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Diesel and gas have been the de facto choice for most forklift operators for many decades. Both types of truck have long proved their versatility and can be found operating in construction sites, warehouses and factories up and down the country. Up until now, the electric forklift has only played a supporting role.
But that could be about to change. Improved lithium-ion batteries can now hold a charge for much longer, allowing operators to complete an entire day’s work before recharging is required. This eliminates one of the biggest disadvantages electric forklifts had over their diesel and gas-powered cousins, making them more appealing for many operators.
So is now the time to embrace electric forklift trucks in your operation? In this blog, we are going to take a closer look at electric forklift technology and the benefits it brings compared to both gas and diesel powered machines. This should help you decide if electric forklifts are the right choice for your operation.
When investing in new equipment for your business, it is a good idea to consider the environmental impact of your investment first. When it comes to forklifts, electricity generates less Co2 emissions than any other type of power unit. So you may think it’s a no-brainer to go down the battery powered forklift route.
But when choosing a forklift there are many other factors to consider which are equally important. There is little point choosing an electric forklift for its environmental credentials only to find it is wholly unsuitable for the job at hand or will spend most of the working day tied to its charging station.
That’s why you should take the time to understand the benefits and limitations of electric forklift technology as it currently stands. This will help you make the right choice for your operation now.
First, let’s look at the benefits of electric forklifts as they currently stand:
Easy to maintain – This is one of the biggest benefits of running a fleet of electric forklifts. Service and maintenance costs are considerably lower than either gas or diesel powered trucks. This not only reduces operating costs but decreases the amount of downtime required to carry out maintenance tasks.
Cheaper to run – Battery powered machines don’t require diesel or gas to be purchased. Of course, you still have to pay for electricity, but the costs of this are less than half of what it would cost for the equivalent amount of LPG or diesel.
Compact and more manoeuvrable – Electric forklifts are typically much smaller and more manoeuvrable than either gas or diesel powered machines. Despite their size, however, an electric forklift can still lift up to 6000 kg. This makes them suitable for most smaller environments where space is restricted.
Quieter to operate – If your truck fleet spends most of its time indoors, your workers will appreciate the relative quietness of an electric forklift. In fact this, along with decreased emissions, is one of the biggest benefits of using an electric forklift, especially for warehouse or factory operations.
While there are many benefits to using electric forklifts, many operators still shy away from purchasing them due to outdated beliefs. However, electric forklift technology has advanced considerably over the past three or four years. To show you how, we will look at a few misconceptions which may have previously prevented you from investing in the technology.
Cannot be used outside – One of the biggest concerns operators have is the ability to operate electric forklifts in the rain. But manufacturers now build electric forklifts which can be safely operated outside. Most modern electric forklifts have an Ingress Protection IP rating which shows the operator what kind of environment they are suitable for. A forklift suitable for outdoor use will have a rating of IP54, which provides protection against dust and water ingress. Such a forklift is safe to operate outside even if it’s raining.
Take too long to charge – The second myth is that electric forklifts are often out of operation due to the amount of time required for charging. But with modern lithium-based batteries, modern electric forklifts can be fully charged within a few hours. Battery capacity is also improving. A midsize operation should be able to get a full day’s work from a single overnight charge. For larger operations, changeable battery packs are available which can be fitted in a few minutes, greatly reducing the amount of downtime.
The answer is almost certainly yes. The disadvantages of the technology are becoming less relevant, while the environmental benefits speak for themselves. Despite this, as the technology currently stands, they are still not suitable for every application. Operators should carefully consider their operating requirements before making a decision.
For more information about our range of electric forklift trucks for sale or hire, contact the lift experts at Solution MHE. As the leading supplier of forklift trucks in Bristol and the South West, we have the knowledge and experience to ensure your business gets the right lifting equipment for your operating requirements however big or small.