Should Your Expanding Business Purchase A Pallet Jack Or Forklift?

If your business has grown to the point where your staff needs to move a lot of boxes and inventory around in your warehouse space, then you need to decide if you want to purchase a pallet jack or a forklift to assist them. While both types of machinery have their own best use and cost considerations, purchasing either one will greatly increase the productivity and lessen lifting injuries in your warehouse. 

Here is some information to help you choose between a pallet jack and a forklift for your company's warehouse:

Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks are less expensive than their larger cousins the forklift. Pallet jacks are designed specifically to move lighter loads quickly and easily across the floor of your warehouse.

In addition, pallet jacks work well for:

  • loading and unloading trucks
  • order picking
  • production floor work

Pallet jacks come in a variety of sizes and two different styles:

  1. manual 
  2. electric

Manual pallet jacks use a hydraulic fluid cylinder and the user has to pump the handle to lift the load off of the floor. In contrast, an electric model runs on a rechargeable battery and lifts with the push of a button.

The major disadvantages of pallet jacks are that they are not designed to lift heavy loads, and they do not have the capability to lift loads high off of the warehouse floor and onto pallet racks. 


If your warehouse staff needs the ability to lift heavy loads up high, then a forklift is a must. While forklifts are much larger, heavier, and come with a higher price tag, their ability to lift a lot of weight, and their safety aspects typically make them a better selection for most medium- to large-sized warehouses.

Forklifts are manufactured in a variety of different styles for use in various different warehouse and industrial applications, including:

  • compact reach
  • reach trucks
  • turret trucks 
  • 4-way reach trucks

Compact reach forklifts are designed for use with drive-in pallet racking. Reach truck forklifts are used for getting inventory back into deep pallet racks. Turret truck forklifts work well in a warehouse with very narrow aisles while a 4-way reach forklift is designed for use with long load handling.


Purchasing a pallet jack or forklift is a big investment for your growing company, so it is important to choose the machine that will best meet your needs. If you have additional questions about material-handling equipment, you should speak with a representative at your local industrial machinery supplier.