Over the past several years, shipping lithium batteries via air freight has been serious business and it requires significant investment from any company who manufacturer custom battery packs. Not only do companies need to make sure that battery packs are shipped properly without delays, but also for the safety of the public. As of April 1, 2016 international regulations applicable to air shipments of lithium batteries have changed yet again and will require that all companies that manufacture and ship batteries continue to invest to stay ahead of the requirements.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has approved amendments to the lithium battery provisions which include:
- Passenger Aircraft Ban for Lithium Ion Batteries: All shipments of lithium batteries without equipment are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft. As a result, all lithium ion battery shipments must display the Cargo Aircraft Only label.
- State of Charge Limits: A 30% state of charge (SOC) limit on lithium-ion cells and batteries, including Section II cells and batteries, will now apply.
- Restrictions on Package Quantity: A shipper is not allowed to offer more than one Section II package (batteries only) per consignment.
- Restrictions on Overpacks: Overpacks may contain no more than one Section II package - 8 cells or 2 batteries - (batteries only).
- Battery Package Separation: A shipper must offer lithium battery shipments (batteries only) separately from other cargo.
These amendments are detailed in a lithium battery update document found on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.
Preparation of Battery Regulations
Epec Engineered Technologies has spent the past six months preparing for these new regulations. A recent trip to China allowed us to work closely with UPS in order to outline the proper procedures to ensure that our battery shipments exceed the standards. We have addressed everything from over labeling Section II packages to setting up special couriers for bringing shipments to the proper location at the Hong Kong airport. We created our own procedures, provided pictures of the battery packs, the internal packaging, and packaging material certifications as standard shipping documents so none of our shipments get delayed.
Not all companies are created equal when it comes to lithium battery air shipping. By making it everyone’s responsibility that all proper lithium battery shipping guidelines and restrictions are known and practiced, Epec manages to stay ahead of the game while others fall behind.