Very Narrow Aisle Forklifts

Very Narrow Aisle Forklifts

Very narrow aisle (VNA) forklifts make it possible to optimize every inch of floor space in a warehouse. At the heart of the VNA forklift’s capabilities is its ability to operate precisely in confined spaces. Unlike traditional forklifts that require wide aisles for maneuvering, VNA forklifts can operate in aisles as narrow as 5.5 feet. This means that a significant portion of warehouse space that would remain underutilized can now be optimized for storage or other needs.

Beyond their capacity to save space, VNA forklifts are versatile workhorses capable of handling various materials in diverse warehouse settings. In this comprehensive guide, we investigate these purpose-built machines that have redefined the way warehouses operate, covering their capabilities, applications, and the advantages they bring to modern warehousing.

What Is a Narrow Aisle Forklift?

A narrow aisle forklift is a specialized material handling machine engineered to navigate through tight spaces within a warehouse. A considerable portion of the available space remains underutilized in traditional warehousing setups, where standard forklifts necessitate significantly wider aisles. This inefficiency translates into increased operational costs and reduced storage capacity. Introducing VNA forklifts in this environment has revolutionized warehouse design and management. 

With their compact form factor and exceptional maneuverability, these specialized forklifts can operate within aisles as narrow as 5.5 feet, unlocking valuable floor space that would otherwise remain dormant.

Exceptional Maneuverability

VNA forklifts set themselves apart from their conventional counterparts by offering exceptional agility. These machines are typically equipped with advanced steering systems and fork designs, allowing them to access stored items without having to be perpendicular to the rack. This capability eliminates the need for wide turning arcs and therefore minimizes the aisle width requirement.

Versatile Applications

VNA forklifts are versatile workhorses that can retrieve and stack pallets to perform order picking. Some manufacturers even produce purpose-built models for specialized tasks like cold storage retrieval — these forklifts have proved their worth in diverse warehouse settings.

What Is Considered a Narrow Aisle?

When we speak of “narrow aisles” in warehousing and logistics, we refer to the narrow pathways between warehouse racks where goods are stored and transported. The typical warehouse aisle is 12 to 13 feet in width, while narrow aisles may measure 8 to 10. A very narrow aisle may be 6 feet or less in width, requiring material handling machinery with a very thoughtful design.

Width of Very Narrow Aisle Forklifts

What Is the Width of a Very Narrow Aisle Forklift?

As a general guideline, the width of a VNA forklift typically falls within the range of 4 to 5 feet. These dimensions allow VNA forklifts to navigate and operate efficiently within aisles as narrow as 5.5 feet.

The width of each model will vary, so it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s specifications for the precise dimensions of a particular VNA forklift. 

What Aisle Width Is Required for a Very Narrow Aisle Forklift?

Warehouse managers must carefully consider aisle width when designing or reconfiguring their warehouse layouts. The choice of aisle width is influenced by several factors, including:

  • Inventory density: The narrower the aisles, the more floor space is available for storing goods vertically. This can significantly increase the overall storage capacity of a warehouse.
  • Equipment compatibility: A factor in determining aisle width is the type of material handling equipment used. Conventional forklifts require wider aisles for maneuvering, while VNA forklifts operate efficiently in tight spaces.
  • Storage racking: The design and height of storage racks also impact aisle width. Higher racks can use narrower aisles but may require specialized equipment like turret trucks or order pickers to access upper levels.
  • Operational flow: Aisle width affects the flow of goods and personnel within the warehouse. Narrow aisles may require stricter traffic management to ensure safe operations.
  • Product capability: The types of stored and handled products can influence aisle width requirements. Irregularly shaped or oversized items may necessitate wider aisles for safe handling.

Common Uses for Narrow Aisle Forklifts

VNA forklifts’ unique design and capabilities make them suitable for tasks beyond standard forklift duties. The following are some common uses of the side loader style of this equipment:

  • Pallet handling and stacking: The VNA forklift is exceptional at moving palletized goods to and from tall racks in tight aisles. Their maneuverability ensures precise placement in high-density storage areas, maximizing space efficiency in densely packed warehouses.
  • Order picking: Operators can quickly access products on high-density storage racks, increasing picking efficiency and reducing errors.
  • Cold storage retrieval: Properly outfitted VNA forklifts can handle extreme temperatures, making them ideal for retrieving items from refrigerated or frozen storage.

Specialized Side Loader Forklift Jobs

One distinctive use of VNA forklifts, particularly side loader models, is handling long or oversized loads. These forklifts can efficiently transport materials like lumber, pipes, or sheet metal through narrow aisles. Their side-loading capability ensures secure handling of lengthy items as well as irregularly shaped objects.

Warehouses with specialized racking systems, such as cantilever racks or A-frames, benefit from side loader forklifts. These forklifts are equipped to handle the unique requirements of such storage configurations, ensuring efficient material handling.

Benefits of Using Very Narrow Aisle Forklifts

Adding VNA forklifts to your material handling fleet comes with numerous advantages:

  • Better vertical space utilization: By operating in narrow aisles and reaching greater heights, VNAs enable warehouses to store more goods in the same footprint. This increases storage capacity and reduces the need for costly warehouse expansions.
  • Improved accuracy: Inaccurate order picking can be a costly mistake in warehousing. VNA forklifts increase order accuracy by allowing operators to access goods directly from high-density racks. This minimizes the risk of selecting the wrong product and reduces costly errors.
  • Flexibility and versatility: VNA forklifts are versatile machines capable of jobs ranging from simple pallet transportation to complex order picking. This adaptability makes them valuable assets in warehouses with diverse needs.

Buy or Rent VNA Forklift

Buy or Rent a Narrow Aisle Forklift With Thompson Lift Truck

If you need material handling machinery for the long or short term, Thompson Lift Truck is ready to serve you. We provide new, used, and rental forklifts, plus lift truck selection assistance and comprehensive support to ensure your seamless rental experience. We can even help you automate your warehouse. Whether you’re looking for forklifts powered by LP gas, diesel, or batteries, we have various options to suit your specific operational requirements.

Thompson Lift Truck operates out of locations across the Southeast, giving you easy access to professionals who understand your business needs. We’ll be happy to discuss your material handling requirements and help you select the narrow or very narrow aisle forklift that serves you best. Request a quote on a model you’re considering or get in touch with your nearest Thompson Lift Truck location today to learn more.

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