Transportation always has been among the riskiest processes for any business. As your goods travel from Point A to Point B, almost anything could go wrong and wreck your investment. It can be a major inconvenience if your delivery comes damaged. Your products could get stolen by a treacherous or apathetic driver; they could receive the wrong shipping labels and get lost in some far-flung warehouse; perhaps worst of all, they could be damaged during transit and arrive to customers in less-than-stellar condition.
While many businesses take precautions to limit losses due to theft or misplacement, few do as much as possible to protect their shipped goods from harm. Sometimes, a layer of bubble wrap simply isn’t enough, especially when you are guarding against the following types of shipping damage.
Impact and Shock
Impact and shock are perhaps the most obvious sources of damage during the shipping process. You need to select a shipping container that is able to withstand sufficient levels of impact and shock. It should go without saying that irreparable harm often comes to items that are dropped, bumped together or otherwise impacted; typically, shocked items will either fracture or deform, sometimes causing mere cosmetic damage and other times resulting in inoperability. In either case, customers will not be happy, so you should strive to limit impacts and shocks as much as possible.
If your cargo seems to be damaged frequently, you will need to use a shock watch to better understand where in the shipping process impacts are occurring. You might need to invest more energy in training warehouse workers and delivery drivers in proper cargo management, or you might need to put money into higher-quality packaging materials to keep your goods safe on the road.
Vibration might seem harmless — but it can be among the most destructive forces that cargo experiences in transit. This is due to a phenomenon called mechanical frequency. Essentially, every material in the universe has a natural frequency; for some materials, that frequency is created at some point during the shipping process, causing those materials to shake and doing damage to themselves and items around them. Vibration tends to be especially injurious to instruments and equipment because specific calibrations can be thrown off by even the smallest shaking and rattling.
There are plenty of vibration monitoring tools to help you identify what kinds of vibrations are present during your unique shipping process. Consider using bubble wrap in order to minimize damages from vibrations. If you find that your shipments are affected by vibrations, you should protect your shipped goods with specialty foams, which are customized to absorb vibrations and keep items safe.
Like vibration, moisture is almost impossible to eliminate from the shipping process, yet it is insidiously destructive to all sorts of materials and cargo. Leaks in warehouses or vehicles, spillages by careless workers, precipitation like rain and snow and even humid air can seep into packaging and ruin your shipped goods. Moisture is especially dangerous to electronic items because water creates short circuits that overload delicate components. What’s more, water corrodes various metals, causing weakness and issues with fit and function.
More expensive cargo should be protected with waterproof cases, which fully insulate items from any type of moisture. However, these cases can be costly, so more practical advice for most businesses is to make moisture-savvy packaging decisions, like plastic over paper, and to use desiccants in packaging, which wick moisture from the air.
Dust is as inescapable as moisture, and it works alongside moisture to cause damage during shipping. Unlike shock and vibration, dust is a lingering threat; though not immediately dangerous while shipped items are en route, dusty items, packaging or shipping containers can cause shipped goods to look or function improperly for years to come. For instance, if dust makes its way into a piece of equipment, it will suck moisture out of the air to cause water-related damage. Additionally, dust inhibits airflow, which can cause machines to overheat or excessively strain.
As with moisture, special casings are often the best choice for protecting particularly delicate items against dust. Generally, dust shouldn’t be a primary concern, but if dust does cause scratches, moisture or airflow issues, you should look into packaging solutions.
Hope isn’t enough to keep your goods safe during shipping. It can be a major inconvenience if your deliveries arrive damages. In addition, it can be difficult to account for damaged finished goods. You need to know what dangers lurk in shipping containers and on the road, so you can effectively protect your items and keep your customers happy.