20 May 2019

Win on Sunday, ship on Monday?

My travels over the last couple of weeks have prompted some interesting comparisons. While touring Switzerland’s motorsport industry and visiting the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) at its headquarters in Geneva. The FIA is the governing body for world motor sport and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organisations and as well as regulating motorsport globally. How is this relevant to logistics? Well, at our Future Logistics Live conference in Graz, Austria on May 14 and 15, a major discussion topic was the lack of global standardisation of regulation, particularly concerning packaging and safe transportation of EV batteries and systems. The comparison is fitting as the FIA’s regulations, passed down through each country’s motorsports association, regulate all aspects of the sport in every country in the world.

In the world of logistics, the current legislation and regulations such as the international rules for transport by land, sea, air and inland waterway are co-ordinated by the UN, whilst EU Directive 2008/66/EC on inland transport of dangerous goods (ITDGD) requires the Member States to apply the provisions including the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road- ADR and The International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail- RID, to domestic transport, subject to local legal variations and provisions. While this sounds fairly homogenous there are exceptions. China has developed its own rules separate from the UN regulations and while its regulations are very well formulated, there are clashes with other regions’ protocols.

As was discussed so eloquently by Dr Jörg Mosolf, Chairman of the Board, Mosolf Group’s presentation on The New Silk Road or Belt Route, to and from China. As Mosolf pointed out, this route should concentrate the minds of all parties on the importance of the harmonisation and enforcement of rules where completed batteries, battery components or finished vehicles are being shipped across multiple borders.

The regulatory framework for the handling, storage, fitment and recycling of batteries applies not only to suppliers and OEMs but will also extend to dealers and the aftermarket, for it is certain that cheap and possibly dangerous ‘pattern’ batteries will come onto the market to feed the demand for used EVs. Add to this the thorny issues of the environmental and ethical issues connected with the mining of rare earth metals and we have a ‘perfect storm’ of possibly unregulated dangerous goods handling.

And the FIA? Well, if it can regulate global motorsport activities, a sport where the stakes can be very high financially, and the very nature of competition on the track (and between advertisers, sponsors and other very determined parties) can drive people to take extreme risks both personally and in business terms, then all the players in the new world of battery logistics and packaging could do well to look hard at the FIA model.

Simon Duval Smith

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