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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. 

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