Take care when adding hydraulic attachments to new electric forklift trucks

If you’re in the process of ordering an electric forklift truck with a hydraulic attachment you need to take special care. Unless it is correctly specified and fitted, you could cut the operating life of your battery by 50%.

Read on and we’ll tell you how a leading company discovered, to its cost, the problems caused by a mismatch between truck and attachment … what caused the problem… and what you can do to avoid it happening to you.


Correctly specified and fitted attachments increase a forklift truck’s productivity.

Increasing functionality

With the cost of fossil fuels rising dramatically and legislation in at least one European country outlawing the use of diesel trucks indoors, demand for the new generation of AC powered electric forklifts is growing fast. Matching that increase is a continuing trend towards powerful, productivity-boosting attachments such as clamps and rotators… The result is a truck that is truly multifunctional – a major benefit in these tough economic times.

But using a powerful attachment requires a battery of sufficient capacity – and precise tuning of the hydraulics – or there may be problems.

Let’s look at a real-life example… A well-established company decided to fit a bale clamp to its existing truck. Everything went well for a while… but pretty soon the shift life was falling significantly – even though the battery was barely two and a half years old.

Identifying the problem

First, the truck was thoroughly inspected… then the attachment… followed by the battery and charger. Close investigation showed that the battery was discharging power much too quickly when working with the clamp. This is very harmful for a battery and was the reason why the battery capacity and life were being affected so severely.

The problem was twofold: a cylinder in the clamp was too big and the pump capacity set for the truck meant the hose diameter was too small. (Note: some trucks generally have slightly slimmer hydraulic hoses for third service connections and this increases resistance. But because the truck owner wanted a fast-acting clamp, the pumping power had been set at maximum. Unfortunately this only compounded the problem as the excess of hydraulic oil actually aggravated the problem by suffocating the flow.)

Preventing a mismatch

As the company in question discovered to its cost, the secret to obtaining the optimum performance is accurately matching the hose size with the volume of the attachment’s cylinders and the truck’s pumping and battery capacities.

Sounds straightforward but, according to a leading attachments manufacturer, it is often difficult to find out how much power the attachment actually needs. A clamp, for example, pulls a greater load than a fork attachment, because it needs higher pressures and more oil. However, there are other factors which are unknown to any supplier – such as intensity of use. The truck has an hour meter… but that doesn’t show how often the attachment itself is in action.

‘Remarkably, nobody ever asks us how much power our attachments will use – even though everyone knows they affect energy consumption!’ said a spokesman. ‘One of the most common mistakes is setting the pumping speed too high. As a result, some of the oil goes to the attachment but a lot of it goes straight to the tank. Reducing the pumping speed doesn’t affect the operating speed of the attachment but does affect the amount of energy consumed…’

And that’s critical because the trend is towards lighter duty batteries thanks to AC technology which means trucks use less energy than previously. A smaller battery is less expensive and can be highly efficient… but is more vulnerable to peak loadings.

Our conclusion

Best practice is to fit a high capacity battery since this also benefits the battery’s water consumption and temperature – helping maximise its operating life while reducing the costs of recharging.

Storage Density: How storage racking can increase site profitability

Think outside of the box… Double-deep stacking could increase, under certain conditions, storage density by as much as 25%.

Mounting pressure from senior management towards ‘lean’ production has left many responsible for materials handling feeling themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

With fewer resources and higher demands than ever before, streamlining production is daunting (to say the least). Although no two warehouses are the same, it’s important to remember that the efficiency of almost any warehouse can be enhanced with a little bit of time and effort.

A crucial element of unlocking your site’s profitability relies in determining the best racking system for your products. To ensure that the wisest decisions are made for your space, we highly recommend seeking the advice of a trusted supplier.

Rack ‘em up

The equipment you choose directly impacts upon the efficiency and profitability of your operation. To assist your decision-making, read on to find out about racking types, their functions and their best applications.

Free stacking


‘Block Stacking’ of pallets, free of racking equipment, is the simplest – and cheapest – means of storage. This method is only workable when you are handling large amounts of the same product, allowing pallets of the same height to be stacked one on top of the other. Unfortunately, the ‘first in first out’ (FIFO) system is not really possible.

Pallet racking


Conventional pallet racks offer flexibility and are very user-friendly. They are easy to adjust and add to, and also allow easy access to each individual pallet. Although this is a cost-effective solution, it can require wide aisles of up to 3.5 metres, dependent on the type of forklift used.

Double-deep racking


As the name suggests, pallets are stored two deep – meaning four pallets deep can be stored between aisles. Double racking requires a truck with telescopic forks and slightly larger aisle widths. Because of the need for fewer aisles, storage density can be increased by as much as 25%, dependent on the number of pallet spots.

Narrow aisle storage


When space is limited, this excellent solution allows for aisle widths as narrow as 1.8 metres. The system requires narrow aisle trucks. Pallets can generally be stored and retrieved more quickly than with conventional racking, because of the way narrow aisle trucks work. Aisle widths of even less than 1.8m are possible using ‘very narrow aisle’ (VNA) trucks which usually require a guidance system (wire, rail). But, remember: what you gain through specialisation you lose in flexibility.

Drive-in/drive-through racking


This system is designed for warehouses with high running costs (eg heating, cooling) and a limited range of goods to handle. Trucks have the option of either driving into the racking to deposit and retrieve loads, or driving right through the racking, which eliminates the need for aisles – increasing storage capacity. Using a combination of pressure-free rack and compact block stacking, the system is particularly useful for storing seasonal goods.

Satellite storage


In a satellite storage system, pallets are deep-stacked and removed by warehouse crane. Designed for sites with high picking turnovers, this automated system provides a quick and automatic retrieval method. But, the clear downside to this can be high capital costs.

Flow-rack storage


Flow-rack storage offers a highly compact solution for high-frequency goods – though because of its sophistication, it demands a high capital outlay. This option is most suitable for pallet goods or goods in cartons.

Intelligent design

Warehouse space comes at a premium – and that expense looks set to continue increasing. To keep costs low and productivity high, every effort should be made to reduce floor space used, while taking full advantage of all the cubic space between the floor and ceiling.

Your products, warehouse layout and needs directly impact upon the types of warehouse racking needed. For this reason many successful operations rely on at least two storage handling systems, so don’t be surprised if your adviser suggests a combination of equipment for your site.

Our conclusion?

Racking heavily influences productivity, but don’t allow it to overshadow your environment. After all, it can only be as efficient as its setup. So, to maximise your efficiency, seek advice from a forklift truck supplier you trust. Their knowledge and experience will provide you with the best combination of racking and trucks for your application.

New Electric Forklift or Diesel/Gas engine – which is right for your site?

Whether you’re looking for your first forklift truck or looking to replace an existing truck, choosing the right type can be daunting. And the fact that – as in all industries – the technological, legislative and environmental issues can change doesn’t make your decision any easier. What will help, though, is our easy-to-follow guide on whether an electric or an IC truck best serves your purpose.

When deciding between an electric and an IC truck, the key question – which itself raises many more questions – is your application…

The right questions to ask

What do you need your forklift truck to do throughout its working day? Does your current truck meet all your requirements or have there been changes to your application?

Will it work indoors, and, if so, is that all the time? If the truck will also work outdoors, then for how long each day?

Conversely, if the truck will work outdoors for most of the day, will you still need to use it indoors some of the time, and, if so, for how long?

What are the floor conditions like inside and outside? Do you have smooth floors, uneven floors or potholes? Are the floor conditions dry – or are they wet at any time?

Will the truck have to climb any gradients? If so, how steep are they and how many times a day will the truck have to climb them?

How many hours will the truck work? How much of that time will be spent lifting, compared to driving?

What type of load will you be handling? What are the dimensions of the load and how will it be picked up – by forks or an attachment? Will the load be handled from either side?

Will the truck work in racking, and, if so, what is the minimum aisle width? You need to measure both racking to racking and pallet face to pallet face, and use whichever measurement is narrowest.

What is the maximum weight you will be lifting, and to what height? What is the top beam height?

If you will be block-stacking, which way will you stack the pallets? Remember if the truck is wider then your load you’ll need to leave clearance for the truck – and this means you will not be making the best use of the available storage area.

Will there be pedestrians or people working in the same area as the truck?

Will goods be coming in and out each day? How will those goods be transported? How will the vehicles be loaded and unloaded – from the side drive, from a loading dock or by driving up a loading ramp? How many times a day will this happen?

Pros and cons

Once you’ve got your answers to these questions, you can weigh up the following pros and cons of electric and IC trucks:

Electric trucks – pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Quiet in operation
  • Fewer moving parts than an IC engine – therefore less maintenance, and lower maintenance and lifetime costs
  • Your battery is your fuel for the next five years or more, providing you follow the battery manufacturer’s guidelines for charging and maintenance
  • There’s a small cost to charging your battery overnight; the cost per kW may vary depending on who supplies your electricity
  • Electric trucks are usually compact, which makes them manoeuvrable – especially in the case of the three-wheel design
  • Less deration of mast at higher lift heights
  • Very adaptable: drive, acceleration, lift, tilt and auxiliary speeds can be adapted easily to suit application or driver

Electric trucks – cons

  • Generally not suitable for continuous outside use or in wet conditions
  • Need good floor conditions
  • Need to charge the battery nightly or when necessary
  • Need a vented charging area
  • High energy use on continuous high lifts and ramp work

IC engine diesel/LPG – pros

  • Suitable for continuous outside use
  • No charging necessary – therefore the truck is always available even outside of normal working hours
  • Can work on uneven surfaces
  • Initial lower cost than an electric truck
  • Larger capacities available than electric
  • LPG can be used in some indoor applications
  • LPG has lower emissions than diesel

IC engine diesel/LPG – cons

  • Can be noisy
  • Higher emissions
  • Higher maintenance cost
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher lifetime cost
  • Less adaptability than an electric truck
  • Need to have a fuel supply

Our conclusion?

Armed with this valuable information on the best type of forklift for your application and business, contact an experienced and helpful local truck dealer. Drawing on their expertise, you can refine your requirements and identify the best vehicle to help your business meet its needs and goals.

Forklift Finance: getting the best deal for your business

As with any other capital outlay, the way you finance your forklift truck purchases deserves special consideration. What’s the difference between contract hire, hire purchase and finance lease? Weigh up the options with our easy-to-follow guide.

Forklift finance options

Contract hire

Although you won’t end up owning the truck if you opt for a contract hire arrangement, there are several reasons why this may be the right option for you:

  • Because contracts are for specific terms, you know exactly what you have to pay and when – meaning you can plan ahead and control your costs.
  • You receive a complete package including delivery, maintenance, service and repairs. This translates to less worry and less expense ongoing.
  • When it comes to balancing the books, outstanding rentals are not shown as liabilities on your balance sheet, so will have no impact on your debt-to-equity ratio.
  • It’s tax efficient – all the rental you pay can be offset against tax.

Hire purchase

With hire purchase, you own the truck at the end of the agreed term, at which point you can either continue to use it or sell it on. And there are other advantages, too:

  • The fixed term contract again means you know what you have to pay and when, so you can plan ahead and control costs.
  • The deposit is negotiable, allowing you to reduce what you pay up front – and freeing up capital for other parts of your business.
  • You can claim tax allowances against the hire purchase.

Finance lease

With a finance lease, you keep responsibility for the maintenance, repair and service of your vehicle, as well as insurance costs. That needs to be weighed up against other factors – particularly flexibility – that go in its favour:

  • At the end of the lease term, you can either continue using the truck (for which you pay a nominal lease), or sell it on and receive most of the sales proceeds – in the form of either a rebate or a deposit on your next purchase.
  • All the rental you pay is allowable against tax, so again, this option is tax efficient.

Making the right decision

The first step to discovering the right deal is to ask questions. At welfaux, our trained sales team will discuss your business’ financial goals and take you through the range of options available. Working together, we’ll find the solution that suits you – and your budget.

Call Welfaux now to discuss the very latest finance deals for all your material handling equipment.  Call: 0118 978 3838, or email us today.

Welfaux guide to buying a used forklift truck

At Welfaux, our customers often ask for guidance on buying a used forklift and other handling equipment. As prices for new forklift trucks drop, the incentive to buy a second hand unit (refurbished or not) is becoming increasingly difficult to justify in some circumstances.

The reliability of a new truck, combined with very cheap finance deals often makes a used truck a non starter for many businesses.  However, there are times when a used unit could be justified, so we set out the following guide to help customers in selecting the best used forklift to suit their needs (and of course, we hope that the choice would be a Welfaux Refurbished Truck).

Welfaux guide to purchasing a used forklift truck

When to buy used

Right now, there are some very attractive deals on used equipment – but it’s also a very good time to buy new, so you need to be extra careful to get the best overall deal. Like buying a used car, the seller may not want to tell you everything and repair bills could cost you thousands, so it’s up to you to choose a reputable supplier and to check the truck thoroughly before you buy.

If your business depends on a particular type or specification of forklift then you should probably not take a chance on a used truck. Choosing a used truck increases your risk of breakdown, so before buying, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will your business lose a great deal if the truck fails?
  2. Is the truck’s application demanding?
  3. Will you be using the truck for more than four hours per day?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, a new truck should be strongly considered for reliability. Equally, if the truck you use currently is vital to your operations, you may wish to buy another second hand truck and keep it as a spare to support your operations. Whatever your needs, use the following checklist to help you come to the right decision…

Is the truck you are considering really up to the job?

Whether you’ve already decided to purchase used or not, ask at least three dealers to carry out site surveys and quote for both new and used.

When quoting used trucks, some dealers will quote based on what they hold in stock rather than trucks specifically suited to your application. By contrast, dealers will often detail the optimal truck for your operation when quoting for a new machine.

By requesting both new and used quotations, you can easily query any variances, including capacity, mast height and truck type.

Look for a reliable manufacturer and model

Not all makes of truck age equally well. Choose a well-known manufacturer that has an established reputation for reliability; you can expect their trucks to have far fewer and less costly problems in later life and to retain more of their value in their ‘second life’. Opting for a reputable manufacturer increases a truck’s residual value and improves your ability to source parts and service easily in the long term.

Likewise, always choose the most reputable dealer in your area. Just as your truck should be reliable, so should your dealer. To find those best suited to the needs of you and your business, always ask for references.

For added protection, select a dealer who is a member of a trade body such as the Fork Lift Truck Association. Their membership is an indicator of their integrity and standards of customer service. To find out more about the Fork Lift Truck Association, visit www.fork-truck.org.uk.

Check the paperwork carefully

  1. CE mark on the truck
  2. Identity plate (with manufacturer name and address) and capacity plate in correct language
  3. CE Certificate in correct language
  4. Operators manual for the truck, in correct language
  5. Labels and warning on the truck in correct language

Make sure that the truck has a genuine CE mark which shows it’s been approved for European use. With a growing number of ‘rogue imports’ on the market – without the CE mark – you could be stuck with a truck you can’t sell, get parts for or, in the event of an accident, could even invalidate your insurance. For more details on rogue imports, see our article ‘Don’t bet your business on a rogue truck’.

Buyers should always ask to see the truck’s current ‘Certificate of Thorough Examination’ – it is a legal requirement for every truck and should cover the requirements of both PUWER and LOLER. Like an MOT for your car, this certificate does not check for all potential problems, and some areas like the engine are completely uninspected, but it is a vital basic check for key safety areas like mast and chain condition.

If you are in any doubt about a truck’s condition, do request an independent Thorough Examination prior to purchase. To find a company accredited to carry out a Thorough Examination in your area, visit: www.thoroughexamination.org.uk

How many hours has it done?

Always check the truck’s hour-meter as you would with a car’s odometer. Consider what would you expect from a used car with 150,000km ‘on the clock’… forklift experts equate one hour of fork lift truck use to be the same as driving a car at an average speed of 50 km/hr, so running a truck for 1,500 hours a year is the equivalent of driving a car 75,000 km – each year!

A good rule of thumb is to look for a truck which has been run for 1,000 hours or less for each year of its life.

However, a word of caution – remember that, like cars, this can be tampered with by less than reputable dealers. To confirm the meter reading, always ask for a service record (as you would for a car); this will also ensure it has been properly maintained…

Try before you buy

Forklift trucks should always be inspected and given a test run prior to purchase. This is especially important with the rise of trucks being purchased online. Some engineers are reporting growing problems with trucks purchased in this way.

Particularly with IC engine trucks, it’s essential that you start the engine from cold. Pay special attention to the ease of the engine when turning over and look out for excessive smoke levels.

To test the truck’s performance in challenging situations, ask a qualified operator to manoeuvre the truck up the ramp in both forward and reverse.

Conduct a thorough hydraulic leak test

As part of your own inspection, try this simple test on an IC engine truck: park the truck on a clean area of floor, then run the truck for around 10-15 minutes. During this time, have a qualified operator operate all of the hydraulic functions.

Finally, move the truck away and look on the ground to see if there are any tell-tale fluid leaks. Even small leaks are important warning signs and can prove expensive to rectify, particularly transmission leaks.

Check the mast operation

Check for smooth mast operation, with and without a load. The mast should not ‘bind’ (stick) and there should be no play in the mast channels or between the fork carriage and mast. Masts and chains must always be checked by a competent person.

Look out for any creeping down or creeping forward of the mast when loaded. This could be a sign of seals, ram or valve problems.

Check also that the rating plate on a truck refers to the mast and any fitted attachments. During the course of a truck’s life, the mast may have been changed. This is often overlooked. If there is a sideshift, check whether it’s operating smoothly and not sticking when loaded.

Check the forks

Examine the truck’s forks for damage or wear, paying special attention to:

  1. Thickness at heel: The minimum should be specified by the truck’s manufacturer. But, If this is not available, it should be in accordance with ISO5057.
  2. Fit: A loose fit could indicate worn carriage or hanger points.
  3. Cracks: Visually check for cracks on the arms at heels and mountings

What does the warranty actually cover?

Always ask to see a truck’s warranty documents, paying special attention to:

  1. How much warranty is being offered
  2. What the warranty covers
  3. What the exclusions are

For additional security, you may wish to request an additional warranty on the battery.

Importantly, most warranties apply to new trucks – with some terminating upon resale. But some do travel with the truck to its new owner. The Extended Warranty on Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks is an example of this.

Look out for ex-rental or ex-demonstration bargains

An ex-rental truck can be a good choice for your ‘back-up’ truck as they are often well-maintained and are normally sold after fewer years’ use. Typically an ‘owned’ IC engine truck is used around 1,500 hours a year and is part exchanged after about seven years (electric trucks up to 10 years). In comparison, a truck that was part of a short-term hire fleet should have far less than 1,000 hours a year on the clock and is typically re-sold after just 3-5 years

Similarly, a truck that was only used as a dealer demonstration model should have very low truck hours.

What condition is the battery in?

On an electric forklift, a large part of its value is the battery and replacing one is very expensive. Imagine that when the truck is new it’s about 30 per cent of the total value and after 5 years it can be 40 per cent or more.

To help gauge the sort of battery life you can expect from a second-hand electric counterbalance truck, you simply need to remember that – as a rule of thumb – a battery’s life consists of 1,200 charges – lasting approximately five hours each.

By dividing the number of hours a truck has been in operation by five, you can discover just how many charges it has left. Let’s look at a truck which has worked 3,500 hours:

  • 3500 hrs worked to date /5 = 700 battery charges used
  • 1200 battery charges available – 700 battery charges used = 500 battery charges remaining
  • 500 battery charges remaining x 5 hr per battery charge = 2500 hours of battery life remaining

To determine the impact of battery life on your site, why not calculate your annual use? Just multiply the number of hours the truck will be in operation each week by 52. If your trucks are needed 24 hours per week, your annual use (1248 hours) means that your battery will need to be replaced in two years’ time.

One way to determine a battery’s health is to examine the battery plates for white crystals. This could be a sign of sulphation, a naturally occurring process whereby sulphuric crystals from the sulphuric acid attach themselves to the lead plates, preventing the battery from charging. This problem is more common in warm environments where batteries are used or charged often and is a prime cause of premature battery failure… and loss.

Alternatively, you could request an inspection of the truck’s battery by a battery manufacturer or reputable forklift truck dealer. They will be able to test the specific gravity of the battery. The findings will verify the health of this vital truck component.

Check the tyres

Check the tyres for signs of uneven wear as this can indicate poor axle alignment – a very pricey repair job.
Make sure any truck you’re thinking of purchasing has not been fitted with the wrong type of compound tyres. These wear prematurely and can be a costly exercise to correct.

On solid tyres, look out for a pronounced line: this will indicate that a truck is nearing its wear limit.

Replacement of forklift tyres can be expensive. It’s better to buy the right tyres (click here for our earlier article on this). When you’ve done this, you can kick the tyres if you like…


Signs of abuse checklist

There is no substitute for an extensive examination by an expert, ideally your own in-house service engineer if you have one. Here are some key points that should be looked for. Why not print out this checklist and take it with you when you inspect the truck…

  1. Damage to overhead guard or backrest
  2. Low oil pressure
  3. Worn rings or valves
  4. Radiator damage
  5. Rust in engine coolant
  6. Discoloured transmission fluid
  7. Bowed or scored mast channels
  8. Score marks on the mast or cylinder rods
  9. Downward drift of an elevated carriage
  10. Leaking hydraulic control valves
  11. Absent or suspicious CE mark
  12. Fork arms with cracks, welds, bends or excessive wear
  13. Loose steer axle knuckles or tie-rod ends
  14. Chassis cracks or signs of re-welding
  15. Heavy rusting on the chassis
  16. Missing safety equipment
  17. High truck hours (over 1,000 hours per year since new)
  18. Certificate of Thorough Examination.
  19. Uneven tyre wear
  20. Fluid leaks under the truck when idling for 10-15 minutes
  21. Excessive noise from motor when carrying a load
  22. Sooty residue in the exhaust pipe
  23. Brakes should stop smoothly and in a straight
  24. Operator manual in your own language

Ask Welfaux about our approved used and refurbished Forklifts

If you need a truck as a spare or only have occasional use for one, buying used may well make sense. It’s not always possible, but, if you’re in any doubt, you could take the unusual step of asking if you can hire the machine for a few weeks before committing to buy.

At Welfaux, take pride in pairing a vast product range with competitive prices. As well as new and used trucks for sale, Welfaux offers a wide range of materials handling equipment for immediate short and long term hire, with maintenance contracts and finance options to suit your specific application.  All of our used and refurbished equipment is thoroughly inspected and certified safe for use.

If your business depends on the truck, it’s most likely a better business decision to buy new -possibly with an extended warranty. Whatever you decide, take as much care as you would buying a car – and ask Welfaux for advice and guidance.

Call us on 0118 978 3838 or email us now for our up to date used trucks stock list – and a comparitive finance quote on a new truck.  You might be suprised…

Are mobile phones putting your business at risk?

If driving a car while using a mobile phone is considered so risky it’s been made illegal in many countries, then how much more dangerous is it to drive a forklift truck while being distracted?

Are mobile phones putting your business at risk? Because it isn’t against the law – in many countries – to drive a forklift truck while holding a mobile, the onus is on management to take a stance. The first thing to do is carry out a Risk Assessment to evaluate when and if calls have to be made. This may even influence your choice of truck.

It makes sense, for example, to ban drivers from taking or making personal calls while at the wheel. Where there is a legitimate reason for using the phone for work purposes (for example, when a forklift operator needs to communicate with fellow workers on a working platform), you could consider a hands-free kit, or one of the even safer communication systems available for use in warehouses.

Grab… and smash!

Driver distraction comes in other forms, though, including drivers losing control of a truck when seeking to grab an unsecured item that is in danger of falling within the cab area. This could easily be a mobile phone, clipboard, tape measure, even something as trivial as a pen. The problem is that it’s a reflex response – unrelated to the value or importance of the item – so the problem must be solved at source.

When you are considering a new truck, always include in your specification the amount and quality of storage space available for storing the type of gear that a driver will typically carry: for example, cups, drinks cans, bottles, pens, scissors, tape dispenser, writing-pad/clipboard and mobile phone. Some new models even incorporate a litter bin and a stow-bag for the driver’s personal possessions.

Our conclusion?

To reveal the threats mobile phones and other distractions have on your business, carry out a Risk Assessment. With this information to hand, you can easily evaluate when and – more importantly – if calls should be made. A reputable supplier can assist with identifying possible solutions, such as communication systems or secure storage devices.


Action Points to consider:

  • Schedule Risk Assessment
  • Find out about communication systems and storage
  • Create and enforce policy on mobile phone use

 

How new forklift battery technology can save you money

New-style chargers can pay for themselves in less than a year

Forklift battery save money

Simply switching over to electric power can deliver substantial savings, so much so that we often take this energy source for granted. But there are some additional technological advancements out there.

We’ve spoken to some of the industry’s leading manufacturers of forklift batteries, chargers and systems to find out about how these innovations deliver tangible rewards to your business.

A newcomer to the marketplace

HF chargersPerhaps the most exciting area development in battery technology is in HF, or high frequency chargers.

HF chargers are up to 15% more efficient than your typical 50 Hz charger. They are up to four times lighter and smaller than traditional offerings. And with an electrolyte mixing system, the installation costs are as much as 60% less than a traditional charger.

What does this mean in real terms? If your energy price is 11 cent per kWh, an HF charger can recover the whole investment cost of a 50Hz charger in just one year.”

This is a constantly evolving technology… and for good reason, too. The cost of fuel and the current economic climate mean that this development of technology will only accelerate.

How long will your battery last?

A typical battery life consists of 1200 charges lasting approximately 5 hours each, or roughly 6,000 hours. Quick calculations allow you to identify when this vital component will need replacement.

Let’s look at a truck which has already worked 1,000 hours at a rate of 24 hours per week (1248 hours annually).

battery-last

Finding the right system for your site

Which battery or motive power system you choose, of course, depends very much on your application. There are a number of major factors to be considered, including:

  • Number of shifts
  • Internal processes
  • Operation time
  • Ambient temperatures

High frequency vs 50 Hz chargers

High frequency chargers

Our advice is to contact an experienced supplier for what’s best for your operations. If in doubt, contact us now.

Most importantly, whether you’re replacing your truck or looking after your existing one, remember that your battery is your fuel for the next five years or more, providing you look after it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance.


Action Points to consider:

  • A forklift battery can be worth 30% of your truck’s value
  • HF chargers are 15% more efficient
  • HF chargers are four times lighter and smaller
  • Installation costs are up to 60% less than a traditional charging system

 

Forklift warranties: how to stack the odds in your favour

Is buying an extended warranty a sensible safeguard or a waste of cash? Here are seven essential questions to ask when making your choice

Do you like taking risks? At some time most of us have played the lottery or placed a bet on the outcome of a sporting event. But would you do the same with your day-to-day business?

Mitsubishi Fve Years Warranty
Mitsubishi’s five year Extended Powertrain Warranty. Look closely at its terms and you’ll see it includes more cover than other extended warranties – including ‘unlimited maximum claim’.

Some people compare extended warranties to taking a gamble: what are the odds of something going wrong? Does that risk justify the cost of an extended warranty? Do you take a chance or go without? Will it cover the component that goes wrong?

With a major investment, such as a forklift truck, the stakes are high. If something goes wrong and there’s no warranty, the problems can escalate rapidly. You lose valuable time trying to get things sorted. Meanwhile, you’re a truck down – for days, or maybe longer. The workload backs up and customers are upset. Stress levels rocket and costs soar.

So should you always take the maximum warranty your dealer offers?
It depends.

What’s worse than no extended warranty?

Answer: Having a bad extended warranty – one that fails to provide the cover you expected. When this happens, you’re paying out and losing out. Small print can have big implications.

The best approach is to view the extended warranty as an integral part of your forklift purchase. It could prove as important as the engine, hydraulics or the axles – so you should examine it with just as much care.

But what should you look for? This checklist should help you find the best available.

1) Who’s offering the extended warranty?

Sometimes extended warranties are delivered by a third party such as an insurance company. But the best ones are underwritten by the manufacturer. This is a powerful indicator that the odds of something going wrong with your forklift are small — the manufacturer is willing to take the risk that their equipment won’t let them – or you – down… It also shows they’re interested in a long-term relationship with you, built upon trust and not in making a quick sale and disappearing.

What's covered?2) What’s covered?

Parts should be included as well as labour. That way, you’re pushing the costs and risks away from yourself, and onto the policy. All major (i.e. expensive) components should be covered — with an option to include batteries if the truck is electric. It’s also important that cover extends to any damage to your truck that’s been caused by a failure – not just the problem itself. (However, it’s unlikely that any warranty will cover filters and other “wear parts”.)

How's it delivered?3) How’s it delivered?

You want a policy that provides for high-spec, guaranteed manufacturer-approved parts – not cheap copies that could break after your extended warranty finishes. The cover should guarantee skilled technicians, who are authorised to work on your truck. This will result in faster (and more reliable) fixes. It’s also important that workshops are knowledgeable and well stocked with parts, to avoid delays and mix-ups over the wrong components being ordered.

Are there any cost limits?4) Are there any cost limits?

Imagine being told that you’re only covered for a fraction of the final bill – and it’s a big one! To avoid nasty shocks, ensure your warranty has no limit to the value of a claim or to the number of claims you can make on a single truck. Also, check there’s no sliding scale where the truck’s decreasing value affects the level of cover provided.

Is it good value?5) How long will it last?

It’s fairly obvious, but a heavily-used, three or four-year-old truck is more likely to need attention than one that’s only a few months old. This means the value of each year of cover is not even: every extra year on an extended warranty is worth more to you than the one before. Some extended warranties also offer extra flexibility by linking cover to how much the truck has been used (measured in thousands of hours).

How long will it last?6) Is it good value?

If you’re shopping around for a forklift, don’t simply compare the basic price and think about cover afterwards; add in the costs of a comprehensive extended warranty for each truck and see how the models compare again. These revised figures are more likely to represent the true cost of ownership. The price of some extended warranties may be jaw-dropping. But others may work out to be surprisingly affordable — perhaps the same as a couple of litres of engine oil per month. (Note: some dealers take out an extended warranty at the start of a rental contract. They have done the maths and know that the right cover, underwritten by a manufacturer, pays off.)

Is it transferable?7) Is it transferable?

Unless you’re going to work your truck into the ground, its residual trade-in value is a key part of your ownership cost. So it’s worth noting that some extended warranties terminate when a truck is sold on. So look for cover that can be transferred to a new owner — which can add a lot of resale value to your truck. View this as cash-back.

The bottom lineThe bottom line

Even for a reliable truck, a good extended warranty avoids unplanned costs, protects your business and guarantees complete peace of mind – especially after three, four or five years. So if the manufacturer won’t offer the cover you need, ask yourself why.

 


Poster

Bad Vibrations – Are your forklift trucks falling foul of the law?

Lowering your forklift’s travelling speed can greatly reduce the level of body vibrations created.

Body vibrations on forklift trucks have been a hot topic from the moment European Directive 2002/44/EC shone the spotlight on them. The big question is whether the use of damping techniques and better seats is really worthwhile? Wouldn’t it be better to meet the directive another way?

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More attention is also being paid to the quality of the driver’s seat and the type of tyres fitted.

A recent series of on-site tests provide the answer.

According to Directive 2002/44/EC on body vibrations, employers must prevent their employees from being exposed to vibrations greater than 1.15m/s2. The same directive also states that employers must take preventative measures if vibrations over an eight-hour workday exceed the action value of 0.5m/s2. In an attempt to meet these conditions, forklift manufacturers are using different techniques including suspension (floating) cabs, suspended powertrains (in diesel trucks), and minimum clearance for mast and chassis.

Seats, tyres, surfaces

Extensive testing revealed that these measures do have a positive effect on reducing body vibrations. A good seat, for example, helps cut vibration levels – but only if it is correctly adjusted to suit the body weight of the driver. Beware, though… a wrongly adjusted seat actually amplifies vibrations!

In the tests, a variety of forklift trucks – both electric and IC engine – were then run with a range of different tyres. Testers measured vibrations on trucks fitted with solid rubber and pneumatic tyres, as well as with solid rubber tyres which had perforations in the intermediate layer. They ran the trucks over three different surfaces: relatively flat asphalt, paving stones and rain gutters. Across all three surfaces solid rubber tyres produced the best results – and those with perforations performed best of all. On asphalt, the pneumatic tyres were found to create an imbalance that actually increases vibrations. Indeed, these tyres only performed well on paving stones while carrying a load.

Speed decides all

Naturally, most of the tests involved modern trucks, seats and tyres. Just for comparison’s sake, measurements were also taken on a 20-year-old electric forklift truck with a rattling pallet box tipper, worn cushion tyres and a seat without suspension. Astonishingly, this truck had the lowest vibration values of all! Why? Well, this truck had a much lower travel speed than its modern competitors and that is the key to really cutting vibrations. But before you drag your old truck from the knacker’s yard, remember that cutting driving speeds will have exactly the same effect on a modern truck.

Our conclusion?

Virtually no forklift trucks on test could perform below the legal limit of 0.5m/s2 in an eight-hour day. To get your vibrations as low as possible you need to ensure the ground is as smooth as possible; suspension seats must be correctly adjusted to body weight and the right tyre is a must. Finally, cutting speed – especially when crossing awkward terrain – will deliver the greatest reductions of all.


Action Points to consider:

  • Post reminder to forklift drivers to check seat adjustments
  • Book a forklift vibration test with Welfaux
  • Educate your team to reduce speed limits

 

The impact of forklift design and ergonomics – free poster

In any forklift truck, the part that has the biggest impact on safety, performance and running costs is also the most expensive. It’s the operator.

Over the life of your forklift truck, you’ll spend more on operators’ wages than anything else – and with good reason. If your operation is going to be safe, efficient and productive, the driver is your most important investment.

The first thing any forklift truck should be is a good place to work – but too many managers dismiss a good cab environment as a luxury. And that’s a huge mistake.  Great cab design is critical. Here’s why:

1. Boosting productivity

When your drivers are uncomfortable, it’s a big distraction – and they tire more quickly, too. That lack of focus reduces performance, while increasing the risk of accidents.

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The spacious operator compartment in Mitsubishi’s EDiA EX range puts every operator function within effortless reach.

A well thought-out cab puts all the controls within arm’s reach, allowing the driver to keep their mind on the job and their eyes on the environment. It also reduces the need for unnecessary movements, which can really add up over a shift, keeping the driver feeling fresher for longer.

As simple as it sounds, it’s important to allow plenty of space, too. Statistics show workers across Europe are getting bigger – and a 2014 European Union ruling means employers must make allowances for those who are overweight – so it’s important to choose a forklift truck where everyone can sit comfortably, whatever their size.

2. Eliminating strain

Strain-related injuries suffered by drivers can have long-term impact on their health. The neck, shoulders, upper back and forearms are all particularly susceptible, mainly through overstretching for levers and excessive cab vibration.

Well-designed fingertip controls allow precise operation even in heavy gloves. Mitsubishi were the first to include fingertip control in their forklifts. Today several Mitsubishi models feature this within the latest designs.
Well-designed fingertip controls allow precise operation even in heavy gloves. Mitsubishi were the first to include fingertip control in their forklifts. Today several Mitsubishi models feature this within the latest designs.

With sick pay and – potentially – compensation to think of, good ergonomic design makes sound economic sense.

Wherever possible, the driving position should be fully adjustable and supported – such as the full forearm support on many Mitsubishi forklifts, with a full-length armrest that can move in two dimensions. Also look for adjustable seats and steering columns… and save time by choosing a truck that remembers the personal settings for each driver.

Pay special attention to reach trucks – where mounting and dismounting the truck over 100 times in a shift can really take its toll on the operator’s joints. Simple touches like wide, non-slip steps, good grab handles and a lower seat position can reduce the strain enormously… and some trucks go further still.  When Mitsubishi designed the SENSiA, our latest range of reach trucks, we even created a console that folds away to make things as easy as possible.

3. Reducing damage

Visibility is a factor in up to 80% of accidents, so look for a cabin that design that gives clear, wide open views all around – as well as a high vision mast, of course.

Forklift visibility issues

Good ergonomics helps here, too. Obviously, a tired or distracted driver is not going to be at their sharpest – and that makes accidents more likely. Since two-thirds of forklift accident victims are colleagues on foot, helping the driver to focus makes work safer for everyone.

But reducing accident risk doesn’t just protect your workforce. If it happens often enough, minor damage to trucks, racking and stock can quickly add up to a huge – and largely uninsured – expense.

4. Protecting limbs

Working in very tight and confined spaces, it is vital to consider the space within a reach truck’s compartment to ensure it is big enough to protect all of your driver.

Above: the ingenious design of the Mitsubishi SENSiA reach truck allows the operator easy access to a spacious compartment – while being protected by the truck’s profile.

A compartment which is too small could result in an operator’s shoulder, arm or leg protruding from the compartment… creating a very real danger of trapping or scraping a limb against racking walls.

In developing SENSiA, Mitsubishi’s latest family of reach trucks, our designers looked to maximise the space available within the compartment itself – ensuring operators’ limbs are protected against nasty injuries, even during narrow aisle operations.

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