Battery transport: Coverage of the entire logistics spectrum

Freight planes do not use batteries for propulsion. But batteries use cargo planes for transportation. Or they take container ships, freight trains and trucks. The fact is: More and more batteries are being transported around the world using all possible means of transport. Energy storage is considered the driver of electromobility and is becoming increasingly important in road traffic. Experts estimate that around 130 million electric vehicles will be on the road in 2030 without local CO2 emissions.

This creates a large and demanding field of activity for logistics. The batteries have to be produced and transported to an automobile plant. And when their life cycle ends, they have to be returned, including recycling or disposal. DB Schenker develops coherent concepts for all of this. Such transports are not “normal”. Because batteries are considered dangerous goods.

What makes lithium batteries dangerous?

A basic distinction is made between lithium-metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries. The former contain metallic lithium and are not rechargeable. In contrast, a lithium-ion battery is what is commonly called a battery. It contains no metallic lithium and instead lithium oxide. But either way: Lithium sometimes reacts badly with many substances – even with water. The batteries can easily overheat and catch fire. Therefore, they are considered dangerous goods. For every means of transport and for every type of battery there are legal regulations that have to be observed. Special measures for lithium batteries must also be taken in the warehouse. So it is forbidden to keep them together with other flammable goods. In addition, there must always be good ventilation and the rooms must be dry.

A factory in Asia produces the battery and the installation in the car is carried out by a European plant. That is reality in the globalized economy. For DB Schenker, it has long been part of everyday life to develop and implement the right concept for the flow of materials and goods. “With our global network, we cover the entire logistics spectrum for battery transport,” says Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker. Whether by truck, ship, plane or train: DB Schenker organizes and coordinates the transport taking all guidelines into account.

Door to door – everything from a single source

The offer also includes door-to-door transports. These are supply chains that start at the loading ramp of a battery manufacturer and end in the goods receipt of an automobile manufacturer. In between there are a few hundred or several thousand kilometers. All from a single source using all modes of transport. They are selected and combined depending on the route and urgency. It can be carried out by land with a full truck load or by sea in a sea freight container – refrigerated in both cases, if necessary. DB Schenker manages the transfer from one mode of transport to the other. The classic combined transport (KV) of train and truck is also very popular. In cooperation with DB Cargo, environmentally friendly battery transports are even carried out by rail between Asia and Europe.

Battery logistics with all modes of transport

Fast air freight is also an important link in the supply chains. DB Schenker organizes battery transports on the most important routes. The processes are handled by over 100 of our own airfreight locations worldwide. The certificate according to FSR-A (Facility Security Requirements) documents that they meet the highest security standards in the industry.

“#lithium-ion batteries are the energy carriers of # eMobility. But they are also a #dangerous goods for #logistics.“

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The professional and standard-compliant handling of batteries and their components is one of the supreme disciplines of logistics. Especially when it comes to efficiently networking modes of transport and storage locations. “We have developed a high level of competence in the automotive, electronics and semiconductor industries over many years,” says Rainer Kiefer, EVP Global Sales at DB Schenker. The specialists are happy to pass on their know-how to customers. “We also offer our extensive experience in form of advice and training,” says Kiefer.

For Jochen Thewes, one thing is certain: “Batteries are the central driver of advancing electrification worldwide.” The logistics service provider supports the players in this market in safely transporting components, finished products and returns across the globe. DB Schenker is proud of that. Because, according to Thewes: “We are convinced that e-mobility is a key factor for a more sustainable future.”


Christian Moser
Global Account Manager Schenker AG

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