced, responsible and forklift driver will ensure that you help maintain a safe working environment for you and your team.

There are a few different types of licences available that can be obtained after completing a forklift training course.

You can take a look at our article on how to get your forklift license and see some of the frequently asked questions from our trainees here.

For any forklift training enquiries, the team at Kallibr Training are happy to help. Reach out to our team or take a look at the links above for more detail on the courses we offer to help you get your forklift or telehandler licence.