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In the search for minimising the carbon footprint of urbanised regions and tackling climate change, the electrification of transport has been one of the most interesting solutions. Next has been alternative fuels, including biofuels, natural gas and even hydrogen. Yet most vehicles today are still powered by fossil fuels. And this mode of transport consumes large amounts of energy, emits particulate matter and contributes greatly to global warming with its greenhouse gasses.

The world, however, is not necessarily ready for the changeover to alternative technologies. The limited supply chain and inconvenience of part or component replacements not being easy to find, along with intermittent refuelling stations make it simply inconvenient.

Material Handling Equipment & Industry

With material handling equipment and the industry itself, the implementation of internal transport processes is an integral area of business. The economical aspect of internal transport is usually rated as incredibly important, whereas the environmental consequences were often overlooked in the past. Internal transport, such as forklifts, are used in almost every commercial and industrial warehouse to move goods and materials on and off trucks or from and into storage areas.

Some forklifts transport goods on ground level, while others are used for lifting or lowering merchandise and loads. The load varies, as well as the time in operation, with some serving up to 24 hours per day, even seven days per week in some cases.  With forklifts operating indoors as well as outdoors, there is no doubt that the environmental impact of the material handling industry has become an important focus, and consequently the internal transport logistics too.

The amount of carbon emissions generated by forklifts during material handling is largely dependent on all the factors mentioned above. And since most forklifts are still powered by lead-acid batteries or by fossil fuels (especially the larger types), it has become a matter of urgency to rethink the environmental impact of forklifts. The alternative solutions include electric forklifts, which have their limitations.

Forklifts can be separated into five classes:​

Battery-Powered or Electric Forklifts

Battery-powered forklifts or better known as electric forklifts are categorised as Class I, II and III; and usually, work indoors. Limited in lift capacity, these electric forklifts are often selected as a worker safety precaution and for their ability to operate in confined spaces.

Electric forklifts do not come without any environmental impact, however, just limited. There is still a risk of contamination of the environment when disposing of the forklift batteries. Discharging batteries could also emit hazardous combustible gases. But when handled responsibly, these risks are kept to a minimum. The initial input cost of an electric forklift is much higher than internal combustion (fossil-fuelled) forklifts, but the overall long-term cost of ownership is lower.

At 600SA we can assist you to identify the right electric forklift including a battery for your operations.

Learn more about our CT Power Forklift range of electric and diesel-powered machines.

Fossil Fuelled Forklifts

Fossil fuelled forklifts run on propane or diesel. With propane propelled forklifts there is very little, if any, inconvenience associated with running out of fuel – except for having to change propane cylinders. Fossil fuelled forklifts are also more efficient than most electric forklifts when it comes to constant, high duty applications. Reliability is more dependent on temperatures, however, freezing cold weather possibly causes downtime.

The environmental issues are relatively obvious, with high levels of emission and therefore a contribution to greenhouse gasses. This should be carefully managed. Read more about how to reduce forklift fuel emissions. Furthermore, while propane-driven forklifts can be used indoors for some applications (not food and beverage), diesel forklifts are not suitable for indoor use. Diesel-driven forklifts do however have more driveline torque at low revolutions per minute than other industrial vehicles of their kind.

As a division of CFAO Equipment SA, previously known as the EIE Group, we are committed to the sustainability of material handling operations. Together we promise full support for forklift sales, forklift repairs and forklift maintenance. We also offer forklift training via our Training Academy to ensure your compliance with OHSA standards and regulations.

Contact Us

No matter where you are in your environmental journey, talk to us to ensure you weigh up all the benefits and cost inputs that are right for your material handling business. Complete the form below, our team is ready to assist you.

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