Managing and maintaining any size fleet of vehicles can be challenging. There are routine maintenance schedules to manage, vehicle tracking, unexpected downtime, and the constant push to keep costs under control. One of the most vital components to keeping vehicles operating at their full potential, while reducing associated maintenance expenses, is the selection of the proper battery for your commercial fleet.
The correct battery not only offers the power to start your vehicle, but also has the capacity to power many of the onboard accessories that fleet drivers rely upon to perform their jobs. Making sure you pair your fleet with the right battery can help prevent premature performance issues and costly downtime from a vehicle being stuck on the side of the road, as well as minimize labor requirements that are tied to caring for the battery. The following are the top five things to consider when selecting a battery for your commercial vehicle fleet. As always, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery care and handling and direct any questions to your battery professional.
Determine your power need
There are several types of batteries used in fleets, and the most common are conventional flooded lead acid and sealed Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM). Conventional flooded batteries are good for day cabs, dump trucks, and similar vehicles that require high starting power and minimal cycling. These batteries reach their potential life cycle with regular servicing including watering and equalizing. AGM batteries are a better option for newer trucks that can cycle a battery more often as they provide both premium cycling and starting power. AGM batteries featuring advanced Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology offer many advantages in commercial applications. By design, TPPL batteries offer greater surface area due to the thinner plates, which translates into more power for high cranking needs, and they can also deep cycle to operate onboard accessories, liftgates, sleeper cabs, and more.
All the battery types mentioned use the same basic chemistry: lead and sulfuric acid. This makes it extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service procedures to avoid injury or damage to the battery. An advantage that AGM batteries have over flooded batteries is that the case is sealed so there is no concern about acid spills when servicing the battery. The non-spillable and military-inspired design of ODYSSEY batteries protect against high-impact shock and vibration, helping to provide longer service life. For added safety and convenience, they can also be mounted in any position, except upside down, and feature built-in valves to allow safe dispersion of any excess gas generation in the unlikely event of errant charging.
As previously mentioned, conventional lead acid batteries require regular maintenance including water and equalizing. For operators, these tedious labor requirements are not only time-consuming, but can potentially lead to battery malfunction if the proper service techniques aren’t followed. For a commercial work truck, lost time is lost money.
State of Charge (SOC)
Other advantages of TPPL technology in ODYSSEY batteries include slower rates of self-discharge than alternative AGM batteries, which give them a shelf life of up to two years (three times that of conventional lead acid batteries) before they need recharging. They can also quickly recharge to 100% and are designed for 400 charge/recharge cycles at 80% Depth of Discharge (DOD).
Greater cost control
With rising fuel costs, and in an effort to cut down on emissions and air pollution, many municipalities often instruct drivers to shut their engines off and draw power for auxiliary accessories directly from the battery. While in theory, this helps address the challenges noted above, it also shortens the life of conventional batteries, so the gas savings can be offset by more battery maintenance and more frequent replacements.
With today’s fleet vehicles loaded with accessories, fleet managers know it’s imperative to choose wisely when selecting the right battery for their vehicles to avoid the unwanted scenario of emergency field replacement. Thoroughly understanding the strengths and limitations of the different battery chemistries, as well as the demands of a specific application, is key to making the best possible battery choice.
Information provided by: EnerSys