5 practices to improve your truck’s liftgate performance

5 practices to improve your truck’s liftgate performance

Liftgates are an important tool in protecting workers from injuries and ensuring cargo goes undamaged. They can, however, quickly drain the auxiliary batteries used to operate them.

For the batteries to last the entire day, drivers are forced to leave their trucks idling during loading and unloading in order to keep the alternator spinning and charging. In addition to costing fleets big on wasted fuel, idling contributes to air pollution and violates government codes in several municipalities.

However, if drivers do not idle their trucks, they risk their liftgates draining both the liftgate batteries and starter batteries, leading to inoperable liftgates and dead trucks. This results in costly service calls and delayed deliveries.

This Catch-22 is only exacerbated by all the digital tools — including high-tech transportation management systems (TMS) — installed in modern trucks. These tools also rely on electricity to run, straining trucks’ alternators even more.

“All the things on a truck now drain huge amounts of power, and engine-mounted alternators alone cannot keep up with that energy demand,” Blackburn Energy Founder and CEO Andrew Amigo said. “Blackburn’s high-efficiency charging system doubles the truck’s charging capacity right away.”

Battery-recharging issues are well known among fleets using trucks with liftgates. Often there is not enough power in the liftgate batteries to carry out a full duty cycle without engine idling.

Dead batteries or engine idling?
A liftgate truck driver may make 10-15 stops per day and operate the gate six to 10 times per stop. Especially in urban areas, each stop may be as close as 1 mile apart. This leaves little time for the engine alternator to recharge the batteries. As a result, the liftgate batteries may become completely depleted by the end of the day, or even sooner.

For fleets without a dedicated charging solution like RelGen, inefficient and costly engine idling is necessary to have enough power to operate the liftgate multiple times throughout the day. Anti-idling laws and regulations can put fleets in tricky dilemmas: Do you comply with the laws and risk problems with your trucks or do you risk fines and factor in additional maintenance and fuel costs?

Low voltage leads to liftgate failure
Anywhere from 60% to 75% of issues with liftgates are electrical, with the majority of these issues being tied to low voltage. Chronic low voltage can cause your gate to operate slowly, which lengthens delivery times. It can also cause premature failure of solenoid switches, motors and batteries.

Since the liftgate batteries are tied to your starter batteries, when they die, so does your truck. This is the dreaded dead truck, also known as a “stuck truck.” The dead truck may be blocking traffic, a loading dock or zone, or stuck in a lot where other trucks are trying to get in and out, etc. Either a rescue vehicle needs to be sent out to recharge batteries to the point when the engine can turn over or your truck will need an expensive tow. Fleet owners need to pull the truck out of service, resulting in disrupted supply chains.

Read more: 5 practices to improve your truck’s liftgate performance

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