Lithium Batteries Causing Cars to Catch Fire?
If you’re thinking of buying a Chevrolet Volt or electric car in the near future, you might want to wait until the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures out why a Volt test vehicle caught fire while parked in the testing center.
The plug-in electric Volt had been crash-tested three weeks earlier before it spontaneously caught on fire May 12th in a Wisconsin facility. The crash test involved a 20 mph side-impact test which punctured the Volt's lithium-ion battery pack.
The reason for the fire has not yet been determined by the NHTSA although the punctured lithium-ion battery is being considered.
In follow-up tests, both General Motors and NHTSA were unable to repeat the fire. So far, neither the NHTSA or GM have received any complaints or reports of other Volts catching fire.
So why are you hearing about it now? The NHTSA is investigating the safety of lithium batteries (the Volt houses a 400-pound lithium ion battery pack) which powers electric cars and could have been the cause of the car fire. Additional electric car battery tests are being planned with Energy Department experts in the near future.
The NHTSA is also asking General Motors and other automakers for information on lithium-ion batteries. However, the NHTSA also said that it does not believe that electric cars are at greater risk for fire than those with gasoline-powered engines. Hm, somehow that does not make me feel safer.
General Motors believes the fire occurred because NHTSA did not drain the Volt's battery following the crash which is a safety step the automaker has recommended for first-responders, according to GM spokesman Rob Peterson. Additionally GM did not tell NHTSA of the safety practice.
GM said they were confident in the technology being released in current electric cars and the upcoming hybrid vehicles. However, it is notable that the Toyota Prius, which dominates the hybrid market, is powered by older nickel metal hydride battery technology.
"I want to make this very clear: The Volt is a safe car," Jim Federico, GM chief engineer for electric vehicles, said in a statement.
The South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd, which supplies the Volt battery cells, is also working with GM and the NHTSA on the investigation. These lithium-ion batteries have been used in consumer electronics safely but do have a tendency to overheat.
Now the NHTSA is considering requiring first-responders to drain electric vehicles' batteries after a crash.In addition, the agency is seeking the best process for accident responders to follow in electric vehicle accidents.
NHTSA is now reviewing automakers' responses. The official said it is too early to tell whether the agency will issue a rule on discharging batteries.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.