To keep a forklift running properly - and to extend its life - it is necessary to keep its battery working efficiently. A forklift battery should be able to last for a number of years if it is properly cared for. But what is the best way to maintain a forklift battery and ensure that it lasts as long as possible? Just follow these easy steps.
Charge the Battery Correctly
It can be tempting to charge a battery whenever it is convenient, but the fact is that in order to properly maintain a forklift battery, it should only be charged at certain times and to certain degrees. Charge a forklift's battery only when it dips below 30% charge and be sure to charge it until it is full and then stop charging it. Over or undercharging this type of battery can significantly decrease its lifespan. Never interrupt a charge cycle.
Equalize Batteries Regularly
Flooded or wet cell batteries should be equalized on a regular basis. This process reverses the chemical process of stratification, when the battery acid becomes more concentrated at the bottom of the battery. When the acid and water become stratified, the battery is no longer able to hold a charge as well.
Equalizing rebalances the electrolyte concentration and also helps to remove sulfate crystals from the battery plates. Equalizing can only take place with a battery charger that has an equalizing setting. Many batteries need equalization approximately each five to ten charging cycles, but be sure to check the maintenance specifications for a battery before initiating the process.
Check Fluid Levels
Forklift batteries need to have the right amount of water to work at optimum capacity. Approximately every five charge cycles, be sure to check the forklift battery fluid levels by opening up the battery. Check two to three cells and ensure that there is enough fluid to cover the plastic battery element. If unsure, check all cells. If there is not enough fluid upon inspection, move on to the next step and add water.
Maintain Water Levels
If the levels are not appropriate, top off the fluid in the battery. This will be necessary approximately every 10 charges if it is brand new by adding enough water to cover the battery's plastic element protector. Do not overfill the battery. Extra space is needed for the expansion that happens when the battery is in use. Note that maintenance free batteries do not need to be topped off. Only top off a battery after the battery is fully charged. It is also important to use the right water, which measure between 5 and 7 on the pH scale and is within recommended limits for impurities. Impure water can lead to battery damage.
Keep Batteries at a Safe Temperature
Forklifts can be used in extreme environments, so it is essential to consider the ambient temperature for the battery when in use. Keeping any battery at a safe temperature, where its operating temperature does not exceed 45℃ (113℉), will help to prolong its life. If this is not possible, be sure there is plenty of air circulating in and around the battery compartment for optimal battery cooling.
Even a Crown forklift battery, which are extremely durable and can last for years, need to be subject to proper maintenance in order to extend their lives. Luckily, this maintenance is easy to incorporate into any forklift maintenance routine.