Electric forklifts are taking over the warehousing industry. Benefits include longer life spans, fewer emissions and inexpensive repair costs, so it’s no surprise that many warehouses are turning to them to increase operational efficiency.
The world will need over 2.3 billion square feet of new warehousing space by the time 2035 rolls around. Due to this ever-expanding demand, finding ways to improve safety and efficiency is integral to the industry’s continued success.
Here’s why more warehouses are relying on electric lifts to power their operations.
What Are Electric Forklifts?
Rather than running on liquid fuel, like a diesel forklift, an electric lift runs on electricity. The power source is a battery, which has two functions — primarily to run the machine and secondarily as a counterweight to stabilize it.
There are two types of batteries for electric lifts:
Benefits of Electric Forklifts for Warehouses
Using an electric forklift has many advantages for warehouse operations. E-commerce businesses are growing every day, and demand is increasing, so reliability is integral to a company’s success.
Labor is the highest operating cost for most warehouses, so finding reliable solutions that increase worker productivity and operational efficiency is paramount. Battery-operated or electric forklifts have become an increasingly popular solution to improve operations.
The benefits of electric forklifts include:
1. Long Battery Life
An electric lift has a long battery life that can prevent unnecessary stops and delays in operations. Lead acid and lithium-ion batteries last longer in regular use situations and operate more efficiently than other power sources.
Heavier loads may cause electric forklifts to lose their battery power more quickly, but the batteries also allow for quick recharges or replacements. Workers can quickly and easily change the battery or charge an electric forklift during downtime when it loses power.
2. Simple Maintenance
Electric forklifts have much simpler maintenance needs than their gas or diesel counterparts. Warehouses can benefit from streamlining their forklift maintenance routine because these machines have fewer parts.
Simpler maintenance also means workers can more easily perform everyday upkeep tasks like charging and changing batteries. This leads to greater productivity, as machines see less downtime and people can get back to work more quickly.
3. Quiet Operation
Warehouses are loud places, but too much noise can impact the efficiency and safety of workers on the floor. Electric forklift trucks are much quieter than diesel or gas-powered lifts because they do not have a loud intake or exhaust system.
Electric lifts are much safer to work with and won’t impact the health or hearing of individuals who operate them as much as other types of forklifts.
4. Low Center of Gravity
The stability of a forklift is paramount to its efficiency and safety. When lifting heavy loads, forklifts should remain stable on the ground to protect the driver and other surrounding workers and reduce damage to merchandise.
Electric forklifts are often more stable and reliable than other lift trucks due to their lower center of gravity and the stability provided by a heavy battery pack. This also lets workers know safety is of the utmost importance to the company, boosting morale.
5. Less Vibration and Operator Fatigue
Vibration fatigue happens to equipment that undergoes significant vibrations for long periods. Certain frequencies and magnitudes can cause a crack in the machinery, which can grow and lead to eventual equipment failure.
Electric lifts have less vibration than other kinds, so the equipment is more stable and less likely to crack or break.
Vibrations can also lead to operator fatigue and serious workplace injuries. Sitting on a vibrating machine for a long period can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which leads to irreversible vascular and sensorineural damage and severe health consequences.
Electric lifts have fewer vibrations than other machinery, so they can ensure the safety and health of operators and reduce instances of HAVS in warehouses.
6. Inexpensive Repairs
Repair costs can accumulate, especially for warehouses that need many forklifts and machines. Fortunately, electric lifts have relatively inexpensive repair costs because there are fewer parts that have the potential to break or fail. This cost savings can really add up over time.
7. Fewer Emissions
The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) dictates that warehouses cannot have a carbon monoxide content of more than 50 parts per million as an 8-hour average. Warehouses that use diesel or gas-powered forklifts and other machinery must monitor carbon levels continuously to ensure they stay in compliance.
Fortunately, electric forklifts do not have a significant amount of emissions, meaning a safer environment for workers and operators.
Electric vs. Diesel Forklifts
Why are warehouses increasingly choosing electric forklifts over diesel? Increasing fuel prices are only part of the answer. The diesel vs. electric forklift debate has been ongoing, but electric is coming out on top due to the lower cost of ownership and longer life cycle.
Electric forklifts have a much longer life span compared to diesel lifts — they can last up to 12 years, while diesel versions only last for eight years. Additionally, electric machines result in more cost savings for warehouse operations, as they have lower maintenance requirements and fewer parts that need to be replaced.
Diesel forklifts are more suitable for outdoor tasks and can often sustain a higher load capacity than electric versions. Still, the long-term benefits of electric lifts mean more warehouses are relying on them.
Electric Lifts Are Changing Warehouse Operations
The benefits of electric forklifts and other technology help workers complete tasks more efficiently as warehouse needs grow. Many industries are introducing automation technology and even robotics into their operations, and are therefore more open to advancements.
Technology will only become more important in warehouse operations, so keep an eye out for how new advancements are changing the industry.
Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry.
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