In addition to ensuring your forklifts have enough energy to perform their job, a maintenance schedule is essential to maintaining battery safety. Wearing protective gear and working in a designated charging area with water, a fire extinguisher, and ventilation is important when handling batteries.
Avoid operating in extreme temperatures since they can cut the lifespan of your battery. Ensure each battery cell has sufficient electrolyte levels by checking with a hydrometer regularly.
Keeping batteries clean prevents damage to the battery, extending its lifespan and maximizing run time. During the forklift battery charging cycle, the electrolyte oxidizes, creating an acidic sludge that can build up over time. This sludge acts as a conductor and causes a constant low-level self-discharge, burning through charge cycles and shortening the battery’s life. It can also corrode the battery’s terminals, which can limit electrical conductivity and cause problems with the lift truck. Washing the battery regularly removes this caked-on sludge to extend its operating life by as much as 50 percent.
Watering the battery helps keep the electrolytes balanced and prevents corrosion. If necessary, check the battery water level at least weekly and refill with distilled water. Never let a forklift battery discharge more than 80%. Discharging a battery beyond this point can permanently shorten its life and reduce its capacity to hold and deliver a charge.
Forklift battery handling is hazardous, and workers who come into contact with battery acid may suffer severe chemical burns. Designate a designated area to charge and inspect batteries to minimize this risk. This area should include a water supply, signs, a fire extinguisher, and ventilation. Also, workers should wear a protective kit, including an acid-resistant face shield, chemical splash goggles, HAZ-MAT boots, and an apron. In addition, they should also wear a face mask and acid-resistant gloves when washing the battery.
Having clear, optimized battery watering procedures is crucial for reaching a full forklift battery life expectancy. For lead acid batteries, if the correct watering methods are not adhered to, their useful lifespan can decrease by up to two years.
Watering is replenishing the electrolyte in forklift batteries with fresh water. Generally, manufacturers recommend using deionized water treated with a specific chemical to remove mineral ions. It is also important to ensure that forklift battery water is only topped off after it is fully charged and cooled down. This is because topping off battery water before or during charging can cause the batteries to overflow and create irreversible sulfation on the cell plates.
Keeping an eye on forklift battery water levels is not only a good idea, but it should be part of the overall maintenance routine of your facility. Having your employees perform frequent inspections and testing, especially on a few pilot cells, and following strict watering and charging guidelines will help you get the most out of your batteries.
Since most forklift operators’ duties don’t involve battery-related tasks, it can be easy to lose track of when and how often to top off battery water. This can significantly impact your logistics efficiency as the resulting problems from improperly watered forklift batteries can equate to thousands of dollars in lost productivity per year.
The battery that powers your forklift must provide the correct power to meet warehouse demands. A poorly performing battery can lead to lost productivity and costly maintenance expenditures. Fortunately, a few simple forklift battery care tips can extend battery life and optimize power-to-productivity.
One of the most important things to remember is that a forklift battery must be allowed to reach its full charge. If a forklift is taken off charge before the battery reaches 100%, it must draw more amps to compensate for the lower voltage, which can damage the forklift and its electrical components. Additionally, repeated interruptions of the charging cycle will increase the sulfation of the battery.
Another important point is only to use a charger designed for your type of battery. If a charger is not compatible, it can cause damage to the battery and reduce its lifespan. Additionally, the charger should be plugged into the battery only after it has cooled.
Finally, batteries should be handled and transported properly to prevent damage and spillage. The right equipment, like a walkie-pallet jack equipped with a transfer carriage, is essential to safely maneuvering a forklift battery. Also, workers should wear steel-toe shoes and use an eyewash station if any hazardous liquid gets into their eyes or hands during handling.
Performing regular inspections and maintenance tasks is the best way for logistics managers to ensure their forklift fleets operate optimally. It also mitigates safety risks and reduces asset failure. However, the process can be complex and prone to error. Forklift battery maintenance requires meticulous record-keeping and adherence to strict schedules. In addition, obtaining real-time insights into battery data is difficult without a digital solution that streamlines battery management and maintenance processes.
During inspections, the first step is to remove vent caps and check electrolyte levels. Ensure each cell has sufficient water to keep the forklift battery from overcharging or shorting out. Afterward, read and record specific gravity readings, electrolyte temperatures, and open circuit voltage for each battery cell. Then, inspect the forklift battery case to see if there are any signs of corrosion or other damage.
Finally, check all terminal connections and make sure they are tight and clean. If necessary, use a cleaning solution (one pound of baking soda to a gallon of water) to neutralize acid, which may be on the battery terminals or cells. Use spark-resistant tools when working with batteries for added safety, and only perform inspections in designated battery rooms. Be sure the room is smoke-free and stocked with eye wash stations and spill kits. In addition, wear a respirator mask when working with lead-acid batteries.