A container forklift is specifically designed to load and unload large, heavy freight containers. They are utilized to shuttle freight off and on truck beds, trains and ships. Container forklifts are the largest and most sturdy kinds of forklifts manufactured. They need to be very maneuverable on terrain which is uneven and have enough torque and power to safely raise large containers. They usually have large pneumatic tires and heavy-duty diesel engines.
Like all types of forklifts, a container forklift uses forks to be able to lift the containers. Forks have to be positioned to ensure the load is secure during transport. Various container forklift models are only meant to raise the containers a few meters off the ground. Other container handlers utilize another technique for carrying containers to greater heights. A container handler uses a device affixed to the front of the vehicle to clamp down on either end of the container like jaws. The machine is counterbalanced with weights to be able to maintain stability.
Carrying and transporting containers is the main purpose of a container forklift. Regular forklifts do not have sufficient reach for working in ports. The forks are rated based on the most weight they can handle. The capabilities of the forklift must never be exceeded and should be posted prominently in the cockpit.