Key Questions to Ask When Purchasing Material Handling Equipment

December 21, 2016
Posted by: Justin Engel

Selecting the right forklift or lift truck for your business is a complicated process that requires more than a simple comparison of models, specifications and/or prices.  The appropriate fit depends upon the application and environment in which the lift truck will operate, so it’s important to carefully consider the unique needs of your business, the details of the application and the work environment. When properly selected, a forklift or lift truck is capable of increasing productivity, throughput and storage efficiency, as well as lowering overall operating costs.  So, with that in mind, let’s consider 3 areas of importance for selecting the right forklift or lift truck for your business:


1. Work Environment

The situational conditions of your work environment are key determining factors when it comes to selecting an appropriate lift truck as the surface of your floors, location and layout will all influence model selection, especially in regards to vehicle fuel and tire type.  Is the surface of your floor smooth or rough?  Is it littered with debris?  Will the vehicle operate indoors, outdoors or a combination of the two?  What are the dimensions of your aisles, shelving, entrances and ceilings?  Is your building equipped to filter out additional internal combustion emissions?


2. Application

Within each class of lift trucks, whether its forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers, dock stockers, straddle stackers or pallet trucks, there are a variety of configurations and sub-types, each of which are suited to specific tasks and applications.  To determine what model type best suits your business, be sure to consider load composition (solid or liquid), load dimensions (length, width, height, shape and weight), pallet and container types (standard, short or long pallets, bottomless pallets or bins, drums, etc.) and the distance traveled between loads.


For more information, check out our infographic on the importance of application fit and model selection


3. Operating Costs

The cost of purchasing a lift truck go well beyond the purchase price, so it’s important to consider the total cost of ownership, which refers to sum of all the expected expenses over the lifetime of the equipment.  A variety of factors influence a given model’s total cost of ownership including the purchase price, financing fees, fuel costs, overall productivity, the frequency and cost of regular service and maintenance, and the possibility for unexpected repairs and downtime. Also, it’s important to remember that a forklift has an economic lifespan since, as it ages, it’s cost of ownership begins to increase relative to it’s productivity.


One way of determining a model’s total cost of ownership is to calculate its CPM or its cost per pallet moved, which offers insight into the relative value of each model while controlling for differences between facilities.  To calculate the CPM, divide the daily operating costs by the number of pallets an operator is capable of transporting per shift with a given piece of equipment.  An alternate method of cost calculation involves calculating adding up the total cost of operating the equipment and dividing it by the total hours used to determine the cost per hour.

As you can see, it’s extremely important to find a competent dealer with the knowledge and experience needed to appropriately answer all of these questions.  For help finding a Stärke dealership near you, please visit Stärke’s find a dealer page today!


Justin Engel

Justin Engel is the marketing specialist at Stärke Material Handling Group. In addition to content development, he also handles graphic and website design, SEO, PR and strategic planning.

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