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BATTERY PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION

Because there is so little standardization in lithium batteries, few package suppliers can meet the need for US Department of Transportation compliant battery packaging” that’s already designed both the product and a package prototype, and they want to get the design tested,” says Edwards. “In most cases we’re able to optimize some characteristics of their design from a cost perspective, and come up with something better to meet a component of the regulation. “Sometimes we have to create protection of some expensive component or battery that supersedes the UN requirement. For example packaging that would otherwise pass UN requirements for a hazardous material might need additional packaging because it’s a $50,000 aircraft battery that absolutely cannot be damaged in transport.” Once technicians design the packaging a test programme can kicks in “At this point we conduct the appropriate tests on each package” says Edwards. “All tests — which include a drop test, a vibration test, a stacking test and a hydrostatic pressure test, where required — are outlined very specifically in the DOT regulations, per the type of package.” He says the firm can also perform component specification testing, a required capability in UN certifying labs for situations requiring that specific components be measured, weighed and otherwise examined and evaluated. Rather than test with a client’s actual battery, HAZPlus uses either a battery shell technicians can weight up or a kind of prototype that would not add to testing time, since normally they will do five sets for the drop test, three sets for the vibration, three sets for the stack test and sometimes more. Regulations set down certain mandated conditions of closure, which include the fine points of inner as well as outer packaging. For example fiberboard boxes are almost always sealed with tape, but regulations specify that only the specific tape that was used in testing can be used to close the package, and there are no variations. Other closure concerns can hinge on something as simple as handling at any point in transport. “Particularly with large format batteries and packs, closure can sometimes be determined by just how the

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unit might be picked up,” says Edwards. “By personnel? A forklift? Both? From where, a truck bed or a dock? What angle would handlers need to access and secure closure points? Depending on how the package fits, closure points may need to be designed in such a way as to avoid potential damage upon opening once it gets to its destination. Because anyone handling the unit needs to understand all this, we also offer training.”

Database compliance too Because regulations require specific kinds of record keeping, HAZPlus maintains a database of all certifications and closing instructions, which must now be included with documentation. “Customers must understand that they are required to declare the package with the shipping carrier, and

present the proper notification documents and closing instructions,” says Edwards. “In the event that a DOT/ FAA official comes on-site for an inspection or audit, we can help customers prepare and supply them with proper documentation.” Of all the benefits any packager can offer — compliant packaging, time and cost savings, reliable service — confidence in the degree of regulatory knowledge may rank highest of all, says Bowman. “Some of our customers are so new to shipping they don’t know much beyond that they want to ship a battery somewhere. But even our established customers, some of them large companies with deep experience, come to us for help understanding pending rule for packaging and testing services.” Educating customers about the regulatory environment is as important to a packaging manufacturer’s business as explaining each step of the process itself, says Edwards. “Given the complexity of these requirements, it’s easy to wind up non-compliant without intending to be so.”

“All tests — which include a drop test, a vibration test, a stacking test and a hydrostatic pressure test, where required — are outlined very specifically in the DOT regulations, per the type of package” — Pat Edwards, CL Smith www.batteriesinternational.com

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...