The Evolution
of the
Hand Pallet Truck

Evolution of the Hand Pallet Truck

Sometimes known as a pallet jack or a pallet lifter, the hand pallet truck is relatively compact in design, which makes it possible to roll the set of forks into to the open area of a pallet, lift it off the ground a few inches and move the pallet to a different location. The hand pallet truck is a simple hydraulic device that makes it possible to transport one or more pallets without the use of a forklift or other heavy equipment.


The history of the hand pallet truck is usually traced back to the first decades of the 20th century. In many manufacturing plants, the need to move raw materials and finished goods with greater efficiency was becoming increasingly more important when attempting to meet higher production levels. With the invention of the hand pallet truck, a single employee could lift and move an entire pallet loaded with goods. The loaded pallet could be transported with ease, requiring less time or resources to move than carrying the materials by hand or even with the use of a hand cart.

One of the advantages of a hand pallet truck is that the device is relatively small and light. This makes it easy to use the truck in tight spaces where a forklift would never fit. The smaller size units also make it easier to ease through winding spaces that a forklift may or may not be able to negotiate. For this reason, it is not unusual for companies to own a few of these trucks and have them available for use in various departments such as plant floors, shipping areas, and warehouses where finished goods are stored.

Hand Pallet trucks can be found being used in most companies today. They are  used for loading and unloading trucks,  as well as transferring pallets and materials within their building.  Some higher quality pallet trucks such as the BT Lifter are light enough for two people to lift the unit into the back of a truck to move loaded pallets to the rear for unloading by a forklift at ground level.

Liftrite - Hand Pallet Truck

Liftrite is a leading manufacturer and distributors for hand pallet trucks.  They manufacture the Lift-rite Titan units as well as the Altra economy units.  They also distribute the BT Lifter, the premium quality pallet truck manufactured in Sweden for 50 years.  Liftway Limited has been a proud distributor for Liftrite for over 25 years, since they first opened.  They continue to offer quality products providing their customers with both standard and custom sizes and designs.  

Liftway Limited stocks many pallet truck models as well as carrying a large inventory of replacement hand pallet truck parts – even for models over 20 years old.

Although most hand pallet trucks sold have a standard size of 27” wide and 48” fork length, they can be purchased in many sizes and capacities.  Depending on the usage, the customer can purchase various quality levels to suit their requirements and budget.  Pallet Trucks are also available in galvanized or stainless steel material for various food and cold storage operations.  

Standard models come with two load wheels (one on either side) with a maximum capacity of 5,500 lb. but many models are also available with tandem wheels to provide a smoother ride and make it easier to enter and exit most pallets.  Where the standard pallet truck lowered height is approximately 3”, low profile models are available to provide a lowered height clearance as low as 1.75 inches.  

For companies that require the weighing of skids when shipping, special weight scale pallet trucks are available.

One key factor when shopping for a hand pallet truck is the availability and cost of parts when repairs are required.  Many brands  currently available are quite inexpensive but the parts may not be readily available or be so costly that the truck is not worth repairing.  

The basic hand pallet truck is just a mechanical hydraulic pump device.  For anyone with a larger budget and wanting a motorized solution – power lift and electric drive units are available in many different models and sizes.

If you wish to purchase a new hand pallet truck, parts for your current hand pallet truck or repair your old unit please call us .   

1-519-759-5590 – Toll free 1-800-LIFTWAY. (1-800-543-8929)


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Altra Hand Pallet Truck Titan Series Pallet Trucks
BT Lifter Big Joe Power Pallet truck
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