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How preventative maintenance can keep your fleet on the road

Commercial batteries play an essential role in how fleet companies manage their operations. Whether a small or large fleet, fleet managers should pay more attention to their vehicle batteries to ensure their drivers can safely and efficiently deliver what South Africans need most—food, petrol, medical supplies, clothing, and so much more.

Truck drivers travel hundreds of kilometres daily, and a robust and consistent maintenance checklist can be the difference between a functional fleet and one that leaves you stranded, costing you money, affecting productivity, reputation, and your bottom line.1

“As a rule, always check commercial batteries during routine maintenance,” said Murray Long, Managing Director of South Africa’s innovative energy solutions provider, First National Battery. “If there’s any physical damage to the battery, it should be tested and replaced by a fitment specialist and sent for recycling.” Murray went on to explain that batteries contain harmful elements that can cause injury if not handled correctly.

Why commercial batteries fail
Batteries can fail for several reasons, and when they do, it’s bad for business operations and a safety issue. These reasons can include,

  • Unbalanced charging between the two batteries for batteries operating in 24V systems are one of the most common reasons for battery failure.
  • Operating temperatures, where batteries are fitted directly above or behind the engine or silencer. Excessive temperatures of up to 70º Celsius are measured in the battery box.
  • Trucks doing regular border crossings have overdischarge concerns as vehicles may stand stationary for extended periods.
  • “Car park batteries” where the vehicles had extended times in the holding yard before they are sold, and where the manufacturer or supplier did not properly maintain the battery during the holding period.

Four tips to extend your commercial battery life and keep your fleet powered up

1. Check your battery voltage during routine maintenance to ensure it does not fall below 12.4V.

2. Clean all dirt from the battery surface as this can lead to tracking to earth.

3. Check to see that connections from the vehicle alternator to the battery terminals are tight and free of corrosion and dirt.

4. Improve the operating temperature of the battery. This can be by shielding against the source of heat or by improving the ventilation of cool air around the battery.

What’s more, South Africa has extreme operating temperatures that’s pushed some Original Equipment Manufacturers ((OEMs) to move the battery at increased manufacturing cost from the engine bay to inside the vehicle cabin or boot just to ensure more stable operating temperatures. Also, these OEMs have battery management systems incorporated into the vehicle electronics to ensure proper charging and voltage control. 

Managing a fleet of trucks has many challenges and maintaining the vehicles’ batteries is one small task that can have a big impact on your drivers’ jobs and safety. Many local logistics companies use a range of locally manufactured commercial batteries that are reliable, have a long life, and have improved performance and safety to keep their fleet on the road. These batteries also pass the SANS 60095-1 Class B vibration test, which means they can withstand rugged terrain and poor road conditions, which long-distance haulers often face.