Fleet batteries are one of the biggest expenses in your warehouse operation after labor costs. But, there are proven strategies that could help each unit last longer and perform stronger.
Let’s face it: What powers your forklifts is expensive to replace, with battery costs running between $2,000 and $6,000 each, depending on specs and size. So, the longer you can make them last, the more you save.
Battery strategy — a penny saved is a penny earned
If your batteries are not living up to expectations, determine why. One possible explanation is that you don’t have enough batteries to allow for charging and care. Typically, you need two batteries for every forklift in your warehouse, allowing for proper charging and maintenance of one battery, while the other powers a vehicle.
And, while batteries could be powering your fleet for 2,000 work shifts or charge/discharge cycles, they will fall short of normal expectations if they are not well maintained.
Here are the facts:
- Sitting around uncharged is very bad for batteries. The length of time a battery sits idle waiting to be charged impacts overall efficiency and lifespan.
- When you charge matters. Charging a battery based on its need instead of when it’s convenient is vital to long life.
- Go for 100 percent. Charge a forklift's battery once it falls below 30% charge, and make certain it gets fully charged.
- Specific scheduled maintenance ensures safety and efficient delivery of power.
- Equalization is needed to bring all battery cells to same level of charge (completed every 5 charge cycles). Equalizing rebalances the electrolyte concentration and helps to remove sulfate crystals from the battery plates.
- Clean the top of each battery with a battery cleaner or warm water every month. This prevents corrosion, voltage tracking, and faster self-discharge. Naturally present lead sulfate crystals can build up and create a physical barrier across the surface so that the battery is no longer able to accept or release energy.
- Check and fill water approximately every 5-10 charges. Add enough water to cover the battery's plastic element protector. Do not overfill. Extra space is needed because expansion occurs when the battery is in use.
- Battery-monitoring technology is a cost-effective solution to keep battery care on track, reducing battery expenses and fleet downtime.
Telematic monitoring delivers a longer life
Telematics can extend battery life in several ways. It monitors and shows you real-time information about each battery’s discharge, keeps track of battery care, and alerts you to any potential issue that could lead to battery damage.
Here are the facts:
- Monitoring can eliminate premature charging. This is important since each charge costs a battery a cycle, cutting its lifespan.
- Telematics monitors the critical battery status (e.g., state of charge, voltage, temperature, amperage) in real time while in use in MHE vehicles.
- Monitoring software analyzes worker behavior and identifies actions that negatively impact battery life and utilization.
- Safety improves for those performing battery maintenance — specific protocol occurs, avoiding injuries, potential accidents, and vehicle downtime.
Batteries often constitute up to 30% of the cost of each lift-truck. Battery-monitoring technology delivers real-time information required to care for — and get the most out of — your investment.