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Safety Requirements for the Forklift Battery Room: Back to Basics

There are two very important reasons to maintain a safe battery room — to protect employees and to comply with federal and local regulations. Heavy-duty, ergonomic battery-changing equipment with abundant safety features helps every operation using electric forklifts to accomplish both these goals at the same time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gives both general and specific guidance to battery room operators. The General Duty Clause of the OSH Act is the umbrella law that requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” That description is crucial but vague, so let’s look…more

OSHA Guidelines for Forklift Traffic on Dock Ramps and Yard Ramps

Loading ramps can be perilous places for forklift operation. So it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has quite a bit to say on the topic. Much of their advice is common sense, but it never hurts to have a refresher and a checklist of requirements for investing in dock ramps. Some of the more general requirements address ensuring a slow, controlled ascent or descent on the ramp. Here are a few specific requirements: 29 CFR 1926.451(e)(5)(ii) – “No ramp or walkway shall be inclined more than a slope of one vertical to three horizontal (20 degrees above the horizontal).” 29 CFR 1910.178(n)(7) – “Grades shall be ascended or descended slowly.” 29 CFR 1910.178(m)(6) – “A…more

Disposing of Wastewater Created by Washing Forklift Batteries

Maintaining a well-functioning lift-truck fleet requires washing batteries, and that process creates wastewater. The EPA classifies this dirty water as hazardous waste, and as such, it requires careful attention. Businesses in many other industries, such as metalworking and metal fabrication, die casting, truck wash centers, and more fall into the same boat. When operations create wastewater, they have three basic options. Pay a third-party provider to clean and dispose water. Invest in an on-site wastewater cleaner. Illegally dump wastewater into the sewer. The ethical and legal implications of the third choice make it a non-starter. Pollutants in battery wastewater include lead, copper, and other heavy metals that can contaminate drinking water and create a health risk for local residents. Other…more

Forklift Battery Maintenance During Peak Season

The holiday season is in full swing, and that means warehouses are working overtime to fulfill orders. While permanent staff and temporary workers put in extra hours, don’t forget that your equipment is working hard, too. To get the most out of it, a little preventive maintenance can go a long way. Washing Batteries Improves Forklift Performance It’s a bit of a conundrum. Optimal battery life and performance require taking batteries out of circulation to wash them occasionally. But during the peak order-filling season, managers need their lift trucks at full capacity, with every battery available. Luckily, the choice isn’t as hard as it sounds. Putting off battery washing can have many bad repercussions including: shortening the life of the…more

Why A-Frame Gantries Are Best for Vertical Forklift Battery Extraction

A-frame Gantry Cranes are the safest and most efficient way to vertically remove forklift batteries from trucks. While it’s certainly possible to remove a battery from a forklift with a second lift truck, or even to use a modified hydraulic engine hoist to replace a forklift battery, only Gantries designed specifically for the unique working traits of forklift batteries can safely and efficiently complete forklift battery changes, shift after shift. That’s because a forklift battery room with an integrated Gantry Crane and Hardwood Battery Stations creates benefits that other technologies lack. These advantages include: A defined travel path. The great thing about forklifts is that they can go anywhere. When you’re lifting a 2,000-pound forklift battery, though, that advantage quickly…more

Forklift Battery Handling Equipment for the Coming Year’s Budget

Improved battery room configurations and new equipment can yield big gains in productivity and profitability. As the end of the year draws closer, managers of large forklift fleets consider placing an investment in this type of infrastructure in the coming year’s budget. BHS custom designs its battery handling equipment for safety, efficiency, and lifetime cost savings. A complete system can make battery change-outs, charging, and washing a seamless process that keeps lift trucks running with less downtime.  Even a single piece of well-chosen equipment can make a big difference in a battery room. Carts and carriages are fine for operations that only require one or two battery change-outs per day. A BHS Automatic Transfer Carriage accommodates up to 20 change-outs.…more

Preventative Maintenance for AGV Batteries

Automatic guided vehicles (or automated guided vehicles, depending on who you ask) are touted as the future of material handling. They’re driverless forklifts or carts that follow paths through floor implants, pre-programmed routes, or by using cameras or laser guidance. As advanced as AGV technology has become in recent years, one thing about these devices will be familiar to anyone who has worked with traditional electric forklifts: the battery. Many AGVs use batteries that are very similar — even identical — to electric forklift batteries. Some may use NiCad, lithium ion, or even hydrogen fuel cell batteries, but AGVs that rely on counterbalance to lift loads overwhelmingly favor flooded lead-acid batteries. That’s why users of electric forklifts will already be…more

Switching from Liquid Propane to Electric Forklifts in the Produce Industry

In the mid-1990s, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) noticed an alarming trend. The state is the country’s largest provider of 11 types of produce, including apples, Concord grapes, and pears. In fruit-packing warehouses across the state, workers were being exposed to dangerous — and sometimes even poisonous — levels of carbon monoxide on the job. A major cause of this exposure turned out to be the operation of internal combustion (IC) forklifts in controlled atmosphere rooms, a mainstay of the produce handling industry. Ventilation doesn’t really work in cold rooms; they’re designed to hold in cold air, which also traps the carbon monoxide released by IC engines. Between 1994 and 1999, about 41 percent of the…more

What Type of Forklift is Right for Your Warehouse?

When it’s time to build a forklift fleet, start by choosing the right power source. The choice between electric and internal-combustion (IC) trucks is not just an issue of expense. It’s also crucial to running a safe business. That’s because internal combustion engines — whether they’re powered by diesel or by propane — emit carbon monoxide. This dangerous gas can accumulate in enclosed areas, poisoning anyone in the vicinity. Electric forklifts, on the other hand, have close to zero emissions, and they don’t produce any carbon monoxide at all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other safety regulators recommend using electric forklifts in all enclosed areas. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is very clear about the…more

Choosing Electric Forklifts in Mexico: The Battery Compartment

The vast warehouse industry in Mexico continues to shift from gas to electric forklifts to reap the economic and environmental benefits associated with electric power. As electric fleets grow more common, warehouse managers must continually ensure that they configure their operations to be as efficient as possible. One of the most important choices when building a fleet of electric lift trucks is deciding between overhead and side-removal extraction for batteries. Overhead extraction requires that a gantry crane lift the battery vertically from the compartment and lower it on to a charging stand. A side-removal configuration allows battery extractors to slide batteries out along rollers into a cart or charging rack. While leading manufacturers of electric lift trucks offer both options,…more