Lithium-ion batteries: a danger to the logistics industry?

07 Aug 23

On Tuesday 25 July, a severe fire broke out on the car carrier, the Fremantle Highway. Tragically, one crew member has been reported to have died, and the 22 rescued were treated for breathing problems and burns.

As of now, the complete scope of the injuries, damages and the exact cause of the incident remains uncertain. However, it is confirmed that the vessel was transporting 2,857 cars, including 25 electric vehicles. This incident highlights the continuing safety discussions concerning the transportation of products containing lithium-ion batteries.

It’s not just electric cars that utilise lithium batteries – modern computers, mobile phones, scooters and vapes all utilise the technology. With so many items relying the power source, it is essential that businesses implement stringent safety measures when transporting them.

Comply with regulations

First and foremost, complying with the regulations and requirements set forth by governing bodies is essential – this means following the specific safety and compliance regulations established by governments. As the demand for lithium batteries increases, more risks will arise, it’s therefore likely that regulations will become more stringent.

Using a cloud-based transport management system (TMS), a logistics operation can relay the latest compliance guidelines to their team. This enables businesses to stay informed and make well-informed decisions to mitigate potential risks.

Protecting shipments

The next phase in mitigating risks during the shipment of lithium batteries involves the proper packaging and handling. Shippers must take care to adequately cushion and safeguard all lithium batteries from potential points of contact. This also entails using containers that are resistant to punctures. As full regulations for shipping lithium batteries are not yet in place, it is the responsibility of each shipper to ensure the safe transportation of their materials, thereby preventing short circuits, punctures, or any other damages.

Conducting daily walkaround vehicle checks is crucial in safeguarding items. Using a TMS, these can be enhanced considerably with a VOSA compliant checklist. Drivers can start each shift gathering all the necessary information – the details are then subsequently uploaded to the cloud for the operations team to examine.

Attach a declaration of dangerous goods form to the shipment

Shippers must declare the package contents with the appropriate UN number to indicate the type of lithium-ion battery being shipped, such as cell batteries versus those devices containing lithium-ion batteries (laptops and battery-powered electronics).

The key is ensuring that the proper UN number is used and that the packaging is of the appropriate size to allow for explicit markup of lithium battery shipping labels without folding. The labels inform of the safety risks and the need for additional care in loading and securing each shipment.

Clear and accurate labelling helps everyone involved in the shipping process understand the safety risks and the need for extra precautions. Using a TMS, businesses can enhance the accuracy of their labelling process by storing specific information on the cloud. This allows colleagues and other carriers within the supply chain to understand the safety risks regarding specific items.


With the distribution of lithium battery, it’s clear that the freight management world is growing more complex. A failure to realise the risks or not following the requirements for shipping these items could possibly lead to fines, penalties and even additional remuneration should a disaster occur.

TrackTrans equips businesses with custom-designed ePOC (electronic proof of collection) and ePOD (electronic proof of delivery) forms that capture essential information related to all peripheral items, defect reports and safety information necessary for transporting vehicles, both old and new. By embracing technological solutions and adhering to industry best practices, it’s our goal to make the shipping and logistics industry safer for everyone involved.

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