Proposed battery restrictions could crimp e-commerce, air travel
Stricter federal rules would affect gadget-loving fliers, electronics makers
Computerworld - Buying your next laptop computer or smartphone online could suddenly get a lot more expensive if a little-known U.S. Department of Transportation proposal to tighten rules around the shipment of small, battery-powered devices by air goes through, says an industry group opposing the move.
Airline passengers would be affected too, as rules banning spare lithium-ion batteries in checked-in luggage would also be extended to alkaline and nickel metal-hydride batteries, argues George Kerchner, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Portable Rechargeable Battery Association.
"It will be a nightmare for passengers," Kerchner said.
On January 8th, the department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced
Small lithium batteries are considered a class 9 hazardous material, a miscellaneous category which includes dry ice and magnetized goods. Batteries under the 100 watt-hour limit had long been exempted from the rules.
The PHMSA, in consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and related legislative committees, says undoing the exception will force vendors and transport companies to use stronger packaging and cut down on the number of accidents.
"Under existing regulations, a flight crew may not be made aware of a pallet containing thousands of lithium batteries on board the aircraft, yet a five-pound package of flammable paint or dry ice would be subject to the full scope of the regulations," said Minnesota Democratic representative and House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman, Jim Oberstar, in a statement. "That makes little sense,"
The full text of the Department of Transportation's proposal can be viewed online, and people may also leave comments.
Kerchner says that instead of
The proposed changes would affect everything from power tools to defibrillators and iPads. Even button battery-powered hearing aids would be impacted, he said.
And by making the U.S. stricter than the International Civil Aviation Organization that governs the rest of the world, Kerchner said, it will require manufacturers and shippers to make sweeping, costly changes to how they package, label and ship consumer electronics and computer goods.
For instance, the battery inside an already-padded box for a new notebook PC might need to be packaged in an additional fiberboard box along with extra shipping documents, he said.
It could also mean untold numbers of workers overseas and in the U.S. will have to get "fully-regulated hazmat" training to simply handle a box with an iPod or HP laptop inside, Kerchner said.
"We're talking about billions of dollars," he said. Those new costs will likely be passed on by manufacturers and shipping companies to customers.
- SIP Migration: Addressing CIOs' Concerns Recent data from IDG Research shows that many IT executives are counting on SIP to help them meet employee efficiency and customer experience...
- SBIC: Transforming Information Security This report combines perspectives on technologies with experience in strategy to help security teams navigate complex decisions regarding technology deployments while maximizing investments.
- InfoTech: Cloud File Sharing Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud file sharing solutions to meet end-user's needs for a lightweight and effective collaboration tool. In this report,...
- Rethinking Backup and Recovery As enterprises continue to transform their data centers, and virtualization plays an increasing role in their IT infrastructures, the way data is backed...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed in recent years, and it continues to escalate. All Gov't Legislation/Regulation White Papers | Webcasts
Computerworld has launched its annual search for outstanding IT leaders who align technology with business goals. Nominate a top IT executive for the 2015 Premier 100 IT Leaders awards now through July 18.