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forklift battery maintenance

Top Tips to Correct Forklift Battery Maintenance

Performing maintenance on your forklift battery will keep it performing better for longer.

It helps you save time, money, and a great deal of needless frustration!

In this blog, we are going to tell you how you can undertake your forklift battery maintenance with the help of the general information.

If you’d like to learn more about forklift batteries and how they work, check out this Ultimate Guide to Forklift Batteries.

If not, read on.

Understand Forklift Batteries

Electric forklifts must be powered by forklift batteries in factories, warehouses, and other industrial locations.

In order to maintain a productive and safe workplace, it is essential to understand the parts of a forklift battery and the variables that determine its lifespan.

A typical forklift battery is made up of lead-acid cells that are connected in series to produce a high voltage.

The electrolyte, which is a solution of water and sulfuric acid, is placed within the cells, which are housed in a plastic casing.

A number of lead plates, separated into positive and negative plates, are present in each cell.

While the negative plates are formed of pure lead, the positive plates have a lead dioxide coating.

The cell is housed in a perforated metal container, and the plates are separated from one another by an insulating substance.

The most common type of batteries are lead-acid batteries of which there are four main types.

We covered this in our previous BLOG for you to catch up on.

forklift battery maintenance

The Lifespan of a forklift battery for maintenance

A battery’s life is measured in terms of the quantity of charging cycles.

In other words, the number of times you can charge and discharge a battery determines how long a battery will last.

It is advised to only charge your battery when it is more than 60% but less than 80% depleted in order to extend the life of the battery.

The number of charging cycles and, thus, the battery’s lifespan are influenced by a number of variables.

  • The depth of discharge;
  • prompt, appropriate maintenance;
  • the charging circumstances (temperature, humidity, frequency, profile, functioning);
  • the operating temperature of your battery;
  • and vibration sensitivity are some of them.

Charging and Discharging

Lead-acid batteries include two different forms of lead.

Lead peroxide (PbO2) is used to make the positive plate, while sponge lead is used to make the negative plate (Pb).

forklift battery maintenance

These plates are submerged in a dilute electrolytic sulphuric acid solution (H2SO4). This electrolyte conducts an electrochemical reaction and separates into H2 and SO4 when the battery discharges.

  • On the positive plate, the H2 reacts with some of the oxygen to generate water (H2O). The electrolyte’s acidity is lowered as a result.
  • On both plates, the sulphate (SO4) and lead (Pb) mix. Lead sulphate is the outcome of this (PbSO4).

Forklift Battery Maintenance Best Practice

There are three essential maintenance tasks you need to perform to optimise the performance and reliability of your lead-acid batteries:

1. Providing the cells with sufficient water

Make sure the electrolytes in your batteries are consistently topped off to the proper level.

A mixture of battery acid and demineralised water makes up the electrolyte.

It ought to ascend to a height that is just 1cm over the tops of the battery plates.

Recharge the battery just after using it first.

During charging, the density of the electrolyte will rise. It can boil over if you add the demineralised water before charging. Whatever the state of charge, the battery plates should always be submerged in electrolyte.

Use only demineralised water. It is water that has had the majority of metals and minerals filtered removed, also known as distilled water.

forklift battery maintenance

Install an automatic filling system for the greatest results.

Water hoses are used to connect the filling caps in this system, which include floats. Only distilled water needs to be poured into the hose. The rest is handled by the filling system.

Manufacturers of batteries advise recharging batteries once every week. Older batteries could need more demineralized water supplied and should be checked more frequently.

There can be a problem with your battery or battery charger if your battery needs water all the time.

Examine the battery and the charging system in detail, particularly if one or more cells continually have low water levels.

2. Evenly charging your battery

As your battery is used more, the capacity of different cells may develop slightly differently. If this happens, your battery will not charge fully. One cell might be fully charged while another may be only half-charged.

Battery equalisation prevents this.

It is a simple process where your battery charger provides a lower current for a longer period of time. While a typical charging cycle lasts around eight hours, equalisation takes about eleven hours.

Battery equalisation also prevents stratification, a potentially harmful condition in which acid and water are separated.

forklift battery maintenance

During the final phases of the equalisation charging process, hydrogen and oxygen are released from the battery. They form bubbles, giving a special effect to the battery electrolyte that prevents stratification.

A weekly equalisation charge is recommended.

As equalisation charges require longer cooling times than a regular charging cycle, it is often performed over the weekend, leaving sufficient time for both charging and cooling before being put back into use.

3. Keeping your battery clean

Batteries release gases during the charging process.

The acidic vapor often congeals on the top of the battery. In addition, the battery electrolyte may boil over, or your battery may leak.

The acid residue or the battery electrolyte often remains on the battery tray. This is the cause of all kinds of problems.

First, it may create a conductive circuit between the conductors and the steel housing. This causes a low but constant self-discharge that influences the charging cycles and reduces the battery life.

Secondly, acid accumulation may damage the battery terminals, causing electrical problems and limiting the battery capacity. It may even make your battery unsuitable for use.

Avoid these issues by regularly cleaning the battery case with an acid-neutralising degreaser.

Do this four times a year as a standard practice, as well as any time the electrolyte boils over, or any time you see it’s
necessary.

Better too often than not often enough.

It’s possible to clean your battery manually, but there are tools, such as industrial steam cleaners, that help you keep your battery clean. They require minimal effort from you as a user.

The high-temperature steam leaves your battery completely clean in a number of seconds.

Make sure the battery cells are properly sealed before you clean your battery. If acid neutraliser mixes with the battery electrolyte, it will destroy your battery.

Forklift Battery Safe Handling & Maintenance Tips

Improper use of a forklift battery is extremely dangerous.

The contents of a battery include toxic lead and aggressive sulphuric acid with the potential to cause serious corrosive burns.

Follow these tips to keep your forklift battery in top condition:

1. Be careful with metal objects

Use an insulated socket wrench if you need to loosen or tighten your battery terminals.

A low, long ring or open-ended spanner may cause a short circuit between the key and the mass of the battery compartment.

Never place metal objects on the battery. Also be careful that watches and jewellery will not accidentally cause a short circuit.

2. Never smoke near a battery

The hydrogen gas concentration is higher than normal within 50 cm of a battery.

It is therefore strictly forbidden to smoke, weld, grind or any other activity that may cause sparks when you’re near a battery.

3. Protect your eyes

Battery acid splashes easily and will cause permanent eye damage if it lands in your eye.

Please make sure you always have the necessary personal protective equipment available for staff members, and that it is used.

Also check your eye shower at least once a month. If battery liquids do somehow splash into your eyes, rinse your eye thoroughly for at least ten minutes.

4. Consider the environment

Battery electrolytes contaminate soil.

According to NPR directives, companies are obliged to take measures to minimise soil contamination. This may be in the form of flooring that will prevent the absorption of acidic liquids and/or the use of drip trays.

5. Transport correctly

Never use chains to remove a forklift battery.

The steel links are liable to cause a short circuit between the battery terminals. Besides, a chain is sensitive to corrosion.

Lifting straps have neither of these disadvantages. They must meet strict requirements and must be inspected periodically.

The crossbar of a hoist distributes the weight more evenly across the lifting eyes and prevents a heavy battery from swinging.

6. Personal protective equipment

Battery maintenance often puts you or your workers near acidic battery electrolyte capable of causing serious chemical burns or even blindness.

Employers are required to provide personal protection equipment and eye wash stations for every employee who works with batteries.

Personal protective equipment for battery maintenance includes :

  • Chemical splash goggles;
  • Chemical splash guards;
  • Acid-resistant jackets or aprons;
  • Acid resistant gloves;
  • Boots that are resistant to hazardous substances.

Conclusion

Masterlift is a proud supplier of one of the leading forklift batteries on the market, Midac Batteries.

So make sure you check out our website for more information on them.

If you want to see more amazing forklift content, check out our Blog right HERE.