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Posted by Stephanie on January 28, 2016

Order pickers have revolutionized the way warehouses and distribution centers operate, offering efficient and safe solutions for retrieving stock. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the world of order pickers, exploring their types, applications, safety measures, maintenance, and more.

Used Raymond Forklift

Definition and Operation of Order Pickers

Order pickers, also known as forklifts, are electric-powered machines designed to replace traditional ladders and manual lifting in warehouses. Falling under Class II: Electric Motor Narrow Aisle Trucks, these vehicles are engineered for efficient retrieval of stock items, contributing to streamlined order fulfillment processes.

At the heart of an order picker’s functionality is the operator platform. This platform enables an individual to control the movement of the machine while standing on it. By using controls that include a deadman pedal, joystick for movement, steering wheel, and platform controls for raising and lowering, operators can navigate the order picker to access items stored at various heights, often reaching up to 20 feet or more.

Components and Controls

Order pickers are powered by batteries, which can be 24V, 36V, or 48V, providing the necessary energy for electric motors, hydraulic pumps, and control boards. The configuration often includes a centered drive wheel for movement, non-powered casters for balance, and a control panel housing a joystick for precise movement and lifting operations. Additional features, such as pallet claws for load securing, enhance the versatility of these machines.

Guidance Systems for Efficient Navigation

Order pickers employ various guidance systems to ensure accurate and efficient navigation within warehouse environments:

  1. Operator-Controlled Guidance: Suitable for smaller warehouses, this manual steering method relies on operator-controlled controls.
  2. Roller Guidance: Larger warehouses benefit from automated roller guidance, utilizing sensors and rollers on the frame for precise movement.
  3. RFID or Wire Guidance: Advanced automation is achieved through RFID or wire guidance, utilizing radio frequency identification (RFID) and embedded wires in the warehouse floor for seamless navigation.
Pallet Racking with Column Guards

Benefits of Order Pickers

The adoption of order pickers offers numerous advantages over manual methods:

  1. Efficiency: Order pickers accelerate order fulfillment by replacing time-consuming ladder-based operations.
  2. Ergonomics: Operators experience reduced physical strain, enabling longer and more productive work hours.
  3. Reach: Access to items stored at different heights eliminates the need for ladders, enhancing efficiency.
  4. Safety: The risk of injuries and falls from heights is significantly reduced, contributing to a safer working environment.
  5. Navigation: Order pickers’ maneuverability in narrow aisles maximizes storage space while ensuring swift movement.

Comparison with Other Equipment

In comparison to other equipment such as forklifts, reach trucks, cherry pickers, turret trucks, and automated guided vehicles (AGVs), order pickers offer unique benefits tailored to specific warehouse needs.

Types of Order Pickers and Use Cases

The article delves into various types of order pickers, including walkie order pickers, rider order pickers, stock pickers, vertical order pickers, and AGV order pickers. Each type serves distinct operational purposes, optimizing efficiency in different scenarios.

  1. Walkie Order Pickers: Ideal for limited space, these machines enable operators to navigate narrow aisles for efficient picking.
  2. Rider Order Pickers: Designed for larger warehouses, these offer greater comfort and efficiency during extended shifts.
  3. Stock Pickers: Combining elements of traditional forklifts, stock pickers come with elevated platforms for reaching higher shelves safely.
  4. Vertical Order Pickers: Engineered for tall storage racks, these reach heights of up to 40 feet, improving access to high-level storage.
  5. Automated Order Pickers (AGVs): AGVs automate the picking and transport of small items, ensuring continuous operation and efficiency.
  6. Furniture Order Pickers: Specialized for lifting large or bulky items, furniture order pickers accommodate specific lifting capacities and elevated heights.

Safety Measures and Daily Inspections

Given their unique design, order picker safety is paramount. The article highlights crucial safety tips, including the use of safety harnesses, avoiding elevated travel, prioritizing pedestrian safety, and understanding weight limits. It emphasizes the importance of daily inspections, detailing both visual and operational checks that operators need to conduct.

Maintenance and FAQs

To ensure smooth and reliable operation, order pickers require regular maintenance. The article outlines key maintenance tasks, including chain inspection, hydraulic hose checks, brake examination, and more.

The article concludes by addressing frequently asked questions, clarifying the purpose of order pickers, their distinction from forklifts, license requirements, operational troubleshooting, and other pertinent queries.

In essence, order pickers have reshaped the warehousing landscape, enhancing operational efficiency, safety, and accuracy. As technology continues to advance, these machines remain at the forefront of modern warehousing practices, enabling businesses to meet the demands of today’s dynamic supply chain landscape.


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With over 32 years of experience in material handling, QMH is committed to providing end-to-end solutions for companies with distribution, logistic and warehousing needs. From permit approval management to full-service execution from the ground up, QMH delivers unique solutions providing distinct value in record time.