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So, you have decided you need to purchase a pallet jack, great – but now you need to decide whether you want a manual or electric powered one. Since the price difference between the two is quite substantial, you want to make sure you pick the right one for your specific applications. Here are just a few things to consider that will help you choose which is right for you.
The size of the facilityUsually a bigger facility will call for an electric model. Why? Well, it can be draining for an employee to have to move pallets manually across such a big distance. Also, it can be more challenging to maneuver an electric pallet truck in a small space.
The requirementsAn electric pallet jack is generally better equipped to move a big stack of pallets. Plus, it boasts a better design for hassle-free lifting. Manual pallet jacks are able to maneuver in smaller areas better.
BudgetAlthough it might take you quite a few years to pay off your newly acquired electric pallet truck, it remains an investment. So, before deciding which type of pallet truck to buy, give thought to the following factors:
- Initial purchase price – depending on what your budget is, do you have the funds to purchase a more expensive piece of equipment, or is your budget limited?
- Cost of Maintenance – will probably be higher on a more complicated piece of equipment.
- Time Management – an electric pallet jack will allow you to transport your goods at a quicker pace than manual jacks, saving you money on labor costs.
- Number of pallet jacks needed – you can purchase multiple manual jacks for the price of an electric model.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Manual Pallet JacksAlso referred to by some as manual pallet trucks, manual pallet jacks are more commonly used industry wide than their electric counterparts. There are several different styles including standard, premium, galvanized and stainless steel for wet or food applications. Low profile units are also an option when looking for manual pallet jacks. Standard for dimensions are 20.5” x 48” and 27” x 48” with weight capacities between 5,000 and 5,500 lbs.
- Less Expensive – cost considerably less to purchase, therefore are commonly found in many facilities.
- Solid Work Horses – manual pallet jacks are tough and dependable. Thanks to their strong, solid design, maintaining them in the long run is much easier. Generally, a manual pallet truck has what it takes to weather the demands of busy facilities, transporting heavy loads steadily from point A to point B.
- Lower Maintenance Costs – do not have any electrical components and usually cost less to maintain. Also, as they boast a less complicated design, repairs frequently take less time (compared to an electric pallet jack) and you will not have a difficult time tracking down parts.
- Easily Customizable – they can be purchased with different fork lengths and widths, raised and lowered fork heights, and materials for wet or dry environments.
- More Difficult to Maneuver – because they are manually operated, they can be more complicated and awkward to use.
- Physical Strain – it puts more physical strain on your workers, than an electric powered pallet truck would, which could potentially lead to injuries.
- Weight Limitations – in the real world not many people can manually pull 5,000 lbs, so realistically you will not be able to load the pallet jack with that much weight and still be able to maneuver it. Electric models are able to handle that much weight, without putting a strain on your workers.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Electric Pallet JacksThey are a totally automatic version of a manual pallet truck, and in many cases, they are designed so that the user actually has space to stand and ride it from point A to point B.
- Less Physical Strain - as this type of pallet truck is automated and boasts power-assisted lifting, users are less likely to encounter any injuries caused by strain.
- Increased Productivity – since they are electrical, they can lower, lift, as well as move around in the facility at a much quicker pace than a manual pallet jack can.
- Handle Heavier Loads – because they are power operated, you won’t have the issue of your workers trying to manually pull 5,000 lbs. The jack will do the heavy work for you.
- More Expensive - compared to manual pallet trucks, these tend to cost more. Electric pallet jacks will pay for themselves over time with the boost in productivity they offer.
- Increased Maintenance – electric pallet jacks can face more maintenance problems. Because of their complexity, more time and money will be spent on maintenance and repairs.
- Harder to Stop Quickly - it can be difficult to get an electronic pallet truck to stop quickly since they are designed to move bigger pallet stacks.
- Additional Training Required – again, because of their complexity, you will have to receive extra training before you are ready to use an electric pallet truck.