Efficient use of highrack forklifts in logistics

Achieving more by using less space is more important than ever in the warehouse industry. As production and distribution centers are growing, companies are facing new challenges when it comes to their warehouse space. It is necessary to store the ever-increasing amounts of products in the same warehouse buildings. But how can this be done? These days, in order to accommodate all the products in a smaller space, companies increasingly make use of highrack warehouses and therefore highrack forklifts as a means of transportation.

Transport control system for SAP - narrow aisle truck

What is the purpose of a highrack forklift?

The highrack warehouse facilitates making maximum use of space because the aisles are designed to be as narrownas possible. Utilizing space in this way can save money. highrack warehouses are therefore a cost-effective alternative, especially when a warehouse is designed and implemented in this way from the ground up. Yet, a highrack warehouse also makes sense if an existing warehouse is to be renovated, for example, to increase its cost-effectiveness or if the existing storage capacity is insufficient. A traditional warehouse managed by forklifts has a width of about three meters, whereas about 1.70 meters is sufficient for a highrack warehouse. By minimizing the aisle width and maximizing the throughput, it is possible to increase the warehouse space by up to 25%, ensuring the best possible utilization of warehouse space. Last but not least, highrack warehouses can be built up to 18 meters high which translates into an increase of storage capacity by up to 50%.

highrack concepts offer maximum efficiency in terms of flow of goods, handling capacity and pallet density. With the ability to move and lift at the same time, highrack vehicles can store and remove pallets at a height of 10 m almost as quickly as on the ground. A substantial advantage compared to other types of vehicles.

What is a highrack forklift?

There are many situations in warehouses and factories that would prove difficult for reach trucks, pallet jacks, counterbalanced trucks, forklifts, rack forklifts and pickers in standard format. In this case, articulated forklifts can prove useful. Highrack forklifts allow pallet racks to be positioned in very highracks. This provides the benefit of increased capacity and efficiency and therefore a higher return on investment for the company.

A highrack forklift is a special type of forklift designed for use in a highrack warehouse. This is a warehouse with an aisle width of less than 2 meters, most commonly 1.7 meters. Highrack forklifts feature a compact design, are thin and extremely maneuverable. Due to the low center of gravity and a long lift mast, loads of up to 1.5 tons can be lifted up to ten meters in height. Although giving more warehouse space, these also place special demands on the forklift, most of them, for example, being operated as so-called “stand-up riders.” This configuration contributes to increased productivity and operator convenience.

Types of highrack forklifts

Man-up or man-down

Highrack forklifts are divided into high-lift and low-lift trucks. Man-up trucks (also called pickers), in which the position of the truck driver on the mast is also raised, are widespread. Above all, a clear view of the pallet makesstorage and removal easier for the driver, but requires the forklift driver not to have fear of heights.

Transport control system for SAP - forklift man-up - man-down

lift height

Modern highrack forklifts can store goods in heights of up to 15 meters, depending on the requirements of the highrack warehouse. In order to prevent a reduction of payload as far as possible, closed masts are used. This also reduces the risk for the mast to start shaking.


Due to the tilting fork of the highrack forklift, loads can be placed on all four sideswithout the vehicle itself needing to rotate. In this regard, highrack forklifts are divided into two-side or three-side forklifts according to their tilting capability.

Guidance systems

Transport guidance system for SAP - inductive guide rails

To keep drivers from having to concentrate too much on carefully maneuvering in the aisles with minimal distance to the racks, forklifts in highrack warehouses are usually guided. This is done either by simple guide rails, in which the truck is guided between metal rails, or by an inductive guide wire in the floor, in which the truck follows the magnetic field of the wire. A general rule of thumb is that it is advisable to install a guide wire for highrack forklift guidance for aisle lengths of more than 150 meters.


Electric motors with zero emissions are common in highrack forklifts in enclosed warehouses. This has the advantage that the energy that is released when slowing down and lowering the mast is fed back directly into the battery. Energy recovery makes these forklifts energy-efficient. Recharging is therefore required less frequently.

Smooth floor conditions – a preprequiste for a highrack forklift

Highrack warehouses require quality floors. Quality floors are essential for warehouses with highracks. If the floors are uneven or show signs of abrasion, these are immediately passed on to the highrack forklift truck in the form of vibrations. As a result, the floor must be absolutely smooth for maximum speed and efficiency. Floor repair, however, is complex and costly and also prevents the highrack warehouse from being fully utilized during this time. As an alternative, though, assistant systems are already available on the market that map these uneven floors and automatically compensate for them.

Advantages and disadvantages of a highrack forklift

Highrack vehicles offer maximum safety when it comes to load handling. With the operator of a guided vehicle always staying at the same height as the pallet during storage and removal, damage to the goods and rack is much less likely. This makes them ideal for the transportation of goods with high value for which any damage will result in high costs. Other advantages include the compact design, which allows the truck to be used in confined spaces, the long lift arm, which provides easy access to racks more than ten meters high, and the energy-efficient and emission-free engine, which is powered by electric motors.

The only disadvantage of a highrack forklift is the relatively low lift capacity caused by the small electric motor.

Control highrack forklifts with the transport guidance system by Flexus

Unlike with conventional forklift control systems, which primarily address processes in logistical subareas, the FLX-TGS can be used to control your highrack forklifts holistically and across all areas, and to optimize material flow paths. This leads to optimized dispatching, route planning and distribution of transport tasks of your highrack forklifts.