When it comes to deciding what type of forklift is best for your business, there are many factors to consider. From your day-to-day needs and flexibility requirements, a lot of different things should be considered before you decide which type is the right fit for you. There is a variety of different elements that make electric forklifts different from their competitors, and here are just a few.
Indoors or outdoors
If your forklift will be mostly used indoors, then it’s likely that an electric forklift will be the best choice for you. In comparison to diesel or petrol-powered models, an electric forklift produces none of the fumes or emissions that occur with engine-powered forklifts. Not only does this mean you’re far more likely to meet all health and safety regulations for your workplace, but it also keeps your staff healthy and happy.
An electric forklift is still a viable and more eco-friendly choice for outdoor use, but engine-powered forklifts can also be used efficiently in wide open spaces without fear or causing harm to your staff through fumes. As such, these kinds of forklifts might be built with more rugged use in mind, especially on uneven surfaces.
As with electric cars or generators, when it comes to powering an electric forklift, there’s a far reduced cost over its lifetime in comparison to similar engine-powered machines. Combined with the simplicity of an electric machine, which causes electric forklifts to have far cheaper repair costs, this type of forklift is ideal for a business where heavy and prolonged use is likely, making the most of the cost of electricity.
Of course, as with all battery or charge-powered technology, unless you have a spare power source on the go, you’ll experience downtime when your machine needs to charge; cutting into work time if not used carefully. In comparison, a diesel or petrol-powered forklift can be ready to go with a quick top-up. For urgent work, where there isn’t time to charge an electric model, an engine-based forklift might be suitable but you’ll need to bear in mind the cost of fuel.
If you’re looking for a forklift that is easy to learn and drive, as well as quiet to run, then an electric forklift is the best choice for you. These types of forklifts equate to an automatic car in terms of reduction of handling and the learning curve required to become a competent driver or one of these machines. There’s little need for additional actions, methods or other tweaks to make electric forklifts run smoothly.
In comparison, an engine-powered forklift requires a slightly steeper learning curve, with the requirement to ‘rev’ for gradients, and no clutch pedal in sight. For teaching purposes, an electric forklift is ahead of the rest of the class, but when it comes to robustness and the ability to apply that learning to other machines, an engine-powered machine is slightly better.
An electric forklift is often the ideal choice for use in enclosed warehouses and spaces, and can even turn and position better thanks to the easier to handle controls. When it comes to solid ground with no incline, an electric forklift can do everything that an engine-based forklift can, at the reduced cost and increased ease of use you’d expect. When it comes to the great outdoors, however, an electric forklift may run into an issue.
When performing site work or even just working in the open for extended periods, in all weather, an electric forklift can be reduced in effectiveness. In comparison, a more manual machine is capable of navigating less even ground, more diverse climates and weather without problems occurring. For towing duties or extended outdoor work, an engine-based forklift may be best.
Health and safety
Some of the most important words in any workplace with heavy machinery, health and safety are important when it comes to keeping your machines running well and your workforce safe. An electric forklift can contribute to this safety, both due to the lack of emissions and fumes, but also due to the more reliable nature of the fuel that the machine requires; a charger and battery will both be capable of being stored safely away even in a small amount of space.
In comparison, engine-based forklifts require physical fuelling, and as such, that diesel or petrol needs somewhere to live. Highly flammable liquids stored in any facility can be a significant health and safety risk, without mentioning the high levels of emissions and the traditional steering method which is more challenging to master.
In conclusion, the forklift you need depends entirely on the needs of your workforce, from where the machine will be required to the budget you have to fuel it. Both electric and engine-powered forklifts have their benefits – you just need to know which is the best fit for your business. At Hitec, we stock a range of electric forklifts as well as engine-powered forklifts. We also offer training to ensure you and your business stay health and safety compliant. Contact us to find out more.