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What Is The Best Fuel For Forklifts?

Posted on August 6, 2014 18:00 by Admin

Optimizing your forklifts will allow your facility to run more efficiently and cheaply. Matching the right type of truck to the job is a key part of job management. There are three types of forklift fuels -- diesel, gas and electric -- and each has advantages and disadvantages. For most applications, electric forklifts supported by battery handling equipment will be the best choice.

Diesel Forklifts

Diesel forklifts are the powerhouses of the forklift world. They provide better torque and can lift heavier loads. They are simple to maintain. Refueling is fast but that isn't as much as an advantage as it sounds, as battery handling equipment makes it easy to swap in a fully-charged battery about as quickly as you can fill a diesel tank.

Diesel engines are loud and put out dangerous emissions. These vehicles can be used only outside or in very well-ventilated areas. You must keep tanks full of dangerously flammable fuel onsite, and you must follow strict EPA standards to protect workers and the environment from diesel fuel leaks.

Gas Forklifts

There are two kinds of gas forklifts: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG). There are some differences between the two but let's look at them together. Gas forklifts put out lower emissions than diesel, though you still need to use them in well-ventilated areas. The tanks can be refueled quickly, although again proper battery handling minimizes that advantage compared to electric.

Like diesel you have to keep dangerously explosive fuel onsite, and this fuel is under high pressure. However to be fair, gas forklifts offer a reasonable alternative to electric, particularly for outdoor applications.

Electric Forklifts

Electric vehicles produce no emissions at all, making them ideal for indoor use. They also can be outdoors as long as the weather is dry. They are mechanically simple, require little maintenance and have longer lifespans than other forklift types. They are quiet, maneuverable and very stable due to their low center of gravity.

The most common disadvantage mentioned for electric forklifts is the long refueling time. A battery must typically be charged for eight or more hours. That is fine if your facility is closed at night, but many operations run 24 hours a day. It is essential to use battery handling equipment that allows you to remove a drained battery and replace it with a fully charged one. This takes only a few minutes, and then the drained battery can be taken to the recharge area for maintenance.

Diesel forklifts are great for big loads, and gas forklifts are perfect if you primarily need them outdoors. However electric forklifts plus battery handling equipment are the ideal choice for indoor applications as well as some outdoor needs.

When managing a large forklift fleet, it's generally more efficient to swap out discharged batteries with new one rather than trying to charge the cells in place. This requires a battery handling system that includes equipment, personnel, training and a recharge area. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your recharge area design.

Make It Cheaper

A recharge area will ultimately save your company money by allowing you to run your fleet more efficiently. Don't eat up those savings by overspending. Plan out the recharge area and determine how much storage space you need for a typical shift. Determine what kind of battery handling equipment you'll need, not just for storage and charge but for worker safety (covered below). If you just start throwing equipment together you'll probably overdesign the facility and spend too much money.

Be careful! Cheap in cost doesn't mean cheap in quality. Storage shelves should be of sturdy construction and treated with acid-resistant coatings. You can't use cheap storage designed for a residential garage and expect it to survive under the strain of all those batteries. Look at warranty. Longer warranties typically mean better quality.

Make It Safer

Batteries release hydrogen gas as they recharge. Although the amount of gas is small, it can build up to dangerous levels in poorly ventilated areas. You can probably guess why a buildup of volatile gas in an area where there is a large chance of a spark would be a bad thing. Make sure the recharge area has plenty of ventilation and smoking should be banned. In addition to ventilation, be sure the following safety equipment is present:
•    Eyewash Station capable of 15 minutes of flow. Keep the path to the eyewash clear of obstacles because anyone who needs it probably can't see well!
•    PPE for to protect workers during battery handling activities. This includes goggles and gloves to guard against acid spills.
•    Neutralization Material such as soda ash to quickly neutralize acid spills

Make It Faster

Design the facility to allow easy entry and exit to avoid traffic jams. Whether the forklifts drive in or whether you use mobile battery handling lifts to bring the cells to the recharge area, you don't want vehicles or personnel to block each other and slow things down. Stagger the schedules so you don't have everyone coming in at once at the end of a shift.

Place the facility in a central location for easy access. You might need multiple recharge areas in a large facility. Implement a system so workers can easily tell when batteries are ready to be placed back in a truck. Monitor workflow to see if there are any bottlenecks, and then quickly resolve them.

Proper battery handling procedures greatly enhances the efficiency of a forklift fleet. You get more productivity at each shift while cutting your operating costs. Trust Multi-Shifter for all your battery handling equipment needs.

Tips For Maintaining A Shuttle Fleet

Posted on September 27, 2013 20:47 by Admin

If you've ever been in a big parking lot then you know how important a prompt and efficient shuttle service is. Venues such as airports, shopping malls, arenas and hospitals offers to drive people from their cars to the building in environmentally-efficient electric vehicles. Shuttle companies look at vehicle safety, driver qualifications and customer convenience but they often overlook one important fact: battery handling.

Customer Convenience

The ideal shuttle service drives up to a car right as it parks, and whisks the passengers to their destinations. It's effortless from the customer's point of view. There is no waiting, no confusion and no hassle. A bad shuttle program can drive customers away -- no pun intended -- as they seek competitors who offer better service. At the very least, your drivers may not make good tips if they have to keep making excuses to their passengers.

This is where battery handling comes in to the picture. The reliability of an electric vehicle mostly stems from the reliability of the battery. You don't want the shuttle to suddenly grind to a halt when full of passengers. Nor do you want passengers waiting impatiently to be picked up as one shuttle struggles to do the work of two while the other recharges.

Battery Reliability

Modern batteries are pretty easy to take care of, but they still need some attention. Many shuttle fleet managers choose to charge the batteries in the vehicle but that leads to two problems. First it means you charge according to the vehicle's schedule rather than the battery's needs. Second the vehicle is out of service during the long charging process.

A better battery handling option is to use a battery lifter to remove a low charge battery and replace it with a fresh one. This swap can be done in minutes even in the middle of a shift, getting the vehicle back on the road quickly. The lifter takes the dead battery to the recharge area where you can give it the full charge it needs instead of a quick partial charge that will ultimately shorten the battery's life.

Battery Life

If you plug the battery in to recharge according to some time clock instead of the battery's actual state then you are probably undercharging or overcharging it. In either case you are damaging the battery and shortening its life. Although a battery has no moving parts, its performance does degrade over time due to something called sulfation. You speed up sulfation when you don't recharge the battery properly.

Consult the battery documentation to find when it should be recharged and for how long. Follow these instructions to greatly extend the battery's service life. Not only does proper battery handling make the batteries more reliable, but it will also save you money as you will need to buy fewer batteries over time.

Maintain the vehicles, treat your drivers well, but don't forget about proper battery handling. Invest in the equipment you need to keep your fleet running in top shape.

Abusing your forklift batteries shortens their lives and sends fleet operating costs skyrocketing. All too often that's because companies are using outdated management policies. Our battery handling systems allow more flexible battery charging policies that improve fleet performance and extend battery life.

Finding The Right Charging Schedule

Some fleet managers feel that running batteries dry reduces the amount of time spent on recharging or replacing batteries. While this may be true, it is a short-sighted policy. Stressing batteries like this greatly reduces their useful operating life and leads to escalating battery purchase costs. If you are getting only two to three years off a battery the manufacturer claims will last five, it's time to re-evaluate your policies.

Batteries have an optimal charge range for recharging; talk to the manufacturer for recommended charging schedules. If you are worried about the time spent on more frequent battery changes, we can assure you that Multi-Shifter battery handling systems can swap out new batteries in a matter of minutes. Once you see how much your battery replacement costs drops, you will be happy with the new policy.

Moving Away From The Charging Room

Twenty years ago every fleet had one big battery room, and there were usually trucks stacked up waiting for replacements. This bottleneck was not only inefficient but frustrated workers and managers alike. Satellite charging stations help the problem but a better option is to use mobile battery handling systems to swap out batteries in the field and minimize lost productivity.

Multi-Shifter battery lifts like the Quad-30 take the battery room to the forklift rather than the other way around. It heads out into the field, services as many as three trucks, and then returns to the recharge area to unload. Forklift drivers get back to work in far less time than if they had to wait in line at the recharge area.

Right-Sizing The Support System

Your business has expanded and you have had to add more forklifts to the fleet to keep up with the demand, or you’ve added extra shifts to the day. Congratulations! But unless you have also added more battery handling systems and charging stations, the extra trucks aren't going to increase productivity.

Without increased charging capacity, many trucks lay idle waiting for battery replacements. This lost time reduces productivity and in the long run that will cost your company far more than the purchase of a new battery lift. An investment in new equipment provides a quick return in the form of less forklift idle time.

These are just a few of the ways our battery handling systems improve performance and cut fleet operating costs. Contact Multi-Shifter today to find out more about how we can help you run a better forklift fleet.

Tips To Maximize Battery Life

Posted on March 7, 2012 01:02 by Admin

You can significantly reduce forklift fleet operating costs through proper battery maintenance. When you use our battery handling systems in conjunction with smart charging procedures, you will get far more useful life out of your batteries.


Chargers and battery handling systems should be inspected at least once per day. Multi-Shifter equipment is tough but still can be damaged by impact or worn through years of use. Make sure all battery-handling components are in good shape and aren't going to allow batteries to slide around during transport or charging. Inspect charger cables and replace any with worn insulation immediately.

Not all chargers will be right for your batteries. The charger should be the same voltage as the battery. It's dangerous to try charging a battery with a charger of a different voltage. Ampere-hour ratings should also match, though they don't have to be exact. Charger and battery amp ratings should be within about 10% of each other, so a 750-ampere hour charger could take batteries from about 675 to 825 ampere hours.

Charging Safety Tips

It's best to charge batteries when they are around room temperature. It's fine if they are a little cool or warm, but be careful of temperature extremes. Don't let batteries freeze if you can avoid it, and never, ever try to charge a frozen battery. The acid has to flow during the charging process. You should also avoid charging batteries that are too hot to touch as they might burst during charging.

Never charge in a closed room. Use our battery handling systems to transport batteries to open, well-ventilated areas. Batteries give off hydrogen gas during charging and it's important this gas dissipate quickly. Explosive gases and electricity are a combination that will ruin your whole day. Don't be tempted to undercharge a battery if you are in a hurry. The battery acid bubbles during the final stages of charging, and this bubbling mixes and distributes the acid across the plates.


When charging is complete, top off the cells with distilled or de-ionized water until the plates are covered. This prevents sulfation, which hinders battery operation. Don't water batteries before charging as the bubbling action can cause the acid to spill. Keep a log of watering and charging so you can verify proper maintenance, and so you can prove your case if you ever have a warranty claim against the battery or forklift.

Once the battery is fully charged, use Multi-Shifter battery handling systems to transport it back to a forklift or to storage. If you are going to store a battery, charge it first to avoid sulfation during storage.

Multi-Shifter battery handling systems work with your battery charging protocols to keep your workers safe, your equipment in top condition and your costs low.

If you run a fleet of electric vehicles using rechargeable batteries, then you need to be familiar with OSHA standard 1926.441, which cover battery handling and charging. You not only need the right policies and procedures, but also high-quality, dedicated battery handling equipment like the products we offer hear at Multi-Shifter.

Battery Storage

OSHA requires storage units to be "substantial" because batteries are heavy. After all they are basically big blocks of lead, so have a lot more weight than other objects of the same size. Standard shelving, even heavy-duty shelving, will collapse under the weight of more than a few batteries. This not only creates a falling object hazard, but opens the possibility that falling batteries will crack open and spray corrosive chemicals on your workers. Multi-Shifter equipment is sturdy enough to take the weight.

Speaking of corrosive chemicals, OSHA also requires battery storage units to be "resistant to the electrolyte". All Multi-Shifter battery handling equipment bears acid-resistant coating designed to protect it against normal leaks any battery might have. This prevents acids from slowly eroding away the strength of the unit over years of use, resulting in catastrophic structural failure.

Recharge Areas

You may know that charging batteries give off explosive hydrogen gas during the charging process. In an enclosed room this gas can build up to dangerous levels. When exposed to the spark source of a charging battery, a disastrous explosion may occur. OSHA regulations, and plain common sense, require that charging areas be well-ventilated so the hydrogen gas cannot build up.

Another threat fleet managers might not consider is the possibility of a collision. An incoming forklift could veer off and smash into storage or charging equipment causing batteries to fall or crack open. OSHA requires that battery handling equipment be protected from such collisions. Our products are sturdy, but you shouldn't expect them to stand up to a collision with a truck. Put equipment behind sunk metal posts or a low concrete barrier. This allows workers easy access while preventing a vehicle crash from damaging the equipment.

Battery Transport

We'd like to add one more piece of advice for fleet management outside of OSHA regulations, and that is the use of Multi-Shifter battery lifters. Rather than having trucks drive into the recharge area, creating traffic jams and the risk of collision, send a battery lifter out into the work area. The lifter carries a load of charged cells that are swapped for drained cells in the field. The lifter then travels back to the charging area. This is both more efficient and safer than having the trucks drive in.

Safety should be job one on any construction site. A safe work environment requires the right policies, but also the right battery handling equipment. Use Multi-Shifter equipment to protect your workers, and improve the efficiency of your fleet.

Keeping your forklifts charged can be a major drain on resources. At Multi-Shifter we have a number of battery handling systems aimed at large fleets, but we also have products designed specifically for the needs of smaller forklift fleets. If your business runs only a few forklifts, let us show you how a battery handling system improves your company's operation.

Safety First

One of the primary reasons our customers approach us is they are looking for a safer way to work with batteries. When you are handling electrically charged, acid-filled, hydrogen-producing blocks of lead, the opportunities for injury are staggering. This used to be accepted as just one of the risks of the job, but no longer.

In most cases, these injuries are caused because workers are not using the right tools. Multi-Shifter battery handling systems have been designed specifically to keep workers safe from the dangers. Your employees can extract, transport and charge batteries from your forklift fleet while minimizing contact with the cells themselves. The less contact your employees have, the less chance they have of injury. An additional benefit is that safe workers are happy workers, and happy workers are productive workers.

More Efficient Fleet Operation

You didn't buy forklifts just so they can sit in the warehouse plugged into a charging socket. You need them working at all hours your business is running. You wouldn't tolerate an idle worker, so why put up with idle equipment? You can swap out dead batteries for new ones, but doing that by hand takes time and during the operation that truck is not in service. For small fleets, the loss of one truck can have a huge impact on operations.

Multi-Shifter battery handling systems allow you to switch batteries in a fraction of the time you could do it by hand. The drained cells can then be easily transported to a designated storage and charging area until they are ready to be placed in another vehicle.

Save Money

Do you think your company can't afford a battery handling system? Our equipment pays for itself in many ways, and you can't afford not to use the right tools for the job.

When equipment is handled more safely, your company is at less risk of major injury liability expenses. Fewer injuries means less lost work time. Plus, as mentioned above, safe workers are more productive. The faster power cell changes made possible with our products means less disruption to fleet operation, allowing you to keep your business open for longer hours to generate more revenue and meet customer needs.

A Multi-Shifter battery handling system is an investment in your company's operational efficiency. Contact us and let us help you choose the right equipment for your operation.

Security is important to any organization, especially those with valuable resources including customer financial or personal information. A growing number of companies are improving their security responsiveness by deploying fleets of electric vehicles backed by battery handling equipment.

Why Use Golf Carts?

The small electric vehicles that used to be seen only on golf courses are in great demand at any facility to large to walk. For security forces, the ability to reach the site of an incident or suspicious activity can save the company countless dollars by deterring theft or vandalism.

Standard cars or trucks have a number of disadvantages over golf carts. They spew toxic gasses which make them unusable indoors and a danger to the environment when used outdoors. Refueling means either a long drive to a service station or keeping volatile fuel on site. They are more expensive and, although that higher price buys size and speed, those extra features aren't needed for the short local trips security personnel will be making. Facility protection is far better served by a fleet of electric vehicles than a fleet of traditional gasoline or natural gas vehicles.

Keeping Electric Vehicles Charged

One downside to electric vehicles is the refueling. A car can be refueled in minutes but batteries takes hours to be recharged. This doesn't have to be a problem since battery handling equipment can replace a drained batteries with fully charged ones in the same time it takes to fill a gas tank. Batteries are removed safely with much less chance of worker injury than removing them by hand. A new power cell is put in the vehicle and the old one is moved to a recharging site.

The money invested in a battery management system will quickly be made up by more efficient fleet operations. Companies can operate with smaller fleets since no vehicle has to be taken out of service for recharge. Less time is lost replacing batteries, and fewer worker injuries means less company liability costs.

Making A Plan

To get the most from battery handling equipment, create a schedule of replacements and rules to govern vehicle movement in and out of the replacement area. Servicing all vehicles at shift changes means big traffic jams as everyone comes in at once. Staggering the replacements throughout the day leads to quicker processing of each vehicle.

Think carefully about the location of the battery handling equipment. The first instinct might be to put it in some out of the way location, but that increases drive time for each vehicle. Putting the battery storage systems and handling equipment in a central location or near the vehicle parking area ensures quick transitions. Make sure paths leading in and out of the area are always kept clear so vehicles can move in and out without getting in each other's way.

Improve security responsiveness by investing in a fleet of electric vehicles and battery handling equipment before your next security incident.