The Forklift Battery Puller: When to Upgrade from Manual to Powered

Every facility that utilizes electric forklifts needs to carefully consider the costs associated with forklift battery pullers. For operations with one or two lift trucks, that’s not an especially difficult process; simple manual battery pullers can handle changeouts somewhat efficiently and keep workers on the floor.

As an operation grows, however, the costs associated with forklift battery changes starts to add up. Powered forklift battery pullers can have a significant effect on a facility’s bottom line, but managers need to look carefully at their operations in order to justify the investment in new equipment — and to choose appropriate battery pullers for the task at hand.

If you’re considering an upgrade from a manual forklift battery puller to a powered option, here’s the good news: Once you’ve gathered information about your operation’s fleet, calculating a return on investment is a fairly straightforward process. For a simple estimate, multiply the number of change-outs per day by the average time of a change-out, then consider the cost of the puller and the average per-hour wage of the workers that perform the task.

To make that process easier, here are a few key considerations:

Manual forklift battery pullers can be efficient in smaller facilities. The BHS Walkie Transfer Carriage (WTC) can manage an average side-extraction change-out time of five to eight minutes, allowing for about 10 changes per day.

When an operation uses forklifts infrequently, the WTC is both affordable and functional, and because it mounts to existing pallet trucks, it’s easy to use and maintain. It’s manually powered via a mechanical hand wheel, and options are available in a variety of battery compartment widths. The Battery Transfer Carriage (BTC-MPP) provides similar functionality in a standalone unit; users can control the height of the battery bed with a hydraulic jack system to pull batteries from virtually any forklift currently available.

However, powered battery pullers can be twice as fast. The aforementioned manually powered options are affordable, simple, and efficient — to a point. When regular battery changes are part of a facility’s day-to-day operations, powered options may offer improvements in overall efficiency.

The BHS Automatic Transfer Carriage (ATC) series can capably provide up to 20 battery changes per day on a side-extraction fleet, managing change-outs in about three to five minutes. This portable battery extractor can be a full-service option for smaller fleets, though it’s also useful as a portable battery puller for certain applications.

Likewise, the Mobile Battery Extractor (MBE) is a self-contained unit that can pull a forklift battery in five minutes or less. Remember, those minutes add up quickly — particularly in facilities that run multiple shifts per day. The MBE is recommended for up to 50 change-outs per day. With a 42-inch wide compartment, 4,000-pound capacity, and 30-inch lift range it is compatible with a large variety of trucks.

In larger facilities, Operator Aboard Battery Extractors offer clear advantages. Manned battery extractors are a significant investment and require a properly equipped and designed battery room. With that said, they’re an indispensable resource for managing forklift fleets in larger facilities. BHS Operator Aboard Battery Extractors are essential for frequent changeouts, with average change-out times of two to three minutes depending on the model.

Of course, battery puller efficiency becomes more important when lift trucks are used more extensively, but in most cases, choosing between manual and powered battery pullers simply requires a careful examination of how downtime affects your operation.

To put that another way, if you’re considering a switch to powered units, you’re probably a candidate for an upgrade — and over time, investments in your battery room will pay off. For more detailed information specific to your facility, contact our sales team at 1.800.BHS.9500.