Tail Lifts, Forklifts and Pallet Trucks
Tuesday 12th October 2021 | View all Blogs

Lifting pallets is difficult at the best of times, but thankfully, having access to all the right tools and equipment makes a HUGE difference. 

The real question is, what options do you have and how do you make the right choice? 

Fear not! With our help and a gentle nudge in the right direction, you'll soon become an expert in handling pallets safely

What is a Tail Lift? 

Moving heavy goods is more manageable with a little help, and much to your delight, pallets of up to 750kg can be moved easily with a tail lift. 

But what exactly do tail lifts do? Well, tail lifts are mechanical devices installed to the rear-end of some delivery vehicles, simply for ease of loading and unloading heavy goods

Tail Lifts

Essentially, when you arrange to ship pallets of up to 750kg, you'll need to make sure your courier has a delivery vehicle fitted with a tail lift. Otherwise, they may struggle to get your pallets onto their trailer. 

Your pallets will be positioned on the tail lift using a pallet truck and lifted onto the trailer safely; the risk of damage is significantly reduced this way, too

What is a Forklift? 

While if your pallets are heavier than 1,000kg, you'll need a forklift to move and load them safely


Anything under 1,000kg but over 750kg would require a lift assist, which is installed to the back of the delivery vehicle, as a forklift is designed to handle much more weight! 

Should you need a forklift, some hauliers may be able to supply you with one for a small cost, but it's usually down to the collection or delivery point to source one of their own.

What is a Pallet Truck? 

Designed to help ease the movement of pallets from place A to place B, pallet trucks are available in all sorts of designs and colours; the most popular are manual and motorised. 

But, not all of them share the same weight-bearing capacities, i.e. manual pallet trucks can typically hold around 700kg. 

Manual Pallet Truck

While motorised pallet trucks can hold more than double that capacity, with a weight limit of around 2,300kg.

Motorised Pallet Truck

So, if you don't have your own pallet truck, it may be wise to ask the haulier what your options are before booking anything; this should help avoid any struggles on collection and delivery day. 

Choosing the Best Hand Pallet Truck

If your business moves a lot of goods, a pallet truck could be a sensible investment, but the warehouse equipment industry is highly saturated, and there are many available to purchase, some good, and some bad. 

We think it's a good idea to get an understanding of the type of pallet truck that is best for you. As mentioned above, these contraptions come in a wide range of sizes and colours, with some being manually operated and others being motorised. 

Here are some factors to consider when buying a pallet truck for your warehouse:

  • Fork size - believe it or not, different pallet trucks come with different-sized forks that can accompany different types of pallets. For example, UK CHEP pallets are usually wider and would need a different fork size than, say, EU pallets.
  • Fork options - along with size, forks also come in different types, or options. These include low profile, INOX (galvanised stainless steel), rough terrain and weigh scale forks
  • Powered vs manual pallet trucks - depending on the application, you may have to choose between powered or manual pallet trucks. Powered lifts utilise a motor to transport pallets while manual trucks use hydraulics. Typically, powered pallet trucks can handle heavier loads and, thus, are more expensive.
What Makes a Pallet Truck Last Longer?

When searching for a pallet truck, there are some key things to look out for that can indicate durability. Here's what you should look out for:

  • Robust Chassis
  • Powder Coated Framework
  • Brushed Pivot Points
  • Pressure Relief Valve (prevents pump overload)
  • Wheel Material (usually, poly/rubber wheels or nylon wheels are best)
Making the Right Choice

If you're not too familiar with tail lifts, forklifts and pallet trucks, then you probably don't know where to start with working out which one you need for your pallets, right

Fortunately, it's not as complicated as you think. 

Start by weighing each pallet and review the details above; look at the number on the scales and compare it to the weight-bearing capacity of each option. 

Making a Decision

For pallets at 750kg or less, the answer is a tail lift with a manual pallet truck. 

But for pallets between 750kg and 1,000kg, you would need to make sure there's a lift assist option and a motorised pallet truck at both ends. 

However, you would need a forklift on both ends of the delivery if your pallets are over 1,000kg; remember, you can use a motorised pallet truck for anything up to 2,300kg.

Are Tail Lifts, Forklifts and Pallet Trucks Expensive

Depending on the haulier, tail lifts and pallet trucks can be cost-effective, or even a free of charge service in some cases. 

Cost of Pallet Trucks and Forklifts

Whereas forklifts do typically involve some cost as you may need to hire or even purchase one before the arranged collection and delivery. 

Lastly, remember that if you need a forklift at the collection point, you'll also need one at the delivery point; without this, the courier won't be able to offload your pallets.

Questions & Answers

Tail lifts are mechanical devices that are attached to the rear of many trailers. They are operated electrically by the driver and aid in transporting your pallets from the floor to the trailer bed, and vice versa. Tail lifts can move pallets under 750kgs.

A forklift is a vehicle designed specifically for transporting pallets from one place to another. Forklifts are usually used if your pallets weigh over 1000kg. Some hauliers may be able to supply a forklift for an additional cost, but not all, so it's always worth ensuring the collection or delivery point has access to one if needed.

A pallet truck is a device that is manually operated. Just like a forklift, they can move pallets from one place to another by lifting them off the ground using a motor or hydraulics. Most pallet trucks can usually hold around 700kgs.

Depending on the haulier, tail lifts and pallet trucks might not be as expensive as you think. Some may even offer these as a free service. However, if you wish to hire a forklift, you may need to contact your courier and ask if they can provide this service (which likely won't be free), as some can't.