As lockdown begins to lift and logistics operations prepare to get back to work, rarely has it been more important to pay proper attention to forklift batteries that have been out of action for several weeks.
Hoppecke Industrial Batteries is reminding businesses to treat the live wet chemistry in lead-acid batteries with due care when bringing trucks back into use, otherwise capacity could be seriously reduced.
Stuart Browne, General Manager at Hoppecke UK, says: “These days, more than 98 per cent of warehouse fleets are electric and businesses rely on batteries to keep their supply chains moving. It’s vital to be aware that, during a prolonged period of downtime a battery will undergo changes that affect its performance.
“Follow a series of simple steps to get your forklifts up and running again and batteries should return to their full capacity relatively quickly. Take the wrong approach and you could cause irreparable damage at a time when you really need to ramp up productivity.”
Hoppecke is keen to make businesses aware that the sulphuric acid in wet lead-acid batteries (PZS/PZB) is more prone to oxidising when static. This causes sulphate deposits to collect on the plates and, as a consequence, capacity is reduced. Stratification is also likely to occur, as the acid and water separate and settle at different levels, shrinking the battery’s effective use.
To help logistics operations to revive their forklift fleets safely after lockdown, Hoppecke has drawn up some simple guidelines. Easy steps commence with a visual inspection and include controlled charging cycles and topping up, where necessary, with deionised water. However, they differ slightly depending on whether batteries have been left on charge over the past few weeks.
Adds Stuart: “By following the appropriate steps to allow batteries to charge fully, batteries should return to full power and optimum work hours in a week or two of general use. During this period we don’t recommend short or opportunity charging, as it will prove too taxing for the wet chemistry until it has had time to fully settle and recover.”
For specific advice Hoppecke advises businesses to contact their battery manufacturer or service provider. This is particularly important if they are witnessing error messages or red lights, and essential if batteries are not recovering.