Three Signs Forklift Batteries Need Attention
Forklift battery maintenance may not sound like the most riveting or compelling subject, but it is essential for keeping personnel and equipment safe. It is critical for employees to be able to recognize telltale signs of a problem and take steps to correct it. What are some of these warning signs?
1. Over Discharging
Forklift battery life is not infinite. While forklift batteries can last a very long time with proper maintenance -- for over 1,500 -- uses improper discharging can drastically shorten an expensive battery's charge. Discharging a battery beyond the level recommended by the manufacturer will reduce both its ability to hold a charge and its overall lifespan. More worryingly, it can also cause forklift motors to malfunction and batteries and forklift parts to critically and dangerously overheat.
2. Improper Water Levels
How important is forklift battery watering? VERY. Without properly watering a forklift battery, water levels may become extremely low, which can result in the battery’s cells drying out, permanently ruining the battery. However, filling batteries with too much water can cause overflowing and overheating -- two things to avoid. Additionally, to keep safe and protect battery performance, personnel should water batteries only after charging and cooling, never before or during charging, and never before the batteries have properly cooled.
3. Unusual Hydrometer Readings
The specific gravity of a battery’s electrolyte solution can be an indicator of battery health. Personnel should take hydrometer readings of the specific gravity for all batteries as part of the normal charging process. If the hydrometer reading is out of the manufacturer-recommended range, it can indicate that the battery is not performing properly. This may mean the battery is damaged or otherwise in need of servicing. Any deviation from a normal hydrometer reading should be reported to management and the battery should be taken out of service until any issues are resolved.
Training for forklift battery handling should always include teaching personnel to recognize the warning signs of a possibly damaged battery. Personnel should always know how to check battery's gravity readings, keep water levels at a safe and precise level, and never discharge a battery past 80%.