This is a theoretical comparison between the costs involved in operating a diesel, electric or gas/petrol counter balanced forklift truck over a period of say 5 years. The comparison gives the cost for an activity cycle per forklift truck.

What is meant with activity cycle is a task for instance to pick up a load and transport it say 25 meters, place the load in a rack (2.5 meters high) and travel back to fetch another load. The cost comparison model has been so designed to calculate the cost involved in the performance of any combinations of activities to form an activity cycle.

This is a theoretical cost model and no environmental aspects are taken into account.


The model is divided into the following sub sections.

  • Utilisation
This sets out the number of operating hours in the 5 year period depending on the expected actual operating hours during a shift, number of shifts in a day, etc. All this information can be altered according to each userís particular circumstances.

  • Forklift truck variables used for calculations.

These are the performance of the particular make and type of forklift trucks in use e.g. max travel speed, lifting speed, etc.

No detail is given here of the further stages of the model - it covers inter-alia the following:

  • Activity cycle for comparison

This is the work cycle the forklift is doing. As mentioned in the introduction, each activity cycle is a combination of individual activities. For each activity you must give information such as distance to be travelled, percentage of max speed, etc.

  • Power consumption variables

These are the items such as the motor sizes driving the battery operated truck, fuel consumption and tank sizes. These variables are used to determine the power needed to perform each activity cycle.

  • Fixed costs

This is where the fixed cost for the equipment is calculated. The model assumes the equipment would be financed by a 5 year period loan and that the equipment has a residual value at the end of the 5 years. The loan period can be adapted. Tax aspects are ignored but can be added to the model if required.

  • Running costs

This is all the operating costs such as: fuel, tyres, maintenance and labour.


All costs are added to obtain a cost per activity cycle as performed in a 5 year period, with other words what that particular activity costs the user during the "life" of the forklift truck in present value rand terms per forklift truck and for the required fleet size.


The model has been used for the three different activity cycles. For all three activity cycles the same performance and cost variables have been used, only the activities have been changed.

Activity cycle one: Is for small movements and lifting. Like order picking and truck loading type of activities where the forklift truck does not need to travel over long distances, but is doing a lot of load handling.

Activity cycle two: Is more medium travelling distances and moving. The type of activity were a pallet is moved from the palletisation area to for instance a cold store and placed in a rack.

Activity cycle three: Is for moving of loads over longer distances. Typical operations would be moving loads between warehouses or cold stores where trailer transfer is possibly called for.

It should be noted that this is just an example of what the model can do. End results are very much dependent on the variables entered into the model.

The time taken to complete an activity cycle therefore is very much dependent on the performance parameters of each forklift.

Interesting to note that the running cost for activity cycle one does not differ very much between the forklifts.

Both the LP Gas and Electric forklift trucks do much better in smaller activities such as in activity cycle 1.

Because the model can accept virtually any forklift task and operation cycle, it is an ideal program to use in order to determine the relative cost of the activity cycle when using each forklift propulsion type - even, within limits, different forklift makes, or more importantly when using larger or smaller capacity forklift trucks to do the same task.

If you should have the need to do a cost exercise of your particular circumstances, you are welcome to contact our office at or:

Phone number: +27 (21) 8527811
Fax number: +27 (21) 8523047


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