Courier Companies are responsible for proper
• packaging
• marking and labeling
• descriptions on all shipper documentation
Courier companies must follow all existing tariff and shipping regulations related to their product.

Proper Packaging
Consignments must be properly packed to ensure damage-free transportation with ordinary care in handling. The proper packaging of goods for transportation requires a good understanding of the product and distribution environment.
There are three essentials to any package:
1.) outer packaging
2.) inner packaging
3.) sealing method

Understanding and following packaging guidelines can help ensure damage-free freight movement.

Hazards of Distribution

Below are the most common hazards present in freight transportation. These are “normal” hazards of distribution and therefore must always be considered when preparing a shipment.

Punctures and Abrasion: Occurs when the package shifts or comes in contact with other packages or material handling equipment during transportation. They can also be the result of improper or insufficient internal packaging that does not prevent the contents from shifting.
Compression: Occurs when external forces are applied to the sides, faces or corners of a package. Stacking, shock, vibration, material handling equipment and tie-down straps all generate compression forces that may result in package or product damage. Proper packaging will prevent damage due to normal compression.
Environmental exposures: High and low humidity can result in condensation or corrosion, and it can greatly reduce the rigidity and compression resistance of paper-based products such as cardboard
containers. Temperature extremes can range from subzero to temps in excess of 40 Deg C. and can dramatically affect the performance characteristics of packaging material. Other common environmental exposures include, but are not limited to, dirt, dust, odors and precipitation. If a product or package would be considered damaged if exposed to these hazards, the shipper must take extra measures to ensure the packaging can protect the shipment.
Shipment Handling: Proper cushioning can reduce damage caused by the shock incurred during handling and over the road transportation. It is important to note that shipments will most likely be handled with a forklift at some point during distribution. Proper packaging must protect the
contents from the drops and impacts commonly associated with handling operations.
Shock: Occurs during handling and transportation as a result of impacts with mechanical handling or road conditions. Proper cushioning can reduce damage caused by shock. Most products will require some level of shock protection to prevent damage during normal handling and transportation.
Vibration: Is normal occurrence in over the road transportation. Proper cushioning can absorb and reduce the negative effects vibration can have on products.

Filled packages have to be tested for the above hazards identified as per BIS standards or ISTA standards to ascertain transport-worthiness of packages for road, sea & air routes.

Considerations before packing your product

1) Weight
The weight of the package must be kept in check as the weight of the product will define the kind of packaging material needed.
2) Size and shape
The length, breadth, and height of the product should be measured properly before packaging. This will determine the size of the packaging material.
3) Type of product
The kind of determines the type of packaging technique that needs to be adapted. Also, special requirements can be defined if any.
4) Value of shipment
If the shipment is of high value then an added layer of protection can be done for the product to ensure complete safety.

Types of Packaging material

There are mainly two kinds of packaging involved in the packaging of your products – external and internal packaging.

1. External packaging
This involves parcels and flyer bags. Parcels include corrugated boxes, Double or triple walled boxes. These are used to pack heavy items such as electronic appliances, fruits and also fragile items like glass bottles, cans etc. A Flyer bag can be used to store small items like boxes, makeup products etc. They can accommodate products up to 4kg in weight.

The following table can be used for reference while choosing the right external packaging.

table

2. Internal packaging
Internal packaging materials include bubble wrap, air bags, cardboard, and foam pellets. These have various functions like cushioning, void filling, protection and dividers, and shock absorption. When packing fragile/special products, it is a must that these products be used in ample quantity along with the correct internal packaging to avoid any tampering.

The following table talks about different kinds of internal packaging material and their function

table
   

Packing Methods

There are various packing methods courier companies recommend. Some of them are as follows:
1) The basic/Single box method

Picture

In this method, a single double walled box can be used for packaging the product along with fillers inside. The protection offered by this method is less but it is suitable for small, non-fragile shipments that do not need to be sent very far. A double walled box can be used for this method with newspaper or loose fillings inside for filling up empty spaces.

2) Double box/Box-inbox method

Picture

Box-in-Box method offers greater protection and is much suited for fragile items like glass etc that require extra protection from friction when being transported. It is recommended that the first box can be the manufacturer’s box and a bigger box be used for the secondary package. Fill in the empty space between two boxes using loose fillers like loose-fill balls  or other cushioning material.

Sealing

Sealing the package properly keeps the box intact and the contents secure inside.
Recommended Three-Strip Taping Method (H Taping Method)
• Use pressure-sensitive plastic tape at least 2” wide
• Distribute the tape evenly across flaps and seams, using the H taping method shown.
• Apply at least 3 strips of tape to the top and bottom sides of the carton.
• Tape across all seams and flaps.
• Rub the entire tape surface to ensure contact and adhesion

Non-packaging tapes such as masking tape, duct tape, cellophane and other such tapes should not be used as a substitute for quality box sealing tape.

To know more about the packaging practices of logistics companies, you can refer to their website where you will find detailed instructions about the kind of material and methods you must use for packaging your items. Some of the best packaging guidelines have been developed by FedEx and DHL.

References:
1. Websites of Fedex & UPS & DHL
2.  Technical Guide on Packaging by YRC Freight.

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About the author

Dr R Rangaprasad

Dr.R.Rangaprasad is a polymer & packaging professional with over 25 years experience. He has served as Consultant at Indian Institute of Packaging Mumbai & as Director at SIES School of Packaging / Packaging Technology Centre. Between 1995 & 2007, He was associated with Product Application & Research Center of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). He has also conducted training & knowledge workshops at leading FMCG companies in the area of design of polyolefin materials for packaging sector.

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