The end of an era?
10 February 2017
While our European colleagues have widely embraced electric power for years, here in the UK, we are stubbornly reliant on engine power... and it could come at a heavy cost. Stewart Gosling of Red Diamond Distribution, UK importers of Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, explains why and shares the latest development making British operators re-think their power choices.
When it comes to choosing a forklift that delivers maximum performance, productivity and reliability outdoors, specifiers in the UK are naturally drawn towards the comfort of tried and trusted IC engine power…
And it was for good reason… You see, traditionally, electric alternatives – though cheaper and cleaner to run – just could not offer a comparable performance and there were well-founded worries about the reliability and maintenance of batteries.
But times have changed.
The latest generation of fast, robust and weatherproof models available, backed by cost-effective battery maintenance plans, means that there’s greater interest than ever before in battery-powered trucks… even for the toughest applications.
And why not? Electric counterbalance forklifts, like the award-nominated EDiA EX, do everything that a gas or diesel truck can do… only cheaper, cleaner and more effectively.
EDiA EX has been developed to deliver higher engine performance – including acceleration and maximum travel and lift speeds – than most engine models. At the same time, it allows every performance parameter to be quickly tailored to the precise needs of the operator and application.
Part of that improved performance is unique to the Mitsubishi EDiA EX. The revolutionary SDS (Sensitive Drive System) employs ground-breaking software that allows the truck to sense – from the very first touch – exactly how a driver wishes to operate and then automatically adjusts the machine’s reactions and performance to match the individual operator along with the application.
If that weren’t enough, Mistubishi has added another remarkable new feature: ICS (Intelligent Cornering System) which prevents dangerously fast cornering. Sensing the angle of a turn, speed is dynamically reduced at the start of and throughout the turn (rather than in the midst of it as other systems do) for smoother, safer and more consistent cornering than any rival.
The result? A truck that delivers performance that’s predictable and intuitive.
Go anywhere performance
This new breed of electric forklifts is incredibly versatile. While it performs well outdoors as a yard truck, its towering 7 m lift and tight turning circle means it can easily undertake the duties of a reach truck.
With its unique, award-nominated steering geometry, the EDiA EX does more than outperform any IC truck… it outmanoeuvres it as well…
Traditionally, a forklift truck’s steer wheels turn by a maximum of 90-degrees. However, achieving this maximum in the tightest turns forces the truck backwards placing exceptionally high pressure on the tyres, as well as the rim.
This problem has been solved by EDiA’s engineers through a combination of intelligent software and counter-rotating drive wheels, which deliver a unique four- wheel steering geometry, making it extremely agile in tight spaces without any pressure on the steer wheels.
Remarkably, in tests, the truck proved totally manoeuvrable in the most demanding turns using the drive wheels alone (ie with the steer wheels raised off the ground!).
Again, unlike any competitor, its rear axle turns through 100 degrees adding even further to its exceptional manoeuvrability.
Dual drive reduces the truck’s turning radius to a minimum – allowing it to turn within its own dimensions. Turning is smoothed with no push – extending tyre life, while ensuring operators benefit from a driving experience that is smooth and utterly precise – with no “kick” when the truck sets off on full lock.
That go-anywhere performance has been further enhanced by water and dust proof components (to IP54 standard) – allowing EDiA to work even in heavy rain… For added protection, EDiA EX features completely sealed wet disk brakes for added durability.
But in the final analysis, deciding whether to switch to electric invariably comes down to cost… and here the Mitsubishi EDiA EX excels once again by easily outperforming comparable LPG and diesel models.
While its initial purchase may be slightly higher than an equivalent IC model, at the end of a five-year contract (even in a demanding environment), the lower fuel and maintenance costs will mean savings in the region of 25% compared to its IC engine equivalents.
The Mitsubishi sunshine revolution
Imagine a future where your fleet of electric forklift trucks is charged for free using solar panels on your warehouse roof. For one Mitsubishi customer, that future is now.
The idea is the brainchild of Nick Pearson, director of Safepac Professional Movers. The company performs house removals for the US military and the RAF, which means his forklift operations need to run with military precision.
So when Nick approached Mitsubishi dealer Eastern Forklifts last year about upgrading his diesel fleet, he had no plans to switch from diesel trucks to electric, but after taking a Mitsubishi EDiA on a trial basis, everything changed…
Electric vs diesel
Paul Brierley from Eastern Forklifts explains: “Traditionally, truck users feel obliged to replace diesel with diesel, but the new Mitsubishi EDiA range of electrics delivers higher performance – including acceleration, maximum travel and lift speeds – than most IC engine models, and they’re also cheaper and cleaner to run.”
Nick at Safepac continues: “We’re very heavy on our forklifts here, we work them very hard for long periods of time, so we’ve always opted for diesel trucks in the past.
“Our 16-hour days involve moving large 8 x 8 x 4 feet wooden house removal crates weighing 16-1800 kilos, so when it came to upgrading our fleet, high performance and long shift lengths were key.”
The ramp test
“We have a 1 in 10 loading ramp, which is the real test for us because you’re using much more torque and energy,” said Nick.
“But the EDiA went straight up all day long… no problem. It had pretty much the same performance as our current diesels, so that helped us make our decision.”
But it was the potential for slashing truck running costs that proved the ultimate decider… “We looked at electric versus diesel progressively from a cost point of view,” said Nick.
“We wanted to keep our operating costs to a minimum so we put solar panels on the roof of our warehouse to power the electric charger for the trucks.
“In summer, when there’s more daylight, we plug the truck in and get a free charge, so the run of the forklift is pretty much for free.
“Environmentally it’s cleaner, with less carbon and dust affecting household possessions and staff, and we even sell some electricity back, so we’re very happy.”