Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, August 4, 2020

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Forklift batteries are one of the biggest expenses in your warehouse facility. Break those numbers down, and you will find that the cost of batteries, maintenance, and charging likely make up more than 60% of the equipment costs in your business. When cutting costs is crucial, it’s wise to identify simple ways to get the most out of this powerful investment.

Expenses are quickly reduced when a facility finds ways to extend the lifespan of each and every battery that is powering its fleet. Simply put, the longer they last, the less funds are needed for replacements.

What if you could reduce new battery purchases by 15 or 20 percent? Battery monitoring with telematics can put those reductions withing reach – monitoring and reporting on whether necessary care practices are completed correctly and regularly. 

You should be able to expect that each new battery purchased will last approximately 1,500 charge cycles —or about five years of typical use but only if charging, cleaning, and maintenance protocols are strictly followed. 

Managers may be juggling multiple tasks and solving problems continuously through any given shift, but maintaining control of this essential care is easier than it sounds.

What supports your battery investment? There are key things to monitor and manage when it comes to strong batteries that perform as expected. They include:

Proper charging 

Discharged batteries should always be recharged right away. Batteries left sitting uncharged for extended periods accumulate hard sulfation and lose significant run-time strength. This sulfation reduces the battery’s lifespan.  

Note that each charge costs a battery a cycle, so knowing when to charge is as important as knowing how to charge. Opportunity charging, charging the battery based on convenience rather than protocol, should be avoided because charging a battery too soon cuts the lifespan. Batteries should also not be partially charged and then put into action. For an optimum lifespan and run time, they must be fully recharged daily. 

How can you cut the costs of opportunity charging, for example? Know when it’s happening and take action. Battery-monitoring technology tracks the status of each battery, including when and how it is being charged. This can prevent many unexpected equipment issues and reduce batteryreplacement costs. 

Monthly cleaning 

It is important to clean the top of each battery with a battery cleaner or warm water on a monthly basis.  This prevents corrosion, voltage tracking, and faster self-discharge.  

How can you cut the costs of poor maintenance? Battery-monitoring technology tracks maintenance and sends reminders when monthly cleaning should be scheduled. 

 Maintaining the right water levels

Battery watering may seem simple, but it is possible to over-water or under-water a battery unless a system is in place to monitor correct procedure. 

Water levels should cover the lead plates inside each cell. Water levels should be checked and filled correctly about every 10 charges for the first few years. Reconditioned batteries require attention every 5 charges. Also, watering should only occur when the battery is fully charged. 

 Weekly equalization

Equalization is bringing all battery cells to same level of charge (completed every 5 charge cycles). This process reverses stratification, when the battery acid becomes more concentrated at the bottom of the battery. Equalizing rebalances the electrolyte concentration and also helps to remove sulfate crystals from the battery plates.

Making certain your batteries are treated well reduces the need for premature replacement purchases and productivity down time, which cuts avoidable costs dramatically. 

Making certain your batteries are treated well reduces the need for premature replacement purchases and productivity down time, which cuts avoidable costs dramatically. Using battery-monitoring technology allows you to make changes and improvements to how batteries are preserved.

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