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The importance of proper packaging in an ocean freight shipment-Header.jpg

The importance of proper packaging in an ocean freight shipment

icontainers_news_1a50488895.svgLogistics & Shipping
Updated on 27 Dec 2023
5 min read
Ocean FCL
Ocean LCL

From machinery and pharmaceutical equipment to bulk goods and personal effects, thousands of cargo is being transported every day across the globe.

Whether you’re a first time shipper or looking to relocate to a new country with your household goods, you will want to make sure your shipment arrives in good condition.

And that means having adequate packaging to prevent damages while considering external factors such as conditions that your shipment may be exposed to and the amount of handling involved.

The last thing you would want is to have your shipment arrived damaged, and left being unable to file an insurance claim due to improper packaging.

To understand the importance of adequate packaging and how to avoid damages, we spoke to Jose de la Roche, sales director of GLT Logistics, a third party logistics company focusing on solutions that simplify inland freight shipping processes, to get his insights and expert tips.

1. Why is proper packaging so important?

It’s for the security and safety of the goods that you’re transporting and to avoid claims, damages, and losses.

Some people try to save money on packaging without looking at the big picture. When preparing your packaging, it is really important to consider the type of cargo that you’re shipping and also its transit.

If you are shipping FCL, for example, there are fewer handling points and minimal pickup and drop off. But if you are shipping domestic LTL, there will be multiple people handling the freight. That, as well as the number of times the cargo will be loaded and unloaded from the truck, must be considered.

2. How important are labeling and padding?

They are really important. Workers at the dock, airport, or carriers and freight forwarders, do not know what commodity they are handling when loading or unloading.

If you have cargo that needs to be handled differently, make sure to include labels such as ‘this way up’, ‘handle with care’, ‘fragile’, ‘do not double stack’, so that they know to handle the pallet with care.

It’s also really important to have those on all sides of the crate or pallet for better visibility.

3. How often do shipments get damaged due to lack of proper packaging?

Every day. There is a great deal of loading and unloading involved in the transportation industry. During transportation, cargo is constantly being shifted, compressed, and jolted around from external changes. And not to mention it is also exposed to changes in humidity and temperatures.

It is very common for us to see packaging mistakes that will result in claims being filed. From our experience, trucking and insurance companies often deny these claims on the basis of inadequate packaging as an excuse.

That’s, unfortunately, the reality of it. So to reduce the probability of having to file a claim, make sure to use proper packaging.

When shipping household goods, for example, most people are reluctant to spend too much money. So they just end up buying boxes and tape at the local store and doing their own packaging and they expect to receive their goods in perfect condition.

But then they get a shock when they open the boxes at destination and see something broken. The lesson here is: when you do not pack freight correctly, there are many problems that can arise.

4. In your experience, what are some of the most common mistakes made in packaging?

One of the most common mistakes is having parts of the cargo overhanging or having misaligned boxes. These may cause the boxes to fall and get damaged, especially when being handled by a forklift.

We also see some people stacking too much weight on the same pallet or placing oversized cargo on pallets. Cargo that is too long, too big, or too heavy, is very hard to handle and two forklifts may sometimes even be required, hence increasing the risk of damages.

Another common mistake is double stacking freight that is not meant to be double stacked or loading boxes on pallets without any shrink wrap or any other kind of proper securing.

5. What advice do you have for shippers who decide to handle their own packaging?

When shipping overseas, many shippers do not realize the conditions their cargo go through. They prepare their cargo as if they were shipping domestic and fail to consider the international journey.

International transportation is very different from domestic transportation. When shipping overseas, it is important to make the extra effort to secure and use the right type of packaging.

The type of commodity must also be considered. Shipping screws or bolts differs greatly from shipping medical equipment or special machinery. When shipping expensive or fragile goods, I would recommend investing a little more in packaging to make sure goods arrive securely at destination.

6. How can a shipper go the extra mile with preparing the packaging for their shipment?

If you are shipping something that’s fragile, expensive, heavy, or oversized, it’s better to hire a company that offers professional packaging services to avoid claims and damages.

It would be careless to use a $10 shrink wrap to secure palleted goods that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s one thing to want to save on packaging, but another to risk damaging expensive cargo. Do not simply do what’s standard for expensive goods. Also consider where the freight is going to, how many people will be handling it, etc.

It’s not just about securing the pallet. One should also think - quite literally - out of the box to make sure freight arrives safely.

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