How to Calculate Forklift Aisle Width Minimums

by David Mills on October 10, 2019
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how to calculate aisle widths for forklifts
For many businesses in California, making the most of your space is the key to profitability. If you’ve ever wondered whether you could maximize space by minimizing aisle widths, there's a simple formula you can use to calculate how small your aisles  can get while still using your existing forklifts. 

Warehouse Aisle Dimensions for Forklifts

Below is a formula from Toyota you can use to make an informed decision.
NOTE:  always confirm your calculations with a reputable forklift dealer.
  1. Start with the basic right -angle stacking width
  2. Add the load length
  3. Add 12 inches for clearance

The basic right-angle stacking width is the smallest amount of space a forklift needs turn in order to insert its forks into a pallet. You can find basic right-angle stack measurements in the equipment manual or by contacting TMHNC  if your business is located in Northern California. This measurement does not include the length of the load or room need for clearance. 

Load lengths vary depending on your application, products, etc.  As a starting point, a standard pallet has a 48-inch load length. Always check your forklift’s data plate for the rated capacity (which is affected by attachments and other factors).

Adding 12 inches for clearance ensures you have enough room for your forklift’s turn radius and helps protect against damage from operator error and/or product that may hang over the edge of the pallet.

Example Warehouse Aisle Width Calculation

Toyota’s Core IC Cushion forklift is a popular choice for warehouse applications in the Bay Area, Fresno and Sacramento, so we’ll use that for our example. The 8fgcu25 has a basic right angle stack spec of 94.3 inches.

94.3 inches (basic right angle stack spec)
+ 48 inches (load length)
+ 12 inches (clearance)
= 154.3” (12.85 ft) Minimum Aisle Width

The example above is a simplified way to show how the calculation works. When you buy a forklift from TMHNC, we’ll do an on-site evaluation to ensure you’re getting the right equipment for your operation.

Narrow Aisle Forklifts and Warehouse Planning

Need more room but not sure if you’re ready to invest in a bigger space? Let us know how we can help.

We’ve worked with warehouses and distribution centers throughout Northern and Central California to convert their existing space to narrow aisles and even very narrow aisles. TMHNC provides single-source warehouse design solutions to fulfill your complete system needs. We’ll commit to a firm price, a firm completion date and guarantee our work.

Standard size counterbalance forklifts don’t have a tight enough turn radius to avoid hitting the racking in narrow aisles or very narrow aisles. So narrow aisle forklifts, order pickers and/or reach trucks are needed to get the job done.
  • A typical aisle is at least 10.5 feet wide
  • Narrow aisles range from 8.5 to 10.5 feet wide
  • Very narrow aisles may be only 5 - 7 feet

Narrow Aisle Warehouse Equipment Bay Area Sacramento Salinas Fresno

Check out our guide to narrow aisle warehouse equipment, or view our inventory of used order pickers and used reach trucks. Please contact us if you don’t see what you’re looking for.

San Francisco Bay Area - (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091

Further Reading
Toyota 3-Wheel Electric Forklift Review
When to Buy a 3-Wheel Forklift Vs. Stand-Up Rider Forklift 
Warehouse Racking Permits in California - Know Before You Buy 

Questions smart forklift buyers ask.

Topics: Electric Pallet Jacks/Stackers, Electric Reach Trucks, Pallet Racking, Warehouse, Forklift

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