Hopefully when you are reading this, there is still some warmth in the air. But, as Autumn is just around the corner, this is a timely reminder for all fleet managers, workshop teams and owners that through Autumn and then Winter, temperatures will dip, it will rain more, it will be darker for longer and there is a chance of snow.
The other thing that we can guarantee is that expensive non-starts and unnecessary battery problems will rise. All the seasonal factors can have a significant impact on the battery performance of their fleet vehicles and, unless the workshop team is on top of battery testing and charging, the costs will escalate unnecessarily.
There are a lot of variables with the seasons, but the team at Rotronics (www.rotronicsbms.com), as specialists in battery management solutions, knows for certain that unless automotive and fleet transport workshops are well prepared for winter, battery problems will be the most frequent cause of costly roadside break downs.
Ken Clark is managing director at Rotronics, the UK partners with CTEK and Midtronics and he says: “Unnecessary battery failures and non-starts can be a large part of a workshop’s budget and it can be very time consuming towards the end of the year. Most of the issues faced can be prevented with a little care, maintenance and preparation and relationships with customers need not be tense due to delivery targets being missed.
“We know that falling temperatures will significantly affect a battery’s performance and, in extreme temperatures, there can be as much as a 50% dip.
“Increased power demands on a vehicle’s battery come hand-in-hand with darker nights due to additional lighting, heating systems, electrics, heated seats and de-misting windows. As a combination, this puts an excessive drain on vehicles and battery testing and charging is vital.”
The Battery Management Programme from Rotronics can help you and your fleet workshop team cope with the effects of winter.
A battery management programme ensures that:
Ken Cark says: “None of your drivers want to be stuck at the side of a road in the dark, wet and cold and you can be preparing well in advance to avoid these costly roadside non-starts. We know from the majority of our customers that these problems can account for up to 20% of battery costs.”
- Batteries are tested pro-actively, at the point of service and routine inspection and are maintained to optimum levels
- Imbalanced batteries are identified and charged accordingly
- Defective batteries are identified and replaced before they affect vehicle reliability
- Return-on-investment is proven and each workshop is given the expertise and knowledge to maximise fault diagnosis, increase productivity and customer service
- A full auditable record is available to track a fleet’s battery performance
How Your Workshop Can Prepare Your Fleet:
1. Visual inspection
Check batteries for signs of damage. Check for signs of corrosion, excessive electrolyte staining and gassing. Ensure that the hold down clamps and terminals are secure and free from dirt or corrosion; make sure that the electrolyte levels are maintained.
2. Test & charge batteries
- Batteries need care and attention all through the year. As part of regular vehicle inspection, ensure that:
- Batteries are charged at every opportunity
- Batteries that have been jump started are tested. A jump start is only a temporary fix which, in many cases, is hiding an underlying problem.
- Keep the batteries above 12.5V to prevent excessive deep cycling and risk of sulphation - the route cause of premature battery failure and unnecessary replacement costs. This can be avoided
- Batteries are in balance. 24V battery sets will only perform efficiently, with both voltages and cranking amps being of similar values
- If you are using non-maintenance free batteries, be mindful when checking the electrolyte levels that if the battery is in a low state of charge, the electrolyte will be lower than expected. If a flat battery is topped up with electrolyte, there is a high risk that the battery will be overfilled and the cells expand as the battery takes on board current.
- Never top up batteries that are FLAT with electrolyte.
- Always charge first, providing that the cells aren’t exposed.
3. Vehicle health check
When the batteries are balanced and charged, ensure that the charging system is performing as it should.
- Make sure that the starter system is working correctly
- Check the alternator output
- Ensure there are no excessive drains present, which can cause batteries to go flat very quickly.
The Rotronics team work in partnership with their customers to help save time, money and increase the performance of vehicle fleets. For more information on Rotronics and the battery management programmes, go to www.rotronicsbms.com and call Ken Clark on 0121 526 8185. You can also firstname.lastname@example.org
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