How to look after your commercial fleet during Covid-19, and any future downtime

During the Covid-19 crisis you will be dealing with such challenging situations, and it’s likely that your fleet vehicles will have been sitting stationary for weeks, if not months. During downtime the health of your fleets’ batteries will be heavily discharged, and now is the time to action against deteriorating battery health before solutions becoming extremely costly.

Rotronics supplies, services and repairs battery diagnostic technology to many emergency services, breakdown organisations, distribution services and public transport operators amongst many other key sectors.

We work hard to keep vehicles in optimal working order through supplying workshops with battery management maintenance programmes, using the very latest in diagnostic and charging technologies.

When speaking to many of our customers, we are finding a common trend – fleet managers are looking for advice on how exactly they are to best maintain vehicle/s battery health during this unprecedented down-time, during the Covid-19 outbreak. Emergency service operator are asking how to keep their fleet in optimal condition 24/7 as breakdowns are simply not an option. Fleets delivering essential goods or working within other key sectors cannot risk breakdowns during this period and understand battery failure is the most common reason for failure. Those with fleets experiencing significant down-time need to ensure their vehicles are ready for use with short notice. Our expert team have pulled together some handy tips and reasons on why it’s imperative to keep your battery health in optimum condition.

Tips for battery maintenance for all commercial vehicle workshops

Keep maintenance to a minimum if you have reduced resources, do the things you must do.

  • The key is keeping batteries in a decent state of charge. That means, making sure that the battery sets are balanced.
  • Make sure that you perform a battery test on every vehicle entering the workshop – this is paramount
  • Any parasitic drain is a critical factor in discharging the batteries – it’s imperative to make sure that all parasitic drains* are identified and kept to a minimum. This is a fundamental process that can be automated within the testing parameters of the EXP1000 FHD https://www.rotronicsbms.com/product/exp-1000-fhd-fleet-heavy-duty-battery-tester/
  • When vehicles are being cleaned, often in the hours of darkness, it is essential that all these loads are switched off and isolated when finished with
  • Where the batteries need charging, it is essential that these are charged as required to avoid any roadside defect.
  • Parked up vehicles and those not being used for several days or weeks, should be tested frequently – once a month at the very least and charged where possible. This is to keep them in tip top condition, so that they are immediately ready for use when required.
  • Failure to do this could mean having to jump start these vehicles and replacing batteries unnecessarily.

*A parasitic drain could be; unnecessarily loads left on, master switches, internal lights, security cameras, ticket machines, all lighting etc

Reasons to Keep your batteries in a healthy SOC (State of Charge)

Prior to Covid-19, during routine battery testing of 2.4 million vehicles, 35% of batteries required attention. Staggeringly, that figure has now jumped to 43% to those tests carried out since the implementation of the UK lock-down.

Keeping the battery in a healthy SOC will increase the operating life of your battery, and will ensure vehicles will start.

  • A healthy battery voltage should remain above 12.5v
  • As a battery cycles and power is consumed, we need to restore lost power to prevent the risk of over discharging, increased Sulphation and premature aging of the battery.
  • A battery with a low SOC will increase the risk of Sulphation, and vehicle non-start (The Danger Zone)
  • The more frequently we allow the DOD (Depth of Discharge) of the battery to occur by more than 35%, we will reduce the serviceable life of the battery by 50% or more.
  • In addition to maintaining a 12v battery, a 24v set has the added complication of going “Out of Balance” – a natural process caused as the battery set is used and cycled. The solution to this, is to reverse the balance by charging the batteries independently.

What is deemed as ‘vital care’ for your fleet?

  • A proactive battery management programme for your fleet of vehicles will reduce battery-related breakdowns, reduce unnecessary spend and breakdowns, will increase fleet efficiency and extend battery life by as much as 100%
  • Every vehicle battery should be regularly tested and charged to identify issues and address them before incurring unnecessary costs at a later date.
  • The tester will indicate the correct state of battery health – whether the battery is good, needs to be charged, replaced or needs a re-test.
  • If batteries require charging, connect the charger while the vehicle is parked, even whilst other work is ongoing, without interruption.
  • Re-test the batteries at the end of the service.

Check your equipment

Something that is often overlooked, or seen as an inconvenient, but regularly checking your equipment is vital to ensure you have the suitable equipment to carry out diagnostics.

A couple of questions to keep in mind during your inspections:

  • Is your workshop fully equipped to keep all your critical vehicles on the road?
  • Is your workshop fully equipped to maintain those vehicles that are parked up? Seek advice from our website about the best testing and diagnostic options for your workshop, look at

Do you work in the Emergency Services?

If so, then you will already be aware of the fact that emergency vehicles are unique in the way that vehicles are used, as they will often have extreme battery demands with engine off-loads being applied constantly.

With the high demand required of emergency service applications, we no longer just want to measure the starting capacity of these batteries, but more importantly, we want to see how they can perform under high demand and loads. We therefore need to measure the reserve capacity of these batteries.

We suggest using the DCA 8000 has been engineered to measure three fundamental components of an individual 12V battery’s performance:

  • Cranking capacity, ie the ability of the battery to start the vehicle
  • The reserve capacity is the ability of the battery to give increased capacity when engine loads are off and the engine is not running
  • Charge acceptance is the ability of the battery to fully recover and charge

Tips on Good housekeeping: Service and Repair

Some key questions to ask yourself to ensure the quality of your servicing and repairs include:

  • What could your technicians be doing to prepare your workshop for when this period is over?
  • Good housekeeping could mean keeping all your testing and charging equipment in excellent condition.
  • Make sure that the terminals are kept clear from grease and grime.
  • Be mindful of service and repair equipment that has become faulty or showing signs of wear and tear.
  • Keep all power packs on charge continually, to ensure that they are effective when required in any emergency

Rotronics can repair and service all Midtronics and Professional (7 amps and above) CTEK diagnostic testing platforms and chargers. If you need help, please contact us on https://www.rotronicsbms.com/technical-support-and-service/service-and-repair/

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