Packaging Prowess

The good, the bad and the ugly.

I have been working in the shipping and logistics arena for nearly 20 years now – long enough to know that every day brings a new challenge and that I have NOT yet seen and heard it all.

I have one customer who owns a neighborhood shipping center and who also happens to have a degree in packaging design and engineering. It’s extremely entertaining to listen to him but even more entertaining to see some of the packaging configurations he comes up with for his own valued customers.

One time he had to protect a high-valued piece of artwork destined to move cross-country from an estate sale to the buyer. Being a full-time “murphologist” (a student of murphy’s law) he pre-supposed the obvious damage points and built a package that would ultimately protect the product and did so in Nostradamus-like fashion.

He built a dummy platform that was eighteen inches above the actual product point so if, and when, a forklift rams into the package, the high-value artwork will be protected well above the presumed point of impact.

We’ll his planning worked effectively; matter-of-fact it worked like a charm!

A forklift driven by a third-shift college student DID ram into the package right above the pallet point and about 14 inches below the protected product – I even saw the pictures!


Be Proactive

Now you don’t need to think and act this customer does but you do need to think in advance and take proactive measures because the last think you need is to file a claim and to deal with unforeseen damage issued.

The following photos represent the good, the bad and the ugly of packaging.

Photo 1 has an engine properly seated, strapped and banded on an appropriately sized pallet.

Photo 2 has an engine on an adequately-sized pallet, but it is not properly centered and there are no bands or straps to hold it in place. Simply put, an accident waiting to happen. 

Photo 3 has an unknown commodity on a pallet that is far too small for the shipment with no bands or straps, leaving just shrink wrap to hold it all together. This shipment is inviting the carrier to inspect it and assess penalties for numerous offences and is a great case study in what NOT to do. 

Use the Appropriate Materials

To avoid inspection and derail unforeseen re-bill charges, you should always use the appropriate materials, brace and block the product on an appropriate sized pallet and use bands and straps to secure the product to that pallet. If it’s not properly braced and blocked, you’ll run the risk of having your shipment refused.

If you do a Google search for Mechanical Parts Packaging Guidelines, you’ll run across some very comprehensive recommendations prepared by the folks at FedEx Freight. Find them here:


Always Attach the Appropriate Labels and Instructions

In addition to using the appropriate materials and methodologies, you’ll want to make certain that you are attaching the appropriate labels and instructions to your packaging.

These items include the house waybill (or bill of lading) and any instructions that may pertain to special handling or delivery. These labels and instructions must be attached to the pallet and fully-visible to driver that picks up your shipment and terminal employees who process it throughout the cycle of transit.


Always Consider the Additional Insurance Option in Lieu of Carrier Coverage

And finally, you should always consider an additional insurance option. All carriers provide coverage, but each of the carriers converges will vary. And if you are shipping used or remanufactured parts or equipment, you’ll most likely be disappointed if you file a claim under your standard carrier coverage.

Our additional insurance options have a zero-deductible full-coverage option that allows us to process claims in three weeks as opposed to carrier coverage which can take as long as three months. If you exercise our additional insurance option (which we call our product protection plan), we simply ask for a commercial invoice which demonstrates what you sold the product for and we reimburse you for full retail value (plus your freight cost) inside of 25 days.

So there you have it, some things you can do and some things you can try not to do. One thing is for certain, when it comes to proactive packaging, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!


Steven P. Haas is a board-certified marketing consultant, seasoned sales professional and an Association Accounts representative for DLS Worldwide. He oversees programs for DLS Worldwide and has negotiated special freight rates and carrier concessions for shippers within the automotive and heavy duty truck parts arenas. DLS Worldwide has a new user interface with a comprehensive carrier mix and a zero-deductible, full-coverage, all-risk insurance option. You can contact Mr. Haas at 612-296-1806 or email to request access to this program and platform.

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