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Forklift Batteries Potential Fire and Explosion Hazard – How to Protect Yourself

(Photo: Pixabay.com/Ilkka Kumpunen)
Warehouses and logistics centers use a large number of vehicles that run on batteries, such as forklifts, pallet forklifts and mechanical cleaning machines. In order for these vehicles to be operationally ready and efficient, regular charging and maintenance of the accumulators that they run on must be planned.

There are several types of accumulators in the market, but the most frequently used ones are lead batteries. The electrolyte used in these batteries is diluted sulfuric acid. During the process of charging and discharging, the electrodes of the accumulator produce the hydrogen gas and other byproducts. This creates a potential danger of explosion, which increases if the necessary precaution measures are not taken.

Adequate planning and compliance with standards.

In addition to the fact that the efficiency of a warehouse depends of well planned and organized charging of the accumulators, it is very important for the locations for the charging of the accumulators to be defined as potential fire and explosion hazard areas.

This means that, in planning, the following things need to be taken into consideration:

– An adequate choice of the location for charging and storage of batteries
– Use of adequate charging equipment
– Adequate floor preparation
– Adequate setting up of the chargers
– Implementation of security measures and complying with standards such as ATEX, OSHA, EPA and NFPA.

Fires at installations for the charging of batteries can usually be ascribed to technical flaws in the electronic equipment and non-compliance with the safety measures.

(Photo: Zodax)
In practice, we encounter:

– insufficient ventilation;
– flammable materials which are stored or disposed of in the immediate environment;
– lack of regular servicing and maintenance, which leads to overheating;
– overloading of sockets;
– lack or insufficient protection from collision/impact;
– neglect.

Considering that easily flammable materials are stored in warehouses, such as packaging materials, the fire can spread very quickly, leading to a total loss of the stored goods and facilities. This kind of loss has negative consequences on the supply chain, which leads to considerably reduced sales, increase of operating costs and costs of replacement of the damaged goods, building and equipment.

Protection measures

All these things considered, we can conclude that it is necessary to take all the precaution measures in order to protect the property and avoid unwanted situations and considerable financial losses.

The solution whose practical implementation has been proven in practice is the use of thermal cameras for the monitoring of the charging stations. FLIR offers a number of cameras adapted for process supervision and preventive maintenance. In practice, this means that the cameras allow for contactless monitoring and checking of accumulators, chargers, installations, but also the forklifts themselves.

FLIR thermal cameras feature sensitivity of up to 0.03 degrees Celsius and as such can detect temperature changes and set off an alarm if there’s an increase beyond the predefined value. This allows for timely responses and prevention of unwanted events such as halts, malfunctions and fires.

(Photo: Zodax)
Hypermotion platform online this year

The pandemic has had a considerable impact on the operations of transport and logistics companies. The borders between logistics, mobility of infrastructure and transport are disappearing. New, connected, integrated and intermodal systems are being created. Following all these changes, having discussions about their impact on the economy and the society and the implementation of new trends and standards are carried out through the new independent platform called Hypermotion, held in Frankfurt each year. This year, the pandemic prevented a physical gathering of the leading experts from the whole world in Frankfurt, so the platform is adapted to the digital form.

The event was opened by Peter Feldmann, Mayor of Frankfurt, and the speakers were Edward Snowden, as well as founders and managers of companies such as: Uber, Siemens, Marc O’Polo, Nokia Solutions & Networks GmbH & Co. KG, European Space Agency ESA, German Aerospace Center DLR, Schenker AG, Bisnode…

The online platform will be available until December 10, 2021, so you can use the opportunity and follow this event at the following link: https://hypermotion-frankfurt.messefrankfurt.com/

For additional information, feel free to contact us
Zodax – the official regional partner of FLIR Systems and the official representative of the Frankfurt Fair

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