Forklift charger manufacturers weren’t immune to the supply chain woes that followed the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2021, Forklift Action was reporting that parts and materials weren’t flowing fast enough to keep up with demand.
“As a result, we have extremely long delivery times for new factory orders,” Clark Europe CEO Rolf Eiten told the trade site in July 2021. At the same time, the demand for forklifts has only grown. The global lift truck market is expected to expand with a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent through 2027, reaching a new high of $53.2 billion by that year.
That means you might have to wait a long while for forklifts to be delivered. Meanwhile, even if you can acquire all the lift trucks you need, there’s a general shortage of skilled, certified forklift operators — and you can’t operate lift trucks without enough lift truck operators.
These market forces are likely to turn around someday (and hopefully soon). In the meantime, however, what can warehouse operators do to keep up with throughput requirements? It’s time to consider other material handling equipment. Here are five forklift alternatives for minimizing the impact of a global forklift charger shortage.
5 Forklift Alternatives for Material Handling Tasks
While nothing can out-and-out replace a forklift, these tools can help you keep materials moving until more industrial trucks — and operators — become available.
1. Tugger Carts and Industrial Trailers
With a single electric tugger, you can move many pallets, packages, or loose materials — provided you have the right carts and trailers. When forklifts are scarce, this trigger-train strategy can help make up the difference. You can even attach tugger trailers to automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or other autonomous warehouse equipment to automate material handling facility-wide.
Hitch a row of Tugger Carts and/or Industrial Trailers to your tugger to create a highly efficient pick train, or feed a manufacturing line with any number of components and materials. Solus Group’s manufacturing partners provide custom Tugger Carts and Industrial Trailers to meet any need — including pallet mobility. But to load the train in the absence of forklifts, you’ll need additional lifting equipment.
2. Lift Tables
Scissor Lift Tables elevate heavy loads on demand, and serve as an alternative to forklifts for a few specific tasks. Choose a Roller Conveyor tabletop to transfer pallets or heavy parcels onto waiting carts; the hydraulic lift motor handles the elevation, while the rollers (or Ball Transfer surface) simplifies horizontal movement. That can help keep materials flowing in facilities without enough forklifts.
If you don’t need your loads to be palletized, you can achieve your throughput goals with industrial carts, operated by a single user. Order Picking Carts were built to handle high capacities, with three spacious shelves (more on request) and load limits of 1,850 pounds (839 kilograms) or 3,000 pounds (1362 kilograms), depending on model.
3. Order Picking Carts
Of course, carts and forklifts solve different material handling challenges. We’re not suggesting Order Picking Carts can replace your entire lift truck fleet. But these industrial carts allow each employee to move more materials, faster, than lighter-duty options. They’re ideal for order picking, putaway, and many other material handling tasks.
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