Have you washed your batteries recently? Keeping batteries clean keeps them from suffering acid damage and from discharging prematurely. Battery washers can be an important piece of equipment for a forklift fleet.
Basics Of Battery Washing
Battery acid is not only corrosive but conductive. If it spills out during filling or from normal charging, it's important to wash it off right away. If you don't then the acid can damage the battery terminals, injure employees handling the battery, or cause a short that will cause the cell to discharge even if not in use. In addition, normal dirt on the terminals can interfere with a good connection and cause the battery to provide less power to the forklift.
Any time acid is spilled, batteries should be sent to the battery washers. Even if there is no accidental spill, cells should be washed about once a year as part of the normal maintenance process. That cleans up any unnoticed acid or corrosion as well as other contaminants that might interfere with normal function.
Using The Right Equipment
It is possible to wash a battery by hand using mild mixture of baking soda and water. While this might be fine if you have only one or two forklifts, it's not the ideal choice. It's a slow process. Since acid is corrosive, workers will have to don protective clothing and eyewear. One of the most overlooked dangers is the presence of lead and other heavy metals in the wash water.
Battery washers are a more economical choice for any but the smallest fleets. Batteries are fed into the chamber where they are thoroughly washed and dried. The wash water is run through a treatment cycle that neutralizes the acid and filters out the heavy metals for proper disposal. It's a fast, safe and inexpensive way to keep your batteries like new.
Training And Accountability
Battery washers are easy to use but, just as with any piece of equipment, employees should still receive formal training before they are put to work. Workers should be instructed in proper use as well as warned of any possible hazards. The training not only ensures the battery washers will be used correctly but can protect your company from liability in the unlikely event of injury.
It might seem like a good idea to make drivers responsible for their own batteries, but that's probably not the best choice for washing. For most fleets, the washing duties should be a single person's responsibility. Putting one person in charge increases the chance that batteries will be washed at the proper time and in the proper manner. This accountability is important to ensuring the process runs smoothly.
Battery washers are inexpensive and simple to operate. Small and medium fleets probably don't need more than one unit, and even large fleets may not need more than two. It depends on how many batteries you have and how often you plan to wash them. The small equipment investment will pay off in longer battery life and safer working conditions.