Battery Safety — It’s Just Not Fair

by

I picked up the LA Times and once more read that HP has announced yet again another laptop battery recall. Our firm uses this brand, and once more our personnel are being exposed to volatile battery pack angst.

I am intimately aware of the possible consequences of ignoring my responsibility as a consumer responding to a battery recall, because the risks of battery fire or explosion are real. I know it, yet I resent it.

Here’s why:

  • MarkeTech’s involvement in the mobile computing industry’s safety efforts with the SMBus (Smart Battery Bus) battery specifications and standards. I attended the presentations (and even made a few) that invariably included videos and photos of battery fires and explosions.
    • I resent the outcomes of my and others’ work. Except for a rare few, the battery and battery-powered device manufacturers didn’t fully implement the SMBus standard. Too expensive.
  • I patented a number of battery-safety solutions that not only solved the problem for future battery packs, but also improved the safety of legacy batteries already in use. No takers for new technology that would have added less than a dollar to the retail price (usually, over $100) of a laptop battery pack. Too expensive.
  • I spent an inordinate amount of time traveling the globe to include battery-safety provisions in the commercial aviation industry specifications for passenger devices.
    •  After an onboard computer-device fire, a major conflagration at LAX involving pallets of L-Ion batteries, recalls of battery packs in the laptops pilots and crew were bringing aboard, and letters from the battery industry…these weren’t enough evidence of the safety risks. Instead, the safety issue was put to rest by an FAA safety officer “proving” that laptop battery packs didn’t combust or explode by using his backyard barbeque as a test lab! Oh, yes, let’s not forget – especially in commercial aviation, implementing safety is too expensive.

Today, I am responding to this second recall. Once again I’m spending time collecting battery pack serial numbers, logging on to the HP website, hunting down the exact product model (is this a zv5000 or zx5000?), then scanning an extensive list of battery serial numbers, blah…blah…blah. I resent it.

Yes, this reads like I’m venting. But, it’s supposed to be the darned battery that vents when it’s in a pre-failure mode, instead of me having to help clean up avoidable outcomes by responding to yet another recall.

I think I did more than my part to help avoid, or at least minimize, these recalls. Recalls are certainly the least expensive route, but…it’s just not fair.

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 Other Relevant Blogs

The Benefits of Specs and Standards Marketing
David v. Goliath:  Specifications and Standards
Code Word “Interoperability:”  Danger Will Rogers!

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