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Forklift Batteries Maintenance - Extending Your Battery’s Life: Part 2

Filed under: Forklift Maintenance & Upkeep

We hope since last week you have taken some points and looked at some specific aspects of your forklift battery. If you haven’t read last weeks post please have a quick look back to get the full story of forklift battery maintenance. Continuing on from last weeks introduction and tips on charging and maintenance we will continue with our series by going into forklift battery cleaning and safety.

dead battery

Cleaning

Cleaning your forklift battery is essential in prolonging its life and making sure safety measures are kept to prevent injuries. You need to be visual when it comes to cleaning your forklift battery and always have a quick overview of specific parts before using it. Aspects to keep in mind are:

  • If a battery overspills wash it immediately with water (baking soda optional) to stop corrosion on top of and underneath the battery. Use an adequate amount of water to dilute the acid so it is not environmentally harmful. 
  • The spilled acid is highly conductive and caustic. If not cleaned away immediately, the conductivity can negatively deteriorate battery life (even when not in use) and produce extra heat during recharge.
  • Acid vapours escape during charge, and end up developing residue around the vent cap area. Rinsing of batteries is therefore recommended half yearly (or as needed) to remove the acid residue from the battery.

Safety

Forklift battery safety is the most important issue. Although batteries are designed to be extremely safe you must always be mindful and cautious when dealing with them as acid is not something you should take lightly. It is important that safety precautions are taken into account when handling batteries which include:

  • The weight of the battery can be an overwhelming object weighing in at around one tonne! Ensure that the pallet you use will support the weight of the battery.
  • Ensure you take the battery out of the forklift when recharging (reduces heat).
  • Wear eye goggles and polystyrene clothes (acid will eat through cotton).
  • Wear protective gloves.

Helpful practices for your Forklift Battery:

Do’s

  • Keep batteries clean and clear of rubbish at all times
  • Check the condition of the plugs & cables to ensure there are no exposed wires or loose fittings

Don’ts

  • Never place metallic objects on top of the battery
  • Do not remove the battery from the charger until the charger has been turned off
  • Never allow a battery to go completely dead (inoperative). It can take 3 days of continuous charging to bring back to full capacity. It also damages the battery and can have negative effects on the electronics of the forklift, including motor failure, burned armatures and brushes and seared or stuck contacts, which all place the forklift in a hazardous condition
  • Never continue to use an overheating battery. If a battery ever radiates excessive heat during use or charging or emits a strong sulfur smell, discontinue use and call for service

High savings and improved performance will occur as a result of implementing a battery maintenance schedule. You will find there will be fewer breakdowns due to battery failure, which allow you and your business to run at its fullest potential. This also means less costs to your company replacing batteries and getting them reconditioned.

That concludes our Forklift Battery series. If you would like to leave comments or questions for us or any other readers to answer please feel free to do so below and don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to know about new posts!

Summary 

When it comes to forklift batteries, or any kind of electrical equipment batteries, you must ensure they are maintained regularly and correctly, whether it is a proper inspection once every so often or just a quick glance everyday before using it.

Our aim of this blog is to help you understand how batteries in a forklift can be maintained properly and safely. By recognising the importance that batteries have on mechanical equipment, you will soon be aware that there are substantial costs to be saved. Luckily, the most effective practices for battery care are comparatively small and simple to execute.

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Next entry: Choosing The Right Forklift Fuel Type Part 1: Diesel (Internal combustion)

Previous entry: Forklift Batteries Maintenance - Make Your Battery Last: Part 1

12 comments

    Another important point is never allow opportunity charging of the traction battery, this will reduce the life of the battery.

The average battery life is about 1500 cycles that approximate 7 years depending upon the hours of operation.

The potential habit of some operators is to charge the battery whilst on a lunch break, this is defined as opportunity charging.

This habitual behavior will reduce the life of the battery and if a data logger is installed into the battery then the fleet owner may be faced with an increased operating costs as the battery may require renewal in 3 to 5 years instead of 5 to seven years.

Batteries should never be operated with less than 20 percent capacity as this may destroy vital components such as drive and lift motors, not to mention micro computers

Traction batteries require constant monitoring to maximize the life of the battery

Darren
May 28, 2013 - 6:27 am

   
how do you test the % of acid in the batteries are watering system failed and over watered

robert
February 08, 2014 - 1:16 am

How can I clean the corrosion coming through the seals around the cells? it’s trying to bulge the cells?

Aaron
April 15, 2014 - 7:53 am

Hi Aaron,

Unfortunately some seals in some batteries are substandard and you will have this problem ongoing. You can try the following, but be aware, it will return.

If they are bolted cells you can remove the bolt and clean out the corrosion by rolling up the rubber seal cover then fill with Vaseline or electrical grease. Refit and place back into service.
If they are a welded intercell connector I am afraid you had better start budgeting for a new battery.

AAL Admin
April 29, 2014 - 5:37 pm

Hi Robert,

Fully charge the battery, then test the individual cell voltages using a multimeter, write down the readings aware that the positive lead cell is cell number one. Follow the intercell connectors to your next cell, cell no 2 and so on. The negative lead cell being the final cell in the string. Then test specific gravity of each cell using a Hydrometer that reads to 1.300. Test each cell. Note down your readings next to the relative cell number. Look at your cell voltage reading and subtract 0.84. (Example: Cell V = 2.10, subtract 0.84 = 1.260). The specific gravity should be very close to this. If the SG is more than 5-10 point lower than this reading you will require an acid adjustment due to the overfilling, or a regen if sulphation has taken hold.

AAL Admin
April 29, 2014 - 5:40 pm

Great tips! Clear explanation, you can never stress enough how important it is to do regular maintenance.
-
Steven

Steven - Intercel Battery Wholesale
April 29, 2015 - 11:40 pm

  pls i need simple explanation on how to carry out equalising checks and how to correct if there is inequality in voltage readings of cells of the battery.                 

bolaji
December 12, 2015 - 5:59 am

  How long should a battery be allowed to cool down before being put back into service?                     

Tom
March 31, 2017 - 11:42 pm

Hi Tom,

For a 24 hour day we recommend the following battery cycle:

- 8 hours running time
- 8 hours to charge
- 8 hours to cool down

admin_editor
April 11, 2017 - 3:26 pm

                       
                      I only use my lift for a few hours a day which uses up about 10% of my battery life. Should I be charging every day or is it ok to wait a day or two?

Jordan
May 28, 2017 - 4:24 am

What exactly happens to the batteries if they’re not allowed to cool down? We’ve been working Overtime thus forcing us to pause the cooling cycle. 

Jose
June 01, 2017 - 2:38 am

  Does the 8 hours of run time include actual lifting of loads ? Also do temperature changes affect the life of the battery. because I am not getting the full 8 hours even with brand new batteries.

Josh Capps
June 06, 2017 - 3:58 am

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