Shippers and sellers have plenty of things to consider. They must think about what customers will want today, tomorrow and two months from now. Meanwhile, are freight costs going to rise or decrease? Will Mother Nature throw a wrench into a shipment, causing extra delays or even freight damage?
These questions reflect the woes of freight loss among shippers and sellers, but proper packing and packaging can help prevent freight damage, assuming it is not the result of a natural or manmade disaster. But, how does it actually prevent damage from occurring? To help your organization thrive, you need to understand why proper packing and packaging keeps freight loss at bay, explains Lou Cortese of Inbound Logistics.
5 Ways To Help Avoid Freight Damage & Loss Claims
1. Proper Packaging Protects Contents From Damaging Other Items.
Some shipments can be a risk to their surrounding contents on pallets or trucks. For example, liquids could spill. Heavy items could fall onto other packages, and hazardous materials could spread to other shipments.
These issues mean every package needs to be properly sealed to prevent spillage of products if damage occurs within the package. For example, a broken bottle of ethanol could become a fire hazard and damage other items on the same pallet. In this instance, poly bags or waterproof envelops should be used to prevent additional damage. Unfortunately, this does little to prevent damage from occurring within an individual package, which is where the next aspect of packaging comes into play.
2. Impact Protection Reduces Risk For Fragile Contents.
Every package should include some form of impact protection, but for packages that are made of glass or otherwise fragile materials, impact protection can mean the difference between a hassle-free shipment and a lengthy claims process. Using envelops lined with bubble wrap can provide extra cushioning for these items. However, the outside package will likely be soft, so it may be a good idea to provide an extra layer of packaging. In other words, a hard, outer package with the smaller, impact-resistant package inside may be idea. After each item has been packed, you need to consider how it will be stacked on pallets.
3. Stacking Packages Should Distribute Weight Evenly on Pallets.
Pallets do little good to prevent damage if the contents’ weight is not distributed evenly. Packages should be stacked as closely together as possible, and empty pockets from mismatched package shapes should be avoided. Essentially, every layer of stacking should contain packages of similar dimensions. Furthermore, a sheet of cardboard or other supportive material should be used in three-layer increments in packing a pallet. This will help to distribute weight appropriately. Of course, additional factors, such as not placing heavy or overweight items atop fragile packages, are also needed to ensure freight damage does not occur. So, how does a carrier know what type of packages should be placed above one another?
4. Labels Reduce Chance For Error in Stacking and Wrapping.
Labels are an often-overlooked aspect of preventing freight damage. They help shippers make pallet-packing decisions during the shipping process. As the world has grown more interconnected, it is impossible to determine a product’s fragility or durability from the seller’s brand or name. Consequently, a label should indicate the content’s ability to withstand added weight. This may include the amount of weight the box or package can withstand before being crushed and an indicator of fragile contents.
Labels should also be easy to identify. In other words, multiple labels should not be used unless required by the carrier. Mislabeled packages should have the incorrect label removed or marked out clearly, and the correct label should be free of stains or other damage. Essentially, labels can only go so far if packages are not necessarily in good condition when shipped.
5. Packaging Should Be Secured and Free of Holes or Other Damage.
When a box is damaged before shipment, it may be one of two possibilities. Either the box itself was damaged and is reused, or it may contain damaged contents. For carriers, this is a major risk. The recipient of the package will assume that the carrier damaged the package, not the original shipper. So, all incoming packaging should be free from damage, including holes, signs of water exposure or other possible damage to protect against liabilities.
Lastly, packaging should be secured on the pallet and within the cargo area. This includes using a durable plastic wrap, much like shrink wrap, to keep all packages on the pallet secure. Another level of protection can be added by securing a pallet to the walls of the shipping container or cargo area.
The Big Picture.
Freight damage and loss from freight claims can eat away at your company’s profit margin. Take the time to properly pack and select the appropriate packaging for each shipment. This will help keep your customers and carriers happy, which will help your business grow and provide a better level of customer service.