A container forklift is specifically designed to unload and load large, heavy freight containers. They are utilized to transport freight on and off trains, ships and truck beds. Container forklifts are the biggest and most durable types of forklifts made. They have to be very maneuverable on uneven terrain and have enough power and torque to raise bulky containers safely. They typically have heavy-duty diesel engines and big pneumatic tires.
A container forklift, like all types of forklift, uses forks to raise the containers. Forks need to be positioned to ensure the load is secure during transport. Various types of container forklifts are just designed to raise the containers several meters off the ground. Other container handlers use a different technique for carrying containers to greater heights. A container handler uses an apparatus attached to the front of the vehicle to clamp down on either end of the container like jaws. The machinery is counterbalanced with weights to be able to maintain stability.
The main purpose of a container forklift is to raise and transfer containers. Regular forklifts do not have enough reach for working in ports. The forks are rated based on the maximum weight they could handle. The forklift's capabilities should never be exceeded and must be posted prominently in the cockpit.