The soaring price of lead should fundamentally change the way warehouse equipment users think about their traction batteries, explains Derek Anderson of PowerCell.

During times of economic trouble, people say it’s wise to invest in Gold… However, so far this century, another metal has increased in value just as quickly.


In the last ten years alone, the price of Lead has more than quadrupled; from around £300 per tonne to well over £1200.

The most obvious results of this sudden rise are all over our newspapers in the form of metal thefts; Church insurers reported over 2,500 claims for stolen roof lead in 2011 alone.

Less widely recognised is the potential impact of increasing lead prices on users of electric forklifts and other battery-powered warehouse trucks.

Any piece of battery operated equipment could be carrying an asset that has risen significantly in value… but, when it comes to protecting that investment, many warehouses simply carry on as they always have.

At PowerCell, we recommend that anyone using electric forklift trucks or warehouse equipment should review their procedures in three main areas:

Basic security

Churches, sculptures and railway lines aren’t the only targets for metal thieves. Just last year, the Fork Lift Truck Association issued a warning after a spate of traction battery thefts.

Shockingly, in many cases criminals gained access during the daytime by pretending to be engineers; sometimes even being given assistance to load valuable batteries onto their van, before simply driving away, never to be seen again.

There’s no need to go overboard, but be sensible. Your forklift batteries are valuable, so make sure they’re kept somewhere secure… and of course don’t let anyone take them away without proper identification!

Any reputable battery service engineer should be wearing a company uniform and be easily identifiable, carry documentation, and be perfectly happy for you to call their office for confirmation if you should have any doubts.

Maintenance makes all the difference

The more valuable the battery, the more important it is to ensure it’s properly looked after.

Even basic servicing, like watering, can cause permanent damage if neglected or carried out incorrectly.

Especially if you’re performing day-to-day maintenance in house, it’s well worth having your batteries professionally inspected by an expert engineer from time to time – to check things are being done well, and correct any small technical problems before they have a chance to become serious, expensive or even dangerous.

Sweat your assets

It’s increasingly essential to ensure each battery delivers as much for your business as it can.

A simple maintenance log can help you to plan preventative maintenance in advance, reducing downtime, while products such as battery monitoring units allow for simple utilisation and asset management, delivering optimum performance.

Importantly, don’t assume a battery lasts for five years regardless of how it’s treated. Take care with your charging and maintenance and you can extend its life by years – potentially improving return on your investment by 50% or more.

Indeed, PowerCell uses patented technology to regenerate old batteries, removing sulphate crystals and giving the battery a second life for a fraction of the cost of the replacement – which can come in very useful at times like these – but again, results depend upon how well the battery has been looked after.

For best results to extend battery life, a good maintenance package is absolutely key. We have batteries still performing after 12 years on 24-hour sites.

When budgets are tight, good businesses look after their most important assets. Increasingly, that means batteries.

If you’d like any guidance on battery charging, servicing or maintenance, please feel free to call our expert team on 0845 058 1388, or request a visit from your local PowerCell engineer.

Alternatively, you might like to browse our advice articles at

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