When carrying out a Thorough Examination of electric lifting equipment, checking the safety of the battery is a vital part. From electric counterbalance forklifts to reach trucks and powered pallet trucks, the battery is the power source and as such needs to be in safe working order.
A battery contains some very explosive gases whilst charging, hydrogen being one of them, therefore it is crucial that the charging area be well ventilated. Keeping the battery in a cool environment will help to reduce the risk of a battery becoming too hot and in worst-case scenarios, exploding.
During an inspection, batteries water levels will also be checked. When a battery is on a charge with low levels of water, the battery temperature increases, therefore venting more gases. As well as keeping the battery cool during charging, keeping batteries topped up to the correct water levels will prolong battery life. With longer battery life and increased productivity, you should expect at least 5 hours of power (from a 48v battery) with the correct water levels. This can reduce significantly, as much as 50%, if a battery has low water levels.
With all that current it is crucial that the battery cables and terminals are free of corrosion and 100% insulated. If battery cables short to the chassis or the positive and negative short, can result in sparks and in extreme cases cause the whole forklift to catch fire. It is also important the battery plug handle is present, this prevents the operator from pulling on the cables to unplug the battery from the truck when putting it on charge.
Checking the battery container in which the battery is fitted is just as important as checking the battery itself. Battery acid can leak and corrode the container which could result in the battery falling through the bottom of the box.
Lastly, keeping the top of the battery dust and debris will stop the cross-tracking of voltage between cells. Although the tracking voltage is normally low it can still affect the running time and life span of a battery. This is much worse when the battery is overfilled and the dust turns to mud.
A 48v battery can cost around £4,000 and individual cells around £300, so ensuring your battery is safe, clean and well looked after should be part of your pre-use daily inspection. You can find a checklist on what to look out for here.