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Friday, May 12, 2017

The Importance of a Proper Site Survey

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first forklift or simply replacing old, worn out equipment, it is critical to conduct a proper site survey.  Even if you think you’re certain of your options and only want to replace the equipment you already have, a proper site survey and assessment by a reputable dealer is well worth the time prior to purchase.  This is because a site survey offers a chance to double-check your measurements, review your application, and consider the possibilities offered by new technologies with potential to increase efficiency and capacity while minimizing safety risks and costs.

Double-checking Measurements:

To determine the optimal equipment selection for your business and facility, the inspector will pay close attention to the physical characteristics of the space itself.  Among the primary objectives of a site survey is to verify that all of the listed load and height requirements are accurate and consistent with expectations.  Known as the “four by three” rule, a reputable dealer will closely measure the three dimensions (length, width and height) of four key areas: doors, aisles, pallets and racking/storage space.  Since it is unlikely you’ll find consistent measurements throughout the facility, it’s important to measure all aisles and doors individually as a difference as little as 1-inch (2.2 cm) can present a serious safety issue down the line. 

Next, the inspector should determine what kind and size of pallets in use, any overhanging loads, the distance travelled between loads, and the total weight and height requires of the loads.  Since lifting capacity is based on a 24-inch load center and is exponentially down rated as height increases, inaccurate measurements may result in insufficient lift capacity at a given load centre or lift height. 

Reviewing Your Application

After establishing the physical requirements, the next step is a careful consideration of your application and usage environment.  Here, the site surveyor will assess a number of factors that combine to determine the type of equipment that’s best suited for your application.  Depending on the load frequency and distance travelled, for example, a reputable dealer will recommend either a walk behind or ride-on model to optimize between production and costs.  Engine type and power source is another key consideration that largely depends on the characteristics of your application.  For indoor or combined indoor-outdoor applications, emission-free electric models are used.  For applications that take place outdoors or in facilities with adequate ventilation, internal combustion models are generally preferred. 

New Technologies

Finally, a proper site assessment may present you with the opportunity to improve your productivity and efficiency with the addition of new technologies or equipment approaches.  Here, you may be able to reduce the number of lift trucks you require by purchasing a new type of unit, reduce your reliance on additional batteries with opportunity charging or eliminate some manual labor with the addition of a specialized attachment. 

As you can see, a proper site survey from a reputable dealer offers a number of benefits including improved efficiency, reduced costs and removing potential safety hazards.  So, if you’re in the market for a new piece of material handling equipment, reach out to your local Stärke dealer today! 

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Friday, April 28, 2017

Keep It Simple Success - The No-Frills Approach

Far removed from its early predecessors, the modern forklift is nothing short of a technological wonder.  Just think about how much the forklift has changed over the last two decades through the introduction of advanced engineering, composite materials, and artificial intelligence.  The net effect of these additions is that the modern forklift almost has more in common with advanced concept cars from 20 years ago than forklifts from the same era.  Yet for some applications, not only do these advanced features provide little advantage, they also make it far more difficult to generate a positive return on your investment. 

Each forklift has an effective economic shelf life, or the point at which it costs more per year to maintain a forklift than the forklift is worth.  This fact is a function of the economic lifetime of the forklift, where factors such as the work environment, maintenance, and driving habits combine to determine the relative value of a forklift as it ages vs its operational costs.  As the difficulty of the work environment increases (based on the previously mentioned factors), the overall value of the forklift decreases as the cost of upkeep increases. 

Operating in harsh work environments, where wear increases as a result of corrosive liquids, atmospheric particulate (smoke, grit, dust, fibers), and uneven surfaces, a forklift will have a substantially shorter economic life.  These environments effectively limit the potential return on investment by reducing the average lifespan of a forklift by a factor of 2 or more.  This does not mean that a forklift can no longer be operated, but that the associated costs (maintenance, down-time, lack of reliability) outweigh the potential benefits. 

Whether your equipment purchase ends up being a sound investment, then, is dependent upon selecting the most cost-effective and realistic equipment for your needs and work environment.  Instead of heavily investing in the advanced functionality and features found in the more expensive forklift models on the market today, these harsh applications are better served with cost-effective, no frills models that are built to last.  Take Stärke’s EcoMaxx line of LPG and diesel forklifts, for example, where a no-frills, straightforward design ensures it is easy to operate and maintain without breaking the budget.  Rather than emphasize advanced features, these forklifts are built for reliability and serve as an ideal forklift for 4-6 hour operations.  And, with a 24 month, 2000 hour power train warranty, you can feel comfortable with the security these trucks provide.  For more information on Stärke's EcoMaxx line of forklifts, visit our EcoMaxx webpage or speak with your local Stärke dealer today!

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Equipment Tips to Maximize Your Growing Season

With the final remnants of winter finally gone, many of us take solace from the fact that spring is finally here.  In hopeful anticipation of the coming warmth, we’ve turned our thoughts away from the last storms of winter and towards the potential of spring.  Many things are associated with the gradual change in weather but perhaps nothing symbolizes this transition than the activities of the agricultural industry. 

With the turn of the season, dormant greenhouses, vineyards, and farms are emerging from a long sojourn in preparation for the growing season ahead.  Even in the earliest stages of the growing season, most operations recognize the need to maximize productivity and efficiency in everything they do.  After all, seasonal operations face an inherent time crunch book-ended by the cold weather brought by the inevitable change in seasons.  Under these conditions, unnecessary delays or bottlenecks in productivity must be addressed whenever possible. 

One area of particular importance in these operations is how to handle and transport products, supplies, materials and equipment.  From boxed plants and nursery stock to containers and plant carts, material handling equipment plays an essential role in the smooth and efficient operation of a greenhouse, vineyard or farm.  As such, maximizing the ROI of your agricultural operation’s material handling equipment is an effective means of improving productivity and efficiency.  The pertinent question to ask, then, is what equipment will help you achieve such an end?

To begin addressing this question, start by considering the size of your operation, delivery occurrences, load sizes and the distance that needs to be traveled in between loads.  For high frequency and/or long distance loads, consider ride-on options such as forklifts, dock stockers, or ride-on pallet trucks and straddle stackers.  On the other hand, manual and walk-behind models offer a cost-effective alternative for applications involving low volume or short distance loads.  You’ll also need to consider your overall work environment.  For indoor work environments, consider electric units that provide safe and effective equipment solutions without placing a strain on ventilation systems or damaging products with harmful exhaust emissions.  Once these questions have been considered, it is time to consider what type of unit fits your application specific needs. 

Among the most common pieces of equipment seen in agricultural applications is the sitdown counterbalanced forklift, where versatility reigns supreme.  On a basic level, forklifts are used to load and unload trailers and transport palletized products and loads.  Yet, the potential uses of the forklift go far beyond these basic operations with the addition of specialized attachments built specifically for agricultural applications.  When handling pots or trays, for example, specialized fork systems are used to lift, transport and space pots and trays.  Forward dumping bins and fork rotators, on the other hand, are used to lift and transport fruits and produce for packaging or processing.  With these specialized attachments in tow, it’s easy to why the forklift occupies a central role in many agricultural applications. 

Then again, the forklift is not an end all, be all material handling equipment solution.  This is particularly so in the agricultural industry, where substantial turnover and seasonal workers make it difficult to fill positions that require a specialized license or training.  Since forklifts require a licence to legally operate, many facilities utilize equipment beyond counterbalanced forklifts such as electric utility vehicles and pallet trucks to transport palletized loads.  Here, electric tugs are commonly used to haul long chains of carts to loading docks where they can be loaded for transport.  Meanwhile, pallet trucks are used to move palletized loads from one end of a facility to the other in an efficient and ergonomic fashion. 

Beyond the equipment options mentioned above, other options such as burden carriers, personnel carriers, dock stockers and more are used throughout the agricultural industry.  If you’re still unsure about what equipment best suits your needs, we encourage you to reach out to a Stärke dealer near you! 

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Greenhouses Go Electric

As manufacturers and end-users alike continue to implement sustainability initiatives throughout their operations, the electric forklift has risen to the forefront as an effective and efficient material handling equipment solution.  As of 2013, electric forklifts represent more than 60% of the North America market, with even greater adoption rates in Europe.  At the leading edge of this trend is the greenhouse industry, where many operations have abandoned internal combustion models in favor of the electric forklift.

While factors contributing to this transition within the greenhouse industry are many and varied, the negative effects of exhaust gas on many crops are among the chief concern for many greenhouse operations.  Among highly sensitive crops such as tomatoes, orchids, petunias, and other potted plants (which experience negative effects at concentrations as low as 0.01 ppm), the presence of noxious gases like CO2, ethylene and sulfur dioxide can lead to chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves), flower and leaf abscission, wilting, stunted growth, and reduced flowering among others.  

In these situations, the electric forklift represents an efficient and versatile solution.  Unlike an internal combustion unit, the fully electric, battery-powered AC motor of an electric forklift is emissions free and thus poses no threat to sensitive plant species.  What’s more, the electric forklift offers all the same functionality as a traditional forklift with additional benefits including enhanced maneuverability and a lower total ownership. 

Beyond the plants themselves, there are additional reasons to consider an electric forklift in greenhouse applications.  From an employee perspective, the electric forklift limits exposure to two kinds of pollution: exhaust gases and noise pollution.  This, in turn, limits the need for additional layers of protection including ear protection and additional ventilation.  Electric forklifts are also more efficient in their energy use in comparison to internal combustion models, where the heat produced in the combustion process reduces overall fuel efficiency and increases operational costs. 

Between the negative impact of exhaust gas emissions and the distinct advantages provided by AC motors – including zero emissions, reduce noise population and high efficiency – it is easy to see why there is so much consumer demand for AC units in today’s market.  If you’re considering an electric forklift for your greenhouse operation, talk to a Stärke forklift dealer today, each of which have access to a wide variety of electric forklifts sure to suit your needs and application.

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What You Won't Find at ProMat 2017

Among the most anticipated events in the material handling industry this year is ProMat 2017, held one week from today at Chicago’s McCormick Place, April 3rd – 6th.  With hundreds of exhibitors, seminars, on-hand demonstrations and more, ProMat provides manufacturing and supply chain professionals with an opportunity to discover the industry’s latest innovations.  

While the appeal of ProMat is undeniable, it should be noted that one of the most innovative and exciting developments within the industry cannot be found there: Stärke Material Handling Group.  With a constantly expanding product line, Stärke continues to establish itself as one of the most comprehensive material handling solutions providers in the industry with many recently released material handling products and others set to release throughout 2017.

“Stärke understands that expanding and improving upon your company creates and sustains interest in your brand.” Explains Justin Engel, Marketing Specialist at Stärke Material Handling Group. “Trade shows are a nice venue in which to make contacts and offer brief descriptions of your product, but the true measure of a brand is how it evolves with its customers to meet their needs head on.” 

As for networking opportunities, Stärke connects and unites an expansive network of dealers and service providers through our digital communities, social media initiatives and general activities.  Despite the growth and development of its dealership network in 2016, aided by the addition of a dedicated dealer development specialist in Rodney Barron, Stärke expects to not only continue, but build upon, its momentum in 2017. Remember, when you’re at the ProMat show this March, Stärke Material Handling Group is busy growing to serve you better. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and our website!

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Stärke Kids and Communities Initiative

Stärke Material Handling Group, in cooperation with its independent dealership network, began giving back to communities throughout North America with a new charitable initiative known as Stärke Kids and Communities.  The initiative aims to provide support and resources to those in greatest need of assistance including vulnerable groups, such as underprivileged children and families, by contributing a portion of its proceeds from equipment sales to support the charitable contributions of its dealership network.

Among the first dealers to join the initiative was Lucas Liftruck Service Ltd., a local Stärke dealership based out of the Niagara Region in Southern Ontario, Canada.  In cooperation with Stärke, Lucas raised an excess of $6,000 to donate to local charities, with most of the funds coming from employee payroll deductions, company donations from equipment sales and fundraising efforts for local charity events.    

The primary beneficiary of Lucas’s fundraising has been a local charity in the Niagara Region by the name of Start Me Up Niagara, which works to combat poverty and homeless that result from disabilities, poor health and isolation.  Specifically, Lucas Liftruck’s recently fundraised over $3,700 for the Coldest Night of the Year Walk in an effort to support the homeless in the Niagara Region, Ontario.

Other donations were made to Education Foundation of Niagara, a charitable organization which provides support and assistance to DSBN students wherever government funding in unavailable or insufficient. Areas of support include providing financial assistance and developing progressive educational programs and services.

For more information on the Stärke Kids and Communities initiative, visit their website at

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Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352

Friday, March 3, 2017

Energy Series of XVI Forklifts - Features and Benefits

After receiving recognition as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada for the second straight year and expanding its range of Class II and Class III equipment with the introduction of an electric dock stocker, reach rider truck and an order picker, Stärke is looking to follow up on a landmark year in 2016 with the emergence of its new XVI series of 3,000 – 7,000 lb. 3 and 4-wheel electric counterbalanced forklifts in 2017. Designed to provide economical, environmentally-friendly production in a variety of applications, the XVI Series of electric forklifts easily justifies the early praise it's received thus far.

Ideal for Indoor Operations – The new XVI series of electric forklifts was designed to operate in a variety of indoor and environmentally controlled applications including warehouses, factories, inside tractor trailers and shipping containers, greenhouse operations, and locations within the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. With a solid construction heavy duty chassis, the XVI’s compact and durable frame results in a 20% increase in operator protection from falling loads or debris yet still maintains a tight 85° turning radius through independent drive motors. Together with the XVI’s high visibility round bracket mast design, the XVI energy series delivers all the maneuverability necessary to operate within narrow aisles and other confined spaces.

Efficient Production – All of the major components within XVI energy series forklifts work in conjunction to maximize overall efficiency regardless of the application. With the integration of a fully programmable Zapi AC controller, the XVI’s lift and travel speeds, torque, turning and braking can all be adjusted to better suit an individual operator or the unique demands of a given application. Meanwhile, the XVI’s highly efficient AC motors and regenerative braking system supplement the capacity of its large domestic battery compartment, for high powered 36v or 48v batteries, and further extend the XVI’s impressive battery life and low operating costs.

Operator Ergonomics and Comfort – The XVI series of electric forklifts incorporates a number of features which address longstanding issues revolving around operator comfort and vehicle ergonomics. From an operational perspective, the vehicles efficient braking system, AC traction and hydraulic motors minimize discomfort by reducing the levels of noise and vibration produced by the forklift. Then, to ensure that its operators remain in a comfortable and natural positon, the XVI energy series of forklifts includes a deluxe suspension seat, tilt steering wheel, multifunctional armrest, cowl-mounted hydraulic controls, a high-mounted rear combination light and an enlarged headlight with optional LED light system.

Reduced Costs and Easier Maintenance – In addition to improving the cost of operation, efficiency and productivity of XVI electric forklifts, the Zapi AC Controller provides an additional layer of protection through several failsafe systems. To prevent the vehicles from causing an accident by rolling backwards while on a ramp or other grade, an anti-rollback mechanism automatically stops the vehicle if the brake is released. The Zapi Controller also recognizes electrical malfunctions such as shorted wires, open circuits and reversed polarity on charger cables to inhibit any additional damage from being done. The Zapi AC Controller is also programmed to send the vehicle into safe mode in the event that the engine or inverters begin to overheat. 

By incorporating such innovative engineering and design features in the XVI series of three-wheel and four-wheel electric forklifts, Stärke continues to demonstrate its commitment to develop equipment solutions based upon emerging market forces, customer needs and changes to our environment. For more information, visit us online at or Alternatively, call us toll free at 1-877-435-4352. Stärke IS Strength!

Local: (905)-227-7554  |  Toll free: 1-877-435-4352