Forklifts in the road: Which system is best for your organisation?

If you are currently in the market for a new forklift to meet the material handling needs of you or your company, it can often be difficult to decide upon the right type of forklift, with both cost and site specific requirements playing a role in your eventual decision.

The decision between Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) comprising of LNG or diesel powered machines, and Battery Electric Forklifts can usually be weighed up by comparing the financial and environmental costs. Batteries have been in a materials handling context for at least 200 years, the most common battery currently used in the materials handling industry is the lead acid battery. The two main types of forklift are LPG and battery electric. Which should you choose?

These are the following pros and cons for the various fuel sourced forklifts used in warehouses today:


The ICE forklifts main advantage over Battery Electric forklifts is their ability to provide consistently strong power. Batteries can be slower to accelerate and lift and also travel slower than their ICE counterparts. Whilst ICE forklifts are stronger, Battery electric forklifts have a significantly lower noise output. Battery models also have fewer moving parts and no exhaust or engine noise, producing only a quarter of the noise of ICE forklifts.

In terms of initial cost, ICE forklifts are significantly less expensive than electric forklifts. The initial cost of an electric forklift can be double the price of its diesel/LPG equivalent, although it is important to take into consideration the total cost of ownership upon the purchase. When the working environment is considered, electric trucks can easily be seen as superior to LPG or diesel models as they can be easily charged and require less on-site maintenance.

The storage of the fuel for ICE models also presents a safety issue. Internal combustion engines (diesel and LPG) regularly require servicing and a top up of consumables such as engine oil, transmission and radiator fluids and filters -parts that are both considerable financially and which can be very harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

In the case of food distribution centres, internal combustion engines exhaust might be deemed unacceptable, or harmful to the product. The lack of exhaust fumes ensures the integrity of the product as indoor air quality is improved by eliminating all exhaust. Money is also saved on elaborate and expensive HVAC systems, that would be required to deal with the fumes, which would use a lot of power.

The most important aspect of choosing the right forklift for operation is to consider the company’s application and its needs. Food distributions centres are strongly encouraged by OHS standards, but not obliged, to operate with battery electrics. On the other hand, for big trucks, the only viable option on the market is diesel or LPG power.

For more information on forklifts, feel free to visit Ferret’s new-look range:

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