It is inevitable that some items will be damaged when being shipped across the country. The parcels are carried vast distances under a variety of conditions and may even be handled several times. The result is increased freight costs as businesses and insurance companies have to cover the cost of damage.
Of course, there are many reasons why a package gets damaged and not everything is to do with the shipping method or company. There are plenty of things you can do to prevent cargo damage from occurring.
Here are seven things to get you started. This is not a definitive list as there are things that will only apply to your specific business. However, the following will give you a good start and help you consider what other elements are likely to be affecting your delivery schedule and damage levels.
1: Test Your Packaging
Have you ever noticed that the packaging a mobile phone comes in is perfectly shaped for the product? There is a good reason for this, it’s because the packaging has been specially designed to protect the product without being excessively costly.
You need to adopt the same approach to your packaging for your products. The best way to achieve this is by trial and error. In short, you will want to design packaging and test it thoroughly before improving it.
Allowing yourself plenty of time to test the packaging will result in the right design. In effect, it will reduce the likelihood of cargo damage. When you calculate the savings possible through fewer products being damaged, a small investment of time and money into finding the right packaging solution is suddenly worthwhile.
2: Use Date Loggers
Another effective way of reducing cargo damage is to invest in data loggers. There are a variety of different data loggers available. The basic premise is that a sticker is attached to a parcel or group of parcels. The sticker has electronics in it that are programmed to detect specific events.
This can be impact, drops, or even temperature. If your package moves outside the defined parameters, the coloration in the middle of the sticker changes. This alerts the receiver that the package has not been maintained in optimal condition and that they should reject it.
This also places the blame squarely on the courier, making it easier to sort replacements and insurance claims. Of course, if the courier company is aware of the data loggers they will handle the parcel with more care.
Alongside this, you can also get temperature data loggers that are affixed to refrigerated transport vehicles. These monitor the temperature and save a file. This allows anyone to access the file and check that the right temperature was maintained during transit.
Some of the more sophisticated systems even have wireless connectivity, allowing you to monitor the temperature in real-time.
3: Space Saving
While designing your own boxes and testing them is an effective way of reducing cargo damage, you should note that it is not always possible. If you send out products with different shapes and sizes you may not be able to design a custom box that fits them all.
In this case, there will be space around the product and you need to make sure it is adequately packed. You can choose from an array of environmentally friendly packing options to ensure the product is adequately protected during transit. Don’t forget to consider the customer during this, they don’t want their floor covered in small pieces of packaging!
4: Train At Both Ends
It is essential that you don’t underestimate the importance of training. In order to avoid cargo damage, your packing staff must follow the exact packing instructions that you have devised and tested. If they don’t your testing was for no reason!
The best way to do this is to make sure every member of staff is fully trained and to have someone employed as quality control. They will be responsible for monitoring packing and randomly checking specific products.
In this way, you can be assured that all the products are going out with the best protection possible.
Alongside this remember that the receiver needs to know how to get into the packaging. A knife can cut the tape and damage the product at the same time. Make sure your packaging is designed with box cutters in mind and that the receivers have the training they need to open the parcel safely.
5: Use the Right Equipment
If you are loading a dozen boxes onto a lorry by hand there is more likely to be an issue or damage caused than if the items are correctly stacked on a pallet and then lifted into the vehicle.
In short, you need to purchase the right equipment to make the loading process, and even the unloading process, as smooth and simple as possible.
This will reduce the likelihood of damage being caused before the products even make it onto the lorry. It will also make the process simpler and you may even need less labor, potentially saving you money that can be invested in protecting your cargo from damage.
6: The Right Courier
Perhaps one of the most important ways to prevent cargo damage in the supply chain is to carefully consider who you are working with.
The best transport companies will have good reputations. You can verify this by chatting with other companies, talking to the drivers, and even talking to your staff. It will instantly be obvious regarding which companies and drivers have more passion for their jobs.
If necessary, you can chat with others on social media and online forums to assess their experiences with specific couriers.
It is likely that the better couriers are not the cheapest. However, that doesn’t mean you should assume the most expensive is the best. Do your homework first to ensure you have the best company for the job.
7: Review regularly
Another key element of preventing cargo damage is not to be complacent. You have spent the time looking at different options and locating the company and packaging that will best protect your cargo. However, that doesn’t mean they will always be the best. You need to monitor the cargo service to ensure things get where they are going safely and on time.
Don’t be afraid to question them or look for a different courier service if required.
This also applies to the procedures and even the packaging solutions you have put into place.
You should never be complacent regarding the procedures your staff use to pack products. This is instrumental to the successful delivery of items and needs to be constantly monitored and reviewed.
Final Thoughts On Preventing Cargo Damage
In most cases, the damage is caused by human error and in a few of the cases, it is unavoidable. However, whenever cargo is damaged in transit you should review the process and locate what went wrong. This will help you to prevent it from happening again.
Don’t forget that it can take years to build a good reputation and minutes to destroy it. You need to keep on top of the cargo delivery and any cases of damage. The survival of your business depends on it!