Advantages, Disadvantages of an Electric Forklift

(Courtesy: Les Chatfield)

(Courtesy: Les Chatfield)

If you are assigned to replace your company’s warehouse forklifts, then you probably are aware that there are a variety of them including liquid propane, diesel, and electric. Of course, each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Since the forklifts will be used inside, many might prefer the electric to the diesel or propane versions. The reason is obvious. There are no tailpipe emissions on the electric models. Other obvious benefits include:

Less noise. The soft and melodic hum of an electric motor can be less jarring than the sound of a fossil fuel energized motor.

No need to store fuel. The cost of storing propane or diesel fuel can be costly and it could also lead to safety issues.

No cost for fuel. There are some estimates that propane can cost as much as $26,000 during the course of 5 years if you run a 5,000 pound capacity lift six hours a day, five days a week.

Less cost in maintenance. While a propane or diesel forklift includes an engine, transmission and a radiator, an electric forklift only includes a motor that relies on less moving parts.

A low center of gravity. As a result, electric forklifts are more stable when performing high hefty lifting.

A better turning radius. This permits the lift to carry more weight and can actually help limit damage to the vehicle and, thus, increased productivity.

A clearer rear view. There is no propane storage cylinder blocking a driver’s view of the back of the lift.

Longer life of the components. There is less need to replace parts on an electric forklift compared to propane.

More productivity for the driver. There are fewer movements of legs, arms, and feet necessary to drive the lift.

Less waste liquids to remove. Since the electric forklift has no engine, radiator, or transmission, there are no fluid changes necessary.

Less brake wear. An electric forklift stops automatically and electrically when the driver removes his feet from the pedal.

Of course, just as there are advantages to the electric forklift, there are also disadvantages. For example:

Maintenance of the battery could be a problem. The operator will have to stop work periodically to clean the battery terminals, add water, and perform charging operations when necessary.

Forgetting to charge the battery can lead to productivity issues. The usual procedure is to charge the battery overnight, but if it is not done, then the forklift can’t be used the next day.

Adequate ventilation is necessary when charging the battery. The area used to store the lifts may not have adequate ventilation when the batteries are charged and this can cause safety issues.

Weather issues can challenge the reliability of the battery. Cold temperatures and wet weather have been known to adversely affect a battery’s operation.

The cost of an electric forklift. The price of an electric forklift is greater than that of a propane or diesel model.

Spare batteries have to be kept on hand. If the battery operating a lift is dead, then an attempt to charge it won’t fix it.

A warehouse’s electrical system may be inadequate. Battery chargers have voltage and amperage requirements that the electrical system may not be able to achieve.

Such an advantage, disadvantage analysis should also be performed on the other varieties of forklifts. The result of the analysis along with aspects about the physical factors of the warehouse should be considered before selecting the forklift that is right for you.

 

(Next: Advantages and disadvantages of a diesel forklift.)

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