While propane-powered forklifts have traditionally been favored by warehouse managers, electric forklifts are becoming much more common. Advances in electric motor technology have made them able to produce more torque, making them just as good at performing warehouse duties as their counterparts using internal combustion engines. With the performance gap closed, electric forklifts are often the superior choice. If it's time to upgrade your warehouse's forklift fleet, read on to learn four reasons why you should consider making the switch to electric.
1. Electric Forklifts Don't Release Emissions
One of the main reasons to move away from forklifts with combustion engines is that you'll reduce the amount of noxious emissions in the workplace. While propane is a relatively clean-burning fuel, it still produces emissions that can be hazardous to your employees (such as carbon monoxide.) Being exposed to these emissions throughout an entire workday can increase the risk of your employees becoming sick and taking time off, which can hamper your operations.
2. Alternating Current Motors Provide Consistent Performance
Many warehouse managers refused to use electric forklifts due to the fact that old models used direct current motors. Direct current is limited by the amount of voltage left in the forklift's battery. As the battery is drained, the motor's performance goes down. As a result, you weren't able to fully rely on the forklift's lift capacity—if the battery was low, it wouldn't be able to lift as much weight as it was rated for. Attempting to lift an item that's too heavy could result in damage to your inventory, the forklift, or nearby workers.
New electric forklifts use alternating current motors, which completely eliminate this problem. Alternating current doesn't rely on battery voltage, so these forklifts provide consistent performance regardless of the amount of charge left. This makes them much safer to operate compared to older models.
3. Quick Charging Technology Has Reduced the Need for Battery Swapping
Drained batteries aren't as much of a problem as they were in the past, as well. Thanks to advances in batteries and electric vehicle charging technology, it's possible to charge an electric forklift's battery very quickly. An electric forklift can be plugged into a wall outlet between shifts or during the operator's lunch break in order to keep the battery charged.
Before these advances in technology, batteries charged very slowly. This meant that operators needed to swap out batteries frequently in order to maintain a charge in the forklift. This was a hassle for warehouse managers that has thankfully been eliminated with newer electric forklifts. This gives them a distinct advantage over propane forklifts, where you still need to periodically switch out propane tanks.
4. Electric Forklifts Cost Less to Operate and Maintain
Finally, the main reason why more warehouses are switching to electric forklifts is that they have a lower cost of ownership. Charging an electric forklift is less expensive than refueling a propane or diesel forklift, since they're more efficient and electricity is cheaper than fuel. In addition, electric forklift motors have fewer moving parts compared to an internal combustion engine—this means that they'll experience less breakdowns and require less maintenance.
While electric forklifts may cost more to purchase than their counterparts using combustion engines, the cost savings over time have made them the superior choice for warehouses. If you're looking for new forklifts for your warehouse fleet, strongly consider switching to electric instead of remaining with your current forklifts powered by combustion engines. To learn more about buying new forklifts, contact a company like Lift Solutions, Inc.