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Forklift Fuel Consumption and Efficiency

forklift fuel consumption

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When attempting to decrease your forklift’s fuel consumption, there is not one specific change that will greatly alter usage; however, you can focus on smaller tasks to create a cost savings. Discovering which changes will make an impact will require a combination of facility observation, operator training and review of maintenance history.

Facility Observation

The layout of your facility and forklift traffic routes affect the daily travel distance and therefore, fuel consumption. Conduct a walk-through to note forklift destination spots such as delivery points, parking and storage areas. Solicit operator feedback regarding route challenges and suggestions for more efficient production. If the space allows, you may test route changes that decrease forklift travel.

Forklift Operator Training

Driver habits can play a role in the amount of fuel used during his or her shift. Communicating forklift best practices should begin in the classroom portion of the OSHA-required training. Educate operators to avoid “gunning” the engine or leaving the forklift to run when not in use. If fuel consumption is high for a particular lift, you may consider tracking usage by shift and assigned operators to address specific issues.

Maintenance History

Forklifts on a regular maintenance schedule typically run smoother and are more fuel efficient. The quality of fuel is important as well as replacing normal wear items. For example, forklift tires worn beyond their useful life will consume more fuel.

Drive Test

The type of forklift and its application can also affect fuel consumption. If you are uncertain of your average fuel cost per hour per unit, a drive test can help you determine what to expect. Start by training operators to log start and finish hour meter readings each time the fuel tank is replaced. Keep the log in the operator manual compartment for easy access and request readings record the tenths digit. It is also important fuel tanks involved in the drive test have been filled to capacity before placement on the forklift.

A higher number of hour meter recordings will make findings more accurate. To calculate the total cost of each fuel tank, multiply your price per gallon of fuel by the number of gallons your tank holds. Divide this total by the number of hours your fuel tank operated. This is your average fuel cost per hour per unit. Example below:

LP Gas Hour Tracking

Make:_________________________ Serial Number: ____________________________
Price per Gallon of LP Fuel: $1.50
* Based on 7 gallons of LP gas in a 33.5# lb LP tank

START Hour Meter Reading (500) END Hour Meter Reading (530)
Difference (30) Fuel Cost per Hour per Unit ($0.35)

Drive tests may also be used to compare forklift manufacturers and/or models; however, for genuine results ensure each forklift is operated in the same or similar route and application.

Learn more about ProLift and our material handling solutions, including Toyota Forklifts – the #1 selling forklift in the world. Our equipment specialists are available for questions and facility assessments.

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