27 May 2024

Boost your materials handling productivity and cut your costs

Have you switched yet from diesel or LPG to electric counterbalance forklifts? Or are you still thinking about it? Either way, Cat® Lift Trucks has some important advice to help in choosing your next forklift.

Powerful and durable electric forklifts are taking over – even in workplaces previously dominated by IC engine trucks. They bring a variety of benefits, promising your business higher productivity and reduced costs. To highlight those advantages, let’s examine one electric forklift in detail.

We’ll take our Cat® EP40-55(C)N(H) 4.0 to 5.5 tonne 80V range. With these high-capacity trucks, we’ve maximised every electric advantage. You can also find the same qualities, and similar specifications, in our smaller* electrics. (*2.5 to 3.5 tonne 80V; 1.6 to 2.0 tonne 48V 4 wheel; 1.4 to 2.0 tonne 48V 3 wheel.)

1. The sustainable choice

Like all electric forklifts, ours emit no noxious exhaust gases, particulates or CO2. Their low energy consumption is another environmental bonus. High durability – with fewer wearing parts – also reduces their impact on the planet. That’s because less material and energy are used up in manufacturing replacements.

2. Lower energy bills

Our 4.0 to 5.5 tonne 80V electrics are the best in their class for energy efficiency. They run for longer on each charge than less efficient competitors. And charging them costs less than fuelling an IC engine forklift. Selecting ECO mode drives consumption even lower. And for the greatest efficiency, you can choose lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

3. Less maintenance

One characteristic advantage of electric forklift trucks is their simple plug-in diagnostics and troubleshooting. It means that faults are spotted sooner and easily fixed before serious damage develops. With our latest onboard multifunctional display unit, drivers and technicians are kept well informed on the truck’s condition and needs.

Quick and easy access for servicing and repairs helps further in minimising maintenance time and cost. Battery-related maintenance is an issue electric forklift users must consider. With Li-ion batteries, it’s minimal. Li-ion technology also allows fast opportunity charging, so you can keep the truck in action without battery changes. You simply plug it into the nearest charger during breaks. Changing a gas bottle takes more time and effort. So does driving to a pump and filling up with diesel.

For lead-acid, our 4.0 to 5.5 tonne trucks offer time-saving options including: an inspection hatch for fast checks and water top-ups; a quick-connect access point for onboard charging; and equipment for rapid sideways exchanges. Importantly, electric forklifts have fewer moving parts to maintain and routinely replace. And when it comes to battery replacement, Li-ion gives a much longer lifespan.

4. Lasting value

Thanks largely to easier maintenance and fewer wearing parts, electric forklifts tend to hold a higher residual value. Increasing buyer demand for used electric lift trucks should enhance this. The robust construction and famous quality of Cat lift trucks is another appealing factor in the second-hand market. To uphold our brand reputation, we pay special attention to sealing and protecting key components in this electric range.

5. Power and speed

The Cat electric forklifts we’re focusing on here can certainly challenge IC engine trucks on power and speed. Our latest motors, with a high RPM range, give more precise acceleration control and generate higher torque at low speeds. Better still, their performance can be intelligently adjusted to meet your needs. Our PowerBurst feature is a good example of that. It’s for times when you need a burst of extra torque. You may need it to maintain ramp speed, or to accelerate strongly. You may also be carrying a heavy load at the same time. At those moments, PowerBurst automatically kicks in to boost your performance.

6. Intelligent drive control

Sophisticated electronics and smart control allow electric forklift designers to create much better user experiences. The results include greater driver satisfaction, performance and output. Our EP40-55(C)N(H) range has a number of intelligent drive features. Its Responsive Drive System (RDS), for instance, adapts the truck’s performance characteristics constantly. It does so by monitoring and instantly responding to changes in the driver’s speed of pedal operation. Drivers say the truck seems to know how they want it to behave at any moment. RDS also makes all movements, starts and stops smooth. Intelligent curve control automatically and smoothly adjusts the truck’s turning speed and minimises side forces. This prevents unsafe cornering and maintains stability. From a productivity viewpoint, it means your driver can confidently make turns at the maximum safe speed for the angle of turn. Adaptive steering is another automatic aid to comfort, control and stability. It adjusts and optimises the steering ratio and force according to the truck’s travel speed.

7. Intelligent load handling

Our RDS also responds to the forklift driver’s speed of hydraulic control operation, to optimise mast behaviour. In addition, these trucks feature our load-sensing SmoothFlow hydraulic system. It automatically adjusts to different load weights, keeping all mast and fork actions smooth, precise and consistent. The same consistency is maintained even when two or more hydraulic functions are used simultaneously. Meanwhile, automatic hydraulic control tuning helps keeps mast and chassis movements steady when lifting above 2.5 metres or so. Above that height, it limits hydraulic and travel speeds. Passive sway control absorbs mast tilting forces into the chassis during higher lifts.

8. Programmable performance

Electric forklift technology gives a wide scope for programming performance characteristics. This allows you to adapt trucks to meet the needs of individual drivers and tasks. One choice available in ours is a simple switch between pre-set ECO and PRO modes. Alternatively, we can apply fully customised settings for parameters including lifting, lowering and travel speeds.

9. Automated safety

Precise control when driving the forklift and handling loads is vital to safety. Again, electric technology brings additional capabilities. Sections 6, 7 and 8 show how we have maximised precision and control in the electric lift trucks featured here. Another aid is our electronic differential lock, which maximises grip on slippery surfaces. Other standard features include hill hold and an automatic parking brake. For extra security, we fit a Presence Detection System (PDS). This disables all hydraulic and drive functions if the driver is not correctly seated. A smart reversing alarm is amongst the optional extras available.

10. The ultimate in agility

Electric forklifts benefit from very precise and responsive steering systems, which make manoeuvring smooth and agile. Our 4.0 to 5.5 tonne range takes this to another level with its OmniTurn all-wheel steering. It gives better grip, smoother turning and unbeatable agility. The rear axle can rotate by more than 100 degrees, enabling instant side turns with no need for initial backward movement. Drivers say they feel like they’re driving a much smaller truck.

11. More productive drivers

Forklift noise and vibration can leave drivers feeling tired, stressed and sick. That’s bad for morale and bad for productivity. One difference people immediately notice when switching to electric forklifts is their quietness, smoothness and low vibration levels. Our 4.0 to 5.5 tonne models build on this advantage, with market-leading SilentRun+ hydraulic pumps. Quiet drive units and other low-noise technologies add to the comfort.

12. Increased profits

To increase your profits, you need to cut costs, raise your output or – ideally – do both. That’s what you’ll achieve through the 11 key benefits listed above. Going electric will save you money continuously – leading to a lower TCO (total cost of ownership). As we’ve described, you’ll spend less on powering, maintaining and repairing your forklift. And there will be less downtime. Your truck will have a long service life and will retain a good resale value. Its superior manoeuvrability, control and precision will boost your productivity. The same factors, along with automated safety aids, will lower the risk of costly accidents and lost work time. Last but not least, its ergonomics and comfort will help minimise sick leave and motivate your drivers.

Click here to see the full Cat electric counterbalance range. Or go straight to our 4.0 to 5.5 tonne 80V models.

ep40-55cnh high capacity electric forklift
EP40-55(C)N(H) high capacity electric forklift
High capacity electric forklift
EP40-55(C)N(H) electric forklift
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Cat EP60-120N(H) Electric Forklifts
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Cat electric forklift carrying load on slippery surface
energy-efficient – and quiet forklift trucks EP40-55CNH
Energy-efficient and quiet forklift trucks - EP40-55(C)N(H) range