Many companies use propane forklifts to transport inventory within their warehouse and yard facilities. In many cases, propane forklift operators are faced with the same challenge as propane home heating customers regarding propane prices. The challenge is making sure that their propane supplier is charging them competitive forklift propane prices for each future propane delivery. The following provides some tips to ensure that your propane supplier is charging you competitive propane prices for each of your forklift fuel deliveries:
Most propane suppliers will deliver and charge forklift propane fuel in one of two ways: (1) By the propane cylinder, or (2) Bulk delivery by the gallon. If your propane is delivered by the cylinder, find out the rated capacity of each cylinder.
The common propane forklift cylinder capacities include approximately 8 gallons or approximately 10 gallons. Ask your propane supplier to share the exact propane cylinder capacity applicable to your account. With this information, you will be able to find the propane price per cylinder and divide it by the propane cylinder capacity to determine your propane price per gallon. For example, if your propane price per cylinder is $16, and your propane cylinder capacity is 8 gallons, your approximate propane price per gallon is $2 (before taxes and delivery fees).
When comparing pricing after a qualified party has safely filled a propane container, either a stationary tank or portable cylinder, it is important to recognize that the maximum quantity of liquid is less than 100% of the physical capacity for safety reasons. The tank or cylinder will have roughly 75% to 85% liquid content with the remainder being vapor content, which is a safety measure applicable to all propane containers. Therefore, to accurately compare propane pricing, you should contact your supplier’s office to ask for advice on comparing propane prices for larger stationary bulk tanks (generally compared by the gallon price) and smaller portable forklift cylinders (generally compared by cylinder price – depending on the cylinder safe filling capacity based on weight).
Your propane supplier can provide further explanation around maximum safe propane container filling procedures to ensure that you are comparing propane pricing accurately between container sizes. As noted above, propane consumers should be mindful that propane is purchased by the gallon of liquid – which is the estimate of 75% to 85% of capacity. Therefore, as long as forklift propane cylinders are being billed by the cylinder, and the forklift cylinders are the same size, a good thumbnail way to compare – while not 100% accurate – is to compare 8 gallon propane cylinder pricing to 8 gallon propane cylinder pricing, and the same comparison for 10 gallon forklift cylinders, if applicable.
Propane forklift operators should also be mindful that a variation in forklift propane pricing involves working with a supplier that arrives for a delivery and fills all of your forklift cylinders onsite to their safe capacity and presents you with a bill for the total gallons delivered and the price per gallon that applies to all delivered gallons. With this type of forklift propane delivery, since the propane is not billed by the cylinder, is to catalog propane pricing per gallon to compare to other propane suppliers that provide the same delivery method.
If your company is not on a fixed propane price per gallon plan, contact your propane supplier and request that your propane supplier forward your forklift propane prices (per cylinder or propane price per gallon for bulk propane deliveries to a larger stationary propane tank) 24 to 48 hours before each propane delivery via voice mail, text, e-mail or fax. This will give you a brief window of time to contact competing propane suppliers in your area to compare your quoted propane price per gallon before receiving each propane delivery. If you find that your suppliers’ propane price per gallon for your pending delivery is not competitive, contact your supplier before the arrival of your pending delivery and challenge your propane price per gallon. In some cases, if you provide supporting competitive information on forklift propane prices offered by other suppliers in the area, your supplier may adjust your propane price per gallon during your telephone conversation. Make sure that you make a note of any verbal propane price adjustments made during your telephone conversation for comparison to your billing statement.
Contact your propane supplier to inquire about additional fees that may apply to your forklift propane deliveries. If your supplier is charging extra propane service fees (Hazmat Fees, Delivery Fees, cylinder or tank rental fees, etc.), contact all other suppliers in your area to find out if the other suppliers charge the same (or other fees). You many find that switching to another local propane supplier that does not charge extra fees can help you save money on your annual cost of propane. Conversely, you may find that your current propane supplier is charging a competitive pricing program. However, it makes sense to conduct a quick propane price comparison study between all local propane suppliers before each delivery to ensure that all future deliveries are priced in a highly competitive range.
Visit neighboring companies in your area that operate forklift propane fleets to discover and compare propane services and propane pricing offered by other suppliers. You many find a significant difference in propane pricing between your supplier and the propane supplier that delivers to other companies in your immediate area. Will you save money by changing to another propane supplier? Will the supplier pay your neighboring company a referral fee if your switch to their service? It pays to shop around!
One other tip that will help forklift propane operators that obtain propane cylinder deliveries from a propane supplier. In most cases, a propane supplier will simply start exchanging empty for full propane cylinders when delivery services commence. It is very important to make a decision at the start of your exchange cylinder service: (1) Remove and store the propane cylinders in a safe and secure outdoor location, or (2) allow the propane supplier to start blending in all of your existing cylinders into their delivery route system.
The reason is important: If you have brand new, leak-free forklift cylinders, and store them in a secure outside storage area, you will be able to access those same good condition cylinders at the time that your deliveries are discontinued in the future. While you may be paying a rental fee on renting more cylinders, you will always have your original cylinders. If you allow you existing forklift cylinders to be blended into the suppliers cylinder exchange route, you will likely never see those cylinders again. When your delivery service is discontinued, you will likely be given any random forklift cylinders, of any age and condition, to replace your original forklift cylinder inventory. One possible way to mitigate this possible problem is to take a photograph of all of the cylinders that you will be blending into the suppliers cylinder exchange route and attach those photos and a description of the photos (age, volume, last re-certification date, etc.) to the forklift cylinder exchange service agreement and have a supplier representative sign and date the pages. At the time that you discontinue your service, you can have the supplier bring their truck to your place of business and have them find forklift cylinders on the truck that are in a similar condition to the cylinders that appear in the photos taken at the time you started service that you agreed to blend into the suppliers delivery route when service started. In the end, your original cylinder count will be restored with cylinders that are comparable to your original forklift cylinders rather than cylinders that may contain dents and may require re-certification by a qualified supplier before they can be legally refilled again (that you will be billed for) soon after discontinuing your former suppliers deliveries.
Bottom line: You don’t want to discontinue your propane forklift cylinder exchange service with an argument with your former propane supplier around the count and condition of propane cylinders that you owned prior to starting the delivery service. Forklift propane cylinders are expensive and should be tracked properly to ensure your inventory is the same with similar replacement cylinders returned if you choose to blend your forklift cylinders into the suppliers exchange route inventory.
Add and compare your forklift propane prices with other propane forklift fuel operators: Forklift Propane Price Survey
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