A container forklift is particularly used to unload and load big, heavy freight containers. They are used to shuttle freight off and on truck beds, trains and ships. Container forklifts are the most durable and largest types of forklifts made. They have to be very maneuverable on terrain that is uneven and have sufficient torque and power to lift bulky containers safely. They normally have big pneumatic tires and heavy-duty diesel engines.
Like all kinds of forklifts, a container forklift uses forks in order to lift the containers. Forks have to be positioned to ensure the load is secure during transport. Several kinds of container forklifts are only meant to lift the containers several meters off the ground. Other container handlers use a different method for lifting containers to greater heights. A container handler makes use of a device attached to the front of the vehicle to clamp down on either end of the container like jaws. The machine is counterbalanced with weights to maintain stability.
The main purpose of a container forklift is to raise and transfer containers. Regular forklifts do not have sufficient reach for working in ports. The forks are rated according to the most weight they could handle. The forklift's capabilities should be posted prominently in the cockpit and should never be exceeded.