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8 Forklift Fleet Cost Cutting Strategies

Posted on August 26, 2014 19:44 by Admin

Many businesses are running on razor thin profit margins, and even small savings in forklift fleet costs can make a huge difference to the company's bottom line. There are many ways to increase productivity or cut costs, but let's focus on just forklift battery maintenance. How can you optimize fleet operations to save money?

1) Centralize Your Recharge Area - Some warehouses shove the recharge area off in some forgotten corner. The problem is that requires trucks to travel maximum distance to get to a recharge area. By putting the recharge area in a central location, workers spend less time on travel and more time working.

2) Use Space Efficiently - Within your recharge area, use specialized battery storage systems to maximize your space. You may be able to do the same work in a smaller area, giving more space for other warehouse operations.

3) Go Get The Batteries - During forklift battery maintenance, rather than having forklifts drive into the recharge area it may be more efficient to have a battery lifter go out into the warehouse. Carry fresh batteries to a forklift and swap a discharged cell out in a few minutes. This prevents traffic jams in your recharge area as multiple trucks try to get new batteries at the same time.

4) Use The Right Equipment - Speaking of battery lifters, they are a more efficient method of moving batteries than other equipment such as hand trucks or forklifts. They can swap out batteries much faster than any worker can by hand, plus of course many forklift batteries are nearly impossible to lift without help.

5) Observe Maintenance Schedules - Proper forklift battery maintenance will extend the life of your batteries. That means more work on one charge and fewer batteries bought per year. Charging batteries when they are deeply discharged, and leaving them in the recharge area long enough to maintain a full charge, reduces sulfation inside the battery and gives the cell a much longer working life.

6) Buy The Best Equipment - Cheap equipment is going to cost you more in the long run due to frequent repairs, accidents and replacements. The equipment you use for forklift battery maintenance should be the highest quality you can find -- such as Multi-Shifter lifts, of course.

7) Train Workers Properly - Don't do forklift battery maintenance by instinct. An overall maintenance plan will ensure all units get the attention they need and that work is done efficiently. Part of a plan is training. You can't expect workers to instinctively know the best way to use equipment, remove batteries or work safely. Take the time to teach everyone proper skills.

8) Be Safe - This is worth an article on its own. In short we will say that the correct PPE, safety systems such as eyewashes, a well-ventilated recharge area, and properly maintained equipment are all key components to keeping workers safe and productive.

Invest the time today to create a system that allows you to address forklift battery maintenance more efficiently and save money.

10 Forklift Battery Changing Tips

Posted on July 9, 2014 19:45 by Admin

Changing forklift batteries rather than recharging in place is the better option for most fleets. The use of a battery lifter speeds up the process and makes the work environment safer, and here are a few tips to get the most out of your equipment.

1) Use Dedicated Battery Lifters - Batteries are heavy and full of corrosive acid. Don't remove them by hand, and don't try to remove or transport them with anything other than dedicated equipment.

2) Train Workers - Just as with any other equipment, no worker should use a battery lifter without instruction. These devices are fairly safe and intuitive to use, but that is no reason not to conduct proper training.

3) Set The Brakes - The last thing you want is for a vehicle to start moving during a battery transfer. Make sure to set the brakes in both the forklift and the battery lifter before removing the battery for transport.

4) Wear Proper PPE - Even the safest battery handling equipment can fail at inopportune times. Workers should wear steel-toed boots to protect against injuries from dropped batteries. While handling batteries they should wear chemical-resistant gloves and non-vented safety goggles to protect against acid burns.

5) Secure Batteries For Transport - Since batteries are so heavy for their size, it's easy to underestimate how much damage they can do if they shift. Once an unsecured battery starts moving, it has a lot of momentum to cause damage or injuries. Always double check that batteries are property secured before moving the battery lifter.

6) Designate A Charging Area - Batteries should be charged in a dedicated area with limited access. The area should be well ventilated because batteries release volatile gasses during recharging.

7) Fully Charge Batteries - When it comes to charging batteries, "close enough" is not close enough. A fully-charged battery will not only have a longer operating life, but the gassing phase that occurs towards the end of the charge mixes the water and acid in the cell.

8) Control The Temperature - If your forklifts are used outside and you get extreme temperatures, your charging station should be a climate controlled area located indoors. Never charge a battery that is below 32°F (0°C) or hotter than about 120°F (50°C).

9) Size The Charge Appropriately - Make sure the charger is the same voltage and amperage as the battery. Don't use a 36V charger on a 24V battery. Amperage doesn't have to be exact but should be within 10%.

10) Maintain The Maintenance Equipment - Give your battery lifters and other battery handling equipment the same attention you give your forklifts. Conduct regular inspections of the equipment, follow all maintenance schedules, and repair or replace any equipment that isn't working correctly.

Follow these simple tips to keep your workers safe, keep your fleet running, and keep your battery replacement costs low.

Summer Forklift Battery Care

Posted on May 3, 2013 01:22 by Admin

Most people know that batteries are affected by temperature. Start your car on a cold day and the starter groans as it struggles to get enough power; in some areas of the country people install battery warmers to be able to start their cars at all. However it's not just the cold. Brutal summer heat can cause your fleet to grind to a halt without proper forklift battery maintenance.

Stay Hydrated

Checking the electrolyte level is a standard part of forklift battery maintenance but it's especially important during the summer. High temperatures can cause the water to evaporate quickly and require workers to top off the battery more frequently. Low fluid levels cause the lead plates to erode more quickly and will permanently shorten the battery's useful life. Top off only with distilled water, not tap water and not battery acid.

Many forklift batteries are either low-maintenance or no-maintenance, but be warned these are not the same thing. A no-maintenance cell is designed to be sealed for the life of the unit and never opened. A low-maintenance cell is designed to be checked less often than a typical unit, but should still be checked periodically to be sure electrolytes cover the plates.

Watch Recharge Temperature

Check your manufacturer's forklift battery maintenance documentation for the maximum temperature for the battery. If the temperature exceeds this, the electrolyte could overflow and damage the battery--not to mention anyone standing nearby. The buildup of pressure could even cause the battery to explode.

Batteries may heat up a little during charging and that's normal. However in the heat of summer, the batteries are hotter to start with so the heat of recharging could push the cell past the critical point. Ensure the charging area is well ventilated both to keep the air as cool as possible and to vent any explosive gases. Never leave a charging battery in direct sunlight. If a battery does overheat, it is likely the battery will be permanently damaged and should be disposed of.

Don't Over-Discharge

Manufacturers typically recommend that batteries discharge by at least 40% before recharge for maximum battery life. However, too much discharge is worse than too little. As a rule don't let a cell discharge by more than 80%. Your forklift battery maintenance schedule should include a recharge schedule ensuring that, even with heavy use, no battery discharges below the 20% mark. Why? Because discharged batteries heat up.

An over-discharged cell will get even hotter during use and during the recharge process, increasing the chance the unit will pass the critical temperature that makes the cell an accident waiting to happen. If a battery does over-discharge then monitor it carefully during the recharge process. If it shows any signs of overheating or leaking, then dispose of it.

Proper forklift battery maintenance is a bit more challenging in the heat of summer, but as long as you treat your batteries carefully they will give you a long life of reliable service.

The Ugly Truth About Forklift Batteries

Posted on March 6, 2013 20:39 by Admin

We're willing to bet your forklifts are powered by lead-acid industrial battery systems. These batteries have come under fire because they have serious shortcomings, but they also have powerful advantages.

The Ugly Truth

Environmentalists hate lead-acid industrial battery systems. The lead is a potentially devastating environmental toxin. A gram of lead could contaminate the local water table, introducing problems from organ failure to brain damage to the local population. The acid, in addition to being a dangerous corrosive that endangers workers, is also damaging to the environment.

Ecological woes aren't the only problem. Lead-acid cells are extremely heavy compared to other battery technologies providing the same power. They cannot be stored without regular maintenance, and even with meticulous care they "wear out" and need to be changed regularly. Battery replacement is an ongoing expense for any forklift fleet.

Does this mean we are about to pack up our business and move on? No. Lead-acid batteries also have a number of advantages.

The Not-Ugly Truth

If we had to pick one factor that drives the popularity of lead-acid industrial battery systems, we'd pick cost without hesitation. Lead-acid batteries use inexpensive materials, are easy to manufacture, and are also the most recycled item in the country, which cuts manufacturing costs even more. Cost is always an important motivator to any business.

However "cheap" is not their only advantage. Although they require a trickle charge during storage, the lose power more slowly than other battery technologies. When called upon they are capable of high rates of discharge. The technology is simple and durable. One big advantage of using old technology is that it's well understood.

Most feel the benefits are greater than the liabilities but there are alternatives for businesses who want them.

The Other Truth

Some fleet managers are replacing traditional acid-soaked lead industrial battery systems with a technology called absorbed glass mat, or AGM. In these batteries, the acid is stored in mats of woven glass fibers. The glass doesn't corrode and this lengthens the battery life. The cells are sealed because they lose almost no water. Why don't more people use them? That goes back to traditional lead-acid batteries' biggest advantage: price. AGM batteries cost at least twice what the older technology does.

The other common alternative is to abandon electric-powered forklifts entirely and go with propane. Although propane has some benefits it has a number of problems: explosive tanks, toxic exhaust and ongoing fuel costs to name a few. For many fleet managers, good old battery power is the preferred choice.

It goes back to the old adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Lead-acid industrial battery systems continue to provide the power needed at a reasonable price and that is why this ancient technology is still a vital part of a modern industrial setting.

You may think that electric forklifts don't pollute since they don't put out emissions like gasoline-powered vehicles do. In fact there are several ways forklifts can damage the environment, but also at least one way that Multi-Shifter industrial wastewater treatment products can help you capture contaminants and dispose of them properly.

Washing Batteries

Terminal corrosion interferes with battery function, shortens battery life and can cause worker injury. Washing off this corrosion by hand is tedious and dangerous. Multi-Shifter battery wash cabinets automate the washing process, freeing up your workers for more important tasks. Our wash cabinets have one important feature in common: they collect the wash water for industrial wastewater treatment.

It may seem obvious that battery wash water contains acid, but that's not the real danger. The water also contains heavy metals such as lead and copper, and even a small amount of these metals can contaminate thousands of gallons of water. Multi-Shifter filtration systems provide industrial wastewater treatment that removes the heavy metals and returns the clean water back to the battery washer for reuse. The metals and other contaminants can be disposed of properly, plus the wash process uses less water. The result is a clean and efficient battery with no environmental contamination.

Washing Trucks

Batteries leak out small amounts of acid and this can cause corrosion of forklift parts over time. Forklifts used in outdoor environments can pick up a lot of mud and debris and this can foul wheels or other moving parts. When you wash your forklifts, you need to recover the water for industrial wastewater treatment. You want to avoid washing any strange chemicals from the forklifts down the drain and you also want to keep the detergent out of the environment. Even biodegradable detergents can still be toxic for months before they break down.

No, Multi-Shifter doesn't offer convenient forklift wash cabinets nor do we know of any company that does. We recommend using a commercial washing service since they will have the facilities to collect and treat the large amount of water used in vehicle washing.

Forklift Fluids

Electric forklifts can leak oil, hydraulic fluid or any number of other dangerous chemicals. The leaks are often very slow, but every drop that spills on the ground is another drop that finds itself in the environment. Maintenance should check vehicle fluid levels routinely to keep the fleet in top shape and any vehicle that is losing fluids quickly should be taken into the shop so the leak can be repaired.

If you will be storing forklifts for a long time, put drip pans or absorbent mats beneath each vehicle. These collect any errant drips so the fluids can be disposed of in a safe and environmentally-responsible manner.

Multi-Shifter battery wash cabinets and filtration systems provide industrial wastewater treatment for the leading source of electric forklift pollution. They are an investment in a healthier fleet and a cleaner planet.