What is a Turret Truck Forklift – A Guide

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A turret truck is a unique forklift that is meant for use in “very narrow aisle” applications.  The term “turret truck” can be used for man-up and man-down lift trucks that have a rotating mast assembly with a lateral movement.

Most man-down turret trucks allow for 90º mast assembly rotation. Whereas the man-up turret truck usually accommodates 180º mast assembly rotation.

207999 Drexel SL40 Used ForkliftThe most popular man-down turret truck in the United States and Canada is manufactured by Drexel. These lift trucks use a common looking four or three wheel chassis with a 90º rotating mast assembly.

The main advantage of the man-down turret truck is it’s ability to retrieve a pallet in racking without turning the chassis. The rotating mast assembly achieves the correct angle, while the lateral movement of the mast is what retrieves or places the pallet in the racking.

To pick pallets from the opposite side of an aisle, the operator must exit the aisle, turn, and then re-enter the aisle. The man-down turret truck is meant for pallet retrieval and storage.

Another advantage of the man-down turret truck is its ability to work in other places in a warehouse like the loading dock or other open areas.  Because of its familiar design it can be easily used where most other sit down warehouse forklifts can be used.

Crown TSP6000 Turret TruckThe man-up turret truck is available from most of the major manufacturers selling lift trucks in the US and Canada including Crown, Raymond,  Yale, and Jungheinrich. The man-up turret truck looks quite a bit different from the man-down turret truck, however.

The man-up turret truck has a large telescoping primary mast on which the operator platform travels up and down.  At the front of the operator platform is a secondary mast that lifts the carriage and forks, and does the rotating.

A man-up turret truck is fairly is easy to recognize because of it’s large base, seated operator compartment, large main mast, and rotating mast and carriage.

Where is a Turret Truck Forklift Used?

A user typically runs a turret truck forklift to maximize storage density in a warehouse. The warehouse that a turret truck is used in can be small to very large with the main idea of maximizing space.

Turret trucks are used for full pallet storage and removal, and the man-up turret truck also allows for order picking. Turret trucks do not lift loads much heavier than about 3500 lbs.

Man-up turret trucks are used indoors on flat surfaces and controlled environments. The size and design of a turret truck limits visibility so users must limit contact with other elements of the warehouse to prevent injury and damage.

Fuel Types for Man-up Turret Trucks

Man-up turret trucks are powered exclusively by electricity and primarily by lead acid batteries.  There may be a few turret trucks in the world powered by lithium-ion batteries or hydrogen.

Man-up turret trucks use 48V, 72V, and 80V battery systems. The battery installed in a turret truck has a higher amperage to handle the weight of lifting the operator  and the operator compartment, the auxiliary mast, and the load at acceptable speeds.

Man-down turret trucks typically use 36V or 48V batteries.

The battery in a turret truck is also used as part of the machine’s counterweight.

Guidance systems

Most man-up turret trucks are outfitted with some sort of guidance system.  As this is an option some turret trucks do not have guidance systems, but most will opt for one of two different types.

The first, and more desirable (and expensive) is wire guidance.  Wire guidance systems operate by burying wires underneath the floor of the warehouse that sync with the wire guidance on the machine over a certain frequency.  When the machine travels close to the wire under the floor, it will travel along the path of the wire and keep the machine and operator on a track safely between the racking.

This eliminates operator error because turret trucks typically drive in aisles with little to no clearance, so without wire guidance even a little variance in steering and speed could cause a lot of damage and injury.

The second type of guidance system is rail guidance.  This guidance system also operates with an integral track in the racking, but instead of it being an electronic guidance system, it is physical.  Rails are installed along the floor of the rack aisles that match the horizontal wheels on the sides of the machines.  The wheels run along the tracks on the floor keeping the machine perfectly in the center of the aisles.

Most man-down turret trucks do not operate with a guidance system. It is possible for a man-down turret truck forklift to use wire guidance but is rare.

Maintenance and Repair

It is always best to regularly maintain every type of forklift, and the turret truck is probably one the forklift types that should be maintained most regularly. Since the turret truck works in such narrow aisles, with loads at height, and with the operator travelling up into the rack with the machine, it is especially important to keep a turret truck running smoothly and safely.


Chunked, cut, and worn tires present a major safety hazard for the operator and anyone nearby in the event of catastrophic damage to the warehouse racking. All tires should be checked regularly and replaced if any part of the tire does not meet the manufacturers specifications for safe operation.

Chains and Hoses

All chains and hoses should be checked for wear, breakage, and other damage.  A blown hydraulic hose while an operator is 300″ in the air on a man-up turret truck could cause serious injury and damage to the warehouse if the operator is struck in the eyes or somewhere else that causes erratic operation.


As on all electric forklifts, the batteries operating a turret truck forklift should be charged, watered, cleaned, and maintained on a daily basis.

The turret truck forklift can be help maximize space in warehouses large and small.  While its applications are limited mainly to storing pallets in racking, the turret truck can make a big impact on the throughput of most any warehouse.

If you would  like to talk to us about seeing if a used turret truck forklift can work in your warehouse, give us a call anytime – 440-742-7019.