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Looking for a new truck? Why not think about a refurbished unit instead – reliability and value are guaranteed…

This article first appeared in Logistics Manager, June 2017.

Forklift trucks are built to be tough, so there is every reason to expect a refurbished unit to offer a good value and reliable alternative to buying new.

Neil Warren, used equipment, rental and workshop director at Jungheinrich, points out that: “On average, the cost of a refurbished forklift is between 70-75 per cent of a new truck, depending on the model.”

And David Turner, marketing manager at Briggs Equipment says the price depends on the level of refurbishment offered, and the age of the machine. “A two year old machine will obviously demand a higher price than one that is five years old. As a generalisation, a five year old used machine, refurbished with warranty, can save a minimum of £5,000 against the equivalent new machine.”

However, says Warren, “When it comes to making a purchase, there are a number of important factors to take into account.
“First and foremost, is a refurbished truck actually the right route to go? To answer this, managers must assess the duties the truck will be performing.

“For intensive operations, a new truck will likely be more appropriate and cost-effective in the long-term, but for more moderate shift work, loading duties or yard work, then a refurbished truck could be the best fit. We suggest a quality refurbished truck is ideal for a 1000 hour to 1500 hour application,” says Warren.

“Quality and value of a refurbished truck are also crucial considerations. How rigorous is the refurbishment process? How old is the forklift?
“How many hours has it worked? Is its full service history known? It’s not uncommon to find a used truck on the market that’s ten years old or more and on its third or even fourth life. Whereas Jungheinrich refurbished trucks are built on a production line, workshop refurbishments are the norm, which can result in inconsistent standards and attention to detail from truck to truck,” says Warren.
Safety is a critical issue in the warehouse, and Warren highlights the importance of the truck having a CE mark of approval for European use. “It is also important to ensure that lifting chains and forks have been inspected in line with industry regulations, which can otherwise invalidate insurance in the event of an accident,” says Warren.

Jennifer Holden, short term hire and UE manager at UniCarriers, highlights a number of advantages to refurbished trucks: prices are lower than purchasing new trucks, with options of leasing/hire purchase still available for refurbished trucks.
There need be no need to wait for lengthy lead times, as refurbishment work takes up minimal time.
The key question, says Holden, is: “Is the truck up to the job – used forklifts are ideal to take on those smaller tasks in the warehouse or as a back-up truck. Always consider whether the trucks are up for the job. Try before you buy – UniCarriers offer demos on their trucks.”

Service history

David Turner, marketing manager at Briggs Equipment points out: “From a BE UE perspective, we focus on the past history of the machine. How many owners?

“Does it have full service history? What is the general pre-refurbished condition (any signs of excessive wear and tear etc), is it genuine hours and age, with a manufacturers designation plate? 95 per cent of BE UE machines are sourced from our own rental fleet, hence are generally one owner, low usage/hours and have been maintained from new by our own engineers.”

The refurbishment process is critical to the quality of the finished vehicle.

Jennifer Holden of UniCarriers, says trucks are refurbished using a UniCarriers Series 2 rebuild process. “UniCarriers used equipment are of a very high quality and will therefore perform to a high standard. The reason for this is the amount of work that goes into these rebuilds.

“The Series 2 rebuild process comprises of a 22-stage process, and the trucks are not allowed to re-enter the workplace until these stages have been fulfilled. Each customer is unique – trucks are continuously identified in current used equipment stock that meet the requirements of the customer in mind. A Series 2 rebuilds include new batteries and chargers,” says Holden.

Briggs has three refurbishment standards for used equipment, says Turner, “Bronze, Silver and Gold, with incremental increases on warranty offered, and finish provided (ie Bronze is a thorough refurbishment mechanically, with basic paintwork refresh and 3 months warranty, where the Silver gives a full respray, new chains and tyres with 6 months warranty. Gold is ‘as-new’, but with cost savings on a fully new machine).”

Jungheinrich has a dedicated factory in Dresden where used trucks are systematically stripped down, assessed and rebuilt on a production line. Warren argues that this gives a better result than a workshop approach.

“The industry norm for refurbishing trucks is via the workshop. However, this approach is very labour intensive, leaving less time for scrutiny over the finer detail. Other manufacturers may go via dealers, but they risk losing control over the consistency and quality of the truck as a result.”


“Under the Jungheinrich system, he says: “Following an engineer assessment of each truck into the plant, a specialist team dismantles and cleans it down. The mast and motor are sent to specialist refurbishment areas, and all panels are taken off, sandblasted and repainted. Meanwhile, the chassis is sent into a preparation bay, where it is also sandblasted and painted. From here, the chassis moves into the assembly area where the truck is reassembled, and then checked for quality and safety,” says Warren.

“Using this efficient production line process, there’s time to focus on the finishing touches, and no truck leaves Dresden without the seal of approval and signature of the technician in charge. We’re proud of each and every truck that leaves Dresden, and work to a standard of supplying refurbished trucks that are as good as new,” says Warren.

There are a range of finance packages and warranties available for used equipment.

David Turner of Briggs points out that many of the larger companies offer finance terms as well as outright purchase options, with warranties usually variable on the standard of refurbishment and/or the type of site/intended hours usage the machine will be used for at the end-user.
Jungheinrich’s Neil Warren says: “Most refurbished trucks in the market are available under similar contract rental and warranty agreements as new vehicles. However, many suppliers will only offer them under three year contract.

“Due to the quality of the Jungheinrich rebuild and strict guidelines over vehicles considered fit for refurbishment, we expect our trucks to last at least another five years. We therefore offer the same finance packages, full maintenance contracts, and 12 month warranty as with our new vehicles,” says Warren.

UniCarriers trucks (UE stock) are sold on a sold-as-seen basis, says Holden. “However, UniCarriers are always flexible to meet customer needs. We will adapt trucks to meet the customers individual needs, and can get trucks serviced/inspected or complete additional work as requested prior to sale.

“Series 2 refurbished trucks are sold with a 6-month warranty and customers can take advantage of UniCarriers maintenance contracts. Finance packages for Series 2, such as long term leasing and hire purchase can be arranged in the same way as for new truck sales,” says Holden.

Flexi on the lookout for used trucks

Narrow Aisle is in the market for used Flexi trucks to meet an upsurge in demand for refurbished equipment.
Director John Maguire says: “Quite simply, we need to get hold of more used Flexi trucks to enable us to meet the growing market for ‘second life’ Flexis.”

Narrow Aisle is appealing for Flexi users whose fleet is due to be upgraded to contact them, and it is also keen to hear from forklift dealers who have older ex-fleet Flexis on their books and is offering competitive rates to encourage dealers and truck operators to part with these older Flexi forklifts.

“Typically a used and refurbished Flexi will be sold for in the region of only 60 per cent of its price when new,” says Maguire.
“There is a constant flow of used end-of-contract forklift equipment returned to distributors and dealers. Flexi trucks are built with heavy gauge steel plate and one tonne cast-iron counterweights. This means the heavy chassis components – even when 10 or more years old – are able to be re-used and brought up to the latest specification, saving a great deal of primary and secondary manufacturing cost that we can pass on to clients.”

How do manufacturers approach the used market?

Each forklift manufacturer has its own strategy for used and refurbished trucks.
Jungheinrich’s Neil Warren says: “It’s the belief at Jungheinrich that manufacturers have a responsibility to refurbish trucks whenever a quality second life is possible, as part of our commitment to actively promoting energy efficiency and environmental protection across all production and service divisions.

“Trucks at the end of their first life of five years are refurbished to a consistently high European wide standard on a production line in a dedicated factory in Dresden. We are unique in the market for this and will only ever refurbish a truck once. Following that, forklifts are disposed of in such a way that allows for parts to be recycled wherever possible,” says Warren.

Briggs’ David Turner says the company has a dedicated used equipment division that operates a web site showing latest stock for direct customer contact, while also serving the new sales department with UE stock for options for customers looking at new machines, but budget may be tight.”

Jennifer Holden points out that UniCarriers sell on two different grades of used equipment UE Stock and Series 2 refurbishment.
For UE Stock there is no refurbishment unless customer otherwise requests, for instance, a newer battery.

With Series 2 refurbishment the majority of sales UniCarriers make of used equipment is through its trade dealers who purchase UE stock. “We have a single point of contact within UniCarriers who works directly with dealers and can be aware of individual needs and requirements. Monthly stock lists are also provided to a growing distribution group of trade dealers, listing current stock availability” says Holden.

“For long term rental or short term hire returns, UniCarriers identifies suitable trucks, as they are returned from long term rental contracts or short term hire – that will meet live enquiries” says Holden.

She says UniCarriers does consider selling used equipment directly to customers, particularly including refurbishment options when trucks reach the end of long term rental contracts and customers would prefer to keep the truck on site due to the success of the current arrangement.

Thorough Examination ‘not enough’

Users of explosion-protected forklifts need to conduct Ex- annual safety audits (Ex-ASAs) alongside a Thorough Examination to ensure legal compliance and reduce risk in potentially explosive atmospheres, according to Pyroban.
“To improve safety when using forklift trucks, a regular Thorough Examination is mandatory in many countries,” says Darren Boiling, group after sales manager. “However, this alone is not enough to ensure safe operation in applications where there is a risk of explosion.”
“If a truck has been converted for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere, it is essential that the explosion protection system is inspected annually, or sooner, alongside a Thorough Examination of the truck itself,” continues Darren.
Pyroban’s Ex-ASA inspects and records all safety critical components of the complete explosion protection system.

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