A forklift is usually the best way to unload palletised freight from a truck, but if you don’t have a forklift, what can you use?
Manual pallet jack
Cheap, durable, but a bit dangerous if you’re on a slope. A good manual pallet jack can lift 1000-2000kg. You simply slide the forks into the pallet, pump the handle and it lifts the pallet a few centimetres off the deck. Now walk carefully and steer the pallet. If it starts to run away from you, drop the forks.
Manual pallet jacks can be tiring to an operator and if they cause injuries, this can lead to broken sleep and fatigue.
Electric (powered pallet jack)
Like a manual pallet jack but with a motor. They’ll deal with minor gradients easily and they don’t fatigue the operator like a manual pallet jack can.
A larger electric pallet jack, often ride-on and often with the ability to lift to the height of a truck deck. As there’s very little counterbalance, these machines usually have limitations as to what they can lift to height, otherwise they tip forwards or sideways. You’ll need to do a walkie stacker course to learn how to use it.
Truck loader crane
Truck loader cranes can have fork attachments, or slings can be used. You’ll need to do a truck loader crane course to learn how to use it.
Time consuming, but if you can break the freight down and form a human chain, it can be done relatively quickly. The issues are injuries and fatigue.
If you have access to a front end loader with a forks attachment, these can unload a truck if there’s access from the side (e.g. with a curtainsider). You’ll need a wheels endorsement if you want to drive one on the road, plus some competency training.
A telehandler with a forks attachment is a versatile machine. You’ll need a wheels endorsement if you want to drive one on the road, plus the relevant unit standards.