Successful nursery businesses almost always work with contractors and landscapers on large orders, even if they also sell to the public. Loading up enough sod to cover a golf course is nearly impossible to do by hand no matter how many employees you hire, but buying the wrong forklift can cost you thousands of dollars. Find out why an electric forklift is most likely the best fit for your growing nursery business.
Lack of Exhaust
No one wants to browse peonies and petunias while smelling the unpleasant odor of propane or diesel fuel being burned in a combustion engine. Electric forklifts rely on batteries instead, eliminating the exhaust that other models create for a better smelling and healthier working environment. The lack of exhaust is also better for the plants, especially delicate saplings and bedding plants that could be burned by hot exhaust blowing directly on them.
Concerned about ruining the concentration of nursery workers handling clones or making retail customers unhappy due to noise? Choose an electric forklift, since it only creates about 25% of the noise as a unit powered by a different fuel. You can load up large orders for professional customers all day long without anyone knowing what's even going on behind the scenes. The quiet operation also reduces the need for safety equipment like ear protection for your loading crew.
Lower Total Cost
Cost is the primary concern for nursery owners buying or leasing forklifts because profit margins are relatively small in the plant business. Propane forklifts cost a little less upfront, but the need to buy new tanks of fuel and maintain the combustion engine causes a higher long-term expenditure. Over the lifespan of a forklift, you'll spend less on an electric model than a propane or diesel one. You'll spend a little more of that lifetime cost in the beginning to sign a lease or buy a piece of equipment, but you'll have fewer unexpected expenses popping up later to interrupt your cash flow. Of course, you'll only save that money if you stick to the appropriate maintenance schedule so your electric model lasts as long as possible.
Most nurseries rely on tight aisles and lanes, both in the greenhouse and out in the sales and loading areas, to maximize display space. When you need to carry dozens of varieties of each flower, bush, and tree, you'll end up with quite a sprawl no matter how small you make the pathways. Unfortunately, tight spaces and forklifts don't usually mix. Choosing a compact electric forklift is the best option in this case because they offer the tightest turn radius options. Some have a nearly zero-degree radius, allowing your stockers and loaders to accomplish more without having to carry items by hand due to inaccessibility.
Reduced Storage Requirements
It's true that you will need to set aside some dry, enclosed space for storing backup batteries and wiring a charger for those batteries when you choose an electric forklift. However, the space required for a charger is very small compared to the amount of space necessary for holding a dozen or more propane tanks. Since most propane units use a tank up every eight-hour shift of routine use, you'll want to have plenty on hand so you're not reordering new tanks every few days. This calls for a lot of storage space for an explosive gas that requires special handling.
Propane forklifts may come with a lower price tag at time of purchase and offer a little more raw lifting power, but they're just not as well suited for the nursery environment as an electric model. Compare your options before choosing a battery-powered forklift to make sure it comes with a warranty for both the lift and the battery. Talk to a company such as Horizon Equipment Rentals for more information.