When business cycles thin out, new orders trickle in, and margins tighten up, decision makers in the materials handling industry often fall prey to a common mistake: They overextend replacement timelines for large, expensive equipment.

The logic of this move is alluring, since equipment assets like vehicles and forklifts tend to depreciate over time. If a brand new item will never hold more value than it does on its first day, why rush to make a new purchase? Why not squeeze every hour of labor and value out of the old model, even if this means a final year (or a final five years) of small fixes, patch jobs, expensive component replacements, and a general understanding that the equipment could reach the end of its life at any moment? If you can tolerate an outdated piece of equipment that requires constant fixes and work-arounds, why not do so and put off a new purchase as long as possible? This may sound like a cost-effective approach, but before you run your older model into the ground, here are a few things to consider.

Unreliable equipment comes with hidden costs.

Placing your trust in older equipment means accepting downtime, both scheduled and unscheduled. When a forklift needs unexpected maintenance, workflows come to a halt. Employees stand idle and product sits on the dock or the shelf, unmoved. Everybody waits while the problem is examined and resolved. And during that time, orders go unfulfilled and money goes unmade. But the looming possibility of a standstill can also be expensive. After all, this time the fix may be easy, but the next time may be the last. So employees and managers have to stay on edge; never knowing if this equipment will make it through a tough job or a long day.

Newer models aren’t just newer; they’re also better.

When you invest in a new forklift for the first time in ten years (or twenty), you aren’t just trading a beaten down old machine for an identical version sans the wear and tear. Forklift design evolves at a steady rate, and every year new innovations appear that impact operator safety, fuel efficiency, mast stability, power, and environmental sustainability.  Toyota forklifts are designed and built using the philosophy of kaizen, or constant incremental improvement. So if you haven’t explored the market recently, now may be a great time to discover how things have changed.

For more on how to explore your options and choose a lift truck that meets your needs, reach out to the experts at Liftow.