As manufacturers of overhead cranes, we get a lot of inquiries about forklifts. While we never want to pass up a sale, we want to make sure our customers always have the right tool for the job. So, when exactly is it best to use a forklift vs using an overhead crane system? Breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each may help you make a decision for your business.
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Forklift Strengths & Weaknesses
One of the biggest advantages of using a forklift is mobility. They are smaller than overhead crane systems and can be driven into tighter spots, adjusted to changes in elevation, and they can carry materials from one location to another. If optimal mobility is important to your workflow, a forklift fleet could be very beneficial. Forklifts are also less expensive than overhead crane systems, so a company on a strict budget may find this a suitable option.
The lower price tag comes with several disadvantages. For one, forklifts are much more susceptible to damage than overhead crane systems. This means they require more maintenance over the long term. Sometimes the long term costs can even outweigh the original savings. You also need to take replacement into account when it comes to pricing. The average forklift will last around 10 to 15 years while an overhead crane system can remain in service for up to 65 years. There are also some capacity issues to consider with forklifts. The further a forklift extends, the less weight it can safely lift. If you need to be lifting massive loads high in the air, forklifts may not be the best option.
Overhead Crane Strengths & Weaknesses
As previously discussed, overhead crane systems are built to last. They are designed to be custom built for their application, so they are at a lower risk of sustaining damage from a random event. While forklifts are stuck on the ground surrounded by obstacles, overhead crane systems avoid these objects by operating along the ceiling. They also have a much higher potential lifting capacity. Some systems can lift over 400 tons of material and can repeat the process over and over without issue.
As for the downsides, the high initial investment can be intimidating for many businesses. But as we’ve mentioned, the investment pays for itself in the long term when compared to forklifts. They are also designed for your specific application, so they cannot be as mobile as a forklift. There is also the issue of size and permanence. They are large and semi-permanent systems that cannot be taken down easily. You need a workflow and facility that supports this.
Upgrading From Forklifts
Many people come to us looking to upgrade from forklifts to overhead lifting systems. This is often because of a change in their workflow. Lifting new materials, heavier loads, or increasing the amount of lifts often leads people to look for a better alternative to their forklift. They start to notice excess wear and tear on their forklift fleet and soon realize that it isn’t sustainable. Another reason people choose to upgrade is because overhead crane systems can sometimes replace multiple forklifts in terms of efficiency. Why deal with the upkeep of a fleet of forklifts when one overhead crane system can do the trick?
If you are planning on buying material handling equipment in New Jersey or are looking for a reputable inspection and repair company, look no further than SISSCO Material Handling Equipment. For over 45 years we’ve made the manufacturing and maintenance processes more efficient, cost-effective and safe.
Our technicians and field operations team offers the industry’s most experienced overhead crane and hoist mechanics and electricians. Our highly skilled parts and service team is also here to make sure we can help our customers maintain a safe working environment for their overhead lifting equipment.
We also specialize in providing maintenance services and parts, for other material handling equipment. Our manufacturing, installation and Crane safety solutions keep businesses moving forward. Contact us today to get in touch with the best in the business.