Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Next Forklift

by Mark Andres on January 9, 2017
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questions to ask before buying a forklift
There will come a point when your existing forklifts have reached the end of their economic life and need to be replaced. Besides some of the obvious questions there are a few that could save you hundred, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars.


Before purchasing new equipment, most buyers go through an evaluation process that goes something like this: 

  1. Analyze Current Operations
    1. Will anything be changing?  Specifically:
      Have  forklift hours increased?  Decreased?
      Operating hours are an important factor to get right when purchasing or leasing a new (or used) piece of equipment.
    2. Is the company planning expansion?
    3. What type of expansion is expected?
    4. When will we expand?
    5. Where will we be expanding?

  2. Assess Current Equipment
    1. Is the current brand equipment meeting needs?
    2. What is the trending reputation of the brand in use? (improving or declining quality)
    3. Is the fleet mix and quantity appropriate for current and future operations? (type, capacity & quantity)

  3. Evaluation Options and Choose a Supplier
    1. Entertain competitive quotes for comparable models
    2. Compare/contrast features, advantages and benefits of each brand
    3. Evaluate suppliers ability to properly maintain equipment or provide service when needed to maximize productivity
    4. Evaluate contractual obligations for each supplier

  4. Negotiation and Decision
    1. Negotiate service/equipment combination

The process above, though thorough, will not necessarily lead to a smart desicion. A complete assessement should include the questions below. This is especially true for a complex operation with multiple locations or varying equipment needs.

Here are the important questions you may not be asking - but should:

  1. Is our current material handling operation efficient for current and changing business climate?
    - Do we need more space?
    - What options exist for space utilization?
    - Can we reduce through-put and duty cycles with a different equipment / warehouse structure combination?

  2. What is current cost per hour for operating equipment?
    (forklifts and warehouse equipment)

  3. What are the operating costs per hour of competing brands?
    (Include service/fuel/parts etc…)

  4. What was our equipment rental expense and why?
    This is often a hidden expense of sub-par equipment or equipment that was operated past its economic life.

  5. How can we reduce costs by reducing equipment damage due to abuse?
    How do your operators complete their daily operator checklists?  This is another hidden cost that can be reduced with proper training and accountability for equipment damage or abuse. 

  6. How productive is your fleet?
    If you have forklift that has a lot of wheel time and very little hydraulic time, you have an unproductive forklift.  A forklift that doesn’t lift is either broken or a very expensive mode of transportation for a driver.  A telematics system can help you stay on top of this and many other key performance indicators.

  7. Can the supplier integrate all facets of my materials handling and suggest alternatives or better ways of processing and storing our materials?

Asking these additional, critical questions above can yield dramatic results for your materials handling operation.  We live in a world full of information; what gets measured, gets managed.  Why leave out your material handling fleet?  

Let us be your partner in helping you select the right equipment for the right place and process. Our Clients include large companies such as Morningstar Foods, Inc and John Muir Hospital as well as smaller local businesses such as Mercedes Benz of San Francisco.

Read one of our customer case studies to learn more about what we can do to help your business be more succesful. Or, contact your local Toyota Material Handling  location to speak with a professional that will help you select the right equipment for your facility.


Questions smart forklift buyers ask.

Topics: New Equipment, Forklift FAQs

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