Forklift aisle widths

Forklift aisle widths: Dimensions for various forklifts

Different Forklifts Need Different Sized Aisles

Every forklift needs room to maneuver.  Depending on the type of forklift, the aisle will be wider or narrower.  In this guide, we will walk you through the various forklift aisle widths required for each forklift type.

3 Types of Forklifts

Forklifts are divided into 3 different aisle requirement types.  Although there is variability in each of the three categories, the basics of how they use space to pick up and drop off pallets (loads) are similar within the given types.

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In fact, the 3 types of forklifts are classed together based on the evolution of the technology they use.  So as you proceed from one type of forklift to another, you are actually traveling through time in the evolution of materials handling technology.

Wide Aisle Forklifts

Wide aisle forklifts are made up of forklifts that have 3 or 4 wheels, a seat and a steering wheel.  We call these forklifts counterbalanced forklifts.  They need anywhere from 10 foot aisles to 14 foot aisles or more.

Rule of Thumb – Forklift Aisle Dimensions

A good rule of thumb for determining the aisle requirement for a wide-aisle forklift is to measure the distance from the load backrest to the counterweight (a.k.a the headlength) .  Then measure the length of the load.  This might be a 48″ long pallet.  Add to their sum an additional 12″ for mneuverability.

For example:

If the headlength of the forklift is 76″, add to this the 48″ long pallet = 124″.  Add to this number 12″ for easy maneuvering = 136″.  Add to this pallet overhang on the racking of 3″ per side = 142″

The standard types of wide aisle forklifts are as follows:

Stand-up Counterbalanced Forklift

These forklifts have a number of nicknames including:

  • Dockstocker
  • Pacer
  • Stand-up

These forklifts are counterbalanced forklifts and use their length and their counterweight to keep the wheels on the ground when lifting a load (pallet).

To calculate the absolute minimum aisle needed use this formula.  Add 6″ to these aisle dimensions for easier maneuvering.  All dimensions are product to product.  If you are measuring from rack to rack, add 3″ to each side of the aisle to allow for pallet and product overhang.  Before you start a new rack project, it is a good idea to check with your forklift manufacturer.  For the sake of a rough guide, you can use these dimensions.

What size aisle do I need for a stand-up counter-balanced forklift?

3000/3500 lbs capacity stand-up forklift:  70″ + Load Length (48″) = 118 inches product to product or 124 inches* rack to rack.

4000 lbs capacity stand-up forklift:  74″ + Load Length (48″) = 122 inches product to product or 128 inches* rack to rack.

5000 lbs capacity stand-up forklift:  76″ + Load Length (48″) = 124 inches product to product or 130 inches* rack to rack.

*Add 6″ to these aisle dimensions for easier maneuvering.  

What size forklift aisle do I need for a 3-wheel lift truck?

These forklifts have a number of nicknames including:

  • 3-wheeler
  • 3 wheel counterbalance
  • 3-wheel sit down forklift

There are a number of forklift manufacturers and capacities for this style of forklift.  Here is a rough guide based a popular manufacturer and their forklift capacity sizes.  Use these dimensions for right angle stacking into standard pallet racking.  Add 10″ for easier maneuverability.

3000 lbs capacity 3-wheel sitdown forklift:  128″ when handling a 48 x 40 pallet.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions.*

3500 lbs capacity 3-wheel sitdown forklift (short chassis):  130″ when handling a 48 x 40 pallet.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions.*

3500 lbs capacity 3-wheel sitdown forklift:  133″ when handling a 48 x 40 pallet.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions.*

4000 lbs capacity 3-wheel sitdown forklift:  134″ when handling a 48 x 40 pallet.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions.*

*Add 10″ for easier maneuverability.

What size forklift aisle do I need for a 4-wheel forklift?

For a 4-wheel sitdown forklift, because of the variability of forklift capacities, it is a good idea to use the rule of thumb above.  Or you can use this guide.  Be sure to check with your manufacturer though.

3000 lbs capacity 4-wheel sitdown forklift aisle requirements:  78″ + load length.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions. Add 12″ for easy maneuvering.  You need an aisle of (78+48+6+12) = 144″.

4000 lbs capacity 4-wheel sitdown forklift aisle requirements:  80″ + load length.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions. Add 12″ for easy maneuvering.  You need an aisle of (80+48+6+12) = 146″.

5000 lbs capacity 4-wheel sitdown forklift aisle requirements:  90″ + load length.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions. Add 12″ for easy maneuvering.  You need an aisle of (90+48+6+12) = 156″.

6000 lbs capacity 4-wheel sitdown forklift aisle requirements:  95″ + load length.  Add 6″ for rack to rack dimensions. Add 12″ for easy maneuvering.  You need an aisle of (95+48+6+12) = 161″.

Exceptions to Forklift Aisle Width Dimensions – Read This

Sometimes, wide-aisle forklifts will lift up a load that is not your standard 48″ x 40″ pallet.  When you are picking up very wide loads, be sure to set your aisle to at least 2 feet wider than the width of the load or the aisle dimensions above – whichever is wider.

Therefore, if you have a 12 foot wide load, remember you will need at least a 14 foot wide clear aisle.  Add to that pallet overhang (3″ per side) for rack to rack dimensions.

To learn about Narrow Aisle forklift aisle requirements, click here.

 

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