How Santa Can Amp Up Your Battery Storage
Here’s how to address your battery storage issues before the next peak season to ensure you’re a Santa and not a Grinch.
This has probably happened to you at least once: You’re gathered around the tree on the big day and the kids are opening gifts. Naturally, the first thing they want to do is play with the cool new gadget Santa brought them. You help them get it out of the package and try the power button a few times, but nothing happens. The batteries are dead.
If you’re lucky, the battery will take a charge—but you know that lack of charge is already a good sign of poor battery storage. This situation is a good example of how your supply chain and logistics decisions can impact your customer’s experience.
You Better Watch Out
Please don’t make your end customer explain to their child why Santa’s warehouse didn’t store its lithium-ion batteries properly. Instead, maximize the service life of your product batteries by remembering this acronym:
• State of charge matters.
Battery industry professionals use a scale between 0C and 1C to measure the charge level in a lithium-ion battery. While you don’t want to store your batteries fully charged, keep in mind the battery will lose 1-2% of its charge for every month it sits unused in storage. If your batteries will get used within a few months, you can store them at or just below a half charge, or 0.4-0.5C, though your insurance carrier would prefer under 0.3C.
• Always be ready for fires.
Lithium-ion batteries carry a risk of thermal runaway, in which a chemical reaction within the battery causes a temperature spike. Batteries in thermal runaway release toxic gases and smoke and may catch fire or explode if improperly handled or stored. Thermal runaway can result from heat exposure, drops and impacts, overcharging, internal short circuits, manufacturing defects, and more.
As such, you must store batteries in a facility with appropriate fire detection and suppression systems to keep fires from spreading to the rest of your battery inventory. Very few buildings are equipped with the proper fire suppression for lithium batteries, so do your homework before signing a lease. Finally, consider thermal imaging and other technology to detect changes in temperature to catch problems early.
• Notify your insurance company.
If you intend to store lithium-ion batteries in your warehouse, notify your insurance company immediately to ensure you have the right protections. Due to the increased risk of fire or product damage, most standard insurance policies won’t cover accidents pertaining to this type of battery. Lithium-ion battery storage facilities usually require special insurance policies that not all insurance brokers offer.
• Temperature control is essential.
Lithium-ion batteries should be stored between 40°F and 75°F. Some specialized batteries require a storage environment under 55°F. Storing batteries in a carefully temperature-controlled room in your facility helps to minimize the risk of degradation from freezing temperatures or fire and explosions from high temperatures.
• Ask for help.
If you don’t have experience storing lithium-ion batteries, it’s best to outsource your battery storage to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider familiar with the regulations and best practices surrounding this type of inventory.
An experienced 3PL will have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for safe handling, storage, and emergency response. It will also already have invested in the right fire systems, equipment, and insurance policies.
As you consider the changes you will make to your operations in 2024, remember the look on the face of that kid you knew whose toy wouldn’t turn on. Address your battery storage issues before the next peak season to ensure you’re a Santa and not a Grinch.