CNG Lift Trucks Can Carry the Load

Lift trucks are essential in many industries and nearly all warehouse operations. Many fuels are used, including diesel, LP and electric batteries. The newest, and possibly the ideal fuel candidate is starting to make its place known. It’s compressed natural gas (CNG). Today CNG is an attractive energy source because of its economy, cleanliness, safety and rapid refueling characteristics


Emission Regulation

Until about 2004, there was a fairly widespread market for conversion engine packages for lift trucks designed specifically for CNG. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated it planned to begin regulation of lift truck engines manufactured after 2004 as potential emissions sources. Because of the anticipated burden of regulatory testing and compliance documentation, most of the smaller conversion companies discontinued offering packages.

Some lift truck manufacturers which had planned entry into this CNG market also chose to hold off taking this step. A relatively large number of lift trucks converted before 2004 continue in use, and some debate continues as to whether lift trucks manufactured before 2004 can still be converted today. This is a gray area.

Certified conversion options may develop as the market and the availability of CNG refueling stations increases.  However, you can purchase a new CNG lift truck today.


Toyota Offers Line of Equipment

Toyota USA had already entered the market and had engines certified to meet EPA and California Air Resource Board (CARB) standards. Toyota continues to offer new lift trucks designed for CNG, with cushion-tire units in sizes from 4,000 to 6,500 lbs and pneumatic-tire units in sizes from 3,000 to 6,500 lbs. According to Mark Faiman, product manager for this area for Toyota U.S.A., this size range covers about 70% of the current lift truck weight-class market.               

Faiman feels this market has significant potential for growth, particularly for companies that are putting in fast-fill CNG stations for other fleet operations. “What we’re seeing is that CNG lift trucks are especially attractive if the firm already has an installed fast-fill station that can be used for lift trucks on-site.” He notes that CNG use for road-tractors, delivery trucks and other commercial and industrial vehicles is on the increase, and with it comes opportunities for CNG warehouse lift trucks.


Rapid Refueling an Advantage

The high-pressure fuel tank for the Toyota lift truck is approximately the same size and weight as a standard LP tank, however it is refilled in place rather than being exchanged for a full tank, as is the practice with LP. Faiman observes, “With a quick-fill CNG station, the lift truck can be refueled in place without the need to handle a tank.”

This refueling can be completed in a few minutes, rather than the 10-20 minute cycle common for LP. Lifting and handling both the full and empty LP tanks in the exchange process has always been a potential source of worker injury.


Lower Cost Fuel, Ideal for Indoor Use

According to Faiman, CNG is currently 30-50% lower in cost than LP or diesel fuel. It is also attractive because of its low combustion odor and emission characteristics, and because refueling is usually a very quick operation. “Especially for indoor operations, it is more attractive than LP or diesel.”

He explains that with normal warehouse continuous usage, the CNG lift truck will need one refueling during an 8-hour shift. This is similar to the requirement for LP units. In applications where lift truck usage is relatively light and it is not an around-the-clock operation, an overnight slow-fill refueling station is less expensive and is a practical alternative..

As more refueling stations are established, CNG lift trucks become an increasingly attractive option. If your operation is considering going to CNG for other operations, remember to consider converting to CNG lift trucks as well. Each situation is different, but CNG works out well for many of them.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me