Did you know that 1 in 10 shipped items sustain damage at some point during the shipping process? This means that each year, millions of unfortunate packages arrive at customer’s doorsteps battered and bruised.

Shipping damage costs businesses worldwide an astronomical amount of time and money. The worst part? Not all shipping damage is preventable. Accidents are more common than you would think!

But even though shipping damage is sometimes inevitable, there are several measures you can take to reduce the chance of it happening.

Here’s how to reduce damages to packaging and products in shipping.

What Qualifies as Shipping Damage?

Shipping damage, as the name suggests, is any form of damage that occurs to packaging or products during the shipping process.

When most people hear the words “damaged package,” they envision a battered box that’s been dented and crumpled. Mishandling and impact damage are commons forms of shipping damage, but they aren’t the only kinds of shipping damage to exist.

The term “shipping damage” encompasses everything from mishandling to damage caused by Mother Nature. Common forms of shipping damage include:

Physical Damage

Physical damage occurs when a package is dropped, knocked over, or rolled and sustains damage as a result. Physical damage can occur due to mishandling, but the most common cause is actually improper stowage. Improper stowage occurs when packages are improperly secured to the pallet or improperly arranged and stacked on the transportation vehicle.

Moisture Damage

Moisture damage occurs when a package or pallet is exposed to wet or humid conditions. It can happen due to climatic conditions, condensation during transit, spills, and seawater breaching containers. Exposure to moisture can destroy fragile items such as paper and can also result in mold and mildew growth.

Contamination Damage

Contamination damage occurs when a package is deemed unsafe due to contamination by a potentially hazardous substance. This occurs most often with shipments of food, beverages, and medicine.

The most common cause of contamination damage is a dirty transportation vehicle. When the transportation vehicle isn’t cleaned between shipments, dirt, bacteria, and other hazardous substances are left behind. These leftover substances can then make their way into packages and contaminate the products inside.

Infestation Damage

The last thing your customers want to see when they open their package is a crowd of cockroaches waiting to greet them! But this happens a lot more often than you would think.

Cardboard and other packaging materials may not look tasty to humans, but for insects and other pests, they look like mouthwatering snacks! Insects and rodents are drawn to transportation vehicles because they contain a feast of free munchies. It’s not unusual for these pesky critters to munch on the exterior of boxes or infiltrate them and build nests among the packing peanuts and other cozy packaging materials.

Why Shipping Damage Is Bad For Business

Shipping damage hurts customers and businesses alike. When a customer receives a damaged package, you can bet they’re none too pleased! Unfortunately, their disappointment and anger are rarely directed toward the actual culprit. Yelling at the ocean, trees, and bugs doesn’t really accomplish much, so they take out their disappointment on your innocent business instead.

They might ask for a refund or replacement or even leave your business a scathing review. And chances are unless they’re extremely forgiving, you’ll lose them as a customer if you don’t acquiescently bend to their every command.

All-in-all, shipping damage leaves customers in a sour mood and costs businesses a ton of money and time.

How To Reduce the Likelihood of Shipping Damage

Not all shipping damage is preventable. But that doesn’t mean every single one of your packages is doomed to a sorry fate. By taking a few simple measures, you can reduce damages to packaging and products in shipping and ensure your customers receive their orders intact.

The Perfect Packaging

Packaging your products correctly is step number one to safe shipping. The box comes first. You want to use a box that’s slightly larger than your product and can handle your product’s weight. Mailers are ideal for small, light items, but for large and heavy items, you may want to look into corrugated heavy-duty double-walled boxes.

Next comes the packaging material. Packaging material is the cushioning that keeps your products from shifting around during transit. Fill your box with enough packaging material that your product can’t shift around freely, and remember to fill in any hollow spaces with kraft paper.

Finally, seal the box with packing tape or heavy-duty adhesive.

The Art of Unitization

Shipping a lot of boxes at once? Unitizing them by stacking them onto a pallet will make shipping cheaper, faster, and safer. There are a few general rules you should follow when arranging boxes on a pallet.

  • Place heavier products toward the bottom and lighter boxes toward the top. This ensures an even weight distribution and keeps the pallet from abruptly falling over.
  • Always check for overhang. Overhanging products can compromise the stability of the load and cause it to collapse.
  • Stack boxes in columns and place a thin sheet of cardboard after every few layers for added stability.

Just the Right Amount of Stretch Wrap

Don’t forget to stretch wrap your unitized load before you load it onto a truck or cargo ship. Stretch wrap holds the items on the pallet together and provides them with an extra layer of defense. It protects against the elements and other hazards such as dirt and insects.

It’s crucial to wrap your pallets with the correct containment force. Containment force is what holds your load together and keeps individual packages from moving around or falling during transit. There are a variety of tools to help you measure containment force. If you’re not sure which tool is best, contact us, and we can lend you a hand.

Hand wrapping costs more because you can only stretch wrap hand film around 20 percent compared to a stretch wrapper the pre-stretches the film 100 to 500 percent.

You are using at least five times more film than you need to. Labor is widely inconsistent, and you risk injury. A single worker’s comp injury eliminates any savings you may have realized.

If you are wrapping more than 10 loads a day you should automate.

You can wrap your pallets by hand, but it’s less costly, safer, more efficient, and significantly reduces product damage to have a machine handle the process for you. Robopac USA is a leading stretch wrapper manufacturer. We have a variety of high-tech secondary packaging machinery available, including semi-automatic stretch wrap machines. Shop with us today!

How To Reduce Damages To Packaging and Products in Shipping