What’s the best brand of forklift to buy? Forklift dealers get that question daily. It doesn’t matter whether they handle new, used or rental lift equipment. There’s no definitive answer. There are many brands of forklifts in the lift machinery market for you to choose from. Simply comparing different lift sizes and specific applications can be overwhelming never mind making a detailed forklift brands list.
Asking about the best forklift brand to buy is like asking, “What’s the best car brand for me?” The right answer seems to be, “It depends”. Selecting the right forklift brand for your business depends on many factors that go into picking the proper lift. All affect your decision in finding the most productive, cost-effective lifting machine that gives your best return on investment.
Brand name is just one of the many important factors you need to consider when comparing lift trucks. Forklift brand comparison needs to be objective. You need to look at more than forklift brands and models. Application for your specific business purpose is critical. So are lift capacity and height, fuel source, tire selection, available attachments and operator ergonomics.
Dealer reputation and servicing are vital parts of the forklift selection equation. So is operator safety and training. Don’t forget about fuel consumption expenses and environmental impact. You must consider what the most reliable forklifts are as well as proven durability, versatility and brand name trustworthiness.
If you’re in the market to purchase a new or used forklift, you’ll be doing your homework. That goes for selecting a forklift to rent or lease. Once you’ve narrowed your parameters to a specific type of lift truck that fits your needs and budgets, you’ll be faced with deciding what forklift brand is right.
You’ll find many differing opinions on what’s the best forklift brand. You might search the web for different classes of forklifts in addition to brand name, or you might decide to consult a reputable forklift dealer to help you select the best lift machine. Reputable dealers will help you save valuable time. They’ll also help you to save money.
An honest, experienced forklift dealer will be extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of forklift details. That will include being aware of the pros and cons of particular brands and how they apply to making the perfect choice for your needs. There’s no doubt about it. Forklift brands differ, and good dealer will know by how much.
Forklift Brand Names
You’ll hear opinions about leading forklift brand names like Hyster, Yale, Clark and Crown. These forklift manufacturers have been in business for decades. They’ve produced machines in the hundreds of thousands ranging from small hand trucks to huge counterbalance ride-on lifts.
You’ll also hear comments on lesser known brand names of forklifts. Some of these might be Columbia, Bendi, Drexel, Doosan and Jungheinrich. Likely, you’re also familiar with forklift brands called Linde, JBC, Unicarrier or Daewoo. These manufacturers also put out fine products, especially for specific niche markets.
Of course, these names will be familiar too. Toyota, Mitsubishi, Komatsu and Nissan are prominent forklift manufacturers. Caterpillar, John Deere and Bobcat are synonymous with quality American lift machines. All these fine companies have a strong presence in the worldwide forklift market.
During your research, you might come across famous machinery brands that are lesser-known for their forklift lines. Did you know Hitachi, Hyundai, Volvo, Link-belt and Yamaha make forklifts? How about Kawasaki? Samsung? Or Case, Parker and Kion? What about Hangcha and Anhui? They’re two of the largest forklift builders in the world.
Possibly, many of the world’s largest forklift brand names by sales revenue aren’t going to be familiar to you. Not recognizing a brand name doesn’t indicate it’s not top quality. An obscure brand may be your best choice. Choosing a lift by high-profile brand name alone may be a mistake. It simply depends on what you’re looking for.
Depending Factors in Forklift Brand Selection
Before zeroing in on a particular forklift brand, it’s necessary to determine a number of factors your forklift choice is going to depend upon.
Your specific business application is the first place to start. Forklifts are used in hundreds of thousands of businesses across the nation and around the globe. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in the forklift world, regardless of brand. The most common forklift applications include:
- Industrial Facilities. Every industrial site is equipped with some form of forklift. Some of the machines are massive and lift thousands of pounds dozens of feet in the air. The oil, gas, mining and wood production industries would be at a standstill without their forklifts.
- Construction Sites. These can be heavy-duty applications that move steel beams and girders or light situations where lifts of lumber and plywood are juggled. Most construction sites and lumberyards use powerful outdoor lift machines
- Warehouses. Almost all storage facilities and merchandise warehouses use forklifts. Delivery trucks need loading and unloading. Products have to be lowered and raised from shelves. Warehouse lifts include indoor and outdoor application and range from minor to extreme weights.
- Retail Stores. Most of the big-box retail stores use some form of lift to move products. These might be pallet jacks, order pickers, aisle lifts or even ride-on machines.
- Airports. The airline industry would be at a standstill without lift trucks. Millions of pounds of valuable cargo are shipped by plane daily. All has to be transferred with some form of lift.
- Ports and Docks. Ships, large and small, require forklifts to move containers and bulk cargo.
- Farms. Many commercial agriculture facilities require forklifts in daily operation.
- Disposal and Recycling Centers. Bulk pallets of compressed recycling materials require forklift transportation.
- Home Use. Even some homeowners use forklifts for their storage or renovation projects.
Ultimately, the situation where you intend to operate your forklift is the starting point for selecting your forklift type. All of these considerations are going to have an impact on the particular forklift brand you decide on.
There are a number of different types of forklifts. Each depends on its specific intention and each forklift brand name will have their particular design and option. The most common forklift types are:
- Pallet jacks. These basic lifts are meant for light duty work where loaded pallets are shuffled about a business. Pallet jacks can be either manual or electrically operated.
- Manual Stackers. Stackers are a step up from jacks where light loads are able to be vertically elevated as well as horizontally moved.
- Order Pickers. These forklifts are commonly found in warehouses and wholesale businesses. Order pickers are designed to optimize speed in picking stock from inventory and assembling a shipping order.
- Counter-Balance Ride-On Forklifts. By far the most common and recognizable type of forklift is the counter-balance machine that the operator rides-on. Virtually every forklift brand has a number of ride-on lifts in production. Each brand offers many features and benefits depending on the specific application.
- Heavy-duty Forklifts. Some of the leading forklift brands manufacture large machines for heavy-duty applications. Variations include powerful articulated forklifts, side-loaders, multi-directional and rough-terrain lifts.
Other Forklift Factors
Forklift selection factors don’t stop at the machine’s specific framework. Depending on the workplace material you’re using a forklift for and the environment, you’ll want to consider other factors. Each forklift manufacturer brand will present suitable options; however, the design parameters are universal.
Forklift factors to consider before settling on a brand include:
- Load Capacity. What stock you’ll be lifting, the weight, average load and maximum capacity all need to be identified. So does your load width if it needs moving in aisles.
- Lift Height. Your average lift height and maximum reach points are a huge factor. Also, think of any height restriction like ceiling height drops, low beamsand lights.
- Fuel Source. There are two main power supplies used in forklifts. One is the internal combustion engine (IC). The other is an electric motor. IC engines run on gasoline, diesel fuel or compressed liquefied propane. Electric powered forklifts rely on battery power. Some of the leading and innovative forklift brands are experimenting with alternate, environmentally friendly fuel sources like hydrogen cells.
- Tire Selection. Depending on your application and workplace, there are different tires available for your forklift. All brands will carry selections of solid rubber tires, pneumatic tires, cushion tires and ones made from polyurethane. Most forklift brands also offer non-marking tire to keep warehouse floors streak and skid-free.
- Terrain and Temperature. The climate and terrain boundaries you intend to operate are a major consideration. Most forklift brands have different designs that accommodate sites with extreme heat or cold as well as rough or sloped surfaces.
- Ergonomics. Forklift operators can spend many hours with their machines. It’s important for operator health and productivity that the lifts controls, seat and ride be ergonomically correct. Many forklift brands promote ergonomics a key design benefit.
- Training. Every forklift operator is required by law to be certified by an approved instructor. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is strict about forklift operator licensing and training. Failure to ensure proper training may result in significant fines or workplace sanctions. Keep in mind whether the manufacturer provides training when checking the various brands that suit your forklift needs.
- Safety. Workplace safety is a paramount factor in selecting the right forklift. Selecting the right brand can greatly contribute to an operator’s and nearby worker safety. According to the Forklift Academy, there are approximately 200-250 fatalities and 95,000 injuries in the United States each year due to forklift related accidents. The best forklift brands ensure their machines are designed to be safe and that operator training is available.
Once you’ve decided on the exact type of forklift you need, it’s time to narrow down the search to a particular manufacturer. Factors that influence a brand choice can be as varied as deciding the type.
Ranker, which is a leading internet source of information on rating consumer products, indicates over 50 different forklift brands available on the world market. These include the popular brands previously mentioned as well as many lesser-known forklift manufacturers.
Ranker responded to the question, “What are the best forklift brands available?” They viewed this as being in a professional setting and scoped across the field from light to heavy-duty forklifts. Prominent to getting their consumer-vote results were the terms “versatile”, “reliable” and “durable”. All are leading indicators of brand value.
Here are some of the main brand factors to consider when deciding on the best forklift to buy.
- Machine availability. Does the particular brand you’re considering have the right machine available?
- Machine Popularity. How many machines of this brand have been sold?
- Dealer Location. Is the brand’s dealer representative conveniently located?
- Parts and Service. Does the forklift brand have a suitable part supply and service plan?
- Warranty. What does the particular brand offer for warranty terms?
- History. How long has the forklift company been operating?
- Safety Record. What is the brand’s safety reputation like?
- Economy. What are the reports on fuel consumption and maintenance costs?
- Budget. How does the forklift brand compare in pricing to other manufacturers?
- Financing. Does the forklift brand offer financing terms?
- Buy, Rent or Lease. Is the brand you’re considering available with acquisition options?
An important additional factor to consider when choosing a forklift by brand is the company’s reputation. Don’t just look at what the brand offers by features and benefits. What’s their track record? What are others saying about how the brand stands up?
Consider these factors when making your final brand determination.
- Consumer Reviews. Nothing says “good” like a positive review by a satisfied owner of the same machine you’re looking at.
- Recognitions and Awards. Look for accredited awards given to a brand by industry peers, trade periodicals and government organizations.
- Help and Support Centers. Is knowledgeable assistance readily available when something goes wrong? Are call centers available for off-hours troubleshooting or just general maintenance information?
- Maintenance Agreements. Leading forklift brands and their dealers offer maintenance agreements to support continuous and reliable operation.
- Training Assistance. Does the brand you’re interested in have training assistance available in machine operation and maintenance?
Trends and technological advancements particular to a brand are other points to account for when making your forklift decision. New power sources, hi-tech computer controls, energy efficiency, operator visibility, noise reduction, vibration control and machine stability are all improvements that leading forklift brands continuously work on.
Making a Top 10 Forklift Brands List
As you’ve seen, there are many factors and pieces of information to build a list of what the best forklift to buy is. It can be a tough job with lots of indecision and second-guessing. Fortunately, lots of the heavy lifting has already been done for you.
Consumer Affairs is highly credible source for reports on the best products and brands in many industries. They’ve taken a good, hard look at many forklift brands and published a report that identifies their Top 10 Best Rated Forklifts.
Besides general specifications, safety, training, stability, reliability, service, warrant and other overall contributors to best consumer value in forklift brands, Consumer Affairs looked into test factors. Machines were run at full operating conditions that included:
- Work cycle speed
- Energy efficiency
- Heat generation
- Regenerative loading
- Power curves
- Operator visibility
- Rider ergonomics
- Maintenance levels
Major component analysis included:
- Electrical components
- Wheels and brakes
- Safety features
Consumer Affairs was careful not to give the brand names specific ranking as to where each placed on the Top 10 list. Rather, they included their choices of preferred brands into one group and provided each brand with profile information.
The Consumer Affairs Top 10 Forklift Brand List
In no particular order, here are the Top 10 best-rated brands on today’s forklift market.
Crown Equipment Corporation started operation in 1945. They’re headquartered in New Bremen, Ohio and have grown into one of the world’s leading suppliers of industrial forklifts. Crown is a technological leader with advancements in automation and fleet management. They supply basic forklifts up to 4,000-pound capacity and heavy lifts exceeding 6,500 pounds. Crown sells new machines as well as factory-reconditioned used forklifts. Warranty, servicing and component supply are key company focus points. Crown forklifts are best for warehouses and agricultural professionals.
Yale was first known as a lock manufacturing company back in the 1800s. Yale produced their first forklift in 1920. Now it’s supplying forklifts worldwide. Headquartered in Cleveland, Yale ships across the globe and is a single source supplier of three and four wheel ride-on lift trucks. Yale lifts range from 3,500 pounds all the way to 35,000. Construction, dock, warehouse and farm workers mostly use these quality forklifts.
Toyota is a huge corporation mostly famous for automotive manufacturing. Don’t let that fool you because Toyota has been building forklifts for 50 years. There are over 500,000 Toyota lifts in the United States alone with a diverse selection from pallet jacks to counter-balance machines. Toyota has full finance and maintenance agreements available. Many shipping and receiving companies use Toyota lift products.
JBC was named after its founder, Joseph Cyril Bamford. It remains a private forklift company since starting in 1945 and now runs 22 plants on four continents with 750 dealers worldwide. JBC has a wide variety of models and offers full financing and service packages. JBC forklifts are often seen on farms, in warehouses, around construction sites and are popular on military installations.
Komatsu is a Japanese manufacturer of mining, military and construction machinery. They began in 1921 and moved into a U.S. presence in the 1970s. Komatsu has an extensive forklift line and dealer network in America. Their integrated KOMTRAX monitoring system is exclusive to Komatsu. It allows remote equipment monitoring that alerts owners and operators of pending trouble.
Clark Material Handling Company was founded in 1903 and built its first forklift in 1917. Clark is based in Lexington, Kentucky and is privately held with manufacturing and distribution facilities across the world. Clark has built over 350,000 lift trucks as well as pallet jacks, order pickers and stackers. They focus on medium duty forklifts for warehouse, manufacturing and construction applications.
Linde is a European leader in forklift manufacturing technology. Their global sales and service network spans 10 countries including a prominent American presence. Linde originally produced industrial trucks and hydraulics but switched to forklift manufacturing in 1959. Today, they’re a leader in robotics and automated lift equipment. Linde primarily focuses on warehouse needs.
Unicarriers is a recent forklift brand but they’ve been manufacturing equipment back to the early 1900s. Unicarriers are an acquisition series involving Nissan Forklift, Barrett Industries and TCM. Their combined experience has produced an excellent forklift brand that lends well to indoor warehouse use.
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks is the original brand name for a wide range of material handlers manufactured by the Japanese giant. Mitsubishi partnered with Caterpillar to become Mitsubishi-Caterpillar Forklift America (MCFA), headquartered in Houston, Texas. Under this brand, they manufacture an across the board range from light to industrial duty forklift machines.
Hyster is probably the best-known forklift brand in the world. Hyster was founded in 1929 to provide durable lifting equipment and material handling solutions. Today, Hyster has distribution centers in over 130 countries and has produced millions of lift machines. Hyster is a forklift brand name that’s proven trustworthy, especially in customer service attention.
McCall Handling is a proud supplier of industry-leading Hyster forklifts and other material handling related equipment. Hyster lift trucks are top-performing, low-maintenance machines that offer tremendous benefits of increased productivity and cost reduction.
Check out the current Hyster equipment selection at McCall Handling, which includes the revolutionary Hyster Fortis forklift line. With features such as user-friendly operator compartments, highly efficient electronic transmissions, and advanced computerized control systems, Fortis lift trucks offer unmatched reliability and cost-effective operation.
McCall Handling has provided Lift Truck service to Delmar DE-Eastern Shore, Northern VA-Chantilly, Forestville MD, Washington DC, Western MD- Williamsport and West Virginia for over 65 years and is headquartered in Baltimore, MD.
A big reason why McCall Handling has been a preferred Mid-Atlantic forklift purchasing choice for more than 65 years is our people. Our team is committed to providing personalized service in all areas of our business.
If you’d prefer live assistance from one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members, feel free to give us a call toll-free at 1-888-870-0685. We’ll be happy to help.