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Developing a Forklift Battery Watering Strategy that Works

Ask any battery room operator how often to water forklift batteries and you’ll probably get one of two responses: “Check them once a week and water as necessary,” they’ll say. Or they might say, “That depends.” The second response is about as accurate as it is frustrating, which is to say, totally. The fact is, battery watering can be tricky to nail down. It’s a good idea to start with weekly checkups and go from there, but ultimately, establishing an ideal watering schedule will take some experimentation. Watch out for the three major efficiency killers when you’re figuring out your watering routine: Don’t overwater. This can cause damaging boil-overs during charges. Don’t underwater. When cells dry out, they lose capacity…more

Prevent Boil-Over with Forklift Battery Watering Tools

Forklift battery boil-over is sometimes accepted as a standard risk of battery room management, but overflow incidents are far from unavoidable. In fact, if your operation has encountered multiple boil-overs this year, you should evaluate your equipment and make sure that you’re adequately outfitted. Boil-overs are dangerous for workers — and expensive for facilities. When battery acid contacts a sealed floor, it quickly eats away at the seal, causing long-term damage that eventually necessitates floor replacement. As we’ve covered in other articles, battery rooms require perfectly flat and level floors, so repairs or replacement can be prohibitively expensive. Battery acid can also damage lift trucks and battery casings, so to safely operate your facility, you need to manage your risks.…more

Forklift Battery Watering: Striking the Right Balance

Watering forklift batteries can sometimes feel like a high-wire act. Add too much water and your risk of boil-over skyrockets; too little, and dry cell takes hold. Stray just a little in either direction, and you’ll find yourself plummeting into a financial pit. That’s because either of those outcomes will wreak havoc on battery life spans. To keep electrolyte levels perfect, establish a battery watering routine that will allow you to extract every drop of power out of your forklift batteries. Here are a few tips to get you started: Choose a battery watering system that matches your fleet size. Integrated Watering Systems are the gold standard of forklift battery watering devices. These automatic systems thread throughout your battery stands…more

How Lead-Acid Forklift Batteries Continue to Evolve

With all the digital ink spilled over lithium-ion and hydrogen fuel cells, it can be easy to forget that manufacturers of lead-acid batteries continue to make improvements on the traditional chemistry of electric motive power. Here are a few of the advancements in lead-acid battery technology that will allow them to compete with newer power sources for electric forklifts: Integrated Supercapacitors – The traditional lead-acid forklift battery supplies plenty of energy, but power-heavy tasks — such as lifting and transporting heavier loads — can drain them faster. That can make it hard to predict the rate of discharge. Supercapacitors can store up to 100 times more energy per unit mass than a typical battery, which makes them perfect for supplying…more

Power Requirements for Tomorrow’s Counterbalance Forklifts

Nearly 60 percent of American forklift users rely on counterbalance trucks to meet the bulk of their material handling needs. Even more than 60 percent of the forklifts in North America run on electricity. (Both statistics date to 2014, the last year the Industrial Truck Association has compiled so far). But times are changing for electric counterbalance forklifts. New motive power technologies are on the horizon. Here are a few developing power sources that may power the industrial trucks of the future — but how will they work for counterbalance forklifts in particular? Lithium-ion batteries are driving progress in the personal electronics field, but that doesn’t translate into great benefits for counterbalance forklifts. Other industries love li-ion because the battery…more

Forklift Batteries: Lead-Acid vs. Lithium-Ion

In 2015, the first lithium-ion battery pack for an industrial lift truck hit the market. That’s astonishing, given that just six months prior, industry journal Material Handling and Logistics reported that lithium-ion batteries were “not available for lift trucks,” because “lift truck applications may have different requirements, such as lower voltage or higher peak currents than existing motive power applications.” The truck that finally brought the predictions of li-ion enthusiasts to life was a modest machine. Given the weight requirements of sit-down counterbalance forklifts, only a walkie pallet truck would work with a lithium-ion power source. Still, history had been made. A year after this bombshell dropped, however, lithium-ion has yet to overtake the lead-acid batteries of yesteryear. There are…more

Are Lithium Ion Forklift Batteries Catching On?

It’s safe to say that we live in the era of lithium-ion batteries. They power our phones, our laptops, our tablets, and even our hoverboards (sometimes disastrously). You might notice a stunning omission to that list. Nearly 10 years ago, the first lithium-ion forklift battery propelled an experimental lift truck across the floor of a major Japanese manufacturer’s facility. Fast forward to 2016: Where are all the lithium-ion forklift batteries? We can’t predict the future. But for now, the very attributes that make lithium-ion batteries so powerful in the electronics field also render them useless in the most common lift trucks at work in warehousing, construction, and manufacturing facilities. The Advantages of Li-Ion Batteries — And Will They Work for…more

Moving and Storing Compressed Gas Cylinders Safely

If you work with compressed gas, those big metal cylinders are the most dangerous items in your facility. They can explode like bombs, fall like anvils, and even blast through the room like rockets. Plus, let’s not forget, they’re filled with gas that might be flammable, poisonous, corrosive, or any combination of those hazards. But if you do work with compressed gas, nothing else can take its place. Where would welders be without oxygen and acetylene? What would a party store do without a helium tank? With a little bit of caution and some specialized material handling and storage equipment, you can safely transport any number of compressed gas cylinders. Here’s what you need to know: Never try to lift…more

Safely Completing Inventory at the Top of Warehouse Shelves

At some point, usually at the end of the year, order pickers and warehouse managers alike have to buckle down and tackle inventory. Manual inventory, while a chore, isn’t really that tough for the first few tiers of shelving. Staff can easily kneel for the lower racks, take inventory up to eye level, and even climb short ladders to go above their heads. But what about high-density shelving systems that take full advantage of a warehouse’s vertical space? Lift truck forks can reach all the way to the top of high pallet racks, but getting staff up and down safely is another story altogether. OSHA Rules Covering Forklift Work Platforms for Elevated Tasks Rather than buying a dedicated personnel lift,…more

The Easiest Way to Carry Drywall at Construction Sites

Ergonomics in the construction industry has come a long way, but there are still materials that present particular handling challenges. Large panels are among the most difficult to transport and install; there’s simply no easy way to grasp them. At least with windows and other plates of glass, you can use a vacuum lift. Moving drywall is another story. Even on today’s construction sites, you’ll often see workers carrying drywall or plywood overhead, even resting the load on their hardhats. That’s a surefire way to develop musculoskeletal injuries like tension neck syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis. So what’s the solution? Panel Carts for the Construction Industry Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. Move panels as close to the installation site…more