As a business utilizing forklifts for our operations, it is important that you understand the need for sustaining and extending your forklift battery life. By following these tips below, you will not only enjoy the benefits of forklift batteries that require less maintenance, but also less charging intervals. This will allow your business to run smoothly with fewer disruptions and better performance, while reducing those hefty maintenance costs.
However, before we begin, it is important as well to take note of the charging behaviour of forklift batteries. Similar to cell phone batteries, a single charging interval will use up one charge cycle. Most forklift batteries start off with 1500 charge cycles until the end of its usable life, so we definitely want to only charge our forklift batteries as when required to optimize this 1500 charge cycles.
Optimizing Your Charge Cycles
As stated above, optimizing your charge cycles allows you to complement and enhance the long life of your forklift battery. Below are some tips which you, as a business owner, can easily follow to improve your forklift performance.
- Charge your forklift battery in well-aerated, open areas.
- Charge your forklift batter under only two conditions: Either when it has expended 30% of its capacity’ or during the end of a day or night shift.
- Select the equalize/weekend charge option after every 5 – 10 charge cycles. This enhances the battery’s life by stabilizing the cell voltages.
- Disrupting a charging cycle when it has begun for a forklift battery. Remember that this wastes a charging cycle! Let the charging cycle finish and plan your time properly to ensure your forklift batteries get their adequate charge.
- Using opportunity charging. This wastes your charge cycles as well. Charging your forklift battery during lunch or break time doesn’t optimize each charging cycle, which in turn leads to higher expenses.
- Over-discharge the forklift battery over 80%. This will reduce the working life of your forklift battery.
- Leaving an expended forklift battery lay idle. This encourages hard sulphation, which reduces the life and performance of your forklift battery.
However, other than charging intervals and practices, it is also essential to ensure the safety of your workers and the cleanliness of your battery. Below are some ergonomic tips you can perform to reduce the malfunction risks your forklift battery may be exposed to.
Cleaning Your Forklift Battery
When it comes to cleaning your forklift battery, visual cues are important to sieve out dangerous signs. The tips and practices highlighted below MUST be adhered to to ensure worker safety.
- If your forklift battery acid over-spills, immediately wash it with water or baking soda. This will prevent corrosion of your battery’s external surfaces and also prevents the highly conductive acid from overheating your battery during recharge.
- Rinse and wash your forklift batteries every 6 months. This removes the acid vapor residues around the vent cap area, which could be hazardous to worker safety.
Some ergonomic tips include:
- Ensure that your pallet is able to support the one ton weight of your forklift battery.
- Always remove the battery out of the forklift before charging. This prevents over-heating which could damage the battery.
- Workers should always have their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when handling forklift batteries. These include protective gloves, eye goggles and polystyrene clothes which are immune to acid corrosion.
Practising the safety and charging tips above extends the life of your forklift battery. In addition, monitoring the fluid levels required to sustain your battery’s day to day operation also complements its ability to reach its optimal design life. Below are some practices which are easy to follow:
- Refill your battery with clean water ONLY after charging has been done.
- Check your forklift battery’s pilot cells regularly to ensure that the fluid level is above the perforated plastic element protector after charging.
- Do not overfill the water as it will cause overflow on the next charging interval. This will cause acid loss which may require repairs, hence hindering your operations and increasing expenses.
- For the first few years of your forklift battery’s operation, check and top up water levels after about every ten charges. For reconditioned batteries, do so every five charges. Fill the water up to a quarter inch above the perforated plastic element protector level.
- Single point watering kits may also have been pre-fitted on your forklift battery. These must similarly be filled with water only AFTER charging your forklift battery.
By ensuring that your fluid levels for your forklift battery stay optimized, the performance and life of your battery will be enhanced in order to better meet your operational requirements.
General Tips for Your Forklift Battery
In addition to the above tips, here are also some general tips to ensure safety, performance and a longer working life for your forklift battery. These tips are as follows:
- Check your plugs and cables to ensure that there is no exposed wiring. This will prevent fires and unnecessary electrical shocks to your workers.
- Keep your forklift batteries clean and free of rubbish to facilitate your operations.
- Turn off the charger first before disconnecting the forklift battery.
- Using an overheated battery. If excessive heat and sulphur smells radiate from the battery, call for servicing immediately. Continuous use might lead to worker injuries or complications which may cause the battery to be beyond repair.
- Placing metallic objects on or near the battery.
- Allow the battery to be inoperative. The battery needs to be continuously used to optimize its performance. Allowing the battery to go inoperative will require three days of charging to bring it back to full capacity, and also may cause many complications to your forklift, such as motor failure and burnt armatures.
In conclusion, always keep a sharp eye out on the condition of your forklift battery regularly. Carry out the required maintenance procedures without fail, stick to these tips and your battery will do well to serve your business. If you do require more professional services, you can always contact our forklift maintenance to get some assistance.