Like the automotive industry there is a push to make forklifts greener. Warehouses and factories are trading in their old LPG forklifts for new electric forklifts. They are sold as being more cost effective to run, safer to operate and better for the planet. But are they really better? Are electric forklifts suitable for all applications? In this blog we will weigh the pros and cons of both types of forklifts.
By now we all know that anything electric produces zero emissions, this leads to a safer work place and is better for the environment, but what other advantages do electric forklifts provide?
When talking about workplace safety not only are toxic emissions eliminated but electric forklifts also run much quitter, eliminating harmful noise pollution in the workplace. Since the forklift is powered by a battery there is no longer a need to store flammable gas or pressurized tanks, which also leads to a safer workplace. Generally electric forklifts have tighter turning radius then their LPG counterparts (not always however) and also do not feature a propane tank obstructing the drivers view when backings up.
From an operational standpoint there are advantages too, some estimates suggest running an electric forklift over a LPG forklift can save $30,000 over a 5 year period. This is because there are fewer moving parts (no engine or transmission).
While there are some very compelling pros to the electric forklifts they are not perfect. In applications where they are used heavily there can be power issues as the batteries get low during a shift.
Mechanical maintenance will be less on an electric forklift but all maintenance is not eliminated. The batteries need to be kept clean, from time to time they need to be watered and need to be charged regularly. Charging can be especially problematic in applications where there are multiple shifts or someone forgot to put the charger on at the end of the previous shift.
Another issues for electric forklifts, which is a bigger issue in Manitoba than other areas of the world, is the harm freezing temperatures can have on the battery. If a battery is allowed to freeze there is a good chance it will be ruined and operating the forklift in freezing temperatures can be hard on the other components.
Lastly the upfront cost on a new electric forklift is generally higher than a comparable LPG forklift.
For many years LPG forklifts have been the go to machine for warehouses, factories and many other applications. They are a tried and true design, reliable, have a more affordable upfront cost, no concerns about lengthy refueling stops and are suitable for most indoor and outdoor applications (some exceptions apply).
The biggest down side to a LPG forklift is the fact that is burns propane for fuel. While the emissions are significantly less than a diesel forklift, so much so they are suitable for most indoor applications, they are not 100% clean burning. This coupled with the global trend is rising fossil fuel costs makes one wonder if LPG forklifts days are numbered?
From a safety stand point; there is a lack of visibility when backing up due to the propane tanks mounting location. There is always a risk of a flammable gas leak, a tank being damaged or an injury related to lifting heavy and awkward tanks into place.
While an LPG forklift comes with a cheaper upfront cost it will be more costly to run over the years it is in service. Simple things like belts, oil and spark plugs will need to be changed regularly, while in time larger repairs to the engine and transmission may need to be done.
Unfortunately there is no one size fits all solution. The concept and theory of an electric forklift is sound, a machine that has zero emissions and runs off of renewable energy is appealing in a lot of applications. And as technology improves most of the issues that turn people away from electric forklifts will disappear. But for now there is still a place for the LPG forklift, their proven design and ability to work indoor and outdoor year round give them a big advantage in a lot of industries.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss which Titan forklift option is best for you please reach out to our Real Industries knowledgeable sales team at 1-888-848-6196 or email email@example.com.