Tuesday, January 12, 2010

(Electric + Forklift) x W.D. Matthews = Success

  I remember being broken down in Kentucky, laptop plugged into the salad bar of a truck stop, co-worker bursting into tears when she considered the absurdity of the situation and I was thankful for the ability to get work done on the road.  Back then my laptop was great although I needed to be near an outlet if I wanted to work for more than an hour. 
  My wife got an IPOD for Christmas and I remembered the above scene, my 29 pound laptop, the power cord, the waitresses scowl as she cleaned “her” salad bar.  Now in the palm of her hand, my wife has more mobile computing power than I could have even imagined then and she work for hours and hours!
  A similar paradigm shift is occurring in the world of forklifts.  While it has largely gone unnoticed by many in the manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution worlds, we forklift geeks are ecstatic about the revolution of batteries and chargers and our ability to offer cleaner, greener, less expensive power for materials handling operations. 

  Old concerns about battery swapping, gassing during charging, exposure to acid, connectors arcing, and more are still prevalent in the materials handling world.  I received an e-mail today expressing these reservations and would like to cover several here.

1.My operation runs 24 hours a day and I do not have space to dedicate to spare battery storage. 

  Today’s opportunity & Fast Charge systems allow operations to run extended shifts on the single battery that stays in the lift.  Taking advantage of High Frequency charging technologies to “read” the status of the battery allows the charger to continuously adapt and prevent the damage caused by older chargers when used to opportunity charge. 

2.I do not want my employees exposed to battery acid.

  Today’s batteries are designed to run and extended time between watering intervals and combined with single point watering systems and Smart Blinky water indicators virtually eliminate the need for employees to open vent caps and access the acid portion of the battery. 

3.Electric lifts are slower and can’t do the work of my LP powered lifts.

  Fact is new AC powered electric lifts deliver equal or even better performance than IC forklift.  So unless you just love the vibration, noise and fumes; this is a hard argument to win.

Now let’s look at some of the advantages of electric lifts. 

1.Drastic reduction in fuel costs.  LPG cost more and the market volatility should scare the daylights out of anyone charged with operating a fleet of fork lifts.  Electric rates are more controlled and predictable from year to year. 
2.Improved operational cleanliness.  Electric units reduce dust and do not produce the film often found on shrink wrapped products in the warehouse.  Also fewer fluids to leak or spill resulting in a cleaner operation.
3.Improved operator health and safety.  Eliminating noxious fumes, engine vibration and  noise will improve the safety and well being of forklift operators and all those who work around the warehouse.
4.Reduction in maintenance costs.  Simply put, electric lifts have fewer components and moving parts.  No engine-oil changes, no radiators, no transmissions leads to greatly reduced maintenance costs and down-time.
5.Realizing “Green Initiatives” in the materials handling process.  Reduced emissions, less carbon footprint, and lower reliance on foreign oil to power daily operations.  A great bonus for running a more cost effective facility.

Overall there are fewer applications that demand an IC powered forklift.  More of our customers are educating themselves and realizing the benefits of converting to an electric powered forklift.

If you have any questions or would like to see how your company could benefit by switching to electric powered lifts, feel free to contact me directly.

Michael Brandt
Account Representative
Southern Maine & New Hampshire Territory
WD Matthews Machinery

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