Pallet Jacks and Trucks: Manual vs. Electric
For some operations, the productivity gains of an electric pallet jack far outweigh the additional cost. But for others, it’s a toss-up, so we’ll review the pros and cons of each.
Manual Pallet Jacks: Pros and Cons
Manual pallet jacks are the most basic pallet truck option. Capacities typically range from 5,000 - 5,500 lbs (Toyota’s Hand Pallet Jack has a 5,500 lb capacity) and they're simple to operate.
- Manual pallet trucks have a lower initial cost and lower maintenance cost
- A manual pallet jack has a very basic design that can be used with nearly any pallet type or size
- Very little training is required to use a manual pallet truck
- Moving loads across a large facility with a manual pallet jack can be strenuous
- Injuries are more common with manual pallet jacks compared to electric
- Manual pallet truck capacity may be limited by how much the worker can handle
Electric Pallet Jacks: Pros and Cons
Electric pallet jacks perform the same function as a manual pallet jack - with the assistance of an electric motor. The motor both propels the pallet truck and assists with raising and lowering the forks. For this reason, forks can be raised higher with an electric pallet truck vs. manual. Electric pallet jacks can be used for several hours before they need to be recharged. Capacities range from 2,000 - 6,000 lbs for a basic electric pallet jack.
For operations that only need to move product horizontally, not vertically, a ride-on electric pallet jack can be a cheaper alternative to a forklift. Ride-on pallet trucks also offer better visibility because the operator stands on the equipment and can more easily avoid collisions.
- Reduced strain on the operator
- Increased productivity - especially in large facilities
- Better for moving tall pallet stacks
- Electric pallet jacks cost more
- Electric components require more maintenance vs. manual equipment
- Takes longer to bring the machine to a complete stop compared to manual
- Employee training required
- Considerations from OSHA
According to OSHA, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars (OSHA). Though manual pallet jacks are not the exclusive cause of these injuries, the stress of pushing and pulling loads can lead to operator injury. OSHA specifically notes:
- Employees can experience stress to the hands and arms from difficulty in steering and stopping
- Provide height-adjustable picking equipment so loads can be maintained at a height that minimizes bending at the waist.
- When possible, utilize power equipment rather than manual to reduce ergonomic stresses
- Toyota has a diverse line of pallet jack options for any facility size or budget. A popular choice is the Electric Walkie Pallet Jack - aggressively priced at just $3895.
The video below showcases a variety of manual, electric, and ride-on options from Toyota.
Our product experts are available by phone or online to answer any questions you may have. You can also browse our inventory of manual and electric pallet jacks and stackers. We also have pallet jacks and stackers available for rent.
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