Electric forklifts operate on battery-powered motors. While they perform the same industrial tasks as gas-powered models, they differ from traditional forklifts and offer other benefits. If you come across electric forklifts for sale, it’s important to consider their capabilities, how they can benefit your business and how to operate them safely. We created a guide to electric forklifts to help you understand all you need to know before choosing a forklift for your warehouse or factory.
What Is an Electric Forklift?
An electric forklift operates on a battery-powered motor. Electric motors are silent and powerful, and they provide forklift vehicles with the power needed to move and control their lift mechanisms. Since electric forklifts operate on electric motors, they do not need fuel. While they differ from traditional forklifts, electric models can perform the same tasks with just as much power.
Electric Forklifts vs. Gas Forklifts
In the past, gas forklifts were the standard option for most industries and applications. As technology advances, electric forklifts are becoming just as common.
Gas forklifts operate on traditional internal combustion engines that require fuel such as gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNP), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and diesel. Electric forklift motors use onboard battery systems such as lithium-ion or lead-acid. An electric source charges these battery systems. On-site fuel tanks are necessary to power gas forklifts, but electric forklifts only need standard industrial electrical outlets for battery recharging.
Electric forklifts contain fewer moving parts than gas-powered forklifts. Each gas-powered forklift has a complex fuel system that requires a fuel storage tank, injectors, pumps and an exhaust system. Electric forklifts contain fewer parts because they only need batteries and a motor. Additionally, gas-powered forklifts require transmissions, while electric forklifts only need differentials.
Benefits of Electric Forklifts
Electric forklifts are beneficial for several applications. Utilizing an electric forklift in a factory or warehouse offers the following benefits:
1. Environmental Sustainability
Electric forklifts are a sustainable option for industrial and construction applications. Since they operate on batteries instead of fuel, they do not emit gases into the atmosphere. An electric forklift is a clean option that can help businesses conserve energy.
2. Safe Application and Simple Maintenance
Electric forklifts are very safe. They do not emit gases, making them safe for health- and food-related applications. They are also very quiet during operation and require minimal maintenance since they have fewer moving parts.
Operating an electric forklift is safe in busy environments because of its quiet motor. The reduced noise makes it easier for individuals near a forklift to hear its backup signals, warning horns and anything else going on in the warehouse.
3. Simple Operation
Electric forklifts are very simple to operate. Since they lack transmissions, electric forklift operators don’t need to work a clutch pedal or increase revs for an incline start. Electric forklifts can also accelerate rapidly and are easy to maneuver. An electric motor can produce torque from zero RPM, allowing operators to accelerate quickly and easily move around factories and warehouses.
An electric forklift’s torque allows it to move heavy objects easily. While electric vehicles are quiet and simple to operate, they provide adequate power to lift and move the objects they need to maneuver.
Companies can choose the type of electric forklift that best meets their needs. Compact, three-wheel electric forklifts are excellent for indoor applications such as factories and warehouses with busy or confined environments.
Larger, four-wheel electric forklifts are designed for heavier loads, so they contain more powerful motors and durable tires. Models are optimized for different tasks, enabling companies to choose the best option for their unique needs.
An electric forklift’s minimal maintenance requirements can help companies save money on repairs over time. Electric forklift power sources also help companies save money. Batteries are rechargeable and reusable, and electric forklifts eliminate the need to purchase fuel.
7. Minimal Waste Fluids
Since electric forklifts operate on batteries instead of fuel, they release minimal waste fluids. This eliminates the need for operators to handle fuel and reduces the risk of fire.
Industries That Use Electric Forklifts
Electric forklifts are excellent options for industries that handle health- or food-related items. They don’t emit gases or fumes and are quiet. Their quiet operation and lack of fumes make them ideal for indoor applications and the following industries:
- Supermarket warehouses
- Chemical plants
- Food and drink productions
- High-density storage warehousing
Electric forklifts are also ideal for busy environments because they come in compact models. Operators can maneuver electric forklifts smoothly and easily through confined, busy spaces. In some cases, companies can use electric forklifts for outdoor applications.
Electric Forklift Maintenance
Electric forklifts require minimal maintenance, but proper maintenance is still essential to ensure they operate effectively and last long. Regularly check the following components to ensure they are in good shape and operate properly:
- Motor cables
Battery maintenance is the most important part of electric forklift preservation. To maintain lead-acid batteries, you must maintain the water level in the forklift’s electrolyte. Using distilled water to maintain the battery’s water level prevents sulfation from breaking the battery down. Lithium-ion batteries require less maintenance because you don’t need to top them with water. Forklift operators should also heed battery safety tips such as the following:
- Only operate a forklift for the manufacturer’s recommended service hours.
- Avoid under-charging and over-charging batteries.
- Only discharge batteries within the manufacturer’s recommended discharge level.
- Recognize low battery warnings such as dim headlights, slow starting and high RPM.
- Dispose of batteries properly.
Lead-acid batteries typically last for 1,000 to 1,500 charging cycles before you need to replace them, and lithium-ion batteries typically last for 2,000 to 3,000 charges before they need replacement. Replacing batteries when necessary is essential for proper operation.
Electric Forklift Safety Tips
Safety is crucial when operating heavy machinery. Electric forklifts are very safe, but operators should always adhere to the following safety guidelines:
- Inspect each forklift before operation.
- Ensure feet and hands are in the forklift’s operator’s compartment at all times.
- Wear the appropriate safety gear, such as hearing protection, safety glasses and a hard hat.
- Remain aware of surroundings.
- Only handle items that are within the forklift’s weight limit.
- Drive carefully and slowly.
- Avoid making sudden stops.
- Attach materials to the forklift securely before transporting them.
- Always charge forklifts before use, and remember that heavy loads drain batteries faster than light loads.
- Stay off of the forklift’s forks and refrain from standing on the platform while the forklift is moving.
Find an Electric Forklift From Gregory Poole Lift Systems
An electric forklift can significantly benefit your company’s operations. Electric models operate on batteries, eliminating the need for fuel. They are powerful, compact and easy to maneuver, allowing operators to complete tasks safely and efficiently.
Gregory Poole Lift Systems offers three- and four-wheel electric forklifts in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Our world-class products can help you meet your material handling needs and increase productivity. Call or submit a contact form to learn more about electrical forklifts for sale and find the right electric forklift for your business.