The first half of 2014 saw a small dip in the UK’s industrial output, yet the forklift industry’s official statistics body, BITA, revealed 15,261 trucks had been sold – up 2,000 on the first half of 2013.

Just under half of these are likely to be warehouse equipment – reach trucks, pallet trucks etc – but a fair amount are diesel-engine trucks, which typically make up around 35% to 40% of the total counterbalance market.

Diesel power remains a mainstay of the UK market, says Endeavour’s Jason Reynolds, particularly in outside-only operations: “Diesel is seen as cheaper and more convenient than LPG, yet diesel is not perfect. For one, it is prone to waxing or gelling in cold weather. Below the Cloud Point – the temperature at which dissolved solids are no longer completely soluble – the fuel begins to develop solid wax particles. The presence of solidified waxes thickens the fuel and clogs engine filters and injectors. The crystals build up in the fuel line until the engine is starved of fuel, causing it to stop running.”

Efforts to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards have also led to the development of ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) which may exacerbate the problem.  Sulphur is a natural part of the crude oil from which diesel fuel is derived, and one of the key causes of particulates, or soot, in diesel. Last winter, Russian ULSD was suspected of causing a number of problems for motorists.

As the weather turned cold, imported fuel began to react with biofuels to create a gel-like substance, leaving the driver unable to start their car.

Biodiesel can react with additives in regular diesel to make monoglycerol molecules, the same waxy blobs which block fuel filters. The issue was traced to a ‘cold-flow improver’ that was blended with Russian diesel.

So should forklift users be worried? Well, whilst the environmental benefits of less sulfur is accepted, there are some worrying issues. Red diesel is allowed to contain higher sulfur levels, but the refining process used to reduce the sulfur level in regular diesel can also reduce the natural lubricating properties.

This is essential for the operation of fuel system components such as fuel pumps and injectors. As last winter proved, oil companies can also change the overall chemical composition of the fuel and they have done this to reduce the sulfur content.

The resulting mix can cause engine seals to swell or shrink, making a leak possible. Thankfully, regular servicing and the replacing of seals with newer, less susceptible materials, is the best way to stay spillage free.

Diesel Ph-ower

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) are the top dogs when it comes to the names of chemical elements and compounds. In 1971 and 1990 the IUPAC decided that element 16 should be spelled as ‘sulfur’ – not with a ‘ph’. So it’s not a question of American or English spelling, it is a given name.

Crude Economics

In August 2014, The AA reported that both petrol and diesel pump prices fell to their lowest for more than three years. A combination of improved supply and low demand saw Brent crude drop to its lowest for more than a year at $102 a barrel. By January 2016, that price had dropped to just $34.24 a barrel.

Oil Cooled

Oil in a diesel engine not only lubricates, but it cools the engine and cleans the carbon away from the pistons and the liners.

Traffic Jam

Over the past decade, the number of diesel cars on Britain’s roads has risen from 1.6 million to over 11 million – a third of all vehicles.