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BATTERY PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION

Why compliant packaging matters Given that the regulatory environment is complex, its processes intense, and the consequences of failure to meet mandated packaging requirements are potentially so catastrophic — regulators, consultants, testing labs and experienced manufacturers all attest to the value of utilizing the services of an experienced hazardous materials packing consultant or package supplier. “Depending on the type of battery, the size, the number of batteries, whether or not they’re shipped inside equipment, with equipment or by themselves, compliant packaging

“When you’re focused on product design you’re focused on the product, not delivery. You really must have the foresight to understand that you need to bring someone in to do this, or you need to learn how to do this yourselves, and do it very well” — John Warner, XALT Energy

72 • Batteries International • Fall 2014

entails a lot of nuances,” says Rich Byczek, global technical lead, transportation technologies at Intertek. “And because the regulations are always in flux, and most industry people are typically too busy to keep up with them all, you are well advised to work with an outside party whose business it is to know them all and deliver the appropriate packaging for the situation.” To date, the field of suppliers capable of providing a wide range of US Department of Transportation compliant dangerous goods services remains somewhat divided by purpose and function. Consultants, always in demand, provide guidance in every aspect of the manufacturing, handling, shipping, legislation and regulation, national and international, pertaining to all dangerous goods and hazardous materials. For actual packaging, manufacturers and shippers can access the services of packaging suppliers that typically provide the actual packages, boxes, and containers, whether off-the-shelf stock items or special turnkey designs manufactured to order. Since few packagers have the capacity to test each package as the DOT requires, most shippers must send their package samples, as produced by the supplier, to a certified DOT testing laboratories specially set up to perform the mandated battery of tests required by regulation on each package, as well as provide required certification and documentation. Not all suppliers can meet every need. Some packaging suppliers lack the capacity to address the more extreme challenges that large packs often present, and few test labs are qualified to meet the more stringent UN DOT requirements for their testing and certification. Even battery manufacturers large enough to support an in-house staff capable of keeping abreast of the

regulations and designing their own compliant packaging, find they run into problems they can’t always solve without expert advice. For example, just meeting the requirements every package must meet to comply with national and international regulations crafted to meet the specific environmental challenges that a chosen transport mode — waterway, sea, land, air — can impose upon that battery can be daunting even to experienced personnel. The Saft battery plant in Jacksonville, Florida, where Richard Metcalf works as materials manager, ships over 20,000 batteries a year, many of those by ocean. “We’ve learned that sea transport presents different packaging challenges, given the risks associated with corrosion due to the humid atmospheric conditions from ocean air,” says Metcalf. “The battery has to be sealed, so we worked with our package supplier, HAZplus, in St Louis, Missouri to design packaging that seals the inside of the package, to make sure that humidity does not penetrate the package. They also print our art work, logo and shipping markings and HazMat labels right on the box, to reduce the chances that crucial information can be ripped, peeled or soaked off by various environmental factors.” Many experienced battery manufacturers who ship a lot, affirm the importance of designing the package in early stages of the process — while the battery design is still on the drafting table — not at the end. John Warner, vice president of sales and marketing for XALT Energy, recalls too many instances where no one thinks about shipping until after they’ve built the battery. “When you’re focused on product design you’re focused on the product, not delivery,” he says. “You really must have the foresight to understand that you need to bring someone in to

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Batteries International — issue 93  

UPS embracing the latest technology — The global implications for energy storage of the latest UK TSO report — The changing rules on transpo...

Batteries International — issue 93  

UPS embracing the latest technology — The global implications for energy storage of the latest UK TSO report — The changing rules on transpo...