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Published On: Mon, Feb 6th, 2017

South Korea Tightens Battery Safety Contols After Fiery Galaxy Note 7 Fiasco – But..

nsnbc : The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, on Monday, reported that safety requirements for lithium-ion batteries will be tightened and there will be conducted regular inspections to avoid fires which caused Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to withdraw its Galaxy Note 7 phone. However, the lithium-ion battery fiasco may continue to cause safety concerns for some time as many other products suffered fiery failures that could endanger the user or even flight safety.

samsung-galaxy-note-7The spectacular fiery failure of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 lithium-ion batteries have not only harmed customers but made a dent in the image of Samsung, the manufacturer of the “smart phone” that turned out not to be so smart after all.

It is uncertain whether it was the government’s concern about public safety and health, the image of Samsung, or the fact that Samsung is a significant contributor to Seoul’s and South Korea’s economy that prompted the government to take action. Maybe all of the above.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy stated on Monday that manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in portable devices, would be subjected to greater oversight and regular inspections. Devices using lithium-ion batteries also would be subjected to more regular safety tests, it added.

Vice Minister Jeong Marn-ki stated: “We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation”.

In October 2016 Samsun was forced to scrap about  $900 worth of not so smart Note 7 smartphones after many of the devices caught fire due to faulty batteries. The fiery fiasco wiped out about $5.4 billion in operating profit over three quarters.

In January Samsung and independent investigators concluded that different battery problems from two suppliers – Samsung SDI Co Ltd and Amperex Technology Ltd – caused some Note 7s to combust.

Another probe by the Korea Testing Laboratory also discovered no other cause for the Note 7 fires other than a combination of manufacturing and design faults with the batteries, the trade Ministry said. The Ministry also added that it would monitor Samsung’s efforts to improve battery safety with measures including x-ray testing and stricter standards during the design process.

The Ministry also stressed that it would strengthen recall-related requirements by broadening the types of serious product defects that manufacturers should report to the government, and seek legal changes to allow the government to warn consumers to stop using certain products even if they had not been recalled.

dollar_saving_pig_SPHowever, fiery battery failures have not been limited to Samsung – in all fairness. Last year the owners of some Toshiba Satellite PCs received an on-line notice which informed the user about a risk associated to the laptop’s lithium-ion batteries and informed the owner that the computer had been scanned and whether or not their PC was at risk and needed a battery change.

It’s noteworthy that this note came only, after many users had owned their laptop for months. Others, like schoolchildren or other users in areas without internet access would probably never hear about the risk. Explosive fires from lithium-ion batteries have also been reported by users of e-cigarettes and other devices. Several “vapers” suffered serious burns when their device burned or exploded in their pockets or hands.

Lack of safety control and lack of sufficient and sufficiently standardized testing of batteries has also prompted international concern about flight safety. Most fire suppression systems in cargo planes, in cargo bays of airliners, or fire extinguishers in airliners lack the capacity to extinguish lithium-ion battery fires. In the end, one might propose that regulations are needed, but that users can give the market a helping hand with regulating itself by boycotting companies and corporations whose ethics is based on the primacy of profit rather than reliability, durability and safety.

CH/L – nsnbc 06.02.2017

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