Date Published: 23 July 2020

Avoiding Damage To Your Goods In Transit

Parcels sent within the courier shipping environment transit from point of origin through small parcel carrier systems via multiple single package manual handlings and a mechanised sortation system until reaching their destination.

The aim of this guidance is to ensure that your packaging characteristics includes:

  • The ability of the contents to withstand the effects of shock and vibration during handling and transportation.
  • Ability to hold a load in compression
  • Susceptibility to abrasion, corrosion, temperature, static electricity, and magnetic fields.

The Shipping Environment

Small parcel carriers rely on a “hub-and-spoke” network to cover large areas and offer fast, predictable transit times for single package shipments. It is best described in this photo.

Your parcel, in a simplistic model is handled at least 10 times, in fact it is many more as it transits through the hubs, and various transport modes. It is subjected to an enormous amount of handling. the small parcel shipping environment typically includes hazards that are unique to them as well as common hazards that may be of greater severity than by other modes.

Many of the more severe hazards are due to automated sorting and handling equipment used by larger ground and air express carriers. Some of these hazards in this environment, include the five principal ones: shock; vibration; compression; extreme climate conditions; and altitude.

Recent studies have found that impacts to packages are mostly rotational drops on edges, somewhat less on corners. Few perfect flat or perfect edge/corner drops are encountered. Most impacts occur on the bottom surface, corners, or edges of the package.

How do you ensure that your products survive modern courier transportation systems?

The photos below depict a typical small parcel shipped by a supplier from their showroom to the consumer. Typical of many retail distributors, they receive their product individually in their own cardboard box with internal polystyrene fill or similar cushioning material. These individual boxes are designed and manufactured for the original manufacturer or distributor who has packed them in large shipping containers and shipped them to the store for final distribution by the retailer.

Typically, this form of packaging can survive the small parcel carrier system, however due to the hazards described above, breakages can occur.

Each of the small carrier transporters in Australia have recommended packaging methods. These recommendations can be found on their respective websites.

The following steps may help you to prepare for shipping:

Step 1 Use an appropriate corrugated box

UPS give good advice on their website “ Choose a box strength that is suitable for the contents you are shipping. Weight limits printed on the Box Maker's Certificate (found on the bottom flap of most boxes) are intended for palletised freight shipments, not for shipments through small parcel carrier environments”

Step 2: Provide Internal Protection

Cushioning of contents is extremely important, wrapping items separately or in their own box within the shipped box. What is important is to ensure each item is surrounded by at least 5cm of cushioning and placed at least 5 cm away from the walls of the box.

Ensure you choose cushioning material designed for packaging, do not use materials, newspaper/newsprint. You should use materials such as:

  • Air-encapsulated plastic (small and large cell bubble sheeting)
  • Inflatable packaging (air bags)
  • Expanded polystyrene "peanuts" (loose fill)
  • Engineered foam enclosures
  • Foam-in-place/Foam-in-bag
  • Corrugated liners and inserts
  • Crumpled craft paper

Step 3. Close Your Container Securely

Use of masking tape, cellophane tape, duct tape, string, or paper overwrap are not suitable, instead use a tape that is at least 5cm or more in width which is made of:

  • Pressure-sensitive plastic
  • Nylon reinforced filament tape

 It is recommended to use the H method of securing your box.

Step 4. Use Proper Labelling

Using a World Options Label includes bar codes and routing codes used to help ensure accurate routing and prompt delivery of your shipments.

Some tips on Labelling

  • Always include the recipient´s postal code with the complete street address (include the apartment or unit number, if applicable). For international shipments, include a contact name, telephone number, and postal code.
  • Place the shipping label on the top of the package, using only one address label . If you are using a packing slip, place it on the same surface of the package as the address label.
  • Do not place the label over a seam or closure or on top of sealing tape.
  • If re-using a box remove or cross out old labels or markings
  • Always include your complete return address
  • Place a duplicate label or other form of identification inside your package

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