An often talked about advantage for purchasing an electric forklift is the fuel cost savings. While the acquisition costs are higher than a LP powered forklift, the battery powers the electric unit for multiple years. However, there’s a factor many companies overlook when estimating the return on investment of the battery – the “people factor”.
“Forklift batteries must be properly maintained to reach their full potential. Improper watering, cleaning and charging can cut battery life by 50%,” stresses Jason Armstrong, Sales Manager for ProLift Indianapolis. While routine battery maintenance can be outsourced to a third-party, he agrees the best results occur when companies provide training to forklift operators. “A commitment to training operators increases awareness of safety risks and best practices. This ultimately keeps operators accountable for the condition of the battery. I also recommend weekly battery checks by a company’s maintenance department or supervisor,” states Jason.
Quick Tips for Forklift Battery Maintenance
Forklift Battery Charging
- Charge forklift batteries as recommended by the manufacturer. For most manufacturers, daily charging is favored.
- Only recharge your battery if it has been discharged 30% or more; and, don’t run the forklift if the battery is discharged 80% or more. The lift-interrupt device reduces lifting speed when the battery reaches such a high percentage. Never bypass the lift-interrupt.
- Allow time for the battery to cool after charging. Running hot batteries will warp lead plates and cause battery cells to short out.
- Always keep open flames and metal items away from the battery.
- Don’t ignore forklift batteries that aren’t in operation. Long periods of sitting will cause hard sulfation to form on the battery.
Watering Forklift Battery
- Always use distilled water or water that is known to be free of abnormally high amounts of impurities.
- Add approved water after charging – never add acid.
- Keep the electrolyte level above the battery’s plates. Moisture on top of the battery indicates overfilling.
- Clean battery overspills with neutralizer to prevent corrosion on the top of and under battery.
- Require – and enforce – employees are properly outfitted with PPE, including safety gloves, glasses and apron.