Our Pledge: “We will remove ALL Lithium-Ion Batteries from the production of our Supply Chain Trackers by the end of 2020… it’s simply the right thing to do for the logistics industry and the environment.” Krenar Komoni, CEO @ Tive.co
Major buyers and shippers in the Global Supply Chain have decided to remove Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) powered recorders and trackers from all of their loads. They determined that Lithium-Ion batteries posed a serious safety and health concern. A series of dangerous fires, both in transit and in their warehouses, led to this decision. It appears that several industry players have designs that, under certain situations, have the potential to catastrophically fail when damaged.
A year ago, as we (Tive) began our next generation design work on what would become the industry’s first 5G tracker, we prioritized the optional replacement of Lithium-Ion batteries with safer, more environmentally friendly power sources. This wasn’t easy… no one had ever accomplished a tracker design supporting two alternative high-density power sources.
The Tive Solo 5G was released at the start of this year with a traditional internal Lithium-Ion battery. In Mid-June, actually a few days after the ban on Lithium went into effect, we started shipping Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH) powered trackers to several suppliers (growers / packers / manufacturers) affected by the ban. Last weekend the first non-Lithium trackers successfully completed coast-to-coast runs.
So, what is the problem with Lithium-Ion Batteries?
The use of Lithium-Ion batteries is pervasive throughout the supply chain. The need to record environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, or light) and real-time GPS location of loads is a mainstay of supply chain visibility. Li-Ion batteries are found virtually everywhere in our daily lives… cell phones, the laptop battery I’m using to write this note, the flashlight I keep next to my bed. Li-Ion batteries deliver greater storage density per cost for our power-hungry world than most other solutions. So, why are Li-Ion batteries being banned from the Supply Chain?
It’s a health and safety concern… clear and simple. We don’t generally have our cell phones or laptops sitting on top of pallets in-transit. However, this is exactly what we do with recorders and real-time trackers. Can we get a cell phone to burst into flames… of course, remember the trouble Samsung had a few years ago? Laptop batteries catching fire… yep, just check out YouTube, but these are isolated issues typically caused by recharging or failed safety circuits. The issue with trackers and recorders appears to be weak case designs that fail when the device is crushed (i.e. driven over by a forklift). Piercing or “folding” a Li-Ion battery will likely lead to catastrophic failures. That’s why the current generation of Tive Trackers have a case designed to take ridiculous levels of abuse. But fires aren’t the only reason we decided to remove Lithium-Ion batteries from our products.
Lithium-Ion batteries are awful to the environment. They rely on exploitative mining processes, extraordinary amounts of water in the initial processing of Lithium Salts, and these batteries are ending up in our landfills at alarming rates. Nickle-Metal Hydride (NiMH) is also generally considered a more environmentally friendly solution since it doesn’t contain toxic heavy metals. Is Nickle-Metal Hydride the final answer? No… it’s not a perfect solution. There isn’t a perfect solution available today, but we believe that NiMH is a better solution… a safer solution… a step in the right direction. By optimizing our designs, we got the Solo 5G can run on ultra-low power requirements. It was hard work, but we figured it out. We solved the power requirement issue so now is the time to remove Lithium-Ion power supplies from the Supply Chain tracking and recording market. It’s the right thing to do.
"I pledge that as a first step, Tive will remove Lithium-Ion batteries from our products by the end of 2020… and when a better solution than NiMH is available, we will take that next step." Krenar Komoni, CEO @ Tive.co