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Although there is an obvious trend toward environmental friendly equipment in the day-to-day use of machinery in business, it is apparent that such things as the internal combustion engine continue to be a mainstay.
For example, internal combustion engine (ICE) forklifts appear to be doing quite well despite a trend to develop more environmental friendly alternatives. China and the Asian Pacific markets are currently where ICE forklifts continue to do well. Reports are that Asia is the region where the majority of ICE forklifts are being used and where their value and volume is expected to increase as e-commerce and industrial manufacturing grows.
For example, in China ICE forklifts experienced an increase in sales of 10% in 2016 over the previous year.
Sales of ICE forklifts are even doing well in the United States. According to UniCarriers Americas, while electric forklift sales in the U.S. were up by 8.7%, Class V sales were up by 2.5%. A spokesman for UniCarriers Americas points out that they are still selling a greater share of ICE forklifts.
American manufacturer Hoist noted that until recently, almost its entire range of forklifts featured internal combustion engines.
Italian logistics company La Cisa, noted that ICE forklifts are still the first choice of their customers. According to a spokesman, in the company’s product line, ICE forklifts and reach stackers account for 90% of their fleet of 320 motor vehicles and 260 industrial trailers. Moreover, they say that the number is increasing every year.
It appears that the industry favors ICE forklifts due to their flexibility and adaptability. A spokesperson for HELI, a Chinese manufacturer of forklifts, said that ICE forklifts are more powerful and offer faster speeds and stronger climbing power. They added that these lifts also have an advantage in outside applications.
A territorial manager and OSHA training officer for Atlantic Coast Toyotalift, a forklift dealer, said that electric forklifts couldn’t use their fuel and be ready within five minutes to work another eight hours. This provides the flexibility to change shifts, add or subtract workers in certain areas and to be ready to take advantage of any swing in the market that demands more forklift use in a short period of time without incurring major expenses.
Those who favor ICE forklifts point out that they are cleaner than previous models. They note that since the introduction of strict EPA regulations, forklift manufacturers have been working hard to comply. A spokesperson for Hoist Liftruck, an American manufacturer of forklifts, noted that ICE engines now feature many after-treatment components and systems including selective catalytic reductions (SCR) diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC), and diesel particulate filters (DPF). Moreover, energy-efficient technology is helping ICE forklifts perform better. For example, one company, Heli, has introduced load-sensing systems and double-pump confluence, which are energy-saving technologies that reduce engine power loss and improve fuel consumption.
Still, the long-term future for ICE forklifts appears uncertain. Those in the know say that manufacturers’ continue to upgrade the engines to comply with EPA emission standards and that will permit ICE forklifts to continue to hold their market share as the number of electric forklifts increase. However, they predict that electric forklifts, new energy forklifts and taigas treatment devices will be more and more popular in material handling in the future.