A forklift can cost you anywhere from $8,000 to $250,000. With that kind of price tag, you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing a quality vehicle that will last you for years to come. When it comes time to buy forklift machines and parts, you need to know you’re getting your money’s worth.
Here’s what you should be looking for.
1. Forklift Types
Forklifts are divided into general classes.
Class 1 forklifts get powered with batteries and use motor controllers to travel and hoist items. Class 2 forklifts are created for maximum speed and efficiency in narrow aisles. Class 3 forklifts are hand-controlled and battery-powered.
You can prevent overbuying for features you don’t need by purchasing the right forklift.
Order pickers, for example, make it easy to reach items between eight and thirty-five feet above the ground.
Order pickers get used for batch picking, spacing, and slotting. Batch picking gets used when inventory needs to get pulled for multiple orders at one time. This increases productivity by reducing the number of trips needed to get to one area of a warehouse and pull products.
Spacing is putting the most trafficked goods in different aisles for less congestion of order pickers and better optimization. Slotting is the process of organizing products in the warehouse to optimize order picking.
Reach trucks are able to pull items from shelves by “reaching” with an extendable carriage and forks. These lift trucks are meant to operate in narrow aisles and are best for storing and retrieving pallets in racks.
Reach trucks get used when you require unit load handling, or when productivity is important. They offer maximum lift height capacity and great maneuverability. Many come equipped with a tilt mechanism designed to create optimal viewing for the driver.
Turret trucks are designed to operate in very narrow aisles. They are battery-operated and use the battery, engine, and operator compartment to counterweight heavy loads.
Sit-down counterbalance forklift trucks have maximum reach and weight capacity. They get used for warehouse applications, construction, and navigation in difficult areas. The battery acts as a counterbalance weight and enables navigation through touch terrain.
2. Routine Service and Maintenance
It’s important to keep in mind that your forklift will need to get serviced regularly. When you are considering one for purchase, think about the support you will get from your dealer.
Are there a number of qualified professionals ready to service your forklift when needed? Does your dealer have easy access to high-quality parts? Do they have a quick turnaround time?
You will want to figure in downtime and maintenance requirements when estimating the cost of the forklift. Make sure you get a warranty letting you know how long regular service gets included in the purchase.
Choosing a local dealer will mean that you can bring your forklift in for servicing whenever it is needed without much inconvenience to you.
Batteries are also important to consider when it comes to maintenance. Lower-priced acid batteries, for example, require watering the cells, washing the battery case, and conducting regular equalization charges. Li-ion batteries may be worth the investment as they require no maintenance.
3. New or Used
When you buy a forklift, you are getting newly-engineered parts and technology.
Older forklifts, however, can provide you with a solid machine that will do the job admirably at a fraction of the cost. The key is to know what to look for.
You will want a vehicle that has been well maintained, rather than one that is beginning to wear out. Check the front of the forklift for any cracks, bends, or distortion that could indicate heavy lifting. Inspect the forks for signs of wear.
Look for signs of excessive wear on mast rollers.
You’ll want to inspect the overhead guard for bends and the tires for damage. The seat should be securely fixed in and you will want to check the condition of the seatbelt.
You’ll also want a machine that can provide you with savings and not more expenses. Be sure you do your homework before you buy one.
4. Consider Ergonomics
High-quality, adjustable seating is important for your forklift operators, who will be sitting in the forklift for extended periods of time.
You’ll want to think about the design and placement of controls as well. Good ergonomics will cut back on the number of injuries, such as back pain and carpal tunnel. This will increase your company’s overall productivity.
5. Buy, Lease or Rent?
Many forklifts today get rented due to the reduced operating capital. Rent and lease agreements are immediate tax deductions and don’t involve the complexities associated with depreciation.
Purchasing a forklift, however, lets you claim capital depreciation and other tax benefits.
To get the maximum value for your purchase, you’ll need to maximize uptime and minimize the downtime for your vehicle.
6. Electric or Propane?
Propane forklifts come with a tank mounted on the back. They are generally less expensive to buy new, but fuel costs and maintenance tend to be high.
Electric forklifts, by contrast, can be opportunity charged. The cost of recharging is generally less than filling a tank. And electric-powered forklifts produce no harmful emissions, making them an easy win.
7. The Right Way to Buy Forklift Vehicles
The task you need your forklift for and the facility you operate will determine which type of forklift you purchase.
The width of your aisles, as well as the height and weight of items you will be reaching, are important factors to consider.
Make sure you bring your specifications and requirements with you on paper when you visit a forklift dealer. The more details you can provide, the better the fit and price a qualified forklift retailer can give you.
When you’re looking to buy forklift machines, a hasty purchase won’t do. Decisions, like buying used or renting, will make a huge impact on the future of your business.
You’ll need to do your homework and determine the best forklift type and specifications for your work. The right machine will get your company humming along in no time.
For more information on forklift batteries, select a battery today.