If you’re transporting large format lithium batteries—like the ones for electric vehicles, solar power storage, data centers and other heavy-duty purposes—you’re going to need a large packaging solution.
But if you start focusing on your packaging solution without doing the necessary intelligence work first, you could set yourself back weeks, or even months. Not to mention that compliance errors during large format lithium battery transport can result in penalties, delays and other significantly negative financial consequences.
First of all, it’s a lot more than just a crate—you need a custom-designed, multi-component packaging system to safely and compliantly ship a large format lithium battery. And to get that design and all those components right, you need to answer these five questions first.
#1: What are the exact characteristics of your batteries?
Extremely large format lithium batteries can weigh several hundred pounds and are often asymmetrically balanced. They’re usually custom-designed for one particular application, so your battery is most likely very different from other batteries.
That’s why your packaging design has to take into account all these factors:
- Dimensions: Length, width, height
- Battery weight and weight distribution
- Attachment points and “no-zones” where the battery cannot be secured or touched
- Power capacity
- Amount of electrolyte in the battery
- Battery status: Intact, end-of-life or DDR (damaged, defective or recalled)
Some of these may seem obvious, but overlooking even one of them can send you back to the drawing board once you start testing your packaging.
#2: What transport modes will you use, and which regulations apply?
Are you shipping by road, rail, sea, air, or any combination of them? Your answers to this question can strongly influence the design of your crates.
That’s because every transport mode requires compliance with a different set of regulations for container design. Here are the primary regulatory sources for each mode:
- Road and rail (in the U.S.): 49 CFR
- Vessel or maritime transport: IMDG Code
- Air: IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations
By the way, these regulatory differences don’t only apply to packaging—they also impact testing, packaging instructions, documentation, marking, labeling and placarding. You have to align with them in the early stages of the design process to avert significant pitfalls later.
#3: Will you be shipping in countries other than the United States?
Transport mode isn’t the only factor that can influence your packaging design. Every country your batteries may be shipped out of, into or through may also have its own set of Dangerous Goods regulations. Regulations can vary significantly between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America and Asia.
And, as with considerations for mode, these regulatory variations can also affect testing, packaging instructions, documentation, marking, labeling or placarding.
#4: What Special Permits and other requirements will you need?
Due to their unique configurations and high output, large format lithium batteries often require Special Permits (in the U.S.) or Competent Authority Approval (in Europe) for compliant transport. And as you probably know, securing a Special Permit or CAA is rarely a fast process.
If you don’t know what Special Permits or CAAs you’ll need before you start designing your packaging, your design process can get seriously bogged down.
You’d be well-advised to work with a partner who has deep experience in the Special Permit and CAA applications processes to help keep your design process on schedule.
#5: What workplace rules, standards and constraints will apply?
You’re not just designing your packaging for use by your own organization. Your affiliates and supply chain partners will be handling that crate, too—and they may have different workplace rules, standards and constraints that impact the transport and handling of your batteries. And those considerations can impact your packaging design.
Once again, you can benefit from teaming with a partner who’s worked with a wide range of domestic and international organizations to make sure your packaging is suitable for all applicable workplace protocols.
Do your research—and get crate design right the first time
When you’re transporting large format lithium batteries, packaging is critical—but so is time. Moving forward with packaging design before you’ve done all your research risks wasting time as you correct mistakes and rework elements you could have gotten right the first time.
And every day you waste on design is a day you’re not shipping batteries.
Navigate large format lithium battery transport with Labelmaster.
You need more than just packaging to take the stress out of shipping large format lithium batteries. That’s why some of the world’s largest organizations rely on Labelmaster to help them build a turnkey supply chain program. They trust our regulatory expertise and supply chain support. You can, too!
Only Labelmaster can offer you the Dangerous Goods experience, expertise and hands-on help you need to navigate the large format lithium battery transport process safely, compliantly and efficiently. Contact Labelmaster to learn more!
Make sure your shipments are safe and in complete compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.