Lifting green: Taking care of business for the environment

Konecranes Lift Trucks has always had the goal to set ourselves apart through innovation. In the earliest versions of forklifts and container handlers, a big part of that difference came from embracing electronics and digitalisation. Eventually and following the advances in technological capability, that commitment has led to the powerful electronic control units and intuitive touchscreen interfaces that come with a Konecranes today.

The past decade has seen a lot of attention and resources applied to sustainability in operations. Reducing carbon footprint, in particular, is becoming a normal part of operations and management in almost every company—in no small part because their customers often make it a key condition of doing business.

One of the most obvious areas of greenhouse gas reduction is in the use of combustion engines. Every operation is under a public and regulatory microscope, and limiting use of fossil fuels is an easy-to-understand way of cutting emissions, lowering energy costs and building a positive reputation with everyone from local communities and employees to customers and investors.

Enter electrification
For businesses that work with forklifts from 10 tons and up  in their day-to-day, electrification is becoming more and more of an attractive option.

To date, diesel-powered forklifts have made most business sense—the technological gains since their initial introduction have been tremendous, including for fuel efficiency and reduction of particle and NOx emissions. There are still potential improvements possible for combustion engine-powered forklifts fueled by hydrogen or electrofuels, for example. But electrification has caught up to the current capabilities of diesel-powered engines, offering customers an emission-free option for heavy lifting.

Electrification is already well-established in cars, buses and other vehicles. Now the technology of electric drives and Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) has advanced enough to be applied to  forklifts from 10 tons effectively, yet is still open to potentially disruptive improvements.

Battery electric vehicles perform better than diesel combustion engines in some ways. In others, diesel combustion engines still have the edge. But the potential for electric in industrial lifting has come so far that it’s hard to justify not transitioning towards it, especially if the goal is reducing carbon footprint while lowering operating costs.

Reduce your energy bill
Electric motors are a lot more efficient than diesel. They make up to 90% of the energy provided usable for work, compared to 40-45% in a modern diesel engine. That represents a significant cost and energy saving. And regular braking regenerates energy to the battery, making it even more efficient.

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Lower your service costs
Engine and transmission are serious cost drivers in a diesel-powered forklift, as both require regular oil and filter service for reliability and longevity. Electric motors and drivelines, on the other hand, are mostly maintenance-free, saving you time and money.

Improve productivity
Electric motors deliver full torque at low speed. That means almost-instant acceleration and lifting, and a measurable performance improvement over their diesel equivalent. There’s less noise and vibrations, improving driver comfort over long periods. And it’s clean—no emissions means electric forklifts can be operated both indoors and outdoors.

A solid step in the right direction
With electrification making more and more of a business case for itself, Konecranes now offers electric forklifts for emission-free 10-18 ton lifting. The E-VER line gives customers a way to match or better diesel engine capabilities while improving their sustainability. 

Operating in an environmentally-responsible way is now a business priority. Electrification of traditionally fossil-fuel powered applications, like heavy lifting, is an easy way companies can make a win for the environment a win for their business.

 

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