Forklift Battery Troubleshooting: Maximize Your Power Use

by Eric Schlau Eric Schlau | Fri, Oct 13, 2023

Forklift Battery Troubleshooting Blog Image

Forklift Battery Troubleshooting: Maximize Your Power Use

When looking for opportunities to add efficiency to your material handling operations, you shouldn't overlook electric forklift battery care. Adjustments to the way you maintain, water and charge batteries can add years to battery life, with massive benefits for your bottom line.

This new approach to battery upkeep begins with visibility into the status of your equipment. When you work with expert personnel who really understand battery maintenance best practices, you can detect any issues with the current state of your industrial battery systems and take action to adopt new and better solutions.

Battery management improvements can take many forms. It could be time to adjust your approach to day-to-day operations, or even make a large change, like switching to lithium ion forklift batteries. Whatever course of action you decide on, it all begins with forklift battery troubleshooting.


The Importance of Better Forklift Battery Troubleshooting

When businesses don't pay close enough attention to forklift battery condition, problems can creep in unexpectedly. An ongoing issue could range from uncontrolled corrosion build-up to incorrect watering procedures. The effects may range from decreased battery life to safety concerns, as corroded lead acid may leak onto the ground.

Creating a safe and healthy environment for your material employees means staying aware of all battery issues and taking care of them as quickly as possible. Ideally, these fixes occur before the fact, through planned maintenance.

For budgetary reasons, it's also important to focus on maintaining battery life as long as possible. Because power systems can take up as much as 50% of a company's overall forklift budget, the bottom-line value of keeping batteries in service for a few years longer is clear.

Visibility into industrial battery condition is the first step toward better overall care for these important assets. Depending on the issues technicians discover through battery troubleshooting, that care could take several forms.

Forklift Battery Maintenance and Upkeep

Planned maintenance for industrial forklift battery assets is a way to get out of a harmful cycle. When businesses run their batteries until failure, without paying close enough attention to regular maintenance, total cost of ownership suffers. Small problems that could have been solved are left to become worse, shortening battery life.

In addition to the long-term effects on the bottom line, a lack of battery maintenance can lead to troublesome day-to-day occurrences. Unplanned downtime due to unexpected battery failures may slow down material handling operations for the whole organization. The lost productivity from such an event may cause missed budgetary targets in the short term.

Strictly reactive maintenance may be part of an overall passive approach to fleet power management. These systems, where issues are left to continue until a breakdown occurs, can lead to hidden costs — up to $4,000 per forklift truck. A medium-sized material handling company with 10 forklifts would therefore face a $40,000 drain on its budget due to its lack of proactive upkeep.

For larger organizations, it may make sense to bring in extra personnel specifically to take care of maintenance and upkeep needs. These added on-site experts bring the knowledge and tools to proactively address industrial battery problems and keep trucks running more efficiently, even when they're running a round-the-clock multiple-shift schedule.

Watering, Charging and More: Common Battery Procedures

Operating lead acid battery systems for an industrial vehicle fleet involves more than maintenance. A few day-to-day activities can play a major role in determining how effectively those batteries function, and should therefore be priorities.

It's easy for battery watering and charging best practices to fall by the wayside. This is especially true in cases when there are no specialized technicians responsible for power management, and material handling personnel are being called on to take care of watering and charging alongside their other duties.

Taking a more focused power management approach can deliver benefits with an immediate positive effect on the bottom line. Watering and charging each come with their own best practices.

Battery Watering

When you troubleshoot your current battery watering processes, what should you look out for? Personnel may not be watering batteries at the right time — after charging, not before. Maintaining the correct level of water in a battery is also essential.

Watering is best carried out according to a carefully made plan, with a monitoring schedule in place. In addition to these regular checks, there's value in conducting inspections of pilot cells. These checks — monitoring two or three batteries every five charges or so — can help eliminate complacency.

A correctly managed watering system makes batteries safer, increases their usable life span and keeps them at peak efficiency. For all those reasons, it's too important to overlook.

Battery Charging

Finding the ideal battery charging solution may involve making major upgrades from your current approach. Legacy charging methods, including a dedicated battery charging room containing a fixed forklift battery charging station, are still valid in some situations, especially when you need to maintain a sanitary main area, as in food service. However, for faster operations, you can implement a new method.

Opportunity charging is one potential new solution. This method involves charging vehicles during scheduled breaks, rather than swapping out batteries, and can work with the rhythm of material handling operations to add efficiency. Fast charging uses advanced equipment to work in a similar way, but with even quicker results.

Whether you purchase standard charging assets, build a custom system or invest in fully managed battery services, a refreshed power strategy can drive efficiency for your fleet.

Different Forklift Battery Management Strategies

There's more than one way to revamp your battery management approach for better troubleshooting — and more effective responses to any issues that personnel discover.

You could consult with experts to build out programs and processes for better condition visibility, maintenance, watering and charging. Remote monitoring solutions also hand troubleshooting and condition observation duties to off-site experts. Alternatively, you can work with third-party on-site technicians who become part of your team and administer the solutions to keep your electric forklift trucks running. It's even possible to invest in a fully guaranteed managed services version of forklift power operations.

With Concentric, the expert in power management for fleets, you're sure to find a solution that is perfectly tailored to your industry, scale, schedule and other supply chain needs. It all starts with a free power assessment. Contact us to get started.

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