Used forklift trucks are becoming an increasingly popular addition to the warehouse – and not only amongst smaller businesses. They are also being explored by a growing number of larger organisations looking to tap into the cost savings available when applied to the right application.
That’s because used and refurbished equipment can offer the highest standards of quality, reliability and safety at a significantly reduced price point. But how can warehouse managers ensure they are investing with a supplier who isn’t going to cost them down the line? Alexander Baal, director of sales operations at Jungheinrich UK, shares three key questions to ask when considering a forklift truck entering its second life.
1. Is a used forklift right for my warehouse operation?
If your warehouse operation requires the addition of a truck that is going to be used intensively, such as to perform daily shift work, then a new truck is definitely the recommended route. However, if a vehicle is required for more occasional use (up to five or six hours a day), at the end of a production line for example, or for less intensive loading duties or yard work, then a high-quality refurbished forklift truck could be the perfect solution.
As a rough guide, second-life equipment refurbished to a high standard should be ideal for a 1000 to 1500-hour application, but a good supplier will work consultatively with warehouse managers on this, visiting the site and understanding the requirements to recommend the solution that’s best suited.
2. Will a used truck result in savings for my business?
Depending on the model, a refurbished forklift is an average of 70 to 75% the cost of a new truck, a hefty saving – but only when applied to the right application. Most refurbished trucks in the market are also available under similar contract rental and warranty agreements as new vehicles. However, be mindful that many suppliers will only offer them under a three-year contract, so be sure to shop around. The biggest benefit to an organisation is having a combined solution for its material handling equipment (MHE) fleet. Choosing the right mix of new equipment (for core and intensive applications) and used equipment (for less intensive applications) guarantees the most cost effective approach. This also proves instrumental in short term rental equipment for peak seasons throughout the year.
At Jungheinrich, our vehicles go through a unique refurbishment routine whereby each truck is systematically stripped down and remanufactured on the production line of our dedicated factory in Dresden. Vehicles are assessed against strict guidelines as to whether they are fit for refurbishment and, as such, we offer the same finance packages, full maintenance contracts, and 12-month warranty as with our new vehicles.
3. How can I check the quality?
A used forklift truck can be refurbished to perfect condition, and so the quality should be as good as if you were buying a new model. The truck certainly shouldn’t appear ‘used’ to the naked eye, and the safety and sustainability of the truck should be to the highest standards – do not accept any kind of compromise.
At Jungheinrich, we assess the quality of our refurbished trucks at each stage of the production line based on a five-star principle that assures safety, operation, appearance, reliability and sustainability. Here are a few tips to help you ensure the same:
Run a visual check of the truck to ensure there are no cracks, dents or damage. Check the tyres for wear and the chassis for evidence of rust damage. If it is an electric truck you are viewing, check the condition of the battery; green and white crystals on the poles could be the result of sulphating, while cells arched outwards could signify old age – both of which can lead to battery breakdown.
In addition, request to carry out a function test of the truck, focusing on the motor, mast, steering, brakes and lights. Check that everything is working as it should, that there is no smoke or leakages from the engine and that the forks do not sag under a load. Enquire into how rigorous the refurbishment process was, establish the age of the truck, and find out how many hours it has worked.
Finally, check to see that all the necessary documentation is available, up-to-date and in the correct language. The data plate and residual capacity diagram are fixed to the truck and they refer to the fitted mast and the respective attachments. The CE safety certificate of approval for European use should also be available, along with the operating instructions, maintenance books and service reports. Check the LOLER test is current and the test report readily available.
Remember, not all forklifts are refurbished to the same standard, and for those considering a used truck, it’s crucial to look into the quality and value on offer. Bear in mind these three simple questions, however, and a used forklift has the potential to deliver significant advantages to your warehouse operation at a fraction of the cost.