[ID] => 9633
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-05-17 10:37:37
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-17 09:37:37
[post_content] => Those tasked with dangerous goods shipping and compliance will acknowledge that one particular item classified as ‘dangerous’ has dominated the conversation for the last few years – lithium batteries (and the fire risks they pose). To protect shipments of lithium batteries and the devices that use them, restrictions and requirements have been put into place – including UN Transportation Testing (UN/DOT 38.3), which tests a battery or device’s ability to handle altitude, shock, temperature and more to determine if they are safe to transport.
While existing regulations and testing represent a significant step toward ensuring safe transport, DG shippers must still be prepared for the unexpected. For example, what if you’re shipping damaged batteries or the batteries become damaged along the journey? What if there’s a recall on devices containing lithium batteries? How do shippers better mitigate that risk and better protect individuals who come in contact with those batteries – and do so without inflating costs? It comes down to going the extra mile to ‘think outside the box’.
CHALLENGE THE BOX
Despite recent advances, one thing still rings true for most shippers – when it comes to packaging, the cardboard box almost always reigns supreme. The problem is, while manufacturing, supply chain and shipping processes have evolved and improved, until recently the actual box technology itself has remained the same. While that may be acceptable for most shipments, when it comes to transporting dangerous goods – especially lithium batteries – it poses a significant problem.
The fact is, traditional cardboard boxes are highly flammable. If the contents of a cardboard box heat up and ignite, this type of packaging will likely fuel the fire and hasten its spread beyond the box’s confines. For this reason, the majority of lithium battery-related shipments have typically included heavy, fire-retardant liners, gel-packs, beads, heavy liners, metal boxes or pails, and must conform to strict exterior labelling requirements.
What if the cardboard box was engineered to protect against fire rather than promote it? What if the supply chain industry turned its attention beyond the labels placed on the outside of a box or the fillers used inside a box, and focused instead on the box itself as a way to provide improved safety?
BUILD A BETTER BOX
In fact, the evolution of a better box is here. Innovative shipping materials and packaging options designed specifically to provide a thermal barrier during the transport and storage of lithium batteries are now available. Some boxes with next-generation technology even eliminate the use of gel packs, beads, liners, pellets and fillers, making the transport of lithium-related products (and other dangerous goods) safer and easier than ever before, and further simplifying critical steps in the supply chain – for both internal personnel as well as consumers.
Whether it’s shipping one damaged lithium battery or addressing a nationwide battery recall (instances of which seem to be on the rise), shippers can opt for boxes that now provide improved flame retardance/arrestment, thermal management, pressure management, blast containment, and gas and smoke filtration. This smarter packaging translates directly to safer transport and enhanced compliance, while also addressing the added cost, package weight and complexity that come when transporting dangerous goods with the various liners and fillers necessary when using a traditional box.
Despite such innovations now being available on the market, harnessing the opportunities they can afford will require a basic shift in thinking across the industry – from manufacturers to shippers, and retailers to logistics providers.
A NEW MINDSET
As an industry, we must collectively change the way we view ‘the box’ and look at it as a strategic component of dangerous goods transport rather than simply as a container or added cost. To do this, all involved must recognise the benefits of next-generation packaging and see how they outweigh the objections:
- Reducing risk
- Hi-tech packaging provides an added level of assurance and protection during transport
- Safer boxes help avoid negative company brand impact that could result from an incident occurring during the transport of lithium batteries
- Promoting safe handling
- Hi-tech packaging provides an additional layer of safety across manufacturing, shipping and the supply chain as a whole
- Protects all those who come into contact with packaged lithium batteries or other DG
- Streamlining recall/return management
- Ensures damaged or recalled batteries are transported safely
- Protects against adverse shipping conditions or climate variations involved with countrywide recalls
- Simplifies the return process for everyone involved – particularly the end user
- Gaining a competitive advantage
- Helps bolster productivity, efficiency and safety of operations
- Helps improve customer satisfaction and company reputation
KEEP AHEAD OF THE GAME
When looking into alternatives to the traditional box, it is important to realise that selecting the right packaging provider is as important as choosing the right packaging solution in the first place.
Dangerous goods shippers have more riding on their shoulders than those who transport any other type of goods. To ensure they are working with the best provider and the right solution to meet their packaging needs, those responsible for shipping should keep the following key considerations in mind:
- Is the packaging solution (and its instructions) easy enough for employees (at various points of the supply chain) or even consumers to use it correctly?
- Has the packaging solution been rigorously and thoroughly tested?
- Does the packaging solution meet all the latest shipping regulations and compliance requirements?
- Does the solution offer an option for the packages to show up preassembled, saving valuable time and resources?
Given the exponential growth of e-commerce and the related rise in direct-to-consumer shipping, the pace of shipments of all kinds – including those containing lithium batteries and other dangerous goods – will only increase. Those who lag behind in the adoption of innovative packaging and modern ‘box’ options will not only expose themselves to the risks inherent in transporting flammable and dangerous goods, they will miss out on additional opportunities to streamline shipping and tracking via RFID and other next-generation technologies. In the end, this could mean losing out to the competition and, ultimately, adversely impacting the bottom line.
*Pia Jala is vice-president, operations at Labelmaster. The company now offers a Lithium Battery Advisor, a simple interface to provide comprehensive and detailed information to help ensure lithium battery shipments are compliant. More information can be found on the Labelmaster website.
[post_title] => Packaging: Outside the box
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => packaging-outside-box
[post_modified] => 2018-05-24 12:37:12
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-24 11:37:12
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=9633
[menu_order] => 0
[post_type] => post
[comment_count] => 0
[filter] => raw