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How Your Battery Shop Saves You Money

Written by William C. Shumay Jr. for Arcon Equipment Inc., published in the Material Handling Wholesaler
copyright © William C. Shumay Jr.
For more articles, please visit http://www.arconequipment.com

Whether you are a lift truck dealer or a material handling fleet operator, you have a vested interest in turning your battery and charger matters over to a specialist. Batteries are silent, long-running power packages, but they are subject to wear, require specialized maintenance, and, improperly specified, can be the limiting factor in successful use of the truck. Since the battery is the most costly part commonly replaced in an electric truck, any misjudgments here can be expensive. A competent battery shop can save you time and money at battery replacement time.

Industrial batteries come in many shapes, sizes, and capacities. Service histories often clearly show life cycle advantages to using certain brands and certain capacities in a given plant’s operation. Rarely does a national corporate purchasing policy accommodate these considerations. Neither does it allow for an operational fact of life: Businesses need a local services expert to keep on top of battery maintenance and repair.

If a truck owner is the least uncertain about what exactly he needs for a given truck and application, it’s always best to turn the problem over to the battery man. There are many factors involved that affect cost, especially if a used/reconditioned battery is sought.

Your specialist can help you trim costs with a "minimum battery" purchase by examining the lift truck’s workload. Extensive ramp travel? High stacking? Long hours? Limited recharge time available? These are a few of the factors he will consider.

Reliability is a top priority no matter how much battery capacity you buy, and an experienced battery man will be able to direct you to batteries that have a good track record, as well as good capacity test results and adequate running time.

Even when the lift truck owner is certain of what he needs in a replacement battery, asking the battery specialist to suggest alternatives can be beneficial. Used batteries in good condition that are an exact match to the old battery may not be available. The chance to investigate the suitability of a close substitute should not be missed.

Consider all of the options

Sometimes an approach as radical as replacing a 48-volt battery with a 36-volt battery (and suitable charger) or vice-versa, may make excellent economic sense for a lift truck that can accommodate either. This possibility recently came up for a used truck dealer who brought a 48-volt battery to the battery shop for evaluation.

The 6-hr standard capacity discharge test showed a dismal picture : several cells were bad enough to make even the most limited use of this battery impractical. The dealer needed to put together a battery and charger package for a truck that would see only intermittent use, and replacing the bad cells in this battery would be too expensive for the customer’s budget.

Since the truck itself was multi-voltage capable, and a 36-volt charger as well as a 48-volt was available, the dealer was given the following proposal:
Convert the poor 48-volt battery into a good 36-volt by bypassing all but the best 18 cells. The battery weight would remain the same (for counterweight purposes), and a 36-volt charger would be used instead of the 48-volt. A relatively inexpensive fix, and a practical one for the customer’s situation. This approach might never have been considered if a battery shop had not been involved in the process.

How about the batteries out back?

A typical scenario in which the battery specialist really earns his dollar: a lift truck has a "bad" battery, the owner has a few old "unknown condition" batteries sitting around... what can be done? Chances are, the lift truck will end up with a functional power pack by the time the battery man is through. For one thing, the "bad" battery may turn out to be economically repairable. The evaluation procedure will provide that information– and the pre-test equalize charging and electrolyte adjustment will effectively "tune up" the battery in the process.

If the original battery requires very extensive repairs, costs can be reduced by salvaging suitable cells from the owner’s battery stockpile (after appropriate testing)– even to the extent of replacing most or all of the cells in the original battery case if it’s dimensions are unusual. The owner will also end up with solid information about the suitability of his battery stock for this or other lift trucks. The battery man may be able to find a buyer for any surplus batteries, as well.

Making use of the battery shop means:

  • Access to its stock of tested used cells, batteries, and chargers
  • Solid information about battery and charger suitability
  • Creative, economical approaches for repair or reconfiguration
  • Information on the full range of options to solve a battery problem

For more information, contact Arcon Equipment Inc. (440) 232-1422.

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