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All posts by Sean Fahey

What Type of Forklift Should I Buy?

Forklift manufacturers have made substantial improvements to all types of lift trucks in recent years from diesel and propane to gasoline and electric. Each forklift type has definitive advantages and should be used in the proper setting to ensure safety and longevity. Multiple forklift types are available for large operations, both indoor and outdoor, and jobs that require lifting large loads. Today we are going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of two different types of forklifts, electric and propane.


Electric Forklifts:


Advantages: Battery electric forklifts are the most environmentally friendly type. They are fume free in operation, giving off no harmful emissions. They are also quiet in use. Due to the weight and concentrated mass of the battery, electric lifts are generally easier to maneuver than their engine powered equivalents. The battery weight is an effective counterbalance, enabling the truck to be compact in size. The cost of recharging the battery overnight is considerably less than replacing gas bottles or filling a tank with diesel fuel. Electric fork lift trucks are generally easier to drive than engine powered machines, as they only have an accelerator and a brake pedal. No clutch pedal or inching pedal means the operator doesn’t have to “rev” the engine for fast lift or hill starting. The maintenance and servicing costs of electric forklifts is considerably less than engine powered trucks as there are so few moving parts.
Disadvantages: Electric trucks have a higher initial cost due to the battery and charger. They are also unavailable for use while the battery is being recharged, unless additional batteries for multi-shift work are available. Warehouse space for the battery charging station and a suitable means of changing batteries at shift change-over is also needed. Electric fork lifts are not suited for use outside in wet weather; the damp atmosphere causes problems with wiring circuitry and electrical components. Maintenance and repairs/fault finding is not done on a DIY basis compared with engine powered trucks.


Propane Forklifts:


Advantages: Forklifts powered by LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) have long been popular due to their competitive pricing and suitability for inside/outside usage and convenience for around the clock working. The engines are derivatives of car engines, and consequently parts are readily available at low prices. The performance characteristics of propane powered trucks are superior to their electric and diesel powered equivalents. Travel speeds, rates of acceleration, and lift speeds usually outperform their electric/diesel rivals because of better power to weight ratios and better responsive engines. The service weight of gas trucks is generally less than their electric and diesel counterparts.


Disadvantages: Whilst they are the cheapest to buy new, their maintenance and fuel costs are the highest of the three types. As with diesel trucks, they need to be given a “winter service” with antifreeze. Fuel system leaks while the truck is indoors can be a liability. Operators need to be trained on the safe handling of propane fuel. Propane forklifts are difficult to start and operate in freezing temperatures.


ASI Department Tour

Here at American Surplus we have 5 main departments.  These departments are Conveyor, Fabrication, Forklift, Racking and Shelving.  Below is a video tour of our building that will take you to each of the departments and explain in detail how each department could help with your material handling needs.



4 Mistakes Buyers Make in the Material Handling Industry



Buying equipment for your company can be a long and painful process, but if you avoid these mistakes I see on a daily basis you can have an easy buying process in no time.


Poor Time Management

Amazon has changed the game with same day / next day shipping.  This is a great feature if I’m looking for the latest consumer good that just came out.  It has instilled the notion that all products are readily available and can be at your door within 48 hours.  Products such as pallet racks, conveyor systems, and free standing mezzanines have a lead time for the manufacturing process.  The first step of the buying process for any of these products would be contacting the manufacturer to obtain current lead times to start planning your purchase.  Doing so will allow for ample time and also give you a little wiggle room for any unforeseen circumstances.


Shipping locations and freight charges

The next mistake I see many buyers making is mis-calculating freight or knowing where the product is shipping from.  Quite often I see people say they want to spend x amount for a product but forget to include freight.  It is best to develop a budget that includes product, freight and any installation costs to have a general idea of the cost for a project.  Many companies offer comparable products and it is best to find the product that ships from a close location to avoid high freight rates and long shipping times.  Some of the leading material handling suppliers have seen this as an issue and have started to build multiple warehouses to offer various shipping locations to better serve customers. When considering a purchase always evaluate the cost of the product from each vendor along with the freight cost and lead time.


Poor Research

When you hear research and the buying process your head probably jumps right to making sure you are buying a reputable brand. It is important to research and make sure the product is a good fit for your location and the needs you have.  I have seen situations where someone is looking for pushback racking but it turns out drive in rack ends up being a space saver for them.  So it is important to keep your options open to different solutions.  The same can be said for conveyors, shelving or almost any type of equipment for your warehouse.  Knowing exactly how you are going to use the equipment and knowing how you will use it once your company grows is a very important part of the process.  Also (doing) researching (into any) local laws can be very helpful.  One example is California’s specific laws for warehouses with pallet racking due to the amount of seismic activity in the state.  Knowing these things before the buying process starts can save headaches down the road.


Not Looking Into Buying Used Equipment

If you are a budget consciences person than buying used equipment might be right for you. Buying used equipment will help save from 40-60% off the price of the same equipment new.  Outside of fork trucks most material handling equipment has a very long usability life.  Since there are few technological upgrades to products such as pallet racking it does not become obsolete quickly.  Buying used is a safe and smart investment. Used equipment is also readily available and depending on the product can usually ship within 48 hours.  Going back to the time management ideas, new equipment tends to be fabricated to order while used equipment is available quicker.  Spending a little time to research used product could save you both time and money.


4 Reasons why a Mezzanine is right for your warehouse



Whenever a company grows beyond its current warehouse capabilities the first thought is “We need to move to a larger warehouse.”  But I am here to tell you that there may be another option that will allow you to stay in your current warehouse.  The answer could be installing a mezzanine in your warehouse.  Wikipedia defines a mezzanine as “a raised platform that is independent of a building structure and is supported by columns.” Mezzanines work great if you have high ceilings, but part of your warehouse has low clearance items such as shelving or some work stations. Which brings me to the first advantage of a Mezzanine:


  • Space


Mezzanines are able to take the space you have already and make it work better for you.  Mezzanines have the ability to increase or even double the square footage of your building without actually expanding outside your current footprint. Many warehouses have high ceilings and this is perfect for a mezzanine.  If you have 1,000 ft x 1,000 ft warehouse then you know you have a 1 million sq ft warehouse.  But you are not taking into account vertical space.  If you have 40 ft ceilings then all of a sudden you have 40 million cubed feet of storage.  Now, odds are you are not going to use every inch for storage, but always remember you have upward direction as well.


  • Cost


Mezzanines are almost always less expensive than deciding to buy or lease a larger warehouse.  Especially when you factor in the cost of actually moving all of your product and equipment from one location to another which may slow down or even halt production. Mezzanines are able to be installed while a warehouse is still operating at 100% with little to no disruption to a normal day.  When every dollar matters, it is important to take the option that will help you continue to operate as nothing is changing.


  • Multi-use


Mezzanines aren’t only for storing product for storage and retail purposes.  You are able to create new office spaces on top of mezzanines and possibly increase the number of employees you are able to hire.  You are able to add an inplant office to the top of the mezzanine and create all new office spaces for existing or new employees.


  • Value


Once they are completed instantly add value to your property.  When you increase your storage space possible resale of the building is almost always going to go up.  Since property taxes tend to be based on the sq ft of your building’s footprint this means that your property tax most likely will not increase.  Adding a mezzanine to your existing facility is almost always less expensive than moving to a new facility.

As you can see there are many reasons that choosing a mezzanine may be the right call for your business and your warehouse.  Mezzanines are versatile and are able to be used for both storage and for possible office space.  They are able to double the usable square footage of your building if you choose to build one that takes up the whole size of your building.


Changes at American Surplus

2015 was a great year for us here at American Surplus.  We set new records in sales and expanded our warehouse so we have even more space now. With these expansions we added some new people to our team and we figured that this would a great chance to introduce you to some of them.  We added 1 new person to our marketing team and 2 new people to our sales department.  While all 3 came on in the 2nd half of the year they all contributed to help make 2015 the best in American Surplus history.

Sean Fahey


Sean is our new hire in the marketing department coming in as a marketing assistant.  He comes to us by way of Brafton in Boston.  He has an extensive background in social media marketing as well as new digital marketing trends.  In just the end of the year he has helped American Surplus grow our social media following by over 150%.  Outside of work Sean is an avid soccer fan.  He is a season ticket holder for the New England Revolution as well as a member of the Rev Army supporters group.  He is also a large music fan attending somewhere between 12 and 20 concerts a year on average.

Chris Canning


Chris is one of our 2 new hires for the sales department.  With an increase of people seeking out used material handling equipment we wanted to make sure we had the right amount of salespeople to meet the needs of all our potential customers.  Chris is a life long Rhode Island native graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1983.  Before working here at American Surplus Chris has worked for 30 years in the control and service industry.  Outside of work Chris enjoys spending time with his wife and 5 children.  He also enjoys coaching and watching all types of sports.

Matt Hawkins


Matt is our other addition to the sales team.  Matt is also a graduate of URI although slightly more recently.  He graduated from there in 2012.  Before coming to ASI Matt was working in the medical device field working as a salesman for orthopedics. Matt is an avid New England sports fan but says if he had to pick only one team that would be the New England Patriots.  During the short summer weather we have heard Matt enjoys spending his free time on the golf course.

Here you have the 3 most recent additions to our team here at American Surplus.  We hope these new employees as well as our other employees who have up to 20 years of sales experience in material handling will be able to help you with any and all of your needs.