February 2009 | How-To | Ten Tips

Selecting the Lift Truck That Meets Your Need

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When it comes to selecting the right lift truck, doing your homework and following a few simple rules can deliver higher productivity and lower operating costs. Martin Boyd, national product planning and marketing manager of Toyota Material Handling U.S.A., offers these tips for deciding which lift truck you need.

1. Factor in total lifecycle costs. Variable costs such as maintenance and repairs, energy or fuel, downtime, and rental costs to replace down trucks account for a large portion of total ownership costs.

2. Consider whether you will operate the lift truck outdoors or indoors. For outdoor applications, most companies choose an internal combustion engine model powered by gas, liquid petroleum, or diesel fuel. For indoor applications, consider electric trucks. They cost more, but require less maintenance and upkeep.

3. Consider a supplier's ability to customize solutions. Make sure the supplier you choose can tailor trucks to meet your specific needs with features such as swivel seats, drum handling attachments, spark-resistant components, and back-up alarms.

4. Select a truck with safety features. Lift truck manufacturers continuously develop new technologies and ergonomic features to help reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Look for trucks with features such as adjustable seats, seatside hydraulic controls or mini levers, rear assist grips with horn button, and tilting steering columns.

5. Look for a dealer with ample support. Make sure your dealer has enough technicians, parts inventory, and services vans available to service your trucks as quickly as possible, and factor the dealer's location into your purchase decision. Dealers should help you manage work orders, track repairs, and alert you to trucks that are overdue for general maintenance repairs. Also ask about aftermarket support, including warranty coverage, rental, fleet management, and complimentary products and services, such as battery fast-charging systems.

6. Select an environmentally friendly truck. Lower-emission lift trucks are growing in popularity due to stricter emission regulations and federal EPA standards. In some areas, companies can receive local and federal tax incentives for replacing older model lift trucks with more environmentally friendly trucks.

7. Research the manufacturer's customer satisfaction standings. Every manufacturer will tell you its lift truck is the best, but what do customers say? Check product rankings from outside sources such as industry publications.

8. Consider a supplier that offers funding from a captive finance company. This means the company can leverage its relationship with the manufacturer and its dealer body to remarket a customer's used trucks. Special financing may be linked to the equipment, providing a more competitive pricing structure.

9. Make ease of maintenance a priority. Routine maintenance areas should be easily accessible, with features such as one-touch fuel tank brackets, no-tool floorboards that lift out quickly to expedite daily operator checks, and hydraulic filters located outside the hydraulic tank for easier service.

10. Choose a truck that is compatible with wireless communication systems. The lift truck should be compatible with common wireless communication technologies, which allow customers, dealers, and fleet managers to collect real-time data from the truck.

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