If your fleet is constantly challenged by battery capacity — some that never fully charge, or those with seemingly short lifespans — and it’s time to figure out why.
Batteries can be one of your biggest expenses, especially if they do not power your fleet as expected. But, there are key reasons a battery’s performance may be lackluster. If you are preforming maintenance when it is convenient rather than when data deems it necessary, you are not getting the most about of your batteries.
You need real-time information to determine exactly what your batteries need. Battery-monitoring technology provides this, allowing you to be proactive in extending longer battery life and replacing them only when needed.
Here’s a comprehensive list of battery care and charging tips and how to determine where battery life is being cut short.
1. Charging practices
Charging should take place when it is needed, not when it is convenient. Batteries left sitting uncharged for extended periods accumulate hard sulfation and lose significant run-time strength. This reduces the battery lifespan.
Opportunity charging should also be avoided because charging a battery too soon eats away at the lifespan. Batteries should also get fully recharged daily. Also, remember that each charge costs a battery a cycle, so knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge.
If you have telematic battery-monitoring technology, you can easily track the status of each battery, including when and how it is being charged.
2. Cleaning practices
One of the maintenance items you must do monthly for long battery life is to clean the top of each battery with a battery cleaner or warm water. This prevents corrosion, voltage tracking, and faster self-discharge.
Battery-monitoring technology tracks and records maintenance and sends reminders when monthly cleaning should be scheduled.
3. Proper amounts and timing of H2O
It is possible to over-water or under-water a battery unless a system is in place to monitor correct procedure. Rule of thumb is that water levels should cover the lead plates inside each cell.
This should be part of regular maintenance. Water levels should be checked and filled correctly about every 10 charges for the first few years, and reconditioned batteries require attention every 5 charges. Also, remember that watering should only occur when the battery is fully charged.
4. Protect them from extreme cold
The cold impacts a battery’s electrolyte, causing it to thicken and struggle to achieve the chemical reaction needed to power the forklift. So, battery life maybe shorter.
For example, a fully charged forklift battery with an electrolyte temperature of about 32 degrees Fahrenheit will be working at only 75% capacity versus what it can deliver at normal room temperature. So, it is important to store and charge batteries in a temperature-controlled environment whenever possible.
While most new batteries have a lifespan of approximately 1,500 cycles — lasting up to five years — long battery life requires proper charging, cleaning, and maintenance.
Battery-monitoring technology facilitates the ultimate care of your batteries, telling you the battery’s discharge, temperature, voltage, and amperage with real-time alerts and warnings while in use, before battery damage occurs.