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What is a sideloader?

Filed under: Materials Handling

We hope you all had a great Easter weekend, and many of you are probably still enjoying a little extended break. Make sure you stay safe, whatever you may be up to.

In our latest issue of Uptime Magazine we sent out a reader survey, asking you, our readers, what you thought of our magazine. We wanted to hear about what you loved and how you thought we could do better. We received lots of great feedback so thank you to all those who filled out the survey, and we welcome any more feedback you may have.

One of our readers asked us if we could write an article on sideloaders and how they are used in industries such as the timber industry, so here it is.

First of all, what is a sideloader?

A Combilift Sideloader

A sideloader does exactly what its title suggests. It loads and unloads from the side of the machine. Instead of the forks being located in front of the equipment like on a standard forklift, a sideloader’s forks are located on its side.

Here is a video of a Combilift Sideloader in action:


Now you may be asking, what benefits does a sideloader have over a standard forklift?

  • Sideloaders don’t need to turn like standard forklifts, so they can drive up alongside the rack or the truck and easily unload and load from the side
  • Sideloaders are designed to work in narrower aisles and doorways
  • Long loads such as timber, steel or pipes are more easily handled because the load is facing in the direction being travelled, reducing the overall width of the equipment and load
  • A flat bed allows the load to be stabilised, ensuring safer movement
  • Since the load is carried on the side, the operator has clear visibility in front and behind
  • New sideloaders have been developed as multidirectional machines, so they can move in all 4 directions by changing the direction of the wheels

A few things to be aware of with sideloaders

  • Sideloaders are not as manoeuvrable as standard forklifts (although multidirectional sideloaders offer advances in this area)
  • Sideloaders are a specialised machine. While they are great for long or awkward loads, think about what else you are trying to move and whether you need your machine to handle different types of loads, or whether a combination of different equipment would work best

Another alternative to a sideloader is a multidirectional forklift, such as the range from Combilift, which offer the benefits of a sideloader and standard forklift.

We hope this post has helped you in understanding a bit more about sideloaders and how they are used when handling long or awkward loads in narrow aisles and spaces. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. We would also love to hear how you are using your sideloader.

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