What is killing your forklift batteries before their time? If you don’t know why batteries are failing, the cost of doing nothing may be more than you realize.
Batteries often constitute up to 30% of the cost of each lift-truck. Taking a close look at the costs will tell you that forklift batteries are one of your greatest expenses, with a price tag between $2,000 and $6,000, depending on specs and size.
If your fleet is constantly challenged by batteries that never fully charge, or those with seemingly short lifespans, the negative impact to your bottom line is adding up quickly.
The good news is that you can achieve extending battery lifespan in a few steps. But first you need to determine the root cause of their shortened lifespans.
4 common reasons for shortened battery lifespan
1. Charging is not done correctly
Charging should take place when it is needed, not when it is convenient. Opportunity charging should be avoided because charging a battery too soon eats away at the lifespan.
Batteries should also get fully recharged daily. Batteries left sitting uncharged for extended periods accumulate hard sulfation and lose significant run-time strength. This reduces the battery lifespan.
Each charge costs a battery a cycle, so knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge. Telematic battery-monitoring technology can easily track the status of each battery, including when and how it is being charged.
2. Battery cleaning is not done monthly
Monthly maintenance is a must for longer battery life. This includes cleaning 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. Water levels are not maintained correctly
Watering should only occur when the battery is fully charged. They also can be easy to over-water or under-water without monitoring to ensure the procedure is done correctly.
Water levels should cover the lead plates inside each cell. They should be checked and filled correctly about every 10 charges for the first few years, Reconditioned batteries require attention every 5 charges.
4. Batteries are stored in extreme cold
Cold temperatures negatively impact a battery’s electrolyte, causing it to thicken and struggle to achieve the chemical reaction needed to power the forklift. At an electrolyte temperature of about 32 degrees F, for example, the battery will be working at only 75% capacity versus at normal room temperature.
The result is shorter battery life. Always store and charge batteries in a temperature-controlled environment whenever possible.
Once you realize why your batteries are failing you, you can address it. 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 can vastly improve the health and lifespan of batteries, facilitating scheduled maintenance, proper charging techniques, and reporting on the current health status of each unit.