A manual pallet jack, also known as a hand pallet truck or hand truck, is a simple yet effective tool used to move pallets of goods in a warehouse, factory, or retail environment. It consists of a set of forks that can be slid under a pallet, a hydraulic lifting mechanism, and a handle for steering and maneuvering the jack.
Using a manual pallet jack is relatively straightforward. The operator slides the forks under the pallet and then pumps the handle up and down to raise the pallet off the ground. Once the pallet is lifted, the operator can steer the pallet jack to the desired location and lower the pallet by releasing the hydraulic valve.
Manual pallet jacks are ideal for moving small loads over short distances. They are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and require no external power source, making them a cost-effective solution for many businesses. However, they do have their limitations. Manual pallet jacks are not suitable for heavy loads or long distances and require a certain amount of physical effort from the operator.
When using a manual pallet jack, it's important to ensure that the load is evenly distributed across the forks and that the pallet jack is rated for the weight of the load. The operator should also be trained in how to use the pallet jack safely and effectively.
The manual pallet jack is steered by a 'tiller'-like lever that also acts as the pump handle for raising the jack. A small handle on the tiller releases the hydraulic fluid, causing the forks to lower. The front wheels inside the end of the forks are mounted on levers attached to linkages that go to levers attached to the jack cylinder. As the hydraulic jack at the 'tiller' end is raised, the links force the wheels down, raising the forks vertically above the front wheels, raising the load upward until it clears the floor. The pallet is only lifted enough to clear the floor for subsequent travel. Oftentimes, manual pallet jacks are used to move and organize pallets inside a trailer, especially when there is no forklift truck access or availability.