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How to Make Battery Charging Rooms Safer

Many warehouses are beginning to switch from combustion engine forklifts to electric forklifts in order to lower operating costs and improve environmental impacts. While electric forklifts have a longer lifespan than gas forklifts, they require proper care and maintenance. Lead-acid batteries can take up to eight hours to charge fully, so it’s important that the warehouse has a safe and efficient battery charging room. Here are four ways to make battery charging rooms safer.

Proper ventilation

Forklift batteries can emit hydrogen gas while they are re-charging, and for a short time afterwards, so it’s vital that the charging rooms are properly ventilated. The hydrogen gas level in the charging room should be below two percent to mitigate possible risks of explosion. Installation of exhaust fans, or providing an opening in the roof of the warehouse, will further reduce this risk.

Acid-resistant flooring

The flooring of the charging rooms must be resistant to acid because battery acid is highly corrosive. Unfortunately, spills do happen, but if floor is acid-resistant the spill will be easier to clean up. Without acid-resistant flooring, the corrosive battery acids could result in structural damage to the warehouse.

Availability to safety equipment

All charging rooms should be fitted with a washing area and a Class E fire extinguisher. Forklift operators may need to be able to quickly extinguish an electrical fire, and/or perform an emergency wash. First-aid kits and personal protective equipment (apron, gloves and eye protection) should also be available in the battery charging rooms.

Correct installation of electrical breakers and charging points

Chargers should be mounted on the wall and fitted with an electrical breaker to stop the flow of electricity in an emergency. When charging multiple forklifts, the distance between each truck should be at least three feet. The distance between forklifts provides safe and easy access for operators.

At KION North America, we care about the safety and efficiency of your warehouse. Follow these four steps to make your battery charging rooms safer. If you’re looking to purchase an electric forklift, our Linde and Baoli brands offer solutions for every application. Have more questions? Contact us at 843-875-8000.

Three Tips to Improve Electric Forklift Battery Life

The majority of warehouses are making the switch from internal combustion forklifts to electric forklifts in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Electric forklifts, such as the Linde 346, produce zero emissions, have a longer economic life and more precise truck control than typical internal combustion forklifts. However, while electric forklifts are more efficient, they require proper maintenance; especially when it comes to the battery. Here are three ways to improve your electric forklift battery life.

Don’t over-charge

Flooded, lead-acid forklift batteries have a limited number of charge cycles. You should charge the battery after an 8-10 hour shift, or when it’s discharged more than 30 percent. Don’t charge the battery during lunch break, or “when it’s convenient” because it will reduce the battery’s lifespan. This kind of opportunity-charging requires a specific battery and charger combination that also needs formal training.

Check the water level

Water plays a pivotal role in the life of the battery, so make sure to check the fluid level of the battery every five charging cycles. The water should only be refilled once the battery is fully charged. Also, keep in mind that you only need enough water to cover the plastic battery element. For additional details, refer to the manual provided by your battery manufacturer.

Keep the batteries cool

Temperature is important in keeping your forklift battery healthy. For optimal operation, keep the temperature in the charging rooms below 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). If the battery is overheated, the lifespan will be decreased, so you need to make sure that the battery is well ventilated when it’s charging and in use.

Follow these three steps to ensure a long battery life for your electric forklift. Check out our Linde and Baoli products if you’re looking to purchase an electric forklift, or contact your local authorized dealer. At KION North America, we understand the importance of an efficient forklift. Please contact us if you have any further questions at 843-875-8000.

Identifying Forklift Wear and Tear

Forklifts are designed to last, but wear and tear inevitably occurs with use of the machine. Similar to cars, forklifts require regular service and maintenance, so you want to avoid reckless driving and handle your machine with care. But no matter how careful you are, forklifts will wear down over time.

It’s crucial to know if your machine needs to be repaired or removed from service to get as much life as possible out of the lift. Here are five places to look out for signs of forklift wear and tear.

1. Tires

Forklift tires are built to withstand a lot of weight, but like your car’s tires, will need to be replaced at some point. There are a few ways to tell when it’s time to replace a tire or two on your lift:

  • Worn low: Most tires have a defined line to let you know when it’s time to switch them out, sometimes referred to as the 50% wear line. If this line has been breached, it’s time to change the tire.
  • Chunking: Chunking refers to losing pieces of the tire rubber peeling away from the tire. Not only is chunking unsafe, but also renders the wheel useless, and the tire should be replaced immediately.
  • Flattening: Flattening occurs as a result of misalignment the forklift coming to a sharp halt. Change the tire if you notice it has any bald spots.

2. Forks

To get the most out of a forklift, the forks must be in good condition. Forks that are bent or cracked from picking up, transporting or unloading pallets cannot successfully transfer a load. As soon as you notice any of these issues, stop using the lift and take it for servicing immediately.

3. Chain

When properly lubricated, forklift chains can perform up to 6,000 hours of work. However, if you notice protruding or turned pins, plate cracking, misalignment, broken links, rust, or erosion, the chain needs to be replaced. Prevent these issues by keeping the chain lubricated.

4. Mast

The mast is the vertical assembly on the front of the forklift that’s responsible for raising, lowering, and tilting a load. One sign of wear and tear on the mast is metal on metal contact. Grinding sounds during operation, or visible scrape marks, are the result of metal of metal contact and serve as a sign to replace the mast.

5. Oil

Keeping proper levels of oil and immediately repairing oil leaks will protect your machine, as well as your facility as a whole. Oil lubricates the forklift’s mast when it is extended, and too little oil can result in increased friction and temperature that will most likely destroy other parts of the machine. Not to mention, an oil leak is hazardous to operators and pedestrians.

If you notice any of these signs of wear and tear on your forklift, you need to call for service. It’s important to catch these signs early in order to get as much life as possible out of your machine. At KION North America, we ensure quick delivery of parts and a range of services designed to fit your needs. Contact your local authorized dealer if you have any further questions about forklift maintenance.

5 Essential Elements of Forklift Safety

Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that approximately 34,900 forklift injuries occur every year. A number of factors contribute to accidents, including equipment and operator error. To reduce the risk of injury, it is crucial that operators understand the dangers asociated with improper operation of a forklift.

In honor of National Forklift Safety Day on June 12, KION North America urges facility managers to stress the importance of safe forklift operation throughout their facilities. Here are five essential elements of forklift safety that your company must put into practice.

Complete the required training

Only employees who have received proper training and certification can legally operate a forklift. Operators who fail to complete the necessary training have an increased risk of injury to themselves and those around them. Allowing an employee without the proper certification to handle a forklift can result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines for the employer.

OSHA’s training program entails practical training and a workplace performance evaluation. Additionally, OSHA requires that operators are evaluated every three years. An operator must meet OSHA’s training course requirements to continue operating a forklift.

Perform regular checkups

To maximize forklift safety, operators should perform routine inspections of their equipment. Items to check include seat belts, tires, lights, brakes, backup alarms, fluid levels and the forks. Any issues with equipment should be reported to a supervisor, and the forklift should immediately be removed from service.

Stay aware of surroundings

While operating the equipment, operators should be aware of their surroundings as well as worksite rules and guidelines. Carefully observe signs for maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights. Operators should also pay attention to the height of the load when entering and exiting the warehouse.

In regards to pedestrians, it’s important that operators slow down when approaching heavily-populated areas, such as intersections, corners, and stairways.

Maintain load stability

One of the leading causes of forklift-related injuries is tip-over, which can occur when a forklift carries an unstable load. Operators should ensure loads are completely balanced and secured on the forks before operating to prevent tip-overs.

Operators should also keep the load low to the ground to increase safety. When traveling on ramps and grades, the load should point up the incline regardless of the direction of travel.

Store forklifts properly

After a shift has ended, it’s important for each operator to park the forklift in its designated, authorized area. The forks should be fully lowered to the ground, and the parking brake should be applied. Finally, the forklift should be turned off, and the key should be removed from the ignition and stored in the proper place.

Proper operation of forklifts and other material handling equipment is essential to the safety of your warehouse. Let National Forklift Safety Day serve as a reminder to practice these and other elements of forklift safety year-round.

At KION North America, warehouse safety is a top priority. That’s why we provide facility managers with outstanding forklift models leading the way in efficiency and safety. Contact your local authorized dealer today to find the best forklift for your material handling needs.

Is It Time to Replace Your Forks?

Forklifts are an invaluable tool in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Without them, most operations could not continue. And the most important part of a forklift is the forks themselves, which carry the lift’s load.

When a forklift’s forks are worn, bent, broken, or damaged, it not only affects the lift’s ability to function properly, but can also put your product and the personal safety of your employees at risk. To ensure that your forklift is in top working condition, the lift’s forks should be inspected regularly and replaced if any damage is found.

Conduct the following inspections to determine if it is time to replace your lift’s forks:

Wear

First, check the forks for normal wear. The thickness of the forks wears down over time as the lift carries loads. You can use a special fork caliper tool to measure the forks for wear. If the wear reduces by 10% or more of the original thickness, it is time to replace the forks.

Surface cracks

Inspect the top and bottom of the forks for cracks. Cracks occur over time with normal operation, or more frequently if the forklift carries a load beyond its load capacity. If there are any cracks, the forks need to be replaced.

Make sure to carefully check the areas where the area where the forks attach to the lift truck, as cracks often develop there.

Evenness of the forks

If you operate a lift with uneven forks, you run the risk of damaging the load or even tipping the forklift. Carefully inspect the forks to make sure they are even. The difference in the height of each fork tip should not exceed 3% of the length of the blade.

Straightness of the blade and shank

If the blade or shank of the forklift has been distorted or bent, they need to be replaced. The blade refers to the blades that the load sits on. The shank is the vertical component of the forks that attach to the carriage.

If the straightness deviates from 0.5% of the length of the blade, or 0.5% of the height of the shank, the forks must be repaired or replaced.

Fork angle

In addition to the checking that the blade and shank are straight, you should also check the fork angle where the blade and shank meet. If the angle exceeds 3° from the original angle, the forks should not return to service.

If any of the above do not fit the specifications for your particular forklift, it is time to replace the lift’s forks. General forklift inspections should be performed before every use, while federal law mandates that forks are inspected by trained personnel once a year.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that you get the most life possible out of your lift’s forks. Never push your lift beyond its limits. Pay attention to load capacity, and do not carry loads that extend too far out on the forks. Additionally, you should only use forklifts for their intended purpose.

While you can replace forks to get more life out of your lift, forklifts do not last forever. But by performing the inspections above and conducting the appropriate repairs or replacements, you can ensure optimal performance for your forklift.

How to Prevent the Most Expensive Forklift Repairs

Forklifts are powerful machines with many working systems and moving parts. When a forklift and its various systems are not properly cared for, the resulting repairs can cost you thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. And not only are repairs themselves expensive, but performing forklift repairs can also mean time off the floor, resulting in decreased productivity for your operation.

Luckily, there are ways you can prevent large repair expenses from incurring and keep your forklift operational. The following are tips for preventing the most expensive forklift repairs.

Perform the proper checks

Before every shift, forklift operators should perform preliminary checks on the lift. By performing these checks, forklift operators can identify potential repairs early and avoid causing further damage to the lift during operation.

The operator should perform both a visual and operational check. During a visual check, the driver should look out for fluid leaks, make sure the battery is charged, check for any missing or loose nuts and bolts, and check for general damage and conditions.

During an operational check, the driver should test that the forklift’s mechanisms are operating properly, from the brakes and steering to lift mechanisms and so on. If the operator encounters an issue during either the visual or operational check, they should not operate the forklift and immediately notify a manager or supervisor.

Keep the warehouse clean

Inspection of the warehouse facilities and floor is also important to a forklift’s operation. A forklift and its parts, especially the tires, can be severely damaged by debris on the warehouse floor. Operators should also look out for potential obstructions that could cause an accident, either on the floor or overhead.

Repair costs incurred from a disorganized or untidy warehouse are perhaps the most easily preventable costs, so make sure that your facilities are optimized for proper forklift operation.

Pay attention to fluid levels

A very important aspect of a driver’s daily preliminary checks is to check and fill the lift’s fuel levels, including the fuel level, transmission and hydraulic fluids, coolants, and more. These fluids are essential to proper, safe forklift operation.

Fluid checks are especially important for making sure the battery operates efficiently. Ensuring that fluid levels are correct is another easy way to prevent expensive forklift damages.

Practice regular maintenance

The best way to prevent expensive forklift repairs is to catch problems early on. And while daily inspections can help, you should also have regular, comprehensive maintenance checks performed on your machine. A forklift technician can catch early signs of trouble that will prevent larger expenses in the future. Small repairs can often be serviced on site without much down time, saving you money without affecting productivity.

Tips for Properly Cleaning a Forklift

Forklifts make life in the warehouse easier in so many ways. In order for forklifts to keep doing their job, it’s important to keep these machines well-maintained, which includes keeping them clean. Proper maintenance and cleaning will also help prolong a forklift’s lifespan. Here are a few tips for properly cleaning a forklift.

Use a pressure washer

Soap and water just won’t cut it; a pressure washer is the only way to completely clean a forklift. Using a pressure washer is also safer than soap and water, as you can keep a safe distance from the machine. And in environments where forklifts come into contact with potentially hazardous chemicals, mixing these chemicals with soap could be dangerous.

Get rid of loose dirt and debris first

Before putting the pressure washer to use, get rid of any loose dirt, debris, and rust that can be removed with a broom or duster. Doing so will help get the forklift as clean as possible before you pressure wash the vehicle. Additionally, dirt, dust, and rust can hurt the performance of a forklift if left to build up over time.

Start at the top

When you begin cleaning, start at the top of the forklift. Since grime and dirt will flow downward, starting at the top and working your way towards the bottom of the forklift will prevent you from dirtying an already clean area. That way, you create a much more efficient cleaning process

Make sure it’s dry

While forklifts are durable, not every part and component is waterproof. Once you have finished cleaning a forklift, leave time for it to dry completely. Make sure that before its next use, every component is dry and there is no excess water hiding in hard to see or reach areas.

Wear protective equipment

Last but not least, practice safety first, even when simply cleaning your forklift. A pressure washer keeps distance between you and the forklift while cleaning, but that does not mean injuries cannot happen. At the very least, wear protective goggles, boots, and gloves to protect some of the most vulnerable areas.

Letting your forklift build up dirt and grime will not only harm its performance, but the performance of your warehouse operation as a whole. Save time, energy, and money by properly cleaning and maintaining one of your most essential warehouse assets.