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Switching from an Internal Combustion Forklift to an Electric Forklift

switching from ic forklift to electric forklift

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Historically, internal combustion (IC) forklifts have dominated the manufacturing industry. Although electric forklifts provided cleaner emissions and low level noise, companies faced decreased production and struggled to justify the higher costs of batteries and charging stations.

Today the electric forklift rivals the production of an IC forklift, matching or exceeding the alternative’s performance. Its reduction in maintenance requirements and the improved battery charging technology also offers a cost-savings in fuel, especially for companies with 10+ units in their forklift fleet.

Electric Forklift versus IC Forklift

Fuel Cost-Savings

The initial investment of a battery and charger for an electric forklift is higher; however, the battery represents the needed fuel over 3-5 years, depending on the forklift application and number of shifts. Other than the energy costs to charge the battery, which are minimal, there’s no need for continued purchases of fuel.

To best compare your cost-savings from LPG or diesel fuel to battery, partner with your forklift dealer and their battery manufacturer. Fuel consumption will be determined by factors such as the size of the forklift fleet, number of shifts and actual run-time. Usage is translated into Cost per Kilowatt Hour (CPKH) to show the expected return on investment (ROI) for the switch to electric forklifts.

Reduced Maintenance & Emissions

Using a battery for power eliminates major components such as an engine, radiator and transmission; therefore, an electric forklift is not vulnerable to repairs and replacement of these more expensive parts. Oil and transmission fluids are also unnecessary, resulting in no waste or disposal. And while toxic emissions continue to be a large problem for IC forklifts, zero pollution is produced by an electric forklift.

Opportunity Charging

Whereas LPG or diesel fuel must be stored in a designated area, electric forklifts do not rely solely on large charging stations that take up valuable storage space in the warehouse. Battery technology has improved, allowing for opportunity charging. These charging stations can be located in small areas convenient to forklift operators. Batteries may then be charged during breaks, lunches, between shifts and overnight.

Making the switch from IC to electric forklifts is a big decision with many factors to consider. For companies with a mid-size fleet, the reduced maintenance and fuel purchases due to an electric forklift fleet can provide ample cost-savings.

Thinking about switching your fleet to electric forklifts? Contact ProLift to schedule an onsite visit with an equipment specialist to learn your expected return on investment!

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