Maria Hadlow looks at ways you can get more life from your batteries
20 June 2011
The cost of batteries is becoming increasingly significant. Rental rates are yet to recover and yet the increasing cost of oil (plastic) and lead has meant that in the last few months prices have increased as much as 17%.
This means that to replace the batteries on a small electric scissor could cost as much as £500 and with low rental rates that could be equivalent to the profit made for a year's rental.
Larger rental companies are spending in excess of £1 million a year on batteries alone.
With the increase in pricing it is tempting to swap from your usual brand to a cheaper battery, but before you do, check out the weight of those lower cost models.
The cheaper batteries could be 10 to 15kg lighter than the brand supplied with your machine and could have a serious affect on the machine's stability. Not every manufacturer places clear labelling about this on the machine so it is up to you to ensure you do not compromise safety of operators by replacing batteries with lighter weight varieties.
So what can you do to reduce battery costs? Extend the life of your existing batteries. Charging them according to manufacturers' instructions can help but there are products which can further improve their life span.
Battery charging is a money saving opportunity often overlooked and batteries fail every year due to lack of care.
Conventional battery chargers push power across a bank of batteries in an
unmetered and non-controlled manner which results in batteries that are fully charged continuing to receive input long after they have reached a fully charged state, whilst
their weaker neighbors are still catching up. This is inefficient and means that
power is consumed, heat generated within the battery and gassing is produced totally unnecessarily costing time, money and causing damage.
The Norweigen manufactured GantiCharger,for example, is designed to deliver individual measured input to each battery based on the batteries exact charge requirements. When an individual battery is charged to its appropriate capacity, the GantiCharger simply stops the power supply to that battery. The concept offers cost saving opportunities that also benefit the environment and increase battery performance and life.
Battery analysers can help you keep on top of battery condition and should provide you with key information about the state of charge, voltage output, state of health and battery condition in seconds of being connected. If the battery has a weak or damaged cell, the analyser should show it immediately and some can also provide a print out to keep with maintenance records.
The Thermoil range of products is specifically designed to extend battery life. The battery De-Sulfater is a non acid formula that breaks down the sulphation corrosion that forms on plates and insulators and impedes the battery performance of lead acid batteries.
When lead acid batteries are left sitting even in an only partial discharge state, they begin to sulphate. Sulphation begins when the sulphur molecules in the battery acid begin to coat the battery's lead plates. In a very short time the lead sulphate crystals turn hard and clog the plates preventing the battery from working efficiently or at all.
Battery De-Sulfater is designed to restore the normal action of the batteries by dissolving the crystals and preventing them from forming again.
With battery prices unlikely to reduce in the near future it is well worth investigating what your company can do to extend their life and keep them in the best possible condition. Most access rental companies accept that batteries will last no longer than three years and although basic maintenance is essential a little extra research and expenditure could extend that life by up to three times.