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Diesel, gas & electric forklift trucks from renowned manufacturers

Forklifts are the masters of load transport. They differ in their drive type, area of application and design. The basic division is diesel, gas and electric forklifts. Nevertheless, there are also heavy diesel forklifts for outdoors (e.g. rough terrain forklifts) and easy to use electric forklifts for high bay warehouses (e.g. order pickers). Structural differences, like the forks, lead to further distinctions (e.g. front or side forklifts). At Surplex you can purchase by auction cheap second hand forklifts from leading manufacturers such as LINDE, STILL or JUNGHEINRICH. There are also modern models with few operating hours among them!

Buy & sell used industrial forklifts & trucks on Surplex


  1. Explanation of what a forklift is
  2. How does a forklift work?
  3. Requirements for operating a forklift
  4. Varieties of forklifts
  5. Forklifts manufacturers
Used forklift outdoors

Explanation of what a forklift is

Industrial forklifts are vehicles used to transport loads within a facility, and are a type of motor-driven industrial truck. Depending on the desired area of application, they are powered by a wide variety of different motors. The basic types are electric forklifts, diesel forklifts, and LPG forklifts. There are also various models tailored to special jobs and loads.

How does a forklift work?

A forklift is a vehicle operated by a driver. The basic forklift model is a truck with three or four wheels. Forklifts consist of a mast with moveable forks, a drive unit, a counterweight, and a driver's seat with control instruments. The stable chassis supports the driver's cabin and the motor. At the front, or in certain models on the side, is the lifting frame. The side opposite the lifting frame has a counterweight, which distributes the weight evenly when heavy loads are applied so that the truck doesn't tip over.

The forklift is operated using a steering wheel or joystick. The foot pedals are usually arranged similar to a passener car, so there is no need to relearn this when operating a forklift. The driver's cabin is constructed to give the driver maximum protection and good peripheral vision. Many models have a roof to protect against falling loads.

  • Used for stowing and transporting loads within a plant
  • Available in a variety of different forms
  • Simplex, duplex, or triplex masts depending on the job
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The forks are manually or hydraulically adjustable, so they can be adapted to the lifting points of various loads. In all forklifts, the lifting frame operates hydraulically. Various drive systems can be used. The main types are electric, LPG, and diesel drive units. With zero emissions, the electric motor is excellent for use indoors. Small forklifts, particularly those commonly used in supermarkets, have an electric motor. Medium forklifts are often driven by a gas motor because the particularly mild emissions are suitable for use in enclosed spaces. However, you still have to ensure adequate ventilation because gas motors do produce CO and CO2. Diesel-powered forklifts are used in heavy industry. They have a lifting force of several tons, so they can easily transport coils, steel pans, and slabs. In order to lift, forklifts always require a certain gap between the load and the floor.

In most cases, this is achieved using wooden pallets. In modern forklifts, the lifting frame is constructed to allow the driver a clear view of the load. It is powered by a hydraulic unit integrated into the vehicle. Various models of lifting frames are available for short transport heights, such as vehicle loading, as well as the great heights in warehouses with high shelves. The various types of lifting frames, simplex, duplex, and triplex, accommodate different hight requirements. In modern forklifts, the driver constantly receives information about the operating conditions shown in a display. With cutting-edge computer-controlled operation, motor power can be used very efficiently. In newer models, speed is automatically reduced when going around curves in order to avoid tipping over. Although forklifts are mainly used indoors, special models exist which are designed for outdoor use. These particularly robust machines are called rough-terrain forklifts.

JUNGHEINRICH forklift in use

Requirements for operating a forklift

Operating a forklift is different from driving a passenger car due to the steering from the back wheels and the high centre of gravity. That's why it is necessary to have a forklift driving licence as a qualification for operating this kind of industrial truck. In addition to comprehensive theoretical training, including the physics of transporting loads, practical exercises in forklift driving are also part of the procedure.

The main difference when driving a forklift truck, in addition to the the limited frontal view due to the mast, is turning. Forklifts are generally steered by the back wheels. This makes driving and turning them significantly different from normal passenger vehicles. There is also a high centre of gravity on forklifts. This is built into the design of all forklifts due to the counterweight at the back. This increases the risk of tipping over when turns are taken too sharply or the speed is too high.

Varieties of forklifts

A wide range of models from the traditional lift truck to reach trucks are available for facility transport and loading/unloading. In warehouses, long and slab-shaped products can be transported most efficiently with a side loader. These special models have the lifting frame on the side, or sometimes a lateral driver's seat. They are used in high-shelf warehouses and for order picking, for example. Widely used for wood and composite panels, this type of forklift takes the load on the side. Their construction is more complex than normal forklifts, but their broad load-bearing surface allows for very safe and efficient transportation of goods.

Inside the cabin of a used forklift

Reach trucks are the forklifts typically used for operation in tight corridors. These particularly compact lifting vehicles can drive forwards and backwards, and they have a very small turning radius. They are often fitted with extra long lifting frames, so they are particularly suitable for shipping warehouses.

Forklifts manufacturers

Many companies have specialised in forklift manufacture. Some notable names in the field of electric forklifts and reach trucks are STILL, LINDE, JUNGHEINRICH, and NISSAN. We recommend LINDE, CROWN, YALE, and KOMATSU for medium-sized models. Large and special-purpose forklifts are available from RUDOLF MAXEIN, ZEPPELIN, and BULMOR. In addition, we highly recommend new and used forklifts from BAKA, BT, and CLARK.

On Surplex, you can regularly find used forklifts for sale. In our recurring industrial auctions, you can easily find a used forklift to meet your needs. The machines are often in very good condition and can be purchased for a low price. If you need assistance when looking for a used forklift for sale, our Surplex Customer Care employees are always happy to offer their expert help and advice.

Used diesel forklift