If you spend enough time in the transportation business, you will see just about everything - including packaging that wouldn't adequately protect cargo for a trip around the block, never mind a trip around the world. It's actually quite astonishing the lack of value that some companies place on packaging.
It's not uncommon to see equipment that is worth tens of thousands of dollars being shipped using twenty dollars worth of packaging materials. These shippers are really taking a chance. The first criteria that a carrier will consider when investigating the validity of a freight claim, is to whether the cargo was properly packaged.
Insufficient packaging equals no freight claim! The leading reason for the declination of a freight claim is poor packaging. Even if your claim is paid, do you really want to go through the hassle? Your client has to wait to get their product, you have to re-fill and re-ship the order - essentially, you are doing twice the work for one sale. This is never a good thing, but in today's economic climate, it's definitely an unattractive prospect. It's much easier to take a little extra time and money when packaging your product, than to go through the pain of filing that claim.
What Constitutes Proper Packaging?
That depends on what you're shipping. If you're sending a box of screws across town, you can probably throw them in a cardboard box, slap some tape on it, maybe some plastic or metal banding to help hold it together (if the weight is excessive) and you're good to go. If you're shipping an expensive piece of medical research equipment half way around the world and you want it to arrive intact, don't cheap out on the packaging.
While it's difficult to address how to package all types of products in this kind of forum, we strongly recommend using ISPM 15 compliant pallets and lumber, and securing your cargo to the pallets using bolts, screws or strapping. Cartons on pallets should be shrink-wrapped tightly to avoid shifting in transit. Pallets should be stacked high enough to maximize shipping capacity but not so high that the cartons on the bottom will be compromised. Depending upon the value and sensitivity of your product, it may be appropriate to use additional padding, vapour barrier, shock sensors or “tip and tell” indicators. You know your product better than anyone and know what it can and cannot withstand. When it comes to packaging, it's far better to overdo it than to skimp.
One of the main things to remember is that your cargo is probably going to move around a lot more than you expect. Think about how much your sunglasses slide around on the dashboard of your car. Now think about your expensive product hurtling along a curvy and potholed highway, or being tossed around during gale force winds in the middle of the ocean, or just being handled repeatedly as it makes its way from your dock to your client. All of this takes a toll on the packaging and that packaging has to be solid enough to do its job — or you could find yourself out of one.