Productivity isn’t just about working harder; it’s about working smarter – and that includes working with the right tools for the job. In a supply chain or in any Indiana warehouse, that means using the right material handling equipment. One common decision, whether you’re just starting a fleet or adding another mover to your existing fleet, is between forklifts and pallet trucks (pallet jacks). So does your Indiana warehouse need a forklift or a pallet truck?
Let’s break it down to help make the call a little easier.
The main benefits of a forklift are easy to see. First, a forklift can actually lift, rather than just moving loads on the ground like a pallet jack. A forklift is powered by a motor, offering more power and easier lifting. Forklifts are typically faster than a pallet jack, meaning less travel time and more time spent picking orders or moving product. Forklifts can also be outfitted with attachments or mods to move items other than pallets, such as drum barrels or baskets.
But there are drawbacks to a forklift as well. Forklifts require a lot more care and maintenance than most pallet trucks. They require a fuel source and regular refueling. They’re louder, more dangerous, harder to maneuver in tight spaces, and require operator training and safety standards for your entire workspace. And because they can perform more actions, they’re a bigger investment than pallet jacks.
The first benefit of pallet trucks for your warehouse is the cost of ownership. They’re less expensive than full lift trucks, don’t require as much maintenance, less operator training is required, and no fuel source or recharge time is required. Add that to the fact that they’re quiet, easier to maneuver, less accident-prone, and entirely easier to use.
The biggest downside of a pallet truck is that they’re fairly limited in the jobs they can perform. Forklifts can pick orders, rack and shelve products, and carry large loads in the air. Pallet trucks are more of a one-job tool to move pallets and other similar loads. There’s no lift, and unless you get a motorized pallet jack, they’re entirely hand-operated.
Like other material handling considerations, the choice between a powered forklift and a pallet truck will come down to your specific operations and your existing fleet. For instance, if you need a new piece of equipment, you might be able to purchase a pallet truck for a fraction of the price. This frees up one of your existing forklifts to do more order picking work while the pallet truck moves pallets around on the ground.
Conversely, say you notice your team spending a lot of travel time between destinations with the pallet trucks. Instead of opting for more pallet jacks, maybe it would make your operation more productive to introduce a mezzanine and forklift to create a more efficient and more productive process. As long as you’re thinking of your Indiana operation like a supply chain system, the qualities that are most important in your material handling equipment will become more evident.
If you’re still stuck on a decision, the experts Tynan can talk you through it. Call us at 317-597-4003 today for help with material handling products, general supply chain questions, or to get your existing forklifts and pallet trucks some much-needed maintenance.
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