Reach Truck Forklift Guide

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What Is A Reach Truck?

205570 Crown RR5225 used reach truck

A reach truck is a specialized forklift that is used in narrow aisle warehousing applications. The major benefit of a reach truck is that it has an extending carriage that can move a load without the operator having to move the whole forklift.  This allows a user to have a narrower aisle between racking than if the they had a forklift without a reach function. A narrower aisle permits more racking space and increases warehouse capacity.


Where Will You Find a Reach Truck

Reach trucks are very popular in many different types of industries where warehouse space is limited and where the rack aisles are close to one another. The typical lifting capacity on a reach truck does not exceed 5000lbs, so the use of a reach truck is limited to palletized loads under 5000lbs.  Reach trucks are not used outside and are very unstable on uneven surfaces.

How Do You Identify a Reach Truck?

A reach truck is quickly identified by its upright mast, stabilizing outrigger arms, and the reach function that is unique to the reach truck forklift.  Some major manufacturers of reach trucks include Jungheinrich, Crown, and Raymond.

Upright Mast

reach truck mast

Reach trucks are typically equipped with a three stage steel mast.  The carriage and forks are raised and lowered within the forklift mast.  Reach trucks have lift heights ranging from as little as 200” to as much as 400” and more.




Stabilizing Outrigger Arms

reach truck outriggers

The reach truck chassis is purposely small so that the machine can be used in narrow aisles.  Because of the small chassis and the extending reach arm, a reach truck must be equipped with stabilizing arms.

The stabilizing arms are found at the bottom of the reach truck and typically extend about 3 ft away from the base of the machine. These arms prevent the forklift from tipping forward. Most forklifts use a counterweight on the rear of the machine to prevent tipping.  A reach truck saves space by using stabilizing arms on the front of the chassis.

Reach Function or Pantograph

reach pantograph

A pantograph is a mechanical linkage that has a scissor-like action. The reach truck carriage is extended away from the mast by the use of a pantograph. No other forklift uses a pantograph to extend a load.  The pantograph is operated by a hydraulic control in the operator compartment.  The forklift operator can make the carriage reach out or in.

The pantograph can be a single length reach or a double length reach.  The double length reach allows for storing two pallet positions deep.

Where Should a Reach Truck Be Used?

Reach trucks are meant for indoor use on flat, smooth, hard, and dry surfaces.  A reach truck cannot drive over gravel, larges cracks or bumps, and it has very little ability to handle a grade such as a dock ramp.

Reach trucks should not be used outside of the racking area of a warehouse either.  Reach trucks are not designed to load or unload van trailers or trucks. The jostling that occurs when a forklift drives onto a trailer is a serious challenge for a reach truck to handle. Reach truck components are not meant for heavy rattling and bumps, so the user may find that more than average maintenance is required on a reach truck that is used anywhere other than in the rack aisles.

How to Use a Reach Truck

A reach truck should used to place and remove pallets in and out of warehouse racking.  Typically, the inside width of the stabilizing arms will be narrower than the width of the user’s pallets. So the operator picks up a pallet that is resting on the ground by reaching the carriage out to the pallet, placing the forks under the pallet, lifting it up, and then using the hydraulics to close the pantograph.  The operator can then travel with the load safely over the stabilizing arms.

To place a load in the rack, the operator extends the load into the rack rather than driving the forklift toward the rack. The operator places the load on the rack and collapses the pantograph back towards the forklift.  The operator will not need to reverse the forklift.

reach truck palletpallet over stabilizers

Reach trucks are versatile warehouse machines that are used around the world in many different types of businesses. If you are interested in buying a used reach truck, you can browse our used reach trucks for sale.

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