Electric forklift truck has grown increasingly popular in warehouses and industrial settings due to their many advantages over gasoline or diesel-powered alternatives. Let’s take a closer look at electric forklifts, their benefits, and common applications.
What is called an electric forklift truck?
An electric forklift truck, also commonly called an electric forklift, is a type of forklift that uses an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine to provide power. Here are some key things to know about electric forklifts:
The electric motor receives power from rechargeable batteries that operators plug the forklift into an electrical outlet overnight to recharge.
Electric forklifts are quieter and do not produce any emissions, making them more environmentally friendly compared to gas/diesel forklifts. However, their range tends to be more limited.
Advances in battery technology have increased ranges to meet most warehouse and indoor facility needs. Some high-capacity Lithium-ion battery models can run for a full 8-hour shift on a single charge.
Maintenance costs are lower as electric forklifts have fewer moving parts compared to ICE equivalents. Batteries last for several years before replacement is needed.
They provide instant torque from zero RPM which makes them well-suited for repetitive picking and placing of loads in typical warehouse operations.
The lack of noise and emissions makes electric forklifts better suited for indoor spaces like food processing facilities and hospitals where regulations prohibit gas fumes.
Disadvantages include higher upfront purchase costs and time needed to recharge batteries periodically.
What is a forklift used for?
A forklift, also called a lift truck, is a powered industrial truck used to lift and move materials over short distances. Forklifts are commonly used in warehouses, distribution centers, ports, construction sites, and other places where heavy loads need to be moved around.
So, the key feature of a forklift is the pair of fork prongs on the front that can slide under a load to lift and carry it. Forklifts come in many sizes and capacities, ranging from small electric lift trucks for indoor use to large rugged machines for heavy outdoor lifting.
Common uses and applications of forklifts include:
Loading, unloading, and moving pallets of goods in warehouses, distribution centers, retail stores, etc. Also, forklift allows efficient movement and stacking of palletized loads.
Lifting and placing loads onto shelves, conveyors, and other storage areas in facilities. Forklifts provide flexibility in vertical storage.
Loading and unloading trucks, railcars, ships, etc. Forklifts allow quicker transfer of materials on and off transport vehicles.
Construction and site work. Also, forklifts can lift and position heavy materials on construction and mining sites.
Agriculture and livestock operations. Forklifts can lift and transfer barrels, feed sacks, hay bales, etc around farms and processing facilities.
Also, general material handling. Forklifts provide efficient lifting, movement, and placement of all sorts of heavy loads in nearly any industry or business.
So in summary, forklifts provide an indispensable tool for safely lifting, moving, and stacking heavy materials over short distances in warehouses, transportation hubs, factories, and worksites of many kinds. Their fork prongs allow easy under-lifting of loads.
What is an Electric Forklift Truck?
An electric forklift truck, also called a battery-powered forklift, is a counterbalanced vehicle that uses onboard rechargeable batteries to lift and move materials short distances. They use electric drive motors and hydraulic systems to power the lifting/lowering and horizontal movements of the truck.
Electric forklifts can be classified based on operational parameters such as lifting heights and payload capacity. Common models include Class 1 electric forklifts suitable for lifting 2,000 lbs payloads to heights of 6 feet, and Class 4 and 5 units meant for heavier-duty tasks like moving pallet racks indoors.
Forklift in Warehouses:
Warehouses are one of the main environments where electric forklifts excel due to their reliability, lack of emissions, and lower total cost of ownership compared to gas/diesel models. Electric trucks offer several benefits for warehouse operations:
Quiet operation – Electric forklifts operate very quietly without engine noise, allowing for smoother multi-shift workflows.
Zero emissions – There are no harmful fumes, particulates, or greenhouse gases released indoors. This improves air quality for warehouse workers.
Increased productivity – Electric trucks experience less downtime as batteries are easily swappable and modern models have quick charging cycles.
Lower maintenance costs – Electric drive trains are simpler with fewer moving parts, resulting in minimal regular maintenance needs.
Indoor air quality – Gas or diesel exhaust from internal combustion trucks is eliminated, making warehouses more breathable for employees.
Material handling flexibility
– Electric trucks can access various parts of multi-level warehouses with ease due to their maneuverability.
However, electric forklifts do have a small disadvantage in terms of operating range compared to their fossil-fueled counterparts. However modern lithium-ion batteries have sufficiently large capacities for most indoor applications.
Is an Electric Forklift Right for Your Warehouse?
Some key factors to consider when determining if an electric forklift makes sense for a particular warehouse include:
Floor space – Are pathways and aisles wide enough to support electric forklifts? They often have a smaller footprint than gas/diesel trucks.
Operational needs – What are the work shifts like? Long shifts favor electricity as batteries charge quickly. Short intermittent use allows for gas models.
Throughput requirements – Electric excels at consistent throughput needs, while gas suits burst-type demand profiles better.
Ventilation – Are warehouse ventilation systems adequate to dissipate fumes from gas/diesel forklifts away from workers?
Environmental priorities – Does your company aim to reduce its carbon footprint? Electric models are a clear emissions-reducing choice.
So, in most cases, the productivity, air quality, and total cost advantages of electric forklifts outweigh any potential downsides for indoor warehouse use cases. A site assessment can help finalize the evaluation process.
Electric forklift in warehouses applications:
Here are some common industries and applications where electric forklifts are particularly well-suited:
Grocery warehouses – Moving pallets of food/beverages within temperature-controlled environments.
Distribution centers – Transporting parcel and freight containers across multiple indoor levels.
Automotive parts – Handling bulky components and assemblies in OEM plants and supplier yards.
Manufacturing facilities – Moving raw materials and finished goods between production lines and storage areas.
Food processing – Transporting produce, meats, and other foods throughout preparation facilities.
Retail supply chain – Loading trailers and stocking inventory at distribution hubs.
Pharmaceutical warehouses – Providing sterile indoor material transport in regulated environments.
Airport cargo – Working baggage, mail, and freight containers across indoor tarmac spaces.
E-commerce fulfillment – Picking, packing, and sorting high volumes of individual online orders.
So, the versatility and productivity-enhancing design of electric forklifts make them ideal material-handling vehicles for supply chain-intensive markets. Their clean operation is also a natural fit for indoor environments.
Key Factors When Purchasing forklift in warehouses :
When shopping for electric forklifts, here are some attributes buyers should consider from manufacturers:
Battery type – Sealed lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries with varied cycle life expectancies and charging times.
Rated capacity – The weight and height the forklift can safely lift/lower as per application needs.
Drive train – AC or DC motors and hydraulic pumps should deliver power efficiently.
Safety features – Seat belts, backup alarms, braking capability, load backrests, and mast tilt switches.
Maneuverability – Turning radius, steering, and ergonomics to enhance operator comfort.
Charging options – Fast, slow, or opportunity charging compatibility with existing infrastructure.
Fleet management tools – Telematics included for fleet tracking, utilization analysis, and maintenance scheduling.
Service and Support – Local dealership network for repairs, replacements, and service contracts.