How to Protect Items during Shipping

Protecting the items being shipped is the most important consideration of a shipping operation.  People do not want to pay for shipping and wait out the shipping time only to find that the ordered items have been broken, damaged or are rotten (in the case of shipping food).  Therefore, take every precaution to pack the items correctly and secure them.

The precautions that should be taken differ according to the type of item that needs to be transported, how much money one wishes to pay for the shipping, and also the value or perceived value of the item or items.  Factors such as choosing your carrier, choosing the appropriate container, cushioning and cushioning materials, and how to apply the cushion to your packed items should all be considered when shipping an item.

First, decide which carrier will be used to ship the items.  This will affect your container choice according to the carrier’s suggested standards for the containers.  Carriers may set standards for weights, strength of the container, etc.  Try using new containers whenever possible, since older ones may have compromised security or strength.
Cushioning is one of the most important factors to be considered for the security of the shipped items, especially fragile ones.  Cushioning material should be chosen according to the shipped item.  Item weight, transportation weather and environment, geometry and outline of your item (like having sharp- edged corners or rounded ones) are all factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing the cushioning material.

One of the most common cushioning materials is foam because it varies in density.  Other common cushioning materials are air bags, peanuts, and corrugated cardboard.  Towels, pillows, or cloth should not be used for cushioning.

Special precautions should be taken for fragile items.  Each item should be wrapped separately before a cushion is applied in between and to the top, bottom, right, left, and corners of the items as a whole.  No space should be left between items or between the items and the sides of the container.  Packing in this way prevents  items from vibrating or shaking while being shipped.  Cushioning also minimizes the impacts of external forces the container could face, which could be transferred to the inside of the container and, consequently, to the shipped items. Sometimes the shipped items are exceptionally fragile and sensitive.  A double box is recommended for these cases.

Sealing your container properly completes the process of packing successfully. This can be accomplished by using strong tape.  Other methods that might be used, such as strings or paper over-wrapping are inadequate and will not secure the container.  They might even spoil all other cushioning efforts.

Food shipment is sensitive to the time of shipping as well as secure packing.  Details of refrigeration should be discussed with the carrier concerning food shipping.  The carrier may be able to offer some useful suggestions for packaging these sensitive goods.  The time a shipment is in transit should be minimal, and the weather--especially extreme heat or cold--should be considered as well.