Do your forklifts ever get a break? And for how long?
This is one of the most important factors in determining the right energy source for your forklifts.
And it makes sense. Just consider those days when you’re constantly running from morning till night time. You need ALL the coffee to stay awake, energized, and ready to go. Whereas, on those more “normal” days, you can probably get by on just one or two cups in the morning.
In the same way, your forklift fleet will have different energy needs depending on the shift cycles you run them on throughout the day. While you’ll always want to consider a wide variety of options and work with an integrated solutions provider like one of Toyota’s authorized dealers, this guide can help you make a preliminary diagnosis of whether to explore electric or internal combustion options.
Single Shift Operations
While internal combustion forklifts can provide the power and efficiency needed to run a successful single shift operation, electric forklifts should be seriously considered. Operating on a single shift, you’ll be able to take full advantage of energy efficiency savings because you can allow the forklift to sit and the battery to charge while your facility is closed.
At the same time, it may take you longer to achieve a full return on your investment in electric forklifts due to your lower utilization — a key factor in determining operation and labor cost.
Multi-Shift and Continuous-Shift Operations
You will need to consider several variables when weighing lead-acid battery and internal combustion options. The efficiency savings of lead-acid batteries are reduced the most in these operations because they are faced with needing to buy battery exchanging equipment and additional batteries — typically one for each shift. This translates into increased acquisition costs, storage space, maintenance areas, and swap times.
In this case, an internal combustion forklift option deserves serious consideration. While it is a more expensive fuel option, replacing a propane tank is quicker and requires less facility space than swapping and charging a battery.
Lithium-Ion Forklift Batteries and Shift Cycles
Lithium-ion batteries offer considerably faster charge speeds, and they can stay in the truck for multiple shifts while being opportunity charged during breaks. This means that they deliver a significant operational advantage over their lead-acid counterparts and can be considered a suitable electric option to replace propane in multi-shift operations.
However, because lithium-ion can cost up to 3x more than lead-acid, they might not be right for every operation. Single-shift operations are just one example in which efficiency returns may not outweigh the upfront costs.
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