Run your fleet for less, part 1: How to make forklift batteries last longer

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Run your fleet for less, part 1: How to make forklift batteries last longer

Run your fleet for less, part 1: How to make forklift batteries last longer Dec. 05, 2023

Run your fleet for less, part 1: How to make forklift batteries last longer

Fleet managers have a challenging task keeping their fleets running optimally, while keeping a handle on costs at the same time. In this short series, we will reveal three cost-saving methods that fleet managers might not have considered before. These tips will help you discover new ways to save a considerable amount of money each year.

In this post we’ll cover the first part: battery management.

Save batteries, save money

A fleet manager’s responsibility concerns not only vehicles, but also batteries. Though often overlooked, batteries account for a significant chunk of your budget. Proper forklift battery management will prolong battery lifetimes, avoiding the cost of buying extra batteries during the contract period.

Want to extend the service life of your forklift batteries? First, you need to know two things: how your batteries are being charged, and whether the type of battery suits your operation.

Answering these questions can be harder than you think. That’s why we developed Toyota I_Site with the Explorer package, which gives you instant access to a host of useful battery data via the I_Site portal.



How/when are your batteries charged?

In practice, it is almost impossible to monitor how and when all batteries are charged. But with I_Site, you can view charge/discharge cycle data for each truck battery. This will quickly flag up inefficient battery handling, allowing you to take measures when needed, such as offering extra training on battery management to your forklift operators.

Monitoring battery usage at fleet level will also help you improve energy efficiency. 


Are you using the right type of battery?

Our fleet management system automatically detects the battery technology used. The Explorer package can also help you select the right battery type for your operations: lead-acid or lithium-ion.


How to get the best out of your batteries?

Battery management best practice varies widely depending on the type of battery.

If using lead-acid batteries:

Lead-acid batteries should be charged when they reach 20% discharge. This will keep the battery life expectancy at five years or more. The life expectancy is affected by the charging frequency. If the battery is frequently charged for short periods before it reaches 20% – something known as opportunity charging – the battery lifetime will decrease drastically, and you will need to buy an extra battery much sooner.

If using lithium-ion batteries:

Lithium-ion batteries are more flexible when it comes to charging. Unlike lead-acid batteries, the life expectancy of a lithium-ion battery is not affected by charging frequency. In fact, opportunity charging is encouraged to maintain the uptime of your operation. Using I_Site Explorer will enable you to check that your batteries are always fully charged when the trucks are idle. Doing this will ensure you don’t end up having to charge when the truck is needed, wasting valuable production time.

 With the right type of battery, charged optimally, you can use your trucks to full capacity while saving energy and costs. It’s a win-win.


Hawker Powersource - Signs it’s time to replace your Forklift Battery


Five Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Motive Power Battery


When it comes to power, energy = currency. For every amp per hour of battery usage, there’s a price to be paid—and not just in financial costs; but also in battery degradation, decreased performance, increased maintenance labor, potential operational downtime, and more.

Proactively keeping your motive power battery fleet well-maintained and ready for work is the best defense against unforeseen downtime and loss. But aside from diagnostic tools or motive power management software, how can you tell if your motive power battery is on the decline?

At HAWKER®, we’re dedicated to the study, innovation, and mastery of all things motive power. That mission includes educating industry professionals on common industry challenges and developments.


Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Forklift Battery - And How You Can Use the Opportunity to Your Advantage

1 – Additional Charging Time


One of the first and most noticeable signs of impending battery failure occurs during charging. If batteries seem to take longer than normal to get a full recharge it may mean the battery is reaching the end of its useful life. Excessive heat and a really strong sulphur smell while a battery is on charge are other signs the battery probably should be replaced. A battery power study can reveal if the battery is taking too long to charge and if a replacement is needed.


2 - Progressively Lower Run Times


Similar to excess charging times, progressively lower run times  may mean a battery is reaching the end of its useful life. If being charged and equalized properly, a forklift battery should provide a full day’s worth of power. Forklift operators should be the first to tell you if the battery is not lasting.

Here again, a small change in run time for an average battery shouldn’t be too alarming. But if you notice that one battery, in particular, has to be recharged sooner and sooner, it’s time to look at your battery data.


3 – Corrosion


As with batteries of nearly every other kind, corrosion is a bad sign. Your lead acid battery uses diluted sulfuric acid to cause and control a chemical reaction that’s responsible for the power produced. Certain practices (such as over-filling the battery with water or a failure to regularly clean the battery) can cause sulfuric acid to reach the battery’s terminals, resulting in corrosion.

Corrosion limits the charge your battery both receives and delivers. Because of its literal “corrosive” nature, sulfuric acid can permanently damage a battery by the time it’s become noticeable. You may clean some batteries on a case-by-case basis, but the safest option (for both your bottom line and your forklift) may be an outright replacement.


4 – Physical Damage


At HAWKER ®, we build our batteries to be reliable and durable, but no amount of long-term shock or vibration resistance can make a battery invincible. Even regular operation can be jarring in the hard-working, hard-lifting world of material handling. Physical damage to at least some of your batteries is a matter of “when,” not “if.”

You can’t always reverse blunt force, deep gouges, corrosion, or other damage. Additionally, batteries with these types of damage aren’t always safe to continue using. Even if they are safe and functioning within “normal” parameters, they’re still a potential long-term liability. At any moment, damaged batteries could fail or, worse, leak, spill, or spew—further damaging your forklift or its operator in the process.

To avoid unexpected downtime or accidents, replacement is recommended.


5 - General Lifespan Estimates


Every manufacturer provides a recommended lifespan for their motive power products. At HAWKER®, we generally recommend 1,500-2,000 cycles with an 80% DoD (depth of discharge). 

If battery performance remains strong within its cycle life, then it can continue to be used. But extending use beyond the manufacturer’s recommended margins could result in loss of warranty coverage, forklift damages, unexpected downtime, increased maintenance labor, and pose a potential safety risk to your operator. At best, you can expect diminishing returns with an increased likelihood of outright failure. At worst, you could experience serious downtime with damage to your forklift and its operator.


Making the Most of Diminishing Batteries with HAWKER®


The temptation to make the most of your investments is powerful, but it helps if you see a diminishing battery as an opportunity rather than a misfortune. Newer, better battery technologies such as Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) and Lithium-Ion are available today, complete with high-frequency smart chargers, advanced diagnostic tools and data management systems. Placing newer technologies in your battery fleet can give your operation the advantage it needs to keep succeeding in a competitive world. 


Get the Most Out of Your New Battery with Hawker Powersource, Inc. 

With each diminishing battery, managers are faced with the crucial choice of which battery technology they want to replace with and manufacturer they want to trust. 

As a global industry leader in quality, performance, technology, and innovation, HAWKER® understands the motive power industry and knows the challenges facing you and your customers. To ensure we are making the best recommendation for your operation, our team of experts will evaluate your entire operation – from productivity to energy usage; we’ll consider your unique operating conditions and special application needs, and analyze our findings to provide a specific, customized system solution for improving your material handling productivity to optimize efficiency and minimize costs.

Contact HAWKER®, or find a HAWKER® representative near you, and harness your power!

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