Forklift Battery Charging Racks for Small Facilities
While small facilities might not operate enormous fleets, forklifts still play a vital role in their day-to-day operations. Keeping those trucks on the floor requires an intelligent investment in forklift battery charging racks — and in additional equipment that minimizes downtime without inconveniencing workers.
To put it simply: If workers are waiting for a battery to charge, they’re not being especially productive. Charging racks keep equipment moving, which keeps workers moving. When throughput is important (and throughput is always important), investments in the battery room make sense.
Whether you’re setting up a battery charging area at a new facility or evaluating new equipment, this guide will help you make a plan that works for your operation.
Choosing a Battery Charging Location
Even with state-of-the-art chargers, wash stations, and other equipment, a poor charging location can seriously slow down your fleet. Investments in the battery room pay off, particularly when a facility depends on lift trucks for everyday tasks.
Operations that use smaller forklift fleets might not maintain a large, single "battery room." Instead, they might post "park and charge" stations throughout the facility. Regardless of the number of battery chargers within a given area, however, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Traffic aisles should accommodate forklifts easily. This might seem like an obvious point, but many facilities set up their battery charging areas after-the-fact and don’t give forklifts sufficient room to travel. Structural Barrier Rails are designed to protect equipment and can be used to establish traffic lanes for forklift traffic.
- Battery charging areas should have code-approved floors. While this might seem like a minor concern in a smaller facility, floor damage inevitably leads to equipment damage and productivity loss. Wherever possible, insist on acid-resistant flooring in battery charging areas, as required in many instances by OSHA standard 1926.441(a)(4). Instead of – or, preferably, in addition to – acid-proof flooring, battery charging stands should include Drip Pans that are "substantial and … resistant to the electrolyte," according to 1926.441(a)(3).
- Battery charging areas should have access to appropriate plumbing and electrical infrastructure. Remember, even in a small facility, a battery room will need adequate plumbing to accommodate eyewash stations, and safety should always be a primary consideration.
OSHA also requires adequate ventilation to prevent hydrogen gas build-up. While this may seem like a minor concern at a smaller facility, plan for growth and try to ensure that your battery charging area has high ceilings and can be ventilated easily. When in doubt, plan for growth. Use the BHS Ventilation Calculator to ensure exhaust fans can replace enough air to comply with OSHA standards.
For facilities with established battery rooms, improving forklift efficiency requires appropriate investments in equipment. That's also true for smaller facilities that replace a central battery room with multiple park and charge stations.
Finding the Right Forklift Battery Charging Equipment
To utilize space as effectively as possible, purchase battery and charger stands that are appropriately suited to your facility. BHS Forklift Battery System Stands can be equipped with charger shelves, providing a single location for charging, storing, and exchanging batteries. To build park-and-charge stations, install chargers on single- or double-mount Vertical Charger Stands, which optimize floor space while adding convenience.
Likewise, the BHS Traveling Battery Stand is a one-person changing system capable of handling both a charged battery and discharged battery, enabling fast change-outs. Custom-built models are available to meet the unique specifications of any facility. The Hardwood Battery Station and Battery Roller Stand feature numerous compartment configurations, all with acid-resistant powder-coated steel for safe, efficient, and durable functionality.
Equip all charge stations with appropriate drip pans to protect flooring and to ensure compliance with wastewater disposal regulations.
Developing a Forklift Charging Strategy
Provided that a facility is properly outfitted, forklift downtime should be minimal. However, workers should understand the best practices for charging, watering, and maintaining equipment. In a smaller facility, equipment damage can carry immense costs, so focus on establishing accountability to extend the lifespan of chargers, batteries, and forklifts.
We’ve written extensively about forklift charging practices, but here are a few basics to keep in mind:
- Wash batteries regularly. Dispose of runoff safely and ensure that washing tasks are carried out by qualified workers. Third-party forklift battery service providers can be a useful resource for some smaller fleets (check out this blog for an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of handling battery washes in-house).
- Water forklift batteries periodically after charging. Forklift battery electrolyte loses water content due to gassing and evaporation. If the fluid level gets low enough to dry out the plates, the battery can permanently lose capacity. Regularly check and water forklift battery cells once a week, or as necessary. This blog explains how to fine-tune your battery watering schedule.
- Inspect battery wash equipment regularly. Replace any damaged components early, even if they still seem to function. Solus Group carries a range of battery wash equipment and parts to make this process easier.
- Make sure batteries aren’t overcharged. Overcharging can shorten the battery’s lifespan, so avoid overcharging or over-discharging (typically defined as a discharge beyond 80 percent of the battery’s capacity).
- Keep track of battery charges. Tracking change-outs adds accountability and reinforces good practices. If you’re regularly overcharging or over-discharging, consider changing the number of batteries you keep on-hand.
- Keep batteries at optimal temperatures. If the temperature of the charging room exceeds 113 degrees Fahrenheit, your batteries will suffer (and your workers will put off change-outs until the last possible moment). Adequate ventilation is also essential.
Again, an effective strategy requires high-quality equipment. For facility-specific recommendations, contact the Solus Group sales team by calling (314) 696-0200 or by clicking here.