Industrial Battery Maintenance
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Poorly maintained and used industrial batteries can not perform to their full potential. Proper maintenance is critical.
Industrial batteries, like all pieces of industrial equipment, require proper maintenance to prolong their service life. Battery life is always extended when proper maintenance regimens are observed. On the other hand, poorly maintained and improperly used industrial batteries cannot perform to their full potential for the duration of the warranty period.
Here are some "DOs and DON'Ts" of battery care for motive power battery users:
- DO maintain the proper electrolyte (acid) level by frequent additions of water. In general, normal city water will suffice, but if the end user has any doubts about purity of the local water supply, contact the battery supplier who will be happy to do a chemical analysis of the water. If in doubt, use distilled water.
- DON'T—that is NEVER—add sulfuric acid to the battery. If an acid spillage occurs, contact a qualified battery repair service.
- DO read the instructions provided with the battery on proper recharging of the battery. Automatic, voltage-controlled chargers will take the guesswork out of charging and there are several types available in the marketplace.
- DON'T try to save money by buying a charger which is smaller than required. This will result in an undercharged battery with significant reduction in operating life. Your battery vendor has all the information to ensure the battery and charger are precisely matched.
- DO check the charger settings and meters on a regular basis. This can be done by an in-house electrician, but should be performed every quarter by the battery service technician.
- DO make regular inspections of every battery in the fleet and address problems of acid spillage and resulting corrosion immediately. Periodic (every three months) measurement and recording of the voltage and specific gravity of each cell in the battery will give early warnings of impending problems.
- DON'T underestimate the money a trained battery repair service can save you. They are the key to long, uninterrupted battery life and successful electric truck operation.
- DON'T overcharge the battery. More is not necessarily better when it comes to recharging batteries. The best way to ensure batteries are not being overcharged is to periodically (once a month) check the temperature of the center cell on a battery at the end of regular charge. If the temperature of the electrolyte is more than 36° F above the ambient temperature, call your battery technician— there is a problem.
- DO keep regular records on the maintenance of batteries. For instance, keep a log of every time the battery is watered; temperature checks at the end of charge, etc. These records will be invaluable when it comes to predicting when battery replacement is going to be necessary.
- DON'T overdischarge batteries. Most battery manufacturers warranty their batteries for up to 1.500 cycles of charge and discharge provided, among other things, that the battery is never discharged beyond 80%. This normally coincides with an eight hour shift. But trucks fitted with extra equipment such as clamps, high speed lifts, etc. will need a higher capacity battery to ensure the battery is not discharged beyond 80%. Lift truck interrupts are available to detect the correct discharge level and are recommended by battery manufacturers as a means of ensuring batteries are not over discharged.
- DO replace a battery with capacity that has fallen below 80% of its rated capacity. Continuing to operate the battery can be false economy since costly damage can be done to a truck's electric motor and electronics.
- DON'T place metal objects on a battery. Such objects can cause a short circuit between adjacent cells and result in possible injury to those close to the battery. Similarly, people charged with caring for or operating batteries should not wear any metal jewelry.