Until recently, many businesses with electric forklifts were reluctant to use them outdoors. They were afraid that if any water got into the workings, the forklift’s electronics would short out. Then you’d have a forklift billowing smoke and not working anymore.
It's a valid concern. Nobody wants a sudden, expensive failure. Lucky for all of us, this sort of risk no longer bothers forklifts.
The IP Code: How to Tell Which Forklifts are Safe for Outdoor Use
A few years ago, Europe tackled this problem. 50% of their forklifts operate outdoors. You can imagine how important protecting against water is there!
Their efforts resulted in the “IP Code” or “International Protection Marking”. IP Code are a series of numerical codes which identify what a piece of equipment is protected against. There are two scales, each represented by a number: Ingress of solid objects (dirt), and Ingress of liquids (water).
These numbers combine into a two-digit number which represents the total rating. For instance, IP00 would mean no protection against dirt or water at all. IP22 would mean protection from solid objects the size of your hand, and against dripping water.
The IP Code Wikipedia entry has further code breakdowns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code
How does IP Code Rating Relate to Electric Forklifts?
An IP54 rating means a forklift's internal components have full protection from "dust, debris, and liquid." In other words, from both dirt and water. Making this rating the one you want to see on an electric forklift.
Jungheinrich equipment has been rated IP54 for years. It’s a German brand, so it had to have a suitable IP Code Rating to meet European standards.
Any & all forklifts rated IP54 are completely waterproof and safe for outdoor use. I even watched Jungheinrich drive a forklift through a trough full of water to demonstrate!
Here’s an article with more details on the IP54 Rating: IP Rating Chart - DSMT.com
Forklifts Rated IP54 are Waterproof. Go Ahead and Use Them Outdoors.
It’s perfectly safe to use electric forklifts outdoors—provided they’re IP54 rated. We know Jungheinrichs are. Other electric models should be as well. If you’re not sure, we’ll check their IP Code Rating for you. Just ask your local Cromer tech.
If you're keeping any electrics inside the warehouse for fear of environmental damage—no need to worry. Take them out for a drive!
UPDATED JUNE 2020