The Forklift Fuel Robbery

With fuel prices on the increase, even a small difference in fuel efficiency adds up to very large savings – money that no company can afford to waste.

Forklift Trucks are at the heart of most UK manufacturing companies, helping to move materials during production and getting the product ready to enter and leave the warehouse. But fuelling costs for forklift operations can run into the thousands over a typical contract!

While many companies are taking advantage of the temporary fall in fuel costs, smart companies are realising that huge long-term savings can be had if you improve your fuel efficiency.

A study showed a surprisingly large difference between manufacturers’ fuel consumption, making big savings a tangible reality with the ‘right’ truck. When buying a new truck, fuel consumption is something that’s often overlooked. Usually, the information is buried deep in the manufacturer’s VDI datasheet and due to its bad comparabilities, it doesn’t get any attention.

But we’re drawing attention to it. We found that the difference between two manufacturers can be as much as £13,000 per truck over a five-year period. A staggering figure! And with the cost of fuel rising ever-higher, it’s an issue that’s not going to go away.

In this article, we’ll show you what to look for, how it’s measured. Plus we’ll help give you an idea of how much money you could be saving, to spend on something else.

The Fuel Consumption Test

The fuel consumption figure given on forklift datasheets is typically shown as VDI 60.

This figure means the truck has driven a ‘duty cycle’ based on the VDI2198 test circuit (see figure below). It carefully moderates its speed so that it completes this cycle 60 times in 60 minutes. Fuel consumption for the hour can then be measured.

VDI stands for[‘Verband Deutscher Ingenieure’, the accepted standard for comparing the fuel consumption of the different forklift trucks. However, in practice, how the truck is used, and, in particular, the way that the operator drives can, and usually does, make an even more significant difference.

The truck being tested drives forward to position ‘A’. It then lifts its rated load to a height of 2 metres, reverses out and travels to position ‘B’ some 30 metres away. It then lifts its load again to 2 metres, before reversing to its start position.

VDI test cycle according to VDI2198.

This is obviously quite an intensive cycle. In most real-world situations a forklift will not work as intensively as this throughout its shift. A reasonable estimate of real-world fuel consumption cost may be reached by taking each manufacturer’s datasheet VDI60 fuel consumption figure – and assume it is working, on average, for just 60% of the time, or 4.8 hours a day.

So here’s how to work out total fuel costs for yourself:

  1. Take the Fuel Consumption figure from a forklift’s spec sheet
  2. Multiply this by the fuel cost per litre of diesel or per kg for LPG
  3. Estimate how many hours per day the truck will be used (e.g. 60% of an 8-hour shift = 4.8)
  4. Multiply by number of shifts per year (e.g. 260)
  5. Multiply by number of years in contract (e.g. 5)

The chart below shows five well-known forklift truck manufacturers (apart from Mitsubishi, their names have been removed). In each case, the manufacturer’s datasheet for a 2.5 tonne LPG engine model was used to obtain and compare the Fuel Consumption figure.

Conclusions

By using the manufacturers’ own data, it clearly shows that there is currently a large difference between the fuel consumption performance. When taken over different periods, and in moderately intensive applications, fuel can account for a large part of the cost of ownership. If the buying decision is influenced by price, this is a huge factor to consider.

Figures calculated over a typical five year contract period show that an efficient truck can save its operator around £13,000 in fuel compared to the worst – using current fuel prices, which are certain to rise further.

So make sure to compare the truck you use now with a more energy efficient alternative. You can do this by using the formula given here to estimate your own potential savings. And next time you’re choosing your Engine Forklift, be sure to check the manufacturers’ fuel consumption figures. Any of our representatives at Welfaux will be more than happy to chat with you about this. Plus, don’t forget to ask us for an equivalent quote for using an electric truck! You might be surprised.