Forklifts require regular care in order to extend their lives and prevent accidents. While some tasks, like pre-shift inspections and regular oil changes, are generally common knowledge, not everyone knows about how to properly maintain a forklift battery. However, that battery is just as critical to the functioning of your machine as are the tires or the engine or other forklift parts. As a result, part of providing good forklift service for your machine is keeping up with the maintenance and care of the battery. Here are a few tips for keeping the battery up and running for as long as possible.
Avoid opportunity charging your forklift batteries.
Forklift batteries must be charged regularly. It can be tempting to charge them whenever you have a break or a mealtime. That way, you rarely have to worry about them needing to be charged during a shift, or taking the time to hook them up after your shift.
The reality, however, is that opportunity charging your forklift batteries will shorten their lives. Each battery will last a certain number of life cycles. Every time you charge the battery, you use one of those life cycles. Casually charging your machine for short periods, therefore, can shorten the number of life cycles the battery has. And that can mean needing to purchase a new battery far sooner than you might have anticipated.
Charge your forklift batteries correctly.
In addition to avoiding opportunity charging, proper forklift service, when it comes to batteries, includes charging the batteries correctly. Correct battery charging means charging the battery when it needs it, for as long as it needs it, within the environment that it needs.
Specifically, forklift batteries should receive an 8-10 hour charge whenever they have been discharged more than 20-30 percent. This means that when your battery charge is down to 70-80 percent, your forklift should receive a charge.
In addition, you need to charge your batteries within the right temperature. Keeping the temperature of the battery below 115 degrees Fahrenheit before charging it. Otherwise, you risk shortening the life of the battery and lengthening the amount of charge time it needs.
Set up a separate charging station for your forklift battery.
As part of your regular forklift service, charging your battery deserves the attention, and space, necessary to complete it safely. As a result, this task should take place in a battery charging station that is clearly labeled and set apart from the rest of your worksite. It should include safety features like fire extinguishers, as well as an eye washing station, records of your battery maintenance, and a phone for emergencies.
Include fluid checks as part of your regular forklift service.
Regular forklift service includes many tasks, from changing the oil to replacing the tires when they begin to show signs of wear and tear. Comprehensive forklift service also includes checks of the fluid in the batteries. The water in the battery should always remain about half an inch below the cap of the battery, and should always consist of filtered and de-ionized water with a pH between 5 and 7.
Ensuring the proper fluid levels in your forklift's battery is best accomplished after every five charges. You should expect to top off the water about every 10 charges. Just make sure to complete this part of your forklift service after the charge cycle is complete, not before.
Include monthly battery cleaning as part of your forklift service.
In addition to adding fluid checks to your forklift service, you will want to add monthly battery cleaning. While it may seem counterintuitive, your forklift battery should be washed with battery cleaner or soapy water at least every month in order to prevent or remove corrosion. In addition, cleaning the batteries regularly prevents the buildup of dirt on the battery that may interfere with its operation. Just make sure the battery is thoroughly dry before you put the forklift back into service.
Include equalizing as part of your forklift service.
Over time, a battery can suffer from two problems that shorten its lifespan: Sulfation and acid stratification. Sulfation refers to the buildup of sulfate crystals on the battery plates. Acid stratification refers to the buildup of acid on the bottom of the battery and the presence of less acid on the top. The best process for reversing these problems is called equalizing. During equalizing, the battery is intentionally overcharged. This process takes place only on batteries that have an equalizing setting on their chargers, so before implementing this aspect of your forklift service, you need to make sure your battery allows for it.
Follow basic forklift service recommendations for maintaining your batteries.
Finally, in order to keep your battery in top working order, you should follow all recommendations for maintaining your batteries. For example, you may need to add regular technician checks to your forklift service schedule. You will need to use the appropriate chargers for your battery. You will want to operate your battery within certain temperature ranges as much as possible. And, you should follow all recommended procedures and safety precautions when handling your forklift battery.
Properly maintaining your forklift battery should become an important part of your regular forklift service. If you need help ensuring that your battery, as well as every part of your forklift, is in good working order, do not hesitate to reach out to Darr. We offer fully trained technicians and comprehensive maintenance packages to help you keep your machines running well for years.