Warehouse Aisle Dimensions for Forklifts

30 October 2019

Getting the aisle dimensions just right can help any warehouse manager optimize their use of storage space, lower the rate of workplace accidents, and boost the speed of operations. But there are a number of factors to consider before deciding on a specific width.

For one, different types of warehouse racks have different aisle space requirements, both in terms of total number of aisles and width per aisle. In addition, some warehouse vehicles also come with unique specifications. You might wonder, for example, what is the minimum aisle width for a reach truck? How much additional space must you dedicate to aisles if you decide to invest in an industrial forklift? Is it worth switching to a side loader forklift considering its bulky size?

Below, we’ve comprised a list of the most common types of warehouse vehicles and their aisle space requirements to help you find answers to the questions above and more.

Aisle Size for Industrial and Warehouse Forklifts

The typical warehouse forklift is easily recognizable due to its “golf-cart” cabin and twin forks extending at the front. These vehicles are usually designed to lift and carry up to 5 tons of weight, but some models can go as far as 25 tons. The average aisle size recommended for such a forklift ranges between 3m and 3.4m.

An industrial forklift, on the other hand, is considerably larger and can carry much heavier loads. To get an exact estimate of how wide an aisle is required by either a warehouse or industrial forklift, add the head length of the truck, the maximum length of the load, 0.3m for maneuvers, and 0.15m for pallet overhang. The total is your ideal aisle width.

Aisle Size for Side Loader Forklifts

Side loader forklifts are ideal in two situations. First, they are a great way to reduce aisle space if this becomes necessary in order to increase warehouse space utilization. Second, they are ideal for lifting and carrying long, bulky, or otherwise awkwardly shaped materials – such as timber or pipes.

Depending on the way you intend to use a side loader forklift, optimal aisle measurements can vary greatly. While a side loader carrying an average-sized pallet requires no more than 3m in terms of aisle space, the requirements can increase drastically when employees must handle very long items.

Aisle Dimensions for Counterbalanced Forklifts

Counterbalanced vehicles are very similar to typical warehouse forklifts, but feature an additional weight at the back of the cabin in order to balance very heavy weights.

Aisle dimensions for such forklifts can range from 3.5m to 4.5m, depending on both the size of the truck and that of the maximum load.

Aisle Dimensions for Manual and Electric Pallet Jacks

One of the most basic forklifts out there, pallet jacks (or pallet pumps) are operated manually in order to maneuver items in very tight corridors. Although they do not require much space to be operated, they are also very specialized in nature and cannot be used to lift or carry weights over 2 tons. Some models, which are electric, rather than manual, can be used to deposit and retrieve weights of up to 5 tons.

The average aisle width for both manual and electric pallet jacks is between 2m and 2.5m, depending on the size of the vehicle and that of the maximum load.

Aisle Size for Reach Trucks

Like counterbalanced forklifts, reach trucks have a lot in common with typical warehouse forklifts. Unlike conventional vehicles, however, reach trucks have the ability to extend upwards beyond a single compartment in order to reach higher pallets.

Aisle width for reach trucks usually ranges between 3m and 3.4m, but maximum load dimensions must also be factored in for an accurate measurement.

Aisle Dimensions for Turret Trucks

Turret trucks are specifically designed to operate in very narrow aisles, which means that they require reduced aisle space. Not only are these vehicles smaller, but their forks can be rotated at an angle of 180º to allow additional maneuverability in tight corridors.

Ideal aisle width for turret trucks can range from 1.8m to 2.2m, but additional factors must be taken into account for optimal dimensions. An aisle at the narrow end of this range is more suitable for warehouses that emphasize storage density, while a wider aisle is more appropriate for warehouses where order picking is frequent.