When your warehouse is making the transition from fuel-powered forklifts to electric, you need to be fully prepared for the changes in the care and maintenance. While most of the forklift itself will be the same as your old model, there are special considerations associated with the battery system. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your new forklift batteries.
Always Keep The Battery Clean
The battery terminals and case should be cleaned regularly. Ideally, they should be wiped down at the end of every shift and before the battery is connected to the charger. Any dirt or debris that comes in contact with the posts can actually conduct a charge that will carry to the case. This can be dangerous because it can not only cause the battery to short out, but it may also lead to a fire.
Monitor The Battery For Any Damage
As the battery is cleaned each night, your staff should also take time to inspect the case and the terminal posts for any signs of damage or wear. If there's any visible damage, this needs to be addressed right away. In particular, if the case is cracked or the battery is leaking, it should be put aside and not used. In addition, swelling and heat from the battery case are also cause for concern.
Check The Electrolytes
Every forklift battery is constructed with cells that contain electrolyte fluid around the plates inside. That fluid is essential for proper battery operation, but it will be consumed as the battery is used. You'll need to check the electrolyte level on a regular basis and make sure that it stays filled so that it covers the top of the plates at all times. If it drops below that, the battery won't function properly. You can monitor the level and fill it through the vent cap built into the battery.
Choose The Right Charger
When you buy your forklifts, make sure that you order chargers that are designed specifically for the batteries that they contain. This ensures that you're getting a consistent charge, which is important. If the charger feeds the battery with too much or too little charge, the battery will not function appropriately. If you aren't sure which charger is the right one, talk with the company supplying your forklifts. They can tell you exactly what you need.
Charge The Batteries Properly
Rechargeable batteries are rated for a certain number of charging cycles. As a result, it's important that you charge the battery fully every time you plug it in. Make sure that it gets plugged in at the end of every day so that it can charge completely by the start of the next day. This ensures that you don't inadvertently rack up charging cycles on the battery without getting it fully charged. Short-charging the battery can shorten its lifespan, leading you to need a replacement sooner than necessary. After the charging cycle, make sure that the forklift is unplugged and allowed to rest for a little while before it's used. This allows the battery a rest period after charging so that it can settle before you use it.
Complete an Equalizing Charge Monthly
An equalizing charge is important because it helps to balance out the battery. On a monthly basis, you should charge the battery completely and then check the specific gravity readings on the cells. If there's a difference in the readings, reconnect the charger and allow it to continue charging to equalize the cells. You will essentially be over-charging the battery, but only until the specific gravity levels stop rising.
With these tips, you'll be more likely to extend the life of your batteries and get the most possible use out of them.
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