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Forklift battery maintenance is a crucial element of maintaining your fleet. Your goal is to have your equipment functioning when needed, which usually means for an entire work shift. If you have a 24 hour operation, you need to manage the battery efficiency of your whole fleet around the clock. This means that you need a systematic program of battery maintenance to ensure that each unit is charged and filled with water when needed.


Proper Battery Charging


Batteries are built to last for a specific number of charges over a long life. For maximum efficiency, you need to have a schedule set up for charging them - and stick to it. There are several basic rules for battery charging to keep in mind.


  • Charge your battery when it has dipped below a 30% charge, or after an eight hour shift.
  •  Heavy work demands? Do not over-discharge the battery to 80% or more of available power. A dead battery can take several days to recharge; letting it get to this stage can be damaging to the electronics of the forklift and lead to motor failure, stuck contacts, and burnt brushes and armatures.
  • Charge a battery for a full charge, rather than interrupting the charge cycle.
  • To prevent using up battery cycles, do not do quick or opportunity charges for an hour or two.
  • Charge batteries in a well-ventilated area in case of explosion from oxygen and hydrogen gasses released during charging.


Fluids And Forklift Battery Maintenance


Your battery works because flat lead plates are immersed in a pool of electrolyte of water and sulfuric acid. Maintaining the proper water level in your battery is essential.


  • Approximately every 10 charges, you should top off the battery - more often if you are using a reconditioned battery. Add water only at the end of the charge. Make sure to use clean water.
  • Equalize your batteries regularly, which means that every 5 to 10 cycles you need to assure that the water and acid in the battery are balanced so that the unit can hold a charge. Most industrial batteries have an equalizing setting with the specifications.
  •  Do not overfill the battery, as some degassing takes place at the end of the charge cycle. Also, overfilling can lead to acid loss, overheating, and more service visits.
  • To prevent chemical buildup around the terminals, wash batteries regularly to keep connections between battery terminals and cables strong.
  • If the battery overheats discontinue use immediately.


Store Batteries With Care


Battery charging can be done on board, but large forklift fleets usually rely on storage racks. To preserve the batteries, it is important to store them at the proper temperature which is well under 113° F in an area that has good air circulation.


Properly charging, filling, and storing batteries will ensure that they are in good condition and ready for use when you need them. For more information about battery maintenance, charging, and storage, contact us today. We produce a complete line of battery handling equipment and can help you select the right products for your fleet needs.


Developing A Battery Management System

Posted on June 25, 2015 21:02 by Admin

A good battery management system can help a fleet manager save time and money. A sound systemic approach helps keep batteries from underperforming or failing early in the life cycle, can decrease the number of batteries needed, and reduce operating costs.

Change Batteries At The Right Time To Save Time And Money

'When' you change the batteries in your forklift fleet can actually be a cost saving step. Instead of changing batteries on forklifts and trucks during shift changes, changing them at the proper time can save time - up to 30 minutes of productive time per forklift each day. This reduction in maintenance costs and down time spent charging can increase the efficiency of your operations. This reduction can make a system virtually pay for itself. Some industry experts have estimated that the expense can be recovered in nine months.

Safely Rotate Batteries

Of course, properly rotating out the batteries is also an important step. Using a high quality battery changing system reduces the amount of time needed to change out heavy forklift batteries. It also makes the changing process safer for the employee and it reduces the chances that your expensive battery can become damaged by improper handling.

Importance Of Battery Washing

Battery washing needs to be part of a management system as well. When it comes down to it, your forklift battery is sheets of lead soaked in acid. This chemical reaction can result in build up around the terminals, but washing them regularly can extend the life of the expensive battery and increase the time between charges, which decreases down time and increases productivity. Washing also increases safety by reducing the likelihood of chemical burns from acid build up. Regular washing can also lessen the chances that corrosion will damage the connections between battery terminals and the cables.

Proper Storage And Charging Systems

Proper charging and storage systems are also a factor to be considered in your management system. Charging needs to be done in a well ventilated area. Even if batteries are being charged on-board, ventilation still needs to be taken into consideration. Oxygen and hydrogen gases can be released during charging and these are potentially explosive. Overcharging can also increase this hazard.

Storage racks need to be inspected regularly for signs of corrosion or damage to welds and fasteners. Also watch to make sure that rollers stay functional and that all stops and other components stay in good shape and serviceable. Always make sure that your storage rack is appropriate for your needs; if the batteries you are going to be storing are too heavy for the rack you’re using, the long term costs will be greater than you expect. It’s also an increased safety hazard. Keep this in mind if you purchase new equipment that may have a bigger, heavier battery than your current equipment uses.

Personal Protective Equipment

Lastly, always ensure that your battery management system includes the proper protective equipment for your workers. Personal protective equipment (PPE) can included eye protection, chemical resistant gloves and chemical resistant aprons. Nonconductive tools and steel toed boots are also helpful. OSHA regulations may require measures like eye wash stations or chemical neutralizers be nearby as well.

A visit to the Multi-Shifter website can help you find the things you need to make your battery management system safe, effective and efficient.

Forklift fleet managers can save a lot of time and money by implementing effective battery handling systems. It's important to have the right equipment and that the components all work together in a coordinated fashion. There are three basic types of materials handling equipment you'll need: battery lifts, battery storage units and battery washers.

Battery Lift

Electric forklifts are commonly charged by plugging the truck into the wall. While this might seem convenient, it's not the best choice in most cases. The truck is out of commission during charging, and the battery receives a shallow charge that increases sulfation and shortens battery life. The better option is to remove a deeply discharged battery, replace it with a charged unit, and take the empty cell to a recharge area.

Forklift batteries are very heavy so should not be removed through brute force. A battery lift is a piece of materials handling equipment designed to remove batteries and transport them to a recharge area. The lift not only reduces the chance if injury through muscle strain but also protects workers from acid splashes and other dangers.

Battery Storage

Once the battery has been removed, you'll need a place to keep it while it is charging. Standard industrial shelving might seem like an adequate storage system but it's not. As stated before, batteries are heavy, much heavier than you might think. Shelves may collapse under the weight. Batteries leak small amounts of acid that can corrode shelves if they are not treated for acid, weakening the structure and increasing the chance of an accident. You need specialized materials handling equipment.

Battery storage systems are built to handle the weight and potential corrosion that comes from forklift batteries. Not only that but many systems include recharging ports so you can plug batteries in right there rather than running cables all over the recharge area.

Battery Washers

The final piece of materials handling equipment is a wash unit. Forklift batteries build up corrosion that needs to be cleaned off. The corrosion can damage the battery, the forklift and even workers handling the cells. It can also cause the batteries to discharge slowly when not in use, forcing them to be recharged often.

Automated washers clean the batteries of corrosion, dirt and other contaminants. Workers load the batteries, push a button and wait for the cycle to finish. Many washers include water collection systems that neutralize the acid and separate out the small amounts of heavy metals given off in the wash water. The cleaned water can be recycled for the next wash. This cuts your costs as well as making it easier for you to dispose of the lead, mercury and other heavy metals safely.

These three basic types of materials handling equipment should form the core of any electric forklift management system. Invest in the right tools today to save you money on forklift maintenance and operation for years to come.

Is Multi-Shifter Equipment Worth The Cost?

Posted on August 6, 2012 22:17 by Admin

Our customers sometimes ask us what kind of value our materials handling equipment adds to their operation. That's a fair question. Before spending money on battery lifts or battery storage system, you should ask yourself if the equipment is going to provide a good return on your investment. Here are just three ways Multi-Shifter improves your fleet operations.

Do More Work

The standard way to run a forklift is to run the truck until the battery is low and then plug it in until recharged. However when that truck is recharging, it's not working. Would you put up with a driver who loafed around half the day? No. So why put up with trucks that do that.

Rather than taking trucks off the line, use Multi-Shifter materials handling equipment to service the forklift in the field. When a forklift battery runs low, send out a battery lift to pull the dead battery and quickly install a new one. The truck is out of service for minutes rather than hours and can get back to work in no time. Or maybe you are already doing battery swaps but doing them by hand. If you use Multi-Shifter materials handling equipment, a worker can swap out far more batteries in a day than one doing it manually.

Spend Less Money

Forklifts that idle during recharge don't just cut productivity. They also cost money as you buy vehicles you don't need. Let's say you need 10 trucks in operation but you know 1/3 of your fleet will be in recharge at any given time. That means you need to buy 15 forklifts just to keep 10 in operation. That doesn't seem like smart spending. Battery swaps mean you can buy just 10 trucks--maybe 11 to have a spare in case one breaks down--and greatly reduce capital expenses.

Some fleets make the mistake of giving batteries a quick charge to get a forklift back in service more quickly. These brief charges create sulfation and shorten battery life. However if you use materials handling equipment to transport and store the batteries in a dedicated recharge station you can take the time to give them full charges and increase their useful life.

Keep Workers Safe

Forklift batteries can be dangerous if mishandled. However you can protect workers from electric shock, acid burns and physical injury by using materials handling equipment to remove and transport batteries rather than doing it by hand. Multi-Shift equipment has been designed with worker safety as our top priority. We keep the operators as far from the battery as possible to minimize contact with dangerous hazards. Our lifts transport the batteries securely, making it far less likely a battery can fall to the floor injuring someone or cracking open to spray acid everywhere.

In answer to the question: yes, Multi-Shifter materials handling equipment is well worth the cost. Contact us for more information on how our products improve productivity, lower costs and keep your workers safe.

Forklift Battery Storage Advice

Posted on June 8, 2012 20:13 by Admin

Multi-Shifter's sturdy battery storage systems make it easy to keep an inventory of batteries available for immediate use so your forklifts never have to stop for a charge. By implementing a few smart practices, you can extend the life of your forklift batteries and save money.

Create The Proper Environment

Batteries can be dangerous and should be stored in dedicated areas used for nothing else. The storage area should be kept cool because stored batteries slowly lose their charge over time, and this loss is faster at high temperatures. How cool? Most manufacturers recommend storing batteries at or below 60º F, but even a typical room temperature of 70-80º is fine as long as you keep the batteries charged. Although colder is better, don't allow the electrolyte to freeze as this will ruin the battery.

High humidity increases discharge rate so put the battery storage systems in a dry area. Keep the room well ventilated to prevent buildup of flammable gasses. Natural ventilation will usually do the trick, but if the room doesn't have good airflow you might need to put in a ventilation system.

Dangers To Avoid

Batteries emit hydrogen gas, which is why ventilation is so important. Keep ignition sources away from your battery storage systems. This means no sparks, no open flames, and no smoking in the battery room. Keep circuit boxes and electrical equipment out of the area, with the exception of battery chargers and even these should not be stored in the same room as the batteries.

Other dangers occur if a metallic object such as a screwdriver or a wire should fall across the terminals and cause a short. At the very least, this causes the battery to discharge rapidly and could ruin the cell. A more serious danger is that a worker might touch the metal item, say to remove it, and get a powerful and dangerous shock. Finally, the sparks from such a short could cause ignite the hydrogen gas and create an explosion.

Care And Feeding Of Batteries

Lead-acid batteries don't need a lot of attention while in storage but battery storage systems should be inspected periodically to keep the batteries in top shape. Even if you follow the advice we've given, the batteries will still discharge slowly while in storage. This is fine as long as the charge stays above 70% but if it falls below this it can damage the battery. Bring in chargers to top off batteries with low charges.

Inspect batteries for damage or a buildup of deposits around the terminals. Remove and dispose of damaged batteries, and clean dirty terminals to keep batteries in top shape. Check electrolyte levels and top off any cells that seem low. Use only distilled water to fill batteries. Don't use tap water, and don't try to add more acid.

Use these tips and Multi-Shifter battery storage systems can maintain your stored batteries for two years or longer.