Warehouses and distribution centers play a vital role in the success of the supply chain industry. And behind these operations are the material handling professionals and equipment who keep inventory moving day in and day out.

In order to enhance performance — one of the key objectives measured in many distribution centers — crews need material handling equipment that can keep up. Many professionals are finding propane-powered forklifts to be the right fit for their operation, as they offer unique advantages over other options. In fact, according to data from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), 90 percent of Class 4 and 5 internal combustion engine forklifts are currently running on propane.

Propane forklifts offer versatility, consistent power, and easy refueling, giving employees all of the advantages that they need to work effectively.

Here are three ways propane-powered forklifts can help keep crews more productive day in and day out:

1. Propane Gives Crews the Versatility They Need to Handle Any Job, Anywhere

Crews have enough to worry about during a shift, which is why they don’t want to be bothered with juggling multiple fuels to complete different types of jobs. They need versatility when it comes to the capabilities and load capacity of their equipment.

Fortunately, propane works for every weight class and application whereas electric forklifts can’t bring the power needed for larger jobs and diesel isn’t suited for small jobs — plus they aren’t clean enough to operate indoors. A PERC survey revealed that the majority of forklift users operate their equipment indoors and outdoors. Propane forklifts, because of their clean, low-emissions profile, can be operated both inside and outdoors.

2. Propane Forklifts Provide Power That Doesn't Quit

With propane equipment, forklift operators can expect reliable, consistent power. Propane-powered forklifts provide 100 percent power throughout operation and one cylinder can last an entire eight-hour shift.

According to data from PERC, propane forklifts can push heavy loads at full capacity longer and at more consistent travel speeds compared with battery-powered forklifts. Plus, the life expectancy of a propane cylinder is three times longer than the life expectancy of an electric forklift battery and extends beyond the typical lifespan of a forklift.

3. Propane's Quick, Easy Refueling Results in Minimal Downtime
Busy warehouses and distribution centers are constantly working to meet quotas, shipping demands, and increase productivity, which is why they don’t have downtime for equipment to stop and recharge. Because of its quick, easy refueling, propane offers crews uninterrupted operational capabilities. This is especially helpful for multi-shift operations who need to unload shipments of inventory at all hours.

With propane, forklift operators can skip downtime for recharging, like with electric forklifts, and simply swap out an empty cylinder for a full one to keep material moving. Data from PERC has shown that heavy loads can drain electric forklift batteries more quickly, resulting in the need for frequent recharging. The recharging cycle of electric equipment means employees have to stick to strict battery management. Propane, on the other hand, offers on- and off-site refueling managed by a propane supplier.

Matt McDonald is director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at matt.mcdonald@propane.com. To learn more about the benefits of propane-powered forklifts, visit Propane.com/Forklifts.