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Sep 5, 2014

How and When to Replace Electric Forklift Batteries

The average battery life for an electric forklift is about 5 years. The forklift itself can last for many years beyond that. Now, the good news is you don't have to replace the forklift every 5 years. Just replace the battery, and you get many more years of work with the forklift.

However, replacing batteries is not the same as replacing tires. Batteries are bigger and (much!) heavier. In an electric forklift, the battery can account for up to 3,000 pounds of the unit's entire weight!

Since more & more customers opt for electric forklifts, I want to talk a little about battery replacement. This month’s “News from the Forklift Boss” will tell you how to determine if a forklift battery is dying, and how we replace them for you.

When to Replace an Electric Forklift’s Battery

The "every 5 years" rule of thumb isn’t iron-clad. If you take good care of an electric forklift, the battery can easily last beyond that.

Sometimes though, the battery decides to give out early. This usually happens when the forklift is worked too hard and not given regular service.

When the battery begins to die, it shows signs similar to a dying car battery. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Your battery’s charge degrades to only a few hours of operational use.
  • You have to charge the battery more than once a day to get a full shift’s work out of the forklift.
  • You see corrosion buildup on the battery case.
  • The battery emits a sulfurous “rotten eggs” smell.
  • The battery starts smoking while charging or in use. (This is very dangerous and can cause a fire. Replace the battery immediately if this happens!)

A Cromer technician providing regular maintenance will alert you to any signs of battery problems. We do not recommend continuing to use a forklift whose battery shows these signs. Replace the battery first.

How the Replacement Process Works

As I mentioned, battery replacement is more involved than fixing tires. Order a new battery when your electric forklift begins showing signs (loss of charge is usually the first sign operators report). We can arrange for a loaner battery within a few days’ window, if you can’t afford any downtime while waiting for the new battery to arrive.

Here’s how the replacement process goes.

  1. When the customer orders a replacement, the new battery is shipped directly to your place of business.
  2. Delivery takes approximately 5-7 working days from time of order.
  3. Once the battery arrives, a trained battery technician will install it in the forklift. No workers are permitted in the area where replacement occurs; we must use another forklift to (safely) lift the new battery into place.
  4. The old battery will be removed and disposed of at no cost to you. Cromer technicians will bring it to a smelter for recycling.

Not much different from changing a forklift’s tire, right?

SAFETY WARNING: If a forklift’s battery is losing charge, you may experience trouble handling the unit. Response time may slow down. The operator may experience jerking. There is a slight possibility of the forklift tipping over when rounding corners, if this occurs. If any operator finds their electric forklift is stalling out or feels sluggish, they should stop driving it immediately and notify a supervisor.

We at Cromer like electric forklifts. They’re cleaner and more efficient (in most cases) than LPG trucks. Replacing their battery is not a small task...but it does extend the forklift's operating life for a long time.

See you next month!

Marshall Cromer, The Forklift Boss
Cromer Material Handling

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