Forklift batteries don’t die alone! They take vital components with them.
Does that headline scare you? Well, it should if you rely on electric forklifts. Yikes!
Everyone knows that batteries die. Whether you’re using flooded lead acid batteries, lithium-ion, or thin plate pure lead batteries (TPPL), every battery has a defined useful life that’s built in. And a dead battery means a (temporarily) dead forklift.
But, unlike lithium-ion batteries that operate a forklift at full power until they are dead and simply need charging, a lead-acid battery requires maintenance to perform properly and last for the expected 5 years.
Scary thing is, destroying your forklift battery through improper maintenance means more than a dead battery and costly replacement. Even though a battery is often 30% of a forklift’s cost, so it’s not a minimal investment.
But understand that, as the battery dies, it drags the entire power ecosystem of your forklift down to the forklift graveyard right along with it. Poor maintenance procedures are the main cause of battery failure.
But properly maintaining a forklift battery is more complex than just plugging it into a charger. It includes proper watering, using the right charger, and having a charging schedule that produces the optimal battery lifespan. Often those in charge of maintaining forklifts don’t realize that bad power maintenance can shave 1-3 years off the life of your battery—and those lost years negatively impact power components, cut into uptime, and cost you money. A lot of money.
How to save your forklift from the zombie apocalypse
To preserve the life and health of your forklift batteries and the truck’s electrical components, follow these battery maintenance guidelines:
The Rule of 80%
It’s kind of like stop, drop and roll. Once the battery is below 20% capacity, STOP! Drop everything and charge! Well, probably not in the real world, but having a charging schedule that prevents deep discharging your battery is critical. Going beyond 80% usage, which leaves only 20% power left is what we call deep discharging. Failing to recharge the battery sooner results in hot batteries and hot truck components, which can cause significant damage to the truck (even motor failure).
Zombies do not need water. Batteries DO. Their health is directly related to water levels. With normal use the battery water level decreases. Then the plates become exposed. Prolonged exposure to air compromises the integrity of these plates and ultimately leads to irrevocable damage.
· Only add water from a known clean water source such as city or county water. When in doubt, use de-ionized or distilled water.
· Only add water when the battery is fully charged.
· Never overfill the battery, either.
Watch out for signs that your battery is turning into a zombie
Have you and your operators noticed any of these signs that mean it's time to replace the battery?
· Batteries last only one to four hours between charges, instead of the six to eight hours they lasted when they were new.
· The top of battery cells have a lot of white corrosion between cells and the tray.
· Cell covers are cracked or discolored from excessive heat.
· The battery smells excessively when charging, especially compared to its neighboring batteries being charged.
· The battery is really hot.
Premature battery death (or walking dead batteries) can be spotted when you see battery sulphation—caused by prolonged under-charging of the battery. If there is a problem with battery sulphation, the chargers can be adjusted to prevent any damage to the battery. Catching it early, and calling in a battery professional to address it, will add life to a battery. And save it from zombie life.
Most forklift companies are experts in forklifts, not in batteries and power. While a forklift is mechanical, a battery is electric and chemical, which involves very different technical expertise and knowledge. Morrison, however, offers you both through our sister company, Cisco Battery & Charger. That means—no matter what is going on with your forklift, you make one call for service and “the buck stops here”.
We can help train your employees in proper battery handling, watering, and charging, as well as teach them how to watch for excessive operating temperatures. Let's make poor battery life a thing of the past at your facility. Contact us today!