How to Get the Most Out of Your Forklift Rental
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Finding a forklift rental is not hard. However, finding the ideal equipment for the job at hand and then making sure you’re getting the most for your money requires a little bit of pre-planning.
Taking a little time to ask yourself these key questions about your forklift rental investment will pay big dividends. As you review them, keep in mind that these are the same types of questions that forklift rental providers will be asking you.
1. What type of equipment are you looking to rent?
Forklifts obviously come in many shapes, sizes and brand names. In addition to traditional-style forklifts, many dealers also offer material handling equipment designed for a wide range of specific needs. These include:
Rough-terrain forklift trucks
Paper roll handlers
2. How long will you need the rental?
Most forklift rental operations offer their vehicles on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. And as you would expect, the per-day cost is reduced when you rent for a longer period.
Since forklift rentals usually come without restrictions on hours of usage, it makes sense to thoroughly plan and organize your work flow to keep the equipment moving for as many hours as you can, every single day it’s on-site. This can shorten the number of days or weeks you end up paying for the equipment.
Also, don’t forget to call the rental company as soon as you are done using the equipment to avoid getting charged for more rental time than you actually need. It sounds like common sense, but it’s also a fairly common mistake. Generally speaking, the more organized you are, the better off you’ll be.
3. How large, how heavy, how high?
To rent a forklift with enough power and stability to accommodate your needs, you’ll want to provide detailed information about the weight and volume (length, width and height) of your biggest loads, as well as how high you need to lift them. Don’t make the mistake of renting a forklift that is rated at 5,000 pounds, only to realize that the lifting capability decreases the higher the machine needs to reach.
4. Does your warehouse or job site present any special limitations?
For example, narrow aisles may create a need for specialized equipment. The forklift dealer may also ask about the width and height of the smallest door or opening the machine will need to squeeze through or duck under. Certain manufacturers specialize in ultra-compact, sit-down lift trucks capable of fitting through a standard-sized doorway.
5. Indoor or outdoor?
Forklifts used in warehouses are generally outfitted with cushioned indoor tires that are best for hard, smooth surfaces. Forklifts operated primarily outdoors are commonly equipped with pneumatic tires that enable them to traverse a variety of more challenging surfaces and terrains.
6. What fuel source is best for you?
The indoor-outdoor question is also important when it comes to deciding between several fuel source options. Electric? Diesel? Propane?
Here are several rules of thumb to help you decide on the best fuel source for your particular applications or job-site conditions:
Battery-powered electric forklifts are best for indoor use because they produce zero emissions. They are also the quietest, most environmentally friendly and easiest to maintain.
Rugged diesel lift trucks are basically restricted to outdoor duty due to their exhaust, but they also deliver the most power for strenuous jobs.
Propane fork trucks are versatile indoor/outdoor performers whose features include easy refueling and more torque than their electric counterparts.
Electric forklifts also tend to be more compact and maneuverable since they are not powered by a bulky internal-combustion (IC) engine, while diesel and propane machines with IC engines generally possess greater weight capacity and better ability to handle rough terrain.
7. If you go electric, do you need a battery charger?
Electric forklifts, of course, require a battery charger for refueling (once fully charged, they can typically provide enough power for one eight-hour shift or about five to six hours of continuous use). This means your forklift rental dealer will likely ask whether you already have a suitable charger. If not, you’ll need to factor in acquiring this capability.
Most dealers can rent you a temporary, short-term solution. But for longer-term needs it is often recommended that you get an electrician to hard wire a charger on-site. For this, you’ll need to know your building’s voltage limitations.
Propane-powered machines, which run on easy-to-replace canisters of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and diesel forklifts are easier to refuel on the fly.
8. Do you need delivery?
Most forklift dealers will offer to deliver the machinery to your warehouse or job site, and many prefer to do so because they are experienced at handling these bulky, heavy machines without damage. But be sure to ask if they charge a fee for transporting, unloading and picking up the equipment. Another option comes into play if you are working with a rigging company, as they generally are also equipped to move heavy machinery.
9. What about service?
Top dealers offer to provide service for their forklift rentals. If you call with a problem, they will typically send out a technician to determine whether it can be repaired on-site and, if not, will (hopefully promptly) swap it out for a replacement vehicle. However, you need to make sure such details are clearly spelled out in your rental contract.
10. Who is responsible for any damage? Maintenance?
Just as when you rent a car, you can be held liable to cover repair costs for any damage that may occur while the vehicle is under your care. However, the customer is typically not responsible for normal wear and tear.
Most dealers are careful about maintaining records about the condition of their rental equipment, both going out and coming back in. So in addition to conducting a visual inspection of the forklift, it is important to discuss this with your dealer to make sure you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities. The renter is also typically responsible for such minor maintenance tasks as regularly checking fluid levels to keep the machine running smoothly.
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