Manual Pallet Jacks vs. Powered Pallet Jacks

Manual Pallet Jacks vs. Powered Pallet Jacks

Palletized shipments are a way of life in almost all material handling, food handling, construction, hotel or retail industries. We rely on pallets daily to receive and send our merchandise. Although there are hand pallet trucks out there that make routine movement of light pallets easier, they require some user strength each time a pallet needs to be moved.


For more constant moving of heavy pallets your best bet is to use a fork lift if you have the space, or a manual or powered pallet jack. If you don't have access to a fork lift, pallet jacks are a must in order to move pallets from points A to points B, C, D, E, and F as is sometimes needed. Even when forklifts are available, a lot of times they are overkill for simple pallet relocation or restocking needs. They can be too big and bulky to maneuver through cramped warehouse aisles safely and efficiently. And often times forklifts get too tied up taking care of the heavy lifting jobs and unloading important truck shipments to take care of the day to day pallet rearranging. Pallet jacks are indispensable when it comes to maintaining a productive work flow environment, but which pallet jack do you need?

You have three options to choose from when it comes to pallet jack types; Hand Pallet Jacks, Powered Pallet Jacks, and Pallet Stacker Trucks.

When it comes to sheer capacity, hand pallet jacks are actually the strongest of the three, but they are completely hand operated. So if you want to move a pallet that is 5,500 lbs. which is a standard pallet jack's maximum capacity, besides having to pump the jack up yourself and pushing the pneumatic pump to its limits, you will also have to get the 2 ½  ton load into motion, and once in motion stop it safely, assuming that there is no debris or pallet splinters on the floor that can stop manual pallet jacks dead in their tracks when moving a shipment.

Although manual pallet jacks have an enormous capacity, a lot of physical exertion is still needed to pump, steer and push or pull them especially when heavily stacked. It is also quite difficult to handle tall shipments using a hand pallet jack because of the smoothness required when transporting such an order. So if you are constantly dealing with tall orders or really heavy shipments, you may want to consider a powered pallet jack.

Powered pallet jacks have electrical motors that lift the forks and propel the steering wheels according to the operators needs. They are bulkier than regular pallet jacks and cost a bit more but in some applications they can be a life, or in this case a back saver. If you have limited personnel and deal with constant loading and unloading of heavy, tall shipments of high priced goods and need to accomplish as much as possible in a small amount of time then powered pallet jacks just might be the answer. With capacities of up to 3,300 lbs. these powered pallet jacks are capable of handling large shipments with the ease and smoothness of electronic controls. Debris and wood chips aren't as much of a nuisance with powered pallet jacks either. The operator must learn to use the controls with care and still has to be capable of steering the powered jack in tight spaces without injuring anyone or damaging product but the safety features that come standard on most powered pallet jacks today make this easier.

If you are in need of a forklift but do not have the space or the capital to have one, you might consider a pallet stacker truck. These one man operated hand operated forklifts make it possible to move and stack pallets in smaller spaces. With maximum lift heights of up to 10 ft. and lift capacities of up to 3,300 lbs. pallet stacker trucks can take the place of a forklift and be the go to pallet lift for a warehouse or designated stocking area. You can easily lift pallets up to the desired rack height with the electronic controls and safely place your pallets exactly where they need to go.

Your best bet is to consider you work flow optimization needs along with what is viable at the time. You may just need to be able to relocate individual pallets when needed, or maybe things have picked up indefinitely and all your guys need is a little extra power and speed to get the job done, or maybe you need the ability to store your items up high and on well organized racks. Whatever your needs may be pallet jacks can give your crew the mobility they need to flow and keep going day in and day out.

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