Advantages, Disadvantages of a Diesel Forklift

Emissions is one concern of diesel forklifts. What else should be considered.

Emissions is one concern of diesel forklifts. What else should be considered? (Courtesy: Lynn Wong)

In two previous blogs I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of electric and propane forklifts. In this blog I will discuss the best and worse of diesel forklifts.

As is the case with the propane forklift, the diesel-powered variety may cause some concern for many because of the use of a fossil fuel. Of course, when you are considering a liquid gas as an energy source, then all the things associated with it, including CO2 emissions, may cause apprehension. Still, diesel is considered to be one of the cleanest gases you can use.

Advantages of forklifts powered by diesel include:

· Great for outdoor use. Diesel forklifts are not adversely affected by wet or damp weather.
· Less down time. If gas level is low, you simply fill the tank. No need to lose time charging a battery.
· Convenience. A diesel forklift can be parked anywhere.
· Better performance. Acceleration, forklift speed, driveline torque at low RPM, and other performance capabilities are superior and it can easily handle any hydraulic additions.
· More power. Diesel lifts are more powerful and cost less to operate.
· More loading capacity. Diesel forklifts are considered better in industrial applications or carrying heavier loads.
· More cost efficient. The cost of diesel is usually less than propane and diesel lifts feature a lower cost of ownership than propane.
· Better visibility. There is nothing blocking the operator’s rear view.
· Less maintenance issues. A diesel forklift requires less scheduled and repair maintenance and has longer engine life compared to propane models.

As you would expect, the disadvantages of diesel forklifts concern their use of a fossil fuel. Here are some disadvantages to consider.

· Noise and fume emissions. This could be an issue with some workers and can cause problems if the lifts are used primarily indoors. Emission limiting accessories can be added, but they can be quite costly.
· It’s large and cumbersome. The diesel models size and bulk may cause a problem in a cramped warehouse and requires more space if it is stored inside a warehouse.
· A bulky fuel tank. You may be required to pay extra for the tank that stores the diesel fuel.
· Higher fuel costs in the future. If you’re in the market for a fleet of forklifts, then you don’t want to get stuck with vehicles with ever-rising costs of ownership.
· More brake wear. Unlike electric forklifts, the driver of a diesel forklift is required to apply the brakes more often.
· Waste fluids to recycle. Unlike electric lifts, diesel lifts require engine, transmission, and coolant fluid changes.
· On-site fuel storage. This could result in liability and safety issues.
· Higher purchase price. The initial cost of buying and the capital costs of a diesel forklift are higher than a propane model.

Other things you want to consider when selecting a forklift is the size of the warehouse where it will be used, the lift height you require, and how much time will be spent operating the forklift outdoors or indoors.

Finally, you have the choice to either rent or buy the lifts so consider how you will use the machine then decide which option is best for you.

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