Forklift batteries should be checked regularly to ensure they are fit and safe to use. The frequency of these checks depends on the application and frequency of use and charging. The following is a checklist is intended as a guide and should be adapted to your particular applications.
| Forklift Battery Components
Before commencing with a battery inspection it is worth understanding the different components of a forklift battery, read our guide for a detailed explanation of the different forklift battery parts.
| Battery Inspection
Before every use a forklift battery should be inspected for the following:
Electrolyte Levels. Check the electrolyte level in the cells to ensure that there is sufficient liquid to cover the cell plates. It is best to check the levels at the end of charge and the battery should be topped accordingly. Read our full guide on adding water to a forklift battery.
Inspect Cables and Connectors. Inspect the battery cables and forklift battery connectors for signs of damage, heating/melting or swelling.
During use it is easy to drop a connector or trap the harness in a battery cover. This can damage it exposing the metal cable or contacts. Check the cable insulation for signs of damage
If there are any signs of melting then do not use the battery until it has had a professional inspection. It could be a sign of a severe fault and may cause a fire.
Inspect the connector contacts for signs of pitting. This is caused by arcing on the contact tips if the battery is disconnect from the charger whilst charging.
Check that the cable is securely fixed in the connector contacts. It is normal for the contacts to be crimped onto the cable or to a lesser degree that may be soldered.
Swelling on flexible inter-cell connectors, this is due to acid ingress if the cable is damaged. Swollen inter-cell connectors should be replaced.
Vent caps or battery filling system. Each of the battery cells will be fitted with a vent cap or a battery filling system. Check to ensure these are securely in place and not damaged.
With a battery filling system each of the batter cells will be installed with a watering valve, each valve will be connected in series by tubing. Check the valves and tubing for damage.
Battery Electrolyte Monitors. Most modern batteries come with a electrolyte monitor installed. The monitor will have 2 small cables attaching it to cell terminals. Check the monitor and cables for damage or signs of corrosion.
Battery Cleanliness. Most forklift work in dusty environments. During charging water vapour can be given off which can settle on the cell lids and cause any dust to “stick”. over time this can be sufficient to cause “tracking” across the battery. Over time the tracking causes the battery to self discharge.
Specific Gravity and Cell Voltage. The specific gravity and voltage of each cell should be periodically checked and recorded. Both the specific gravity and voltage of the cells should be taken after the battery has been charged.
The specific gravity should be in the region of 1.275 to 1.295. When the battery is discharged the specific gravity will decrease to around 1.100.
The open circuit voltage (OCV) of a cell when fully charged should be 2.1v.
Equalization Charge. The battery should at a suitable interval be given an equalisation charge. An equalisation charge is in effect a deliberate over charge of the battery and lasts for an additional 3 hours on top of the normal charge. The purpose is to remove any build up of sulphates on the battery plates.
| Forklift Battery Maintenance Checklist
The following checklist provides you with a sheet that can be used to record the forklift battery maintenance that has been carried out. If you would like any additional information adding to this checklist then feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.