Make Your Forklift Battery Last Longer

Have you ever wondered why your forklift battery does not hold it s charge or needs replacing sooner than you would like?

I was wondering the same and the answer seems to be good forklift maintenance, do not let the charge drop below 20% and do not opportunity charge.  Also keeping a regular inspection of the water level could help too if you know what to look for.  Apparently boiling a battery dry because the water levels are too low kills your battery very quickly. 

Is it possible as the owner of a forklift truck to be able to do these inspections yourself?

Well, some it would appear so but with a little bit of knowledge and routine.

Forklift Maintenance

This needs to be carried out by a LOLER registered certified forklift technician and at least every once every year.  Now with a lot of forklift truck owners they use their forklifts a lot so once per annum is not going to cut it.  Based on an operating forklift in a standard warehouse location working up to 40 hours per week, servicing should be quarterly.  At a push some may want it done every 4 months but really you might be cutting corners.

The more the forklift is operated the more ware and tare happens.  When a forklift operator handling upwards of 1 tonne to 50 tonnes how many corners do you want to cut?

What if the forks were so badly worn at the heel they snapped and caused a serious accident all because you missed out on £100.00 service?

Forklift batteries have been known to leak dangerous gases and even heat up so much they caught fire so really forklift servicing maintenance should be a priority.

Forklift Battery Charge

It is important to fully charge your forklift battery and then run it down to around 20% capacity but no lower.  If you do run it to low, you can experience problems like slow traction speed and hydraulic function can also be reduced.  If electrical circuits are not receiving enough current, they can sometimes overheat too causing expensive diagnosis and repair bills.

Remember a new mother board for your forklift can run into the thousands of pounds and new battery is even more so good operational practices and forklift management need to be implemented.

Having a daily check list for your forklift operators is key to achieving good house keeping and avoiding large forklift battery related repair bills. Have your forklift drivers check the battery fluid levels everyday at the beginning of their shift and have a sheet that they must sign to say they completed the task.  This way they are accountable for the forklift and they put their name to it.

Forklift Intermittent Charge

Intermittent charge will kill a forklift battery so quick you will not believe.  It is estimated that the first couple of hours of an 8-to-12-hour recharge cycle is simply putting heat into the battery.  Therefor if you put your electric forklift truck on charge for just a couple of hours you are cooking it and not recharging it.  People think that after a couple of hours there will be some charge in the forklift battery, and they can use it for a short spell. 

Not True!

This practice will reduce the battery capacity and the overall lifespan of the battery.  The correct way is to let the battery have its full cycle of charge and if you need to use the forklift, wait.  Or buy an extra battery and changing facilities and operate a battery change-over system. This is not cheap, but it is cheaper than buying two forklifts.

The new Lithium-Ion battery range of forklifts that are starting to become more popular allow for a greater flexibility around charging, but they do cost a lot more.  Some models come with built in chargers so no more wall mounted metal boxes to charge your forklifts.

Forklift Battery Water Levels

If the water levels drop to low the battery can boil and that is not good for lifetime costs.  If the plates inside the battery are not covered in water, they will dry and become brittle.  When this happens, it is best to top up the distilled water levels, so the top of the plates is just covered.

Again, this is to be included by your forklift operators or whoever oversees your forklift trucks.  Daily checks are again the key to making sure the water levels stay where they need to be.

Do not put tap water or bottled water into your forklift battery!  Only distilled water must be used, and your forklift service provider will be able to supply you with this.

Why Buy an Electric Forklift?

There are so many reasons for and against but ultimately the decision lies in your application.  The upfront costs of an electric forklift are typically a little higher but really you are buying your fuel up front in the form of the battery.  The cost of charging thereafter is a smaller consideration and charging a forklift during the night is cheaper.  Electricity costs in some places for businesses are lower than during the day.

If your forklift works indoors all day, then electric should be your only consideration.  Diesel and LPG emissions will not work for your application as people will suffer from inhalation issues.

Having a survey from two three good reputable  will give you a good balanced idea of what is available.  There are so many different makes and models available to choose from.  Prices can vary wildly as well as response times to breakdowns.  Warranty should be considered too.  What is included and what is not. If you choose to buy an electric forklift truck without a good battery you may need a good taxi company to come and move your goods.

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