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About Pallet Jacks


Forklift Rental Guide E-Book


Manual and Electric Pallet Trucks

Pallet jack

Pallet jacks are a necessity for moving small loads across warehouses.

A pallet jack, also called a powered pallet jack, a single pallet jack, a double pallet jack, an electric pallet truck, a walkie stacker, or a power jack, is a tool that's used to lift and move pallets. It can transport small loads easily, and it's less expensive than a forklift. Workers who carry heavy, bulky pallets by hand are at risk for injuries, which can be harmful to workers and costly and inconvenient for employers. The risk of injury is lowered with the use of a pallet jacket.

Each pallet jack has a set of forks or blades, a hydraulic lift, and wheels. The forks are about a foot apart. They are 7 inches wide, with fork lengths between 36 and 48 inches. Most pallet jacks can raise their loads about 7 inches. Buyers or renters can choose a manual or electric pallet jack. Pallet jacks are some of the most popular tools in many retail warehouses. If you're searching for a way to improve productivity in your business, pallet jacks may be your answer.

History of Pallet Jacks

The pallet evolved along with the pallet jack in several stages. At first, people positioned spacers between loads so the forks on pallet jacks could be placed and withdrawn easily. Then people put boards on top of stringers to make skids that resembled modern pallets.

Skids are the predecessors of pallets, and they've been used for thousands of years. The first skids worked as bases for the secure storage of irregularly shaped goods such as kegs. Wooden skids often had iron or steel components, and stringers or legs were attached to a top deck. Live skids had casters on the base for easier positioning, but dead skids did not.

Modern Pallets and Pallet Jacks

Modern pallets for transporting goods as well as storing them appeared in the late 1800s. They kept workers from needing to place boards on top of pallet jacks to carry smaller objects, and they improved weight distribution. They were also more durable than skids, so they reduced the risk of stringer collapse. In 1887, a manual low lift hand truck was invented that could elevate a skid a few inches. It used cranks and levers to lift pallets or skids. A more durable, all-steel design

was introduced in 1909. These early lift trucks resembled forklifts, but they had lift platforms instead of forks.

High lift fork trucks were developed in the last half of the 1910s, and manual pallet jacks have existed since at least 1918. Modern pallet jacks have been around since 1926. These advances enabled workers to stack pallets for more efficient storage. Warehouse employees often called lift trucks or pallet jacks tiering trucks because they were used to stack or tier units or loads of products.

Patents Related to Pallet Jacks

On Nov. 7, 1939, more than 75 years ago, George G. Raymond Sr. and employee William House received patents 2,176,646 and 2,176,647. The patents were titled “pallet” and “life truck.” Raymond was the owner and president of Lyon Iron Works, which became Raymond Handling Concepts Corporation in Fremont, California.

Pallets and pallet trucks had already been widely used for several years, but no one had patented them before Raymond. The patent was for two-faced pallets that could be lifted easily from two sides. They were used with power forked tiering trucks, also called pallet jacks, that could transport loads and stack them. They worked similarly to forklifts.

These pallet jacks had levers for steering the jack. The levers also worked as pump handles for raising the jack. Workers could lower the forks with mechanical linkages or by releasing the hydraulic fluid with a small handle on the lever on later models.

Raymond Handling Concepts Corporation sells its hand trucks all over the world, and the company employs more than 1,500 people. Toyota Industries bought the company in 2000.

Common Pallet Jack Options

As a worker raises the jack, linkages force the wheels down, lifting the forks above them for easy movement. When the jack is lowered, the front wheels sit inside the forks. That way, you can use it to bring delicate objects as close to the floor as possible before unloading them.

Fork lengths usually match standard pallet sizes, and jacks that can handle rough terrain and wide loads are available. Some pallet jacks are fitted with a scale to monitor the weight of loads and avoid overloading. Many newer pallet jacks have a control panel that enables people to adjust the distance between the two forks. That way, they can lift pallets of several different shapes and sizes. A sturdy base supports the two blades, and the wheels are small and flexible for maximum maneuverability. The rear wheels on some models can swivel along with the front wheels to make it easier to turn corners and move in tight spaces.

Popular Manufacturers and Models

Mighty Lift
Mighty Lift 20 x 36 Inch Fork Pallet Truck

Mighty Lift 20 x 36 Inch Fork Pallet Truck

The Mighty Lift 20 x 36 Inch Fork Pallet Truck is similar to many manual pallet trucks on the market. It can carry 5,500 lbs, and it has a minimum height of 2.9 inches and a maximum height of 7.48 inches. The forks are 6.3 inches apart, so this pallet truck is narrower than many other models. It also has a turning radius of just 2.10 inches so it can fit between narrow aisles.

It's powder coat finish with iron or stainless steel for extra reinforcement, and it makes lifting and lowering objects fast and smooth. This unit weighs just 132 lbs. The Mighty Lift company opened in 1997, and it offers a variety of pallet jacks and pallet jack parts.

WESCO Pallet Truck

WESCO Pallet Truck

The WESCO Pallet Truck has an integrated LCD scale that can be operated with six D batteries or with AC power. It's made from durable steel, and the wheels are polyurethane. That means they won't become flat if they're punctured, and they're resistant to impact and premature wear. This pallet jack weighs 307 lbs, and it can move up to 5,000 lbs. It also has a three-position hand control and a 205-degree turning radius. WESCO opened in 1922 as Westinghouse Electric Supply Company, a distributor of electrical materials. Today, it's one of the largest supply chain management companies in the United States.

Vestil Fully Powered Electric Pallet Truck

Vestil Fully Powered Electric Pallet Truck

The Vestil Fully Powered Electric Pallet Truck can move 3,300 lbs, and you can raise and lower the forks just by pressing a button. There's also a safety reverse button, a throttle that's easy to use, and a horn to warn workers to move out of the pallet jack's way. It uses 24-volt batteries, it comes with a battery charger, and it can run for eight hours on one charge. If workers don't use it often, the charge will last for up to 20 days. Like the WESCO Pallet Truck, it has a 205-degree turning radius. It weighs 671 lbs.

The Vestil Manufacturing Corporation is an industry leader in the distribution of industrial material handling equipment, with over 1,000 different product lines. It was founded in 1958, and today it offers some of the latest pallet jack technology.

Roughneck Mini Pallet Truck

Roughneck Mini Pallet Truck

The Roughneck Mini Pallet Truck is narrow with small forks. It can lift up to 1,100 lbs, and it's perfect for moving safes, seed, or bags of soil. You can use it in garages and stores as well as in warehouses. However, you'll have to assemble it yourself if you buy this model instead of choosing to rent. Olympia Tools, a British company founded almost 20 years ago, owns the Roughneck brand. It makes a wide range of work tools and clothing, and many items are made in the United States.

Pallet Jacks vs. Forklifts

Pallet jacks and forklifts and are both used for loading goods onto shelves, lifting them, and moving them around warehouses, stores, manufacturing plants, and construction sites. They let workers transport heavy materials, supplies, and products they wouldn't be able to lift by hand. They're some of the most critical pieces of equipment in the material handling industry.

Forklifts are longer and wider than pallet jacks, they can lift goods higher, and they can carry bigger loads. They usually have a place for the driver to sit while operating the machine. Some powered or electric pallet jacks have platforms on the back where people can stand, but workers will need to walk behind most pallet jacks to operate them safely.

When to Use Pallet Jacks

Pallet trucks usually can't carry more than 3,500 kg or 7,700 lbs. They're either hand-pumped or powered. Powered pallet jacks are easier to use, but they're more expensive, and they take up more space in crowded warehouses. Both types of pallet jacks can raise objects just above the ground for easy transport.

Many forklifts can raise products and place them on high shelves, racks, or trucks as well. Workers will need the same training to operate forklifts and pallet jacks. Business owners should tell employees to use both types of equipment indoors on concrete floors most of the time. However, some models have special wheels for rough terrain and tires that are resistant to punctures. Pallet jacks could run over stray nails or other sharp objects that are often lying around in a busy warehouse.

Operators of most pallet jacks use a throttle on the handle to move forward or in reverse. They swing the ergonomic handle to steer and use “plugging” to stop. Workers switch the throttle from forward to reverse or vice versa to slow down or stop. To apply the brake with this method, operators must let the handles on pallet trucks spring back to the upright position or hold them down to the lowest position.

Benefits of Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks

Pallet jacks are an affordable, easy to use alternative to other material handling equipment.

Pallet jacks are very affordable, and they don't require much maintenance. They're an excellent tool for everyday tasks, and workers don't need a lot of training to operate them. With their high maneuverability, pallet jacks speed up work and improve the efficiency of warehouses.

Safety Savings

If an employee of a business is injured while operating a pallet jack on the job, that business could have to deal with hefty legal expenses. Workers' compensation insurance is required in many states. Employers pay for this insurance to fund benefits for people who are injured at work. There's no license required to operate a pallet jack in the United States, but knowing how to use it safely is still essential.

Workers' compensation insurance rates will be lower for companies that use the proper safety precautions, and they'll be higher for businesses where employees get hurt often. Injuries can also cause long absences for essential employees. Administrators could have to pay to train a replacement to fill in for a staff member for a few months. Fortunately, using a pallet jack correctly is much safer than trying to move heavy items without any help.

Pallet Jack Safety

When people use a pallet jack, even if it's only for a few minutes, supervisors should be sure that they're properly trained and supervised to avoid injuries. Make sure workers wear the appropriate safety equipment, including steel-toed boots. Don't try to carry a load that's too heavy for the pallet jack. The pallet weight capacity of the pallet truck must be painted or stamped on the jack. Gloves and eye protection are needed when moving dangerous chemicals. If a hydraulic pallet jack is exposed to temperatures below freezing, add antifreeze to the hydraulic fluid.

Treat all wires as conductors and assume that electrical current is running through them. Using strict electrical safety protocols will prevent dangerous electrical shocks. Never let workers put their feet underneath a pallet jack, and use proper lifting techniques when loading or unloading it. Move the load slowly in case surroundings change. Avoid other workers with different types of equipment.

Push the load on a manual pallet jack instead of pulling it most of the time. Travel in reverse when going down a hill or incline. That way, operators won't need to risk having loads slip off the fronts of pallet jacks. Stay away from pinch points to avoid hand injuries.

Checking Equipment and Surroundings

Make a quick lift inspection to prevent mechanical troubles and make sure the pallet jack wheels and tires are in good condition. If operators notice any exposed wires, missing bolts, bent forks, or other problems, they shouldn't try to operate the pallet jack. Repair any is or use another pallet truck until the other unit is in good condition again.

Have pallet jacks inspected by a professional at least every six months. Before moving a load, the route should be free from hazards and uneven surfaces. Make sure all loads are balanced correctly so they won't tip over or fall off the pallet.

When carrying a large load that could obstruct views, ask a co-worker to act as a spotter. He or she can stand ahead of the driver and tell him or her where to go to avoid obstacles. Always store pallets in a dry place and discard any pallets with loose or rotting sections. Leakage from a current or previous load could weaken a pallet and cause it to collapse under a heavy load.

Pallet Jack Training

Even when businesses rent pallet jacks, they need to train their employees properly. Workers with questions should bring them to a supervisor. They should also remember to read the instruction manual. Operators should know the capacity of the pallet jack they're using and familiarize themselves with safety features. Be ready to stop suddenly, and stop completely before changing directions. Don't make sudden movements or carry passengers or loads that are too heavy for the pallet jack. Keep speed low, and don't try to push or pull any extra loads in front of or behind a pallet jack.

Operating a Pallet Jack

pallet jack

Pallet jacks are fairly easy to use, but care should still be taken when operating one.

When riding on the platform behind an electric pallet jack, hold the steering handle with one hand and use the other hand to grasp the safety railing. If a seat with a seatbelt is provided, make sure to use it. Some models may have a safety harness instead. Train all workers where pallet jacks are used to watch for people coming down narrow warehouse corridors with heavy loads. Operators should pay extra attention when backing up or going around corners.

When workers start using a familiar product in new conditions like rough terrain, they may need additional training. To keep a pallet jack from tipping over, don't try to move it diagonally on an incline. Every workplace has its own rules for operating pallet jacks safely. A license is not required, but inexperienced workers should not try to use manual or electric pallet jacks without close supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Do I Rent a Pallet Jack? – Visit BigRentz to rent a manual or electric pallet jack for as long as your business needs it. BigRentz has more than 8,000 locations in the United States, so it's easy to find the equipment your company needs near you. Delivery and pickup are available for an additional fee, and maintenance is free whenever you need it.
  • How Long Can I Rent a Pallet Jack? – You can rent for just a day or two, a few weeks, or several months.
  • What Makes Renting Better Than Buying? – Renting is much more flexible than buying equipment. If your business decides to get a new type of machinery or an updated model, you can just call the BigRentz and ask instead of purchasing an expensive new upgrade. In most cases, you can get the equipment you need in just a day or two. Renting won't impact your company's credit rating as much as a major equipment purchase.
  • What's the Cost of Renting Compared to Buying? – When you rent a pallet jack, your business won't have to store it while workers aren't using it. Your company also won't have to pay for maintenance, insurance, or storage. It won't lose money when your equipment depreciates.
  • What Is Local Delivery? – If your business is in BigRentz's local delivery range, only a flat delivery fee is required. However, an additional fee for extra mileage is needed if your job site is outside that range. The local delivery range varies depending on the location. It's usually from 25 to 50 miles.
  • Can I Pick Up or Drop Off the Equipment By Myself? – Unfortunately, business owners usually can't pick up or drop off heavy equipment by themselves for insurance reasons. Also, it would be difficult for most people to fit a pallet jack or another piece of equipment in a pickup truck. When administrators let someone else worry about transportation, they won't have to buy or rent a large commercial vehicle. They won't have to train someone to operate it either.
  • Do I Have to Call When I'm Done With the Equipment? – You only need to call if you need an extension on your rental. In that case, call BigRentz at least four hours before your rental expires.
  • How Long Is Each Rental Time? – One day is the same as one 8-hour shift over a 24-hour period. One week is the equivalent of five 8-hour shifts over 7 days. A month is 20 8-hour shifts over 28 days.
  • Is Fuel Included? – Equipment is delivered with a full fuel tank, and electric devices are fully charged. However, renters are responsible for recharging equipment or returning it with a full tank. Otherwise, they could have to pay a refueling fee.

In stores, manufacturing plants, and warehouses, pallet jacks let people move products, materials, and small pieces of equipment quickly and easily. Without them, many companies would have to pay for more employees. Even if you have never used a pallet jack, the technology benefits you by making your business more efficient. This lets many companies charge lower prices.

With the right pallet jack, you can move anything that will fit on a pallet, from safes to canned goods to clothing. Pallet jacks are also smaller, less expensive, and easier to operate than forklifts. Contact BigRentz at (888) 325-5172 for a manual or electric pallet jack or any other construction equipment you need, from forklifts to excavators to backhoes.


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