When you’re looking to maximise forklift performance it’s easy to overlook the role played by its batteries. Yet, your equipment is only as good as the batteries that power it, and proper battery maintenance is essential if your materials handling fleet is to meet its targets.
A lack of regular maintenance, poor servicing and incorrect charging procedures can have a significant impact on battery life. Any loss of capacity will affect truck performance and may even lead to battery malfunction. This, in turn gives rise to unwelcome periods of equipment downtime whilst repairs are effected, adversely affecting productivity.
Customised service plans
In the long run it pays to choose a service plan, which should be cost-optimised so that you get the best deal based on the level of support required.
A contract typically covers battery watering – topping up to predetermined intervals so there are no issues with spillage and under- or over-watering – as well as cleaning to avoid loss of capacity from current leakage caused by dirty cell tops. An inclusive annual inspection and safety check is key to determining whether batteries and chargers are safe and fit for purpose.
If you decide to outsource battery servicing, you chosen provider should have a good understanding of your application and the specific operational challenges you face on a daily basis. Only then can they create a customised service package to meet your needs in a timely and cost effective manner.
If you opt for a customised service plan battery maintenance will be carried out by skilled and experienced engineers who have access to the latest diagnostic tools. Not only are they able to deliver a cost-effective solution designed to keep batteries in peak condition to prolong life, but they will also be able to respond swiftly in the event of a breakdown. The payback is improved truck uptime which can play a pivotal role in helping to ramp up productivity.
Of course, if you decide that you don’t need or want service plan, it’s essential to make sure your staff are properly trained to handle batteries and chargers safely.
Ideally, training should take place at your premises by a reputable supplier who will make available all necessary equipment, including topping trolleys, deionisers and protective equipment. The role of the trainer, ultimately, is to ensure you have everything you need to carry out maintenance competently and with confidence.
Maximising efficiency is vital for intensive logistics operations, especially during periods of peak demand such as the Christmas rush. But, how do you know whether forklifts are being deployed in the most efficient way, or how well batteries and chargers are performing?
Without measuring actual activity you can only estimate when it’s time to replace batteries. The good news is that technology can provide a full analysis of equipment use. Armed with data that offers a true picture – not only truck working hours, but also actual energy used – you can take action to optimise the working life of your batteries and chargers to improve energy efficiency with no unexpected replacement costs.
Refurbishment and rental
There’s no denying that correct and timely battery maintenance will help to keep your trucks on the move. That said, it’s also worth bearing in mind that performance issues don’t necessarily indicate that batteries need to be replaced. Refurbishment, using original spare parts, may well prove to be a sensible way of minimising operating costs and extending the life of your fleet. And don’t discount the rental option. With short-term contracts ranging from just a few weeks now available, it couldn’t be simpler to hire in the power you need when you want it to help maintain truck uptime.