Creating a Cable Management Plan for Your Battery Room
When properly managed, your battery room allows for a much more efficient lift truck fleet. Unfortunately, most battery rooms aren’t optimized, and even if you’ve outfitted your charging area with the latest equipment, you might be sacrificing productivity (not to mention a sizable portion of your operating budget) due to poor cable management practices.
Most managers don’t think about cable management until they identify a clear problem. Premature battery failures and regular cable replacements can indicate a cable management issue, and if you see these issues, you should certainly take immediate steps.
However, every facility can benefit from optimized cable management, and even if you haven’t noticed any worn cables or damaged connectors, you should consider implementing a strategy to prevent these types of problems from ever occurring. Some steps to consider when creating your cable management plan:
Create a simple path from the charger to the battery
Use appropriate lengths for fixed cables and try to create straight lines to minimize crimps and unnecessary movement. Pay special attention to areas that will have pedestrian traffic or equipment traffic; clutter can cause serious safety issues and greatly reduce the life of your leads and connectors. Try to keep cables suspended or secured against walls wherever possible.
If cables absolutely need to travel across the floor, use floor covers to protect against damage and keep them far away from the movement lanes of your battery handling equipment.
Utilize cable retractors
If you use brackets or stands to secure battery chargers, cable retractors are helpful accessories for keeping your battery room free from clutter. Pogo-style cable retractors can be mounted to the wall or directly to the battery charger stand, allowing for optimal use of floor space while protecting 2/0 leads. Heavy duty retractors are a more appropriate option for 4/0 charger leads.
Retractors create immediate value by protecting leads and connectors from dropping during change-outs. They’re excellent tools for keeping cables suspended, which allows for improved ergonomics and longer-lasting equipment, and they’re well worth the relatively small investment.
Use mounting brackets when running leads to a designated location
As mentioned above, suspended cables are preferable, since they minimize wear and movement while allowing workers to easily attach batteries.
Magnetic cable mounts provide a simple way to align cables on charger stands or cases, and wall brackets can be used to route leads around obstacles. In larger battery rooms, use brackets to prevent cables from moving freely across one another, as this can lead to premature casing wear (not to mention confusion and efficiency issues).
Check your equipment regularly
Damaged cables and connectors should be replaced as soon as possible. OSHA recommends checking for worn insulation or pitted connector contacts and immediately removing the affected device from service until the damaged components can be replaced.
Damaged leads can put workers at risk and reduce the service life of your batteries, so make sure that your maintenance plan includes regular checks. Even with perfect cable management, components can wear out, so don’t neglect this crucial step when setting up your battery room.
After implementing major changes in your cable management strategy, you should monitor fleet efficiency closely (fleet management software can make this a simpler process). Drops in efficiency could indicate problems with battery accessibility. Likewise, you should check your equipment more frequently for a few days to make sure that you’ve built an effective policy.
Finally, be sure to ask workers to provide feedback, and monitor the battery room during times of peak usage. By taking an active approach, you can create a safer and more productive facility while greatly reducing your long-term costs.
Occupational Safety & Health Administration,. "Powered Industrial Trucks Etool: Types & Fundamentals - Parts: Battery." N.p., 2015. Web. 18 May 2015.