Finding the Best Forklift Companies
Finding the right forklift for your operation can be a challenge. You may have a good idea of what you need done, but the options are many. How do you choose the best piece of equipment that fits your needs and your budget?
The first thing to do is decide what kind of forklift you need. How high does it have to reach? How heavy are the loads? Indoor or outdoor? Sit down to operate or stand? The answers to these questions will help you choose from these types:
- Rider trucks: The operator sits inside the vehicle and drives the load to its intended destination.
- Pallet trucks: These are ideal for transporting loaded pallets around a warehouse floor.
- Tow tractors: Grocery stores sometimes use these to transport new merchandise to the aisles when restocking.
- Walkie/Stacker: Instead of sitting inside, an employee can walk behind the stacker and use it to lift heavy loads to overstock areas.
- Scissor lift: This equipment can lift an employee and merchandise several feel above the ground.
Once you have narrowed it down to a type, it is time to get to specifics.
- How large are the loads your staff needs to move? Many forklifts can handle approximately 3,000-5,000 pounds, and some are capable of even larger loads.
- Does the forklift run on electrical power, gasoline, or LPG?
- Which forklift manufacturers provide training for your staff? It's all too easy for an inexperienced operator to drive too fast and risk tipping over while carrying excessive loads.
- Does the forklift handle well in extreme temperatures, such as in a cold-storage facility?
- What's the long-term service and maintenance policy?
- Does the manufacturer sell used or reconditioned equipment?
Forklift manufacturers can provide replacement or specialized fork attachments for an entire fleet of lift trucks. If you cannot decide between two forklifts, ask about attachments. There may be a way to make one forklift more versatile and fit multiple needs while avoiding the cost of two pieces of equipment.
Not all forklifts are created equal
Any forklift dealer can sell you a truck, but the best forklift companies take the time to learn about your business before taking your money. They'll find out how and where you plan to use your forklift, which applications you'll use it for, and how much you can afford to spend.
The first step to finding the best forklift companies is to consult with four to six companies. Use a phone interview to become familiar with the products and services they offer, and start thinking about which one provides the best mix of quality, service, and cost.
Once you have a list of suppliers, it is time to take a test drive. You can go to the manufacturer or dealer and test equipment they have on site. Others will bring a forklift to your organization so you can try it a real world environment, especially if you are looking to purchase more than one. A two to four hour test drive will tell you a lot. If you can, have the primary operator perform the test drive. He or she will be using it the most so their feedback is important.
There is another reason to go to the manufacturer or dealer. If the company is located nearby, arrange to visit their office and look around. It is also a good opportunity to see how their staff interacts with other customers and view their showroom and parts inventory.
Warranty and maintenance are important parts of the package deal that should come with your purchase. Visiting their shop gives you the chance to make sure they live up to the promise and make you more comfortable with your final decision.
Additional characteristics of the best forklift companies
Ultimately, the best lift truck companies are those that treat your business like a partner, learning what type of lift truck your company needs and finding you the appropriate match. You want a dealer or manufacturer who can:
- Offer a range of new and quality, used forklifts
- Carry forklifts from several manufacturers
- Willing to give a list of references
- Keep up with OSHA requirements for forklifts operation
- Provide guarantees and estimates in writing
- Are up front about delivery and maintenance costs
Working with forklift manufacturers
Dealers of new forklifts are an extension of the manufacturer. The more you know about a manufacturer coupled with your experience with the dealer, the better you will be able to make a decision. Additionally, you may do business with a dealer that sells multiple manufacturers. Finding the right forklift for your needs usually means evaluating different forklift manufacturers to determine whose product offers the most value. Some of the best in the market place right now include:
- Toyota: Perhaps best known for its automobiles, Toyota also is an established forklift manufacturer as well. It has been the number one selling forklift in the United States since 2002. Their twelve year reign is due to superior innovation and a broad range of top notch forklifts providing high performance, safe operation and productivity.
- Nissan: Another popular car manufacturer, Nissan has a division devoted to industrial equipment and also offers safety training classes. Nissan offers a large variety with features that can customize its use for warehouse, factory or construction use.
- Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America (MCFA): Among the most recognized forklift manufacturers in the United States, MCFA is the combination of two established companies. It has an extensive network of dealers across the country who can help you choose the forklift with improved performance, operator comfort and intelligent electronics.
- Crown Equipment: An American company that entered the global marketplace, Crown Equipment designs and builds material handling products. Its lift trucks are used in many different settings, and are used to transport goods through narrow warehouse aisles, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities of all shapes and sizes.
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