What to share when purchasing a forklift

Application Surveys

When ordering a new or used forklift for your company, it’s easy to assume the requirements are the same; however, this is an ideal time for an application survey. Inviting the forklift dealer to learn how the unit is operated can uncover information that changes your specifications. Use this guideline to pinpoint details to share.


The size and weight of the product will determine the needed capacity of the unit or if an attachment is necessary to lift and transport it. After analysis you may discover present loads are lighter or heavier than originally recorded.


The distance the product is carried throughout the facility will show if you are using the right forklift. Moving products horizontally only may allow you to choose a less expensive unit such as an electric pallet jack or tugger. Driving surfaces should be considered to determine tires, especially if the warehouse has rough floors or the forklift will be used outdoors. Other factors such as the use of racking or ramps might have implications on the type of forklift suggested.


While many organizations focus solely on the acquisition cost or monthly payment the total cost of ownership should be the primary concern when focusing on your financial goals. Most if not all of the points above will help reduce your overall cost of ownership. Other keys to reducing your cost of ownership include determining the anticipated fuel and maintenance costs along with the monthly depreciation or lease costs. Many forklift dealerships can help you estimate your total cost of ownership and some may even guarantee several of the cost components. It’s also helpful to know what you’ve been spending on your current forklift or fleet on a cost per hour basis. With some help from you, most forklift dealers can help determine what you’re currently spending and offer a solution that will decrease the cost per hour of utilization of your new forklift.


A forklift’s maintenance schedule and useful life are determined by the number of hours it’s used. The length of usage during the day or number of shifts assists in determining the best fuel option (i.e. liquid propane, electric) and if you should consider used forklifts. Your application may also reveal the best time frame for the lease. For example, if your company will use the forklift for multiple 8-hour shifts, replacement of the unit is ideal in 3 years versus a lighter application using the same number of hours in 5 years.


Comments from forklift operators can seem repetitive but hearing about common issues may reveal the current unit isn’t ideal for daily operation. Observing operators can reveal a need for ergonomic features. For example, if your application requires tall loads to be carried, the operator will spend the majority of his or her shift looking over his or her shoulder to drive the unit in reverse. Using a swivel seat and rear assist grip with a horn will let an operator turn with the seat, reducing back and neck strain while improving safety.


Technology changes frequently and more forklift options are available. While you should point out the features liked on the unit and why, also share the challenges that reduce productivity and safety. Your forklift dealer works with many companies and it’s likely one similar to yours has shared and overcome the issues by adding an option on the unit or revising their business process.

Make sure you’re using the right forklift! If you are considering adding to your forklift fleet or replacing a unit, Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.