The True Cost of Damaged Battery Charging Cables
In order to keep your forklift fleet running efficiently, you need an organized, well-managed battery room. Every piece of equipment should be regularly inspected, and worn or damaged components should be switched out immediately — if you want to stay productive, you need to take equipment malfunctions out of the equation wherever possible.
Your battery charging cables are especially important, since they’re uniquely susceptible to damage; they’re moved around regularly, and if you don’t have an appropriate cable management strategy, they can easily become crimped or indented. The cable casing can also wear out, exposing workers to a potentially serious safety risk.
New battery charging cables can be somewhat expensive on a case-by-case basis. A new connector might cost $20-30, and the cable itself can add a few dollars to the bill. However, this is only one of the potential costs of damaged charger connections.
Other costs include:
Early Battery Replacement
Damaged cables might not deliver an appropriate charge, reducing the functionality of your batteries. Even worse, a damaged cable could reduce the total operating life of your forklift batteries, resulting in early replacement (typical batteries should last for about 2,000 charge/discharge cycles). This can occur if the battery discharges past its recommended limits.
Lift truck batteries can cost from $1,200 to $6,000 with an average cost of around $2,300 according to NREL. Early replacement is not a minor expense, and can represent a sizable portion of the overall cost of the lift truck.
If a battery is only partially charged or if employees need to spend more time in the battery room trying to safely negotiate a battery change, productivity will suffer. A few minutes of lost time per charge cycle can quickly add up, and if your operation runs multiple shifts, the losses will compound; poor efficiency can mean thousands of dollars in lost work every year.
OSHA can enforce a penalty of up to $7,000 per serious violation, and damaged cables may constitute a violation under OSHA 1926.441(b)(2). Exposed cables could also violate fire and electrical codes, resulting in additional fines (not to mention a substantial safety hazard for workers).
After considering some of the worst-case scenarios, a new cable and connector is fairly inexpensive. Of course, you should still avoid unnecessary equipment replacements by any means possible, so if you’re trying to reduce your overall expenses, be sure to look towards your cable management strategy first.
Pogo-style battery cable retractors can help to minimize unexpected movement, protecting cable connectors from banging into the hard floor of the battery room and greatly extending the life of both the cable and connector. Raised mounting brackets keep the your cables off of the floor and out of the way of workers, trucks, and battery change equipment.
You should also inspect your battery cables on a daily basis. Look for indented areas, worn casings and any other obvious signs of damage. Test your cables and your charger occasionally. Most importantly, change out damaged equipment as soon as possible — never take unnecessary risks with high voltage equipment.
Kilborne, C. "Types of OSHA Citations and How Much They Cost - Safety Daily Advisor." Safety Daily Advisor. N.p., 04 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 May 2015.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Powered Industrial Trucks ETool: Types & Fundamentals - Power Sources: Electric." Web. 25 May 2015.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Batteries and Battery Charging. - 1926.441." Batteries and Battery Charging. - 1926.441. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 25 May 2015.