More than 60% of equipment expenses in your warehouse can be linked to forklift batteries, their maintenance, and proper charging. This is why you can realize tremendous savings simply by taking the steps required to extend battery lifespan.
Batteries are a huge investment. In fact, after forklifts, batteries are the most expensive asset in your warehouse. But, long life expectancy is in your control if you are using battery-monitoring technology. So cutting battery waste is essential.
Telematics software with real-time monitoring doesn’t just make your equipment smarter; it gives you comprehensive control over your entire operation — including battery care.
Here are a few battery care facts:
- Each new battery lasts approximately 1,500 charge cycles — about five years of typical use — but only if you strictly follow charging, cleaning, and maintenance protocols.
- Forklift batteries typically require an 8-hour charge cycle followed by a cool-down cycle.
- Proper charging practices are easily ignored, especially when schedules or demands increase. But, forklift performance will degrade as the battery reaches 80% discharge. Further use after this point damages the battery.
- Pitfalls can be avoided with telematic battery monitoring, which diagnoses exactly what each battery needs in real time.
Want the most out of each battery you buy? Here’s how.
Caring for forklift batteries in 5 steps
1. Charge forklift batteries when it’s needed, not when it’s convenient.
Proper battery charging is vital to extending battery life. Battery-monitoring technology can send alerts, so charges can take place before the unit drops to 20 percent. Never let discharge drop below 10% or allow the battery to sit for long periods of time before charging.
2. Prevent overheating.
Never continue to use an overheating battery. If a battery ever radiates excessive heat during use or charging or emits a strong sulfur smell, discontinue use and call for service. Battery monitoring gives targeted temperature readings and reports issues of overheating.
3. Fully charge batteries to 100%.
Undercharging a battery to only 90% of capacity promotes sulphation of the battery because 10% of battery chemistry does not reactivate during the incomplete charging cycle. Always fully charge.
4. Water weekly.
Loss of electrolyte resulting in the plates partially breaching the electrolyte surface will cause poor battery performance. Check water levels and top up appropriately every 10 or so charges for the first few years. Reconditioned batteries may need this every 5 charges. Only top up at the end of charging.
When adding water, sufficiently cover the plastic element protector by roughly one-fourth of an inch. The additional space is needed for expansion.
5. Remember equalization.
Equalization brings all battery cells to same level of charge (every 5 charge cycles). This process reverses stratification, when the battery acid becomes more concentrated at the bottom of the battery. Equalizing rebalances the electrolyte concentration and helps remove sulfate crystals from the battery plates.
You can easily follow steps to care for forklift batteries with battery-monitoring software, which tells you in real time the battery’s state of charge and maintenance needs.