Getting an efficient lift: Renting vs. buying for forklift use

There are industrial professionals available who can help you decide which option best fits your business needs

If you own a business and need heavy duty equipment like a forklift, you might be deciding whether to buy or purchase. Having a forklift available is convenient. If you use a forklift daily or you have a major project coming up, then you need to consider renting versus purchasing a forklift. Let’s examine three factors to consider before you buy or rent a forklift.

Know Your Intended Use for the Forklift

Image via Flickr by JeepersMedia

Renting a forklift offers flexibility. Depending on the scope of the project, you can rent a model designed for specific jobs. Sit-down forklifts are comfortable and suitable for hauling one load per pay. But stand-up forklifts support increased driver visibility no matter which direction the forklift is moving. Also, Telescopic handler lifts are ideal for moving items that require high lifting.

Purchasing a forklift limits flexibility, which might cost you more money and lead to decreased productivity. On the flip side, if your daily business activities are consistent, then purchasing is a reasonable option. Just make sure you select the right lift.

Evaluate the Cost Benefits

Forklifts can be rented or leased for short-term and long-term projects. You can avoid huge upfront cost by renting a forklift. Rental costs vary, and they depend on your credit and location. However, if your profits are predictable and cash flow is steady, try leasing. If you lease long-term, you might even get a deal.

If you own a business that uses forklifts daily for long hours at a time, consider purchasing a forklift. For example, if your warehouse uses lifts on pull pallets or hauls large single or stacked boxes daily, then buying makes more sense.

Newly manufactured forklifts are expensive, and other factors like size, capacity, and use of attachments increase the cost. Purchasing used forklifts help mitigate cost, but make sure you understand its intended business purpose. Consider factors like indoor versus outdoor material movement and frequency of use.

Owning a forklift is considered an asset. So, if you consider selling the forklift in the future, that’s additional money towards a new purchase or lease. Don’t forget about other hidden costs like workers’ compensation from injuries.

Understand Safety and Legal Issues

When you purchase a forklift, you’re responsible for training your employees and making sure the equipment meets all safety requirements. Employees will need to take forklift operation and safety courses. Depending on the state, they might also require certification. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict guidelines for operating forklift. You will also be responsible for maintenance. If you don’t have in-house maintenance, then carefully consider buying a forklift.

Rental companies are responsible for training, and they understand legislation. Working condition and maintenance are also the responsibility of the rental company. However, if you purchase a forklift, there are some rental companies that can offer expert advice and perform a full risk assessment.

There are industrial professionals available who can help you decide which option best fits your business needs. Make sure these needs support continued business growth.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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