Sending or How to transport a lithium-ion battery across the ocean | CES 2018 Diares (part 4)

An important aspect for us was the logistics of robots to the exhibition. It coincided that at the end of January we made the delivery of two robots to the USA to our new partners from Miami – the company Cyborg instruments. They kindly agreed to support our activity and allowed us to bring their robots to Las Vegas, and not to Florida, as we planned earlier.

An important point in the transportation of robots is the presence of lithium-ion batteries in them. Everyone knows this type of battery – it is used very widely. Lithium-ion batteries have a large capacity, durability, light weight, but because of the incidents with the Galaxy S7 they are prohibited to standard air transportation.

Most batteries of this type are unique – they are assembled in certain types of workshops, from special types of cells, there are no uniform standards for them. We usually find such workshops in every country where we deliver, and the final buyer puts the battery on its own when receiving the robot.

In the US, there was exactly the same story, but the battery manufacturer said he couldn’t bring the batteries to CES instead of Miami, as Miami and Las Vegas are the two opposite corners of the USA. He said he would try, but he could not promise, because delivery does not depend on him. So, we got a new risk: to come to Las Vegas and stay with robots that will not work.

We began to work out alternative options. The first option was the delivery of robots using special delivery. This is a special type of cargo aircraft, using which, in accordance with the international code of air carriers, it is possible to carry lithium-ion batteries. This method costs 1.5 times more than a conventional flight, but better to do so than to be without robots on the CES.

The second option was the transportation of the battery in the luggage. We read on the Internet how many people put the battery in the luggage and get in the city of arrival. At the same time, we were hoping for a battery manufacturer, who promised to try to do everything possible to have time to deliver the parcel in time.

The last days before shipping

On January 2 the whole world continued to celebrate the New Year, but we were preparing for the exhibition. We bought tickets 3 weeks before departure, for five people. It took us a long time to choose a hotel. The fact that at the time of the CES in Vegas everything is occupied, – is a lie. We booked a hotel in the suburbs, where prices were 2 times lower than in the center, on Stripline. GoogleMaps showed that from it would take us 10 minutes to go to the exhibition from the hotel.

First of all, we wrote to all contact persons for the construction of the booth. Having received from them the confirmation that everything is in ok and on January 7 everything will be at our booth, we moved to the solution of the issue with the batteries. We wrote a letter to the manufacturer and received good news: “The battery is ready to be shipped, please tell me the address.”

Since all communication was conducted at night, there were holidays, a bookkeeper was engaged in bookkeeping, I did not know the address of our hotel.

I wrote in response to the manufacturer, “Let’s wait until tomorrow”, to which I received the answer: “No! If you want it to be in time, you need to send information today. ” There is no choice, I looked through the chat rooms and found a hotel address. Forwarded the address to the manufacturer, and by the morning (in Russian time) received confirmation from FedEx about sending.

We have collected all the necessary tools, spare parts, promotional materials. We collected a first-aid kit, insurance and everything necessary. We also prepared two extra arms for the robot. We made special transportation trunks for them and packed their arms into them. The trunks turned out to be huge and got the nickname of the arm-bazooka, in honor of the meme popular in December.

We did not forget about Plan B on batteries, we took one battery with us, but first we made a special metal box for it.

The battery in a metal box
The battery in a metal box

The display and the power button are attached. This was due to the fact that the laws on the transportation of batteries have a loophole that allows you to transport batteries in the device. We made the documentation that the alleged box with a button, battery and display is a universal device for indicating the level of charge.

Before the departure there were two days, nothing foretold troubles, but I decided to still check whether I indicated the correct address for the delivery of the battery or not. I came to the office and realized that I did not.

The final version of the hotel was not mentioned in the chat room. The version that was in the chat, in the end, was not approved, but the one that approved, remained in the halls of the mind of those who claimed, and nowhere else.

I wrote a letter to the manufacturer asking him to change the delivery address, which he received in response to “No! Address cannot be changed! It’s a battery, it’s the 9th level of danger. Delivery of such goods is not allowed to be changed! Try to negotiate with the hotel.”

What could I do, I started calling the hotel, where I received the answer “Sorry, but we can only store the things of our guests.”

Without thinking twice, I went to the booking and booked the worst possible 25 dollar room in the hotel. The reservation cost 3 300 rubles for three days.(!)

To the note to travelers. In Las Vegas, you can book a bed for 3 300 rubles for three days!
After that, I called the hotel again, received confirmation of the opportunity to accept the parcel, wrote to the battery manufacturer that everything was fine and continued the rest of the business.

Armed with everything we could, we waited for the fifth of January and drove to the airport. Without any problems, we handed the arms as a luggage along with the battery flew to the CES.