Electric forklifts show the way forward

There is an ever increasing trend towards battery powered forklifts. There is an ever increasing trend towards battery powered forklifts.

The pros and cons of using electric forklifts have raged on for many years. With the focus on greater health, safety, materials handling flexibility and better cost. 

With the focus on greater health, safety, materials handling flexibility and better cost efficiencies, there is an ever increasing trend towards battery powered forklifts says Toyota Forklifts, part of the Eqstra Group. 

Mike Norton, National Sales Manager, Eqstra Industrial Holdings said “The benefits of electric forklifts are becoming apparent and current sales indicate a steady but sure shift to battery-powered lifting equipment; some 3,000 units were sold in South Africa during 2012, and there has been a 30% increase in counter balance electric forklift sales up to July 2013. Battery powered warehousing equipment sales have increased from 19% in 2012 to 23% as at July 2013 so there is a greater awareness of the need for energy efficient machines, but it is not just about going ‘green’, cost plays a role in forklift purchases, particularly in this current economic climate.”

Battery vs. Diesel

The capital outlay for the electric forklift is more than for the diesel or LPG powered option, yet the return on investment in the medium to long term is higher. The average battery powered Toyota Forklift has a lifespan of five years with some 1400 charges being conducted before the battery needs replacing. If one calculates the cost of charging the forklift nightly, compare the costs of refuelling a diesel operated forklift, substantial savings are achieved over the machine’s lifespan. In addition, the battery forklift has a much simpler design with less mechanical components resulting in savings on maintenance.

The electric Toyota Forklift offers zero exhaust emissions, thereby eliminating fumes within the workplace, and it is quieter in operation thereby creating a healthier environment and better operator safety. By comparison, the total energy cost for a battery powered forklift is approximately 16% less than a diesel forklift and annual maintenance costs can be reduced by up to 28%. Toyota Forklift has achieved a 39% market share of the counter balance electric forklift. 

Costs can be further reduced by the positioning and design of the charging station – Eqstra Industrial Power can assist in designing the best battery charging station layout and battery exchange equipment based on their customer’s operational requirements. Electricity is the largest expense in running a charging station but using the correct charger technologies and minimising the maximum demand reduces this cost. Labour and repair costs can be reduced through monitoring and effective daily maintenance.

Working in Tandem with Operators

The complete range of electric forklifts from Toyota offer customers the latest in technological advances and operator functions that ensure driver safety. The cabs are ergonomically designed to reduce driver fatigue. There are five models within the 8FBN Series offering a range of load capacities, turning radius and overhead guard heights.

Unique to Toyota Forklift trucks, SAS is a patented dynamic system comprising ten sensors, three actuators and a controller. SAS constantly monitors forklift operations and automatically takes corrective action when it senses factors that could lead to truck or load instability. Its six advanced functions work together to keep the driver and goods safely on the move.

Driving patterns do impact upon the lifespan of a battery operated forklift and can lead to battery degradation and shorten its life. With this in mind Toyota Forklift offer driver training and licensing courses for their machines throughout the country. They also conduct classroom training to cover the theory of productive and safe forklift driving and refresher courses for operators who take delivery of new advanced models of Toyota Forklifts. In support of the customer service and operator training Toyota Forklift has 400 qualified technicians for forklift operations nationally with 250 plus service vans on the road, and at any given time has 75 technical apprentices registered on their system.

Evolution and Flexibility

Norton continued “If one looks at the forklifts from the 1980s, one sees how technology has evolved since the introduction of cumbersome battery-chewing machines. Today, the battery-powered forklift is more slim-line, more efficient, technically advanced, and if driven correctly can operate successfully for a full shift before requiring overnight recharging and be fully operational for five years. Our forklifts come with the Hoppecke battery - the state of the art intelligent battery – staying true to the Toyota philosophy of offering a quality product.” 

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