Construction professionals are probably familiar with gas-powered rough-terrain forklifts, but electric counterbalance lift trucks are often the best option for indoor applications like a firm’s materials warehouse. Electric forklifts offer many advantages over the construction industry’s standard rough-terrain lift truck, at least when operating in a strict material-handling capacity on warehouse floors designed for such traffic. The benefits of going electric include:
- The lack of emissions limit strict ventilation requirements for running diesel engines indoors.
- Counterbalance lift trucks incorporate forklift batteries as a design feature. The fuel source doubles as ballast, creating more efficient overall operation.
- Electric counterbalance forklifts are designed for the smooth floors of a construction warehouse. The same is true for loading docks and many warehouse yards. Because the ground is designed for material handling, the expense and added maintenance of rough-terrain tires and suspension systems are not necessary in this application.
- Fork attachments provide material handling for the shapes and sizes of products often found in the construction industry, including panels, rebar, steel framing, and even bulk materials like gravel, cement, and sand.
- Electric engines have fewer maintenance requirements than their IC counterparts.
Manufacturers often make the claim that diesel forklifts are better for warehouses that run multiple shifts, since they can be refueled in just a few moments. However, with a few minor improvements to the facility’s forklift-battery-handling systems, there’s no reason electric forklifts can’t remain in operation across multiple shifts.
To realize the advantages of electric forklifts without downtime while batteries charge, implement the following practices:
Use Fleet Management Systems to monitor the use of forklift batteries.
Left to their own devices, busy forklift operators often grab the nearest possible battery. They might even pick favorites. These practices lead to the over-reliance on one battery and underuse of the next. Over time, this can seriously deplete overall efficiency.
Fleet Management Systems track battery usage to ensure equal use across the battery collection. Even better, they store data and offer detailed reporting so managers can maintain optimal battery health. Finally, reporting allows employers to right-size equipment to prevent unnecessary expenses.
Install advanced Battery Extractor Systems to cut down change-out times to just a few minutes.
Forklifts should be in the aisles, where they’re productive, not waiting in long lines for a battery change. Luckily, Operator Aboard Battery Extractor Systems can cut change-out times to the bare minimum — just a few minutes per battery.
Integrate maintenance systems into Battery Stand Systems rather than relying on third-party services.
Forklift batteries require regular maintenance in order to provide full value. Users must wash batteries, replace water in electrolyte, and complete regular equalization charges.
While some forklift users rely on maintenance services to keep their batteries in top shape, with a minimal investment in equipment, operators can maintain batteries in-house. Battery Wash Equipment alongside stand systems allow users to clean assets according to maintenance schedules, while safely containing hazardous run-off for EPA-compliant treatment and disposal.
While rough-terrain forklifts rule construction sites, their electric counterparts are ideal for handling materials at the warehouse. With the right equipment and a few labor-saving tricks, electric forklifts can provide significant savings for construction firms that operate their own material storage facilities.
“29 CFR 1910.178 – Powered industrial trucks.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2018.
Bond, Josh. “Lift truck battery management delivers staying power.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 13 Mar. 2018. Web. 20 Dec. 2018.