Lift-truck batteries are a vital component to a successful warehouse operation. They are what keep fleet vehicles moving. Yet, more than 80% of warehouse lift-trucks have poor battery maintenance. It’s counterproductive thinking, but managers often focus on getting inventory out the door — not what fuels that movement.
Simply put, it is very easy to postpone basic maintenance requirements. Schedules are tight, and everyone is focused on productivity. Battery-charging areas are often poorly maintained, and charging protocol is not a priority.
But battery-monitoring technology can solve these issues by analyzing each battery in the fleet to deliver real-time battery status reports. It’s worth the investment. Here’s why:
- Forklift batteries can power your fleet for 2,000 work shifts or charge/discharge cycles, but only if they are well maintained.
- Skipping battery protocols — like proper charging habits, cleaning, and proactive maintenance — will shorten battery lifespan and cost you in early-replacement purchases.
- Like the forklifts they fuel, batteries require specific scheduled maintenance to ensure safety and a long lifecycle.
The true impact to productivity
Most new forklift batteries will last up to five years. But your batteries will have significantly shorter lifespan if you neglect three important things — proper charging, cleaning, and care.
And while replacement batteries can cost you thousands of dollars, poorly maintained batteries probably cost you more in productivity. For example, batteries that are often used at reduced ampage, due to lack of maintenance or poor charging practices, will cause unexpected downtime and delays because forklifts are functioning at a reduced capacity.
Battery monitoring with telematics serves as a watchdog over charging, cleaning, and care, extending the lifespan of fleet batteries and reducing those unexpected equipment issues. This is achieved by focusing on basic requirements for optimum battery health.
- Regular maintenance
Monitoring specific scheduled maintenance ensures that it gets done. This includes:
- Keeping batteries clean: Clean the top with a battery cleaner or warm water each month. This prevents corrosion, voltage tracking, and faster self-discharge.
- Water only when fully charged: Water levels should be checked and filled correctly about every 10 charges for the first few years. Reconditioned batteries require this about every 5 charges.
- Use the proper amount of water: Too much or too little water can impact the battery lifespan. Water levels should cover the lead plates inside each cell.
- Proper charging
Battery monitoring ensures charging occurs when needed, versus when it is convenient. This includes:
- Fully charge each time: Monitor if batteries get fully recharged daily — failing to do so will cut the runtime and lifespan.
- Eliminate premature charging: Charging too soon costs you a battery cycle, which eats away at the lifespan. Knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge.
- Care while in use
Telematic technology tracks the status of each battery. This includes:
- Get a complete picture: Data shows battery’s discharge, temperature, voltage and amperage — providing real-time alerts and warnings while in use.
- Be proactive: Alerts are received before battery damage occurs.
Telematic battery monitoring allows managers to prioritize and ensure proper charging and maintenance schedules are followed. This facilitates the battery care your fleet needs to stay moving and optimizes productivity.
Want to learn about telematics software solutions for your warehouse and fleet? Get to know TotalTrax Inc. at booth S5179 at ProMat 2019, the largest warehousing, material handling and logistics trade show in North and South America, April 8th – 11th at Chicago’s McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.