Twenty years ago, companies with a 24 hour operation moving 8,000lb loads indoors and outdoors would have laughed off a suggestion of an electric forklift being able to replace their internal combustion fleet. Those days are long gone. In fact, through June of this year, nearly 70% of the new forklifts purchased in the US have been powered by electricity!
And there is good reason. The benefits of operating electric forklifts are many and the drawbacks are few. Over the past decade, manufacturers of electric forklifts have worked tirelessly to improve the performance of electric forklifts so they can do the jobs previously relegated to their IC counterparts. The results are impressive. Most manufacturers have models that can be used indoors and outdoors with capacities often exceeding 10,000lbs. They’ve equipped them with pneumatic tires and sealed components to ensure your electric forklift will continue to perform flawlessly, whether it’s sunny and 100 degrees or rainy and 40 degrees.
In addition, battery and charger manufacturers have improved technology to make batteries more efficient, longer lasting, and less costly. Lithium batteries are now being manufactured to fit existing forklift models, which eliminates battery changing, storage and multiple batteries for each lift truck.
Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of owning and operating electric forklifts.
Electric Forklifts Eliminate Emissions
The values of today’s business owners have changed. Twenty years ago, few of us were concerned with our carbon footprint. Today, that is taking front and center page with many companies’ strategies to be carbon neutral. Electric forklifts are a great way to help companies achieve this. One study found that a 2,000 hour operation emitted 20,000lbs of carbon into the atmosphere for each forklift operated! Electric forklifts emit zero emissions.
This also makes for a safer and more comfortable working environment for your employees. Eliminating carbon monoxide from your plant or warehouse operation equates to a much more desirable workplace. Many companies enjoy fewer sick days, reduced medical expenditures and improved productivity.
While batteries and chargers require an additional up-front investment in your forklift fleet, the long-term benefits prove to far outweigh those costs. Some studies reveal that powering an electric forklift can save over $4,000 per year, per forklift!
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Electric motors produce no heat. This means less heat pumped into your facility, reducing cooling costs and making it a more comfortable place to work. Your forklift operators no longer sit on top of an engine producing heat in excess of 130 degrees for an 8 hour shift. In addition, electric forklifts produce no noise except for the tires and operation of the mast. This reduces wear on your forklift operators’ auditory systems, making them more comfortable to operate.
Electric forklifts require no operating fluids and have far fewer moving parts. Eliminating the need for transmission fluid changes, oil changes, cooling system fluids and more reduces your costs. It also eliminates transmission parts, water pumps, radiators, and other engine parts that need replacing.
By eliminating many moving parts and fluids, electric forklifts spend less time down for periodic maintenance, servicing and repairs. This often eliminates the need for temporary rentals or “extra” units to operate while your IC forklift is being serviced or repaired.
We realize there still are some applications where electric forklifts are not suitable, but given time, the industry will provide a solution. For example, in the fall of 2019, an American forklift manufacturer produced two giant 90,000lb capacity container movers. The industry will continue to respond to the demand of consumers to produce cleaner, more durable products with even higher capacities.
Reduced costs, improved health and safety, and environmental improvement are all benefits you can enjoy by converting your internal combustion forklifts over to electric models.