If you were to ship a laptop 5 years ago, all you would need to do was pack it up and ship it. Like shipping socks. But now that same laptop is considered a dangerous good due to the lithium battery it contains.
I had a customer drop off 2 laptops going to Australia. He wanted me to prepare the shipment for air transport as he isn’t certified to ship dangerous goods via air. He said he received about 6 pallets of marine vessel equipment returning from Canada to Australia and he said someone put these 2 laptops in one of those pallets thinking it can all go as general cargo. He knew that there are restrictions on shipping lithium batteries via air so he knew he had to call in the expert!
I removed the battery from the laptop to see the watt hour rating. It was 41-watt hour and the total net quantity of lithium was below 5 kg (well below). Which meant these laptops are classified as Section II for UN3481, Lithium ion batteries contained in equipment; therefore, does not require a shipper’s declaration. It’s always good news for the client when it falls in Section II as it saves the client money.
I placed both laptops inside a good strong box (each laptop was initially Continue Reading…
Now doesn’t that sound interesting. When you want to ship different dangerous goods in one outer packaging, you have to calculate something called a “Q value” using a formula. The Q value ordeal is only applicable to air shipments and seldom used as most prefer to put the dangerous goods in separate packaging.
Last week a customer requested to have 2 different dangerous goods packaged and shipped to Brazil via air. Since the quantities for each product was less than 200 ml I thought I might be able to apply the “Q” value and besides it’s always better to consolidate your shipment if you can to prevent loss/delay of packages. Especially this time of the year.
I ensured the dangerous goods met all the requirements of Section 22.214.171.124 of the IATA Regulation. I calculated the “Q” value and it was less than 1.0. So, everything seemed to be a go. For packaging, I used a 4GV box and lots of vermiculite to:
separate the two dangerous goods and
more than enough absorbent in case there was a leak (only one product was liquid)
Applied all the labels and markings, created the shipper’s declaration and added the Q value as required per Section 126.96.36.199.2(f), then shipped it out with Fedex.
Sometimes we try to find an economical solution to comply with regulations. If it works, great, but sometimes – actually most times – it comes back to bite us in the behind.
Last week a customer of ICC’s came in panicking to get help. He has previously used us a few times for our repackaging service. Let’s call him Bob. Bob told me he and his team took an online training course which certified them to ship lithium batteries via air. Bob’s shipper packaged up a lithium battery shipment and had sent it out. Bob just found out that it was rejected by the carrier. I asked Bob which UN# they used and he said UN3481. Asked him which (packing instruction) section and he said “what?”. I said, “In Packing Instruction 967, which section do you fall under?” He said, “What’s a packing instruction?”. I grabbed my IATA regulation and told him, “You guys used this book to do the course, yeah?” and he inferred that the course didn’t require use of a book and no, they didn’t use any books. I asked Bob if they took training with ICC and he said, “no”. Bob said they took training with another company and paid $50 as it was the cheapest training they could find. I told him that was his first mistake.
It’s not often that you’ll see more than 2 hazard labels on a DG package, but the one I did this week had 5 hazard labels plus 3 handling labels. So a total of 8 labels on a package. Yes, that is a lot.
I received a panic call from a freight forwarder who picked up a rejected package from a passenger airline and didn’t know what to do with it. It was a rush shipment to get to Australia. I asked him what was being shipped and he said, “a fire extinguisher and some cans of glue”. I advised him to bring the package and all accompanying documents over to our office and I will get it packaged up properly for air transport. He showed up an hour later.
This is what the box looked like when it came in:
I reviewed the shipper’s declaration which the shipper did complete and the markings/labels on the box and it was incorrect for numerous reasons. I told the freight forwarder that the person who prepared this shipment is not certified to ship via air. An air certified individual may make an error or two, but not 10. It was evident this person did not know what they were doing. I asked for the MSDS/SDS for the products. The fire extinguisher was obvious, but there were 4 small Continue Reading…
Have you ever seen an aircraft fire extinguisher? If not, they don’t look anything like a regular fire extinguisher. For most of us when someone says, “fire extinguisher”, we imagine some kind of red cylinder with a pin, nozzle, and trigger. But an aircraft fire extinguisher looks like a ball with antennas sticking out. That’s why I call them “funky looking fire extinguishers”.
I was asked if I can assist with shipping out an aircraft fire extinguisher via air for a client. Absolutely I can. The client dropped off the fire extinguisher which was wrapped in bubble wrap. As per the SDS it was classified as UN1956 but for those with equivalency certificates/special permits it can be classified as UN1044. Now since these funky fire extinguishers don’t exactly have the surface area to place the markings and labels, I used a strong tag to affix the label and markings as per Section 188.8.131.52 (d) of the IATA Regulations. I wrapped the fire extinguisher in more bubble wrap in such a way to prevent any accidental activation during transport. I used a strong outer packaging and filled the void space with packing peanuts. Placed all the labels and markings on the outside of the package and send it out the same day with FedEx. The package arrived at its destination nice and early at Continue Reading…
A gentleman called to ask if we can help him ship out a small sample (125mL) of sodium hydroxide via air. I said, “absolutely”! He then asked, “maybe you can send it out as limited quantity?”. He was trained to ship dangerous goods via ground but not air. Folks trained in both modes of transport will agree that sending something using the limited quantity exemption by ground is tremendously different from sending that same product using the limited quantity exemption by air.
Shipping Limited Quantities by Ground vs Shipping by Air
Let’s just say for ground, life is good when you can apply the limited quantity exemption to the shipment. It’s easy and cheaper. Yes, it takes a while to get wherever it is going but that’s what you pay for. Sending the same product for a quantity that falls within the limited quantity exemption for air transport may save you a couple of bucks, but that’s it. The only place to really save some money is on packaging. Sending a product using the limited quantity exemption for air exempts you from using a UN standardized package; however, there are some tests that are required for that package. That’s why I said, “may”.
If you ship this small of a volume on a regular basis then it may be worth doing the tests, but if you only Continue Reading…
What do you do when an empty package weighs almost as much as the maximum weight allowed?
Those who ship dangerous goods via air understand there are maximum weight restrictions per package to abide by. For example, in the case of ID8000 the maximum weight per package is 30 kg G. The “G” represents gross weight.
I had a packaging service request to prepare a shipment (2 boxes) heading to Europe via air. As per the SDS the goods are classified as ID8000 for air transport. No problem! Normally ID8000 packaging jobs are pretty straightforward. When the boxes arrived at our warehouse, I was shocked at how big they were. I attempted to lift one off the pallet and move it to my packaging area, and our warehouse coordinator said, “Easy there, Muscles. Those are heavy boxes.” I asked him how much the packages weighed. He grabbed the courier slip and it said 89 kg (196.11 lbs).
Right off the bat, the maximum weight per package was now exceeded. I opened one of the boxes to see inside (as I always do with any packaging job) and inside were a bunch of smaller boxes with aerosol cans. I took out all the smaller boxes and weighed the empty box (yes, I got help from Mr. Hercules … there is a lot of love around our office) to find Continue Reading…
I had a client inquire about shipping acetic acid, which looks very much like apple juice, via air.
I asked him about the quantity, the concentration, and current packaging of the product. There was approximately a total of 11 litres, contained in 2 plastic jugs with 90% concentration. I asked him which carrier he wanted to use and he said, “whichever one I recommend“. Based on the volume of the product I advised him he could do one of two things. Either ship 11 individual boxes (definitely the more costly option), or ship it all in one box via carrier of his choice.
Of course, it made sense to put them all in one box and ship with a cargo aircraft only mark. I asked him to decant the 2 jugs into smaller inner containers with a maximum volume of 2.5 litres each. Plastic is preferred for this chemical. He brought in 11 individual plastic bottles that completely resembled an apple juice bottle. Using adequate UN packaging I packaged the bottles with plenty of vermiculite and sent it with FedEx. The package arrived the next day without any hiccups. I love these straightforward packing jobs!
Anyone who ships by air these days can relate to the frustrations associated with shipping lithium batteries.
A gentleman (let’s call him Jack for reference purposes) was given our contact information by Air Canada to get his motorcycle declaration completed. I provided Jack with the shipper’s declaration and he was able to ship his motorcycle with Air Canada. Jack is moving to Faro, Portugal (yes, I am jealous too!) and he is shipping all his personal effects. The broker that is helping Jack with shipping his belongings told him lithium batteries (his power drills) are dangerous goods and Jack needed to remove them, which he did.
Unfortunately the broker didn’t provide Jack with any directions on how he can ship them. So, when Jack went to drop off his motorcycle to Air Canada he asked about shipping his power drills and Air Canada cargo folks told him it’s DG and he needs to get it prepared for transport, and to call Air Canada (yes, you need to call the 1-800 number) for more information. Of course Jack did and Air Canada told him they can accept the shipment as long it’s prepared for air transport. That’s where I come in.
What Are Jack’s Options?
Jack then called me back. He said to me, “You seem to know what you are talking about when Continue Reading…
We Repack All Types of Dangerous Goods … Including Dead Bats!
I received a call from a local veterinarian who was looking to buy 2 labels, yes only 2 individual labels. We sell them in rolls of 500 so it is surprising when someone asks for 1 or 2 labels. She was advised by a carrier that all she needs is to put two “UN3373” labels and a label with the words “Biological Substance, Category B” on a package and send it out. The veterinarian called us to get two “UN3373” labels and a label with the words “Biological Substance, Category B” as told to her by the carrier. I advised her that she can simply write the words on the package as long as it’s legible and indelible but she said she was told it must be a label.
TDG Training to Ship a Dead Bat?
Of course this is when my brain starts thinking outside of the box (more than the conversation that is currently taking place). Then I asked if she was trained to ship dangerous goods and she said no. She was only doing what the carrier advised her to do. That’s when the regulatory specialist in me stepped up. I advised her she must have TDG training to be able to ship dangerous goods. I gave her a 5 minute crash course Continue Reading…