Popular for its versatility and reliable power, propane has been a mainstay in the material handling, logistics, and distribution industry for more than half a century. In fact, 90 percent of Class 4 and 5 internal combustion engine forklifts run on propane, according to data from the Propane Education & Research Council.
Beyond its performance and operational benefits, propane offers another key advantage: the support of local propane suppliers. Propane suppliers are located across the United States, so they’re available whether a company is located in a rural, suburban, or urban community.
In addition to helping companies get set up to run propane forklifts, propane suppliers also act as a long-term partner to make sure companies are maximizing their propane equipment to receive the best ROI. They can also provide consistent refueling and regular training for employees.
For businesses new to using propane-powered forklifts, don’t be afraid to lean on your propane supplier. Asking them these questions can help you get the most out of your equipment.
What delivery and/or refueling options are available to me?
There are many convenient refueling options for propane forklifts, but a few of the most popular are cylinder exchange programs and on-site refueling. With a cylinder exchange program, propane cylinders are typically stored in a cage in a well-ventilated space inside or outside a company’s facilities. A propane supplier will exchange empty cylinders with full ones, providing an easy grab-and-go system for crews.
For companies with larger operations or those that prefer to handle refueling internally, a propane supplier will typically install propane fueling infrastructure on site. Propane fueling infrastructure is very similar to gasoline and diesel, with fuel stored in above-ground tanks ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 gallons. Propane suppliers can also recommend how many propane cylinders should be stored on site and how often the supplier should visit to exchange the cylinders, ensuring that a company never has to worry about not having fuel.
Can propane help support my company’s sustainability efforts?
As more companies adopt sustainable practices and look to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s important to consider the energy sources being used to power equipment every day. Fortunately, propane can help businesses decrease their carbon footprint, increase productivity, and lower operating costs.
Propane is a clean, low-carbon alternative fuel that can produce significantly fewer emissions than diesel and electricity in a wide range of applications, including forklifts. Notably, propane can reduce SOx emissions by 76 percent compared with electric forklifts, according to an emissions analysis conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council and the Gas Technology Institute. When comparing propane and electric-powered equipment, it’s important to consider site-to-source emissions. Site-to-source emissions include all the emissions produced at power plants where electricity is generated — many of which are still coal-fired — as well as the emissions during transportation to the facility.
The same study found that best-in-class propane forklift engines can produce 97 percent fewer hydrocarbon and NOx emissions when compared with similarly-sized diesel forklift engines.
What specific safety measures do employees need to take when operating propane-powered forklifts?
There are a few practices employees should follow to ensure safety when operating, storing, and exchanging cylinders for their propane-powered forklifts. For starters, forklift operators should inspect cylinders before operating. They should check for rust, dents, gouges, and leaks. Cylinders that show signs of wear or leaks should not be used and may need to be replaced.
Additionally, operators should check that the pressure relief valve fitting is roughly 180 degrees from the forklift’s locating pin. When not in use, be sure to close the service valves. This helps prevent potential injury around internal combustion engines and unintended fuel loss.
Propane cylinders should be stored in a secure rack or cage. These are generally located away from exits, stairways, entryways, and high-traffic areas. The cylinders can be stored horizontally with the pressure relief valves in the uppermost position, and operators should use proper lifting techniques when removing cylinders from storage and placing onto a forklift. To learn more about propane forklift safety, check out this article titled, “The Facility Manager’s Guide to Propane Forklift Safety.”
Who is required to receive forklift safety training?
By law, businesses must ensure that their forklift operators receive both hands-on and formal classroom training by a qualified instructor. In order to remain compliant, all forklift and lift truck operators need to be retrained every three years. Compliance with these regulations is the employer’s responsibility.
Can I operate my propane forklift indoors?
Most propane forklifts are safe to operate indoors with proper ventilation as well as in cold-storage applications. Propane produces far fewer carbon monoxide emissions than diesel-powered forklifts, and are rated to withstand dust, debris, and liquid from outdoor use. Companies can work with their supplier to check that all ventilation meets federal safety requirements.
To learn more about propane forklifts, visit Propane.com/Forklifts.