What are my options if my warehouse aisles are very narrow?

One is often challenged by the width of the aisles in one’s warehouse facility. What is the correct materials handling equipment for my warehouse – there are so many options?

To make the comparison between different pieces of equipment fair let’s assume lifting capacity of between 1.5 and 1.8tons.

If your aisles are 3.2 meter apart then one could use a 3-wheel electric forklift which can then right-angle stack in a single move i.e. no forward and reversing needed to right angle stack on the racking. The benefit with his type of forklift is that can also be used to off load trucks and other general-purpose work – they are however restricted to lift heights of approximately 6 meters.

If your aisle are only 2.7 meter apart you would be forced to use a reach truck or similar. While it can work in narrower aisles it is not as versatile – it needs smooth warehouse surfaces and cannot be used outside or on ramps. On the upside they can be fitted with masts that reach up to 14 meters in some cases.

If one has even narrower aisles – say 1.7 meters you would be advised to consider an articulated forklift in the form of say an Aisle Master. These forklifts, which are generally battery powered, can reach heights of up to 10 meters and operate in very narrow aisles. They are however relatively expensive, and if one only has one you may be in trouble when it goes down as no other equipment will fit down the aisles.

There are other specialised pieces of material handling equipment like order pickers, VNA turret trucks and the like which do not require wide aisles but are single in purpose and less inexpensive.