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 battery,

  • damaging the electrical systems of lift trucks, and

  • causing chemical burns to staff due to corrosive material on cases.

Knowing this information changes the question from “Should we wash batteries?” to “When is the best time to wash batteries?”

Use a Battery Fleet Management System to Reduce Downtime

All batteries require washing, charging, and watering, so find the best time for these tasks to prevent bottlenecks. Fleet Trackers and Intelligent Battery Organizing Systems can inform battery room managers of critical information that helps plan washing and charging/watering schedules.

Knowing more about battery usage can lead to simple but important changes, like spreading charges throughout the day to reduce wait times. A detailed picture of battery usage will also help plan wash schedules so they are less of a drag on productivity.

Wash Batteries On-Site For Quicker Turnaround

Since washing batteries is not optional, managers must determine how to minimize its impact on scheduling. The single best way to reduce wash times is to wash batteries on-site.
There are plenty of options for battery wash cabinets, from portable wash stations that contain overspray to fully enclosed cabinets. Higher-end wash cabinets can be paired with recirculation systems to control, filter, and recirculate water while cleaning batteries. These closed-loop systems make battery washing fast and easy, allowing operations to quickly return batteries to the fleet.

Rely On Specialized Equipment For Adding Water to Electrolyte

The other central maintenance task for preserving battery life is maintaining a proper watering schedule. Here too, fleet management tools simplify the process. Because both overwatering and underwatering can lead to permanent loss of battery life, there is little room for error.

The easiest solution to battery-watering is an Integrated Watering System. These automated systems integrate with chargers to fill batteries at the end of a charging cycle. This eliminates errors and frees staff for other tasks, of which there are plenty during peak season.

If you’re not ready to install a single-point watering system, you’re not alone. An estimated 70 percent of operations still water batteries by hand. Even in these cases, battery room managers can use technology to simplify the job.

Water Guns with automatic shutoffs allow staff to keep a safe distance from any splashes without sacrificing accuracy. These types of safeguards are even more important when temporary staff may be performing jobs that they are unused to.

Don’t Let Short-Term Goals Compromise Long-Term Performance

Keeping up with orders at the busiest of times while maintaining batteries can seem like mutually exclusive choices. However, with proper scheduling enabled by fleet management devices, managers can achieve both goals. With specialized equipment, efficient scheduling, and a persistent eye for detail, warehouse managers can keep their operations humming through the holiday season and beyond.

Vanasse, Harold. “Other Voices: The major impact of watering on battery room operations and maintenance.MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.

Williams, Del. “Develop a Battery Management Strategy.MHLNews. Penton, 24 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.