A regular feature in warehouses, pallet trucks simplify the process of lifting and moving pallets with the assurance of strength and stability. Wooden pallets are often used in warehouses for storing items on mass, and by using a pallet truck, it becomes quicker and easier to move these items to where they need to be efficiently.

Also commonly known as a pallet jack or a pump truck, pallet trucks may look basic in design, but they’re actually a sophisticated type of forklift with a hydraulic jack for raising and moving heavy items seamlessly. Pallet trucks come in a number of forms to suit different sizes of pallet, as well as the shape and weight of the items being moved. Mini pallet trucks and wide pallet trucks are perfect for moving smaller or wider pallets, while electric pallet trucks allow for lifting and moving heavier items.

How to use a pallet truck

While pallet trucks are simple to operate for trained professionals, before an employee uses this important piece of warehouse equipment, adequate training and instruction should be provided. Ultimately, it’s the job of the pallet truck to simplify the process of moving items around a warehouse environment, helping with efficiency. However, it could have the opposite effect if you attempt to use a pallet truck without learning how they work and the correct method for operating one.

Instructions for operating a pallet truck are as follows:

  • Start by sliding the forks under the gaps of the pallet you wish to move, leaving the handle in an upright position.
  • Before starting to move, ensure that the pallet and its contents are secured to the pallet truck. If you’re concerned it could fall during movement, tie the item to the pallet for additional support.
  • Raise the forks until there is a gap between the pallet and the floor.
  • When you’re ready to move, push the handle down and move the pallet truck in the direction you need to go. For a firmer grip on the pallet truck, coordinate the hand you’re using to move it with the direction you’re going in, swapping to your left and right hand whenever you’re moving left and right.
  • Remain alert and vigilant, watching for people and objects that could obstruct the path you’re on. By keeping at a safe speed, you should be able to prevent any unforeseen accidents.
  • Plan in advance where you want the pallet to go, and when you’ve arrived at the new location, gently lower the forks until the pallet is safely on the ground. At this point, you can remove the forks from beneath the pallet.

Should you push or pull a pallet truck?

Due to the hydraulic system in a pallet truck, they can be pushed or pulled in equal measure. The decision over whether to push or pull is often a matter of personal preference. However, it can often be more effective to push, as it’s easier to use your own bodyweight to direct the pallet truck forwards rather than dragging it behind you.

Either way, if done incorrectly, operating a pallet truck could lead to injury. For the safety of both the user and other employees, ensure you push, pull and lift with your legs for balance rather than with your back for power. This is the most effective method and will help to prevent pulling a muscle or seriously damaging your back.

How much does a pallet truck weigh?

Although the weight of a pallet truck will depend on the model you choose to use, there’s a distinct difference between the weight of a manual pallet truck and an electric pallet truck. For example, an electric pallet truck could weigh as much as 400kg, where a manual pallet truck could be as light as 70kg.

Moving several pallets each day is made easier by the use of a manual pallet truck, but if you’re constantly moving pallets over a large area, it could be more efficient to use an electric pallet truck. More substantial than a manual pallet truck in both weight and size, electric pallet trucks make it possible to carry heavier, larger items.

Electric pallet trucks have power-assisted lifting, which takes away the need to potentially injure yourself through pushing and pulling like you would with a manual pallet truck. Although they’re likely to be more expensive, they can speed up the time it takes to move masses of pallets without having to buy a forklift truck, making them the ideal accessory for a large warehouse.