Most Common Causes of Shipping Damage (and How to Prevent It)

The last thing any business wants is to open up a cargo container and find every product inside utterly ruined. Shipping is a risky endeavor, especially when business leaders do not understand the proper ways to protect their freight as it travels to and fro. Here are some of the most common reasons that shipments sustain damage and what businesses can do to reduce the risk of damage during transportation of goods.

Improper Packaging

Packaging serves to protect items from the expected bumps they will receive over the course of typical transportation. There are many different kinds of packaging to ensure that the myriad types of shipped items all have the potential to stay completely safe during shipping. However, it is usually the responsibility of shippers, that is businesses, to choose the right packaging, and many business leaders fail to make the right choices to keep their shipped goods safe.

There are three components of effective packaging: the outer packaging, the filler and cushioning material and the sealing tape. The outer packaging should be appropriately durable to contain whatever materials are inside, and it should be large enough to contain the items without leaving an excessive amount of empty space. The filler can serve many purposes, from cushioning against impacts and shocks to insulating against changes in temperature. More and more businesses are prioritizing sustainability with their package filler, as they tend to use quite a lot of it in shipping. Finally, the sealing tape should be wide enough to span gaps in the packaging and strong enough to keep the package closed until it is received at its final destination.

Poor Weather

Rarely do businesses ship products only through regions that are sunny and dry. Weather is always a factor to consider in transportation, as all manner of weather events can cause damage to shipments. High humidity and heavy rainfall are some of the most common causes of damaged freight, as many shipping containers are far from weatherproof and excess moisture can wreak havoc on almost any type of shipped goods. However, extreme temperatures can also be disastrous to some types of products, which are susceptible to damage outside a certain temperature threshold.

Sometimes, poor weather is unavoidable, which is especially true in the event of unprecedented natural disasters like floods, wildfires and earthquakes. Fortunately, business leaders can take a few steps to mitigate damage from inclement environments. Products that are sensitive to temperature might use temperature indicators like Cold Chain technologies to help shippers track temperature thresholds during transportation. Shippers can also track weather patterns and schedule shipments during periods of relative calm or else reroute shipped goods through safer travel corridors. Finally, companies should research high-quality carriers known for maintaining effective weatherproofing of their containers.

Rough Handling

A certain amount of bumping and thumping is always going to occur to packages in shipment, which is why businesses need to protect their goods with proper packaging. However, rough treatment from carriers can go far beyond the typical bangs and bumps that packages should experience, and improper handling can and does result in damage to freight. Most often, rough handling occurs when delivery drivers do not properly secure packages to the vehicle, resulting in packages sliding all over the container during transit. However, carriers can also do damage while loading and unloading packages.

While businesses can use shock and impact sensors to determine a pattern of rough handling from a carrier — and perhaps deter rough handling from drivers who might know the importance of not triggering the indicator — truly the best way to prevent damage from poor treatment is to work only with the most reputable carriers. Business leaders should carefully evaluate the quality of services provided by carriers before putting their shipped goods at risk. It might be worthwhile to talk to previous or current customers of carriers or to request a trial run before signing a long-term shipping contract.

Almost any type of damage imaginable could occur during shipping. To prevent undue costs associated with shipping damage, business leaders need to do everything they can to keep their packages safe.

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