For manufacturing and distribution companies, even short interruptions in daily operations can be costly. The simplest of things such as weak or defective batteries used in handheld computers can slow or impede your mobile data collection tasks. Taking the time to properly care for mobile device batteries can prolong their life and minimize the time lost in battery changes. Further, proper battery maintenance can lower total cost of ownership by reducing the frequency of replacement battery purchases. Without the proper care, poorly maintained batteries can result in wasted time and money.
Handheld computer batteries should allow warehouse employees to work the length of a typical shift without changing batteries and provide at least a year of service, or more, before being replaced. However, battery life is dependent on a number of environmental factors. How they are stored and charged, even how they are handled, can affect how many re-charge cycles a battery will last. That’s why it’s important to utilize the power management strategies below to ensure your organization is storing and charging your batteries properly.
Tip and strategies for maximizing the life of your handheld computer batteries
- Most products have built in power-saving feature which will dim the LCD after a certain period of inactivity or shut down parts of the processor, Wi-Fi or scan engines when the device is idle. Even though it is sometimes tempting to force that LCD to always stay on, effectively managing these features that are enabled on your device will go a long way to extending your battery life.
- Charging your batteries at room temperature is recommended. Why? Charging at lower temperatures will require a longer charge time and charging below freezing can permanently damage battery cells, making them more sensitive to failure when exposed to vibration and other stresses. Charging at elevated temperatures (above 40°C / 104°F) is also not recommended as it can create a possible thermal runaway condition that can also permanently damage a battery cell.
- Avoid discharging the batteries completely. The shorter the discharge, the longer the battery lasts. There is no issue with “memory” and the battery does not need periodic full discharge cycles to prolong life. A partial discharge with a Li-ion is perfectly fine.
- Avoid storing batteries with a full charge. If you purchase batteries to be used as replacements in the future, avoid the urge to fully charge them and then set them on the shelf. Instead, place them in a cool, dry place and then wait to charge them fully when you’re ready to use them. Ideally, Li-ion batteries should be charged at 40 percent for long-term storage. The worst possible scenario is a fully-charged battery stored at an elevated temperature.
- Date stamp your batteries when you receive them. If you use the “500-cycle rule” – meaning that the life of your battery should last about 500 charges – you can calculate about how long your batteries are expected to work at full capacity. For example, a one-shift, five-day-a-week operation should start considering replacement batteries after two years, whereas a two-shift operation should consider replacing batteries each year.
Using these tips and guidelines, you can ensure that you are storing and using your batteries properly in order to get as much out of your investment as possible.