Have you ever questioned yourself for the reported shipping damages and if yes, are you asking the right questions? Before planning to reduce the shipping damages, you need to examine your current packaging & shipping system. There are mainly two reasons which causes the product damages during transit:
1) Inadequate packaging, and
2) Wrong Shipping Practices

1. Inadequate Packaging
Inadequate Packaging issue is still easy to rectify with the help of packaging specialists and using the right packaging materials for your product’s safety. But, most of the times it is a fight between Cost of Packaging Vs Right Packaging. Purchasing teams does not always consider the value of right packaging materials leading to selection of low cost inferior quality packaging, which obviously meets their budget requirements but does not consider the challenges faced by logistics or Supply Chain department. When damages occur during distribution and transportation through the supply chain, most of the time the blame goes on the packaging partner. It is important to consider various factors while designing your packaging solution, selection of the right packaging material and vendor who can support you in the packaging development.
As such, there are multiple causes of items becoming damaged during transit and shipping. These are:

• Impact
• Vibration
• Moisture
• Dust
• Temperature / humidity
• Poor handling
• Static charges
• Wrong cases / packaging

We need to see how these factors can cause damage to your parts, components, tools, equipment or
even finished products during transportation.
A. Impact or Shock
Although perhaps obvious, any shock or impact that your tools, products or equipment suffer can cause irreparable damage. Impact is defined as a high force or shock applied over a short time period when two or more bodies collide. The effect depends on the relative velocity of the two bodies to one another.
The kinetic energy on impact will see the items deform, which will absorb most or all of the force of the collision. Sound and heat energy is also released, but depending on the speed of the impact, there is not sufficient time for the deformation to occur, resulting in fractures of the material. This could be caused by mishandling, products being dropped, collisions during transit or even individual items colliding with each other inside their packaging if not secured correctly. The outcome means your
products or equipment will have superficial damage or will be damaged to the point of being inoperable at worst..

This is why Protective Packaging like PAPERplus®, AIRplus®, FOAMplus® or PAPERwrap can be used along with the right quality shipping box (corrugated box, plywood box, wooden crate, Plastic Boxes,
etc.) which absorbs more of the force of any impact.
B. Vibration:
Many specialist tools and equipment – and even components for specific industries – can be sensitive to vibration.
Whilst it is inescapable that every mode of transit subjects your shipment to some level of vibration, it is important to determine what is known as the “natural frequency” of your items and compare this with the vibration characteristics of your chosen packaging. However, the highest risk of damage is observed when the vibrations created during transit coincide with the natural frequency of the item (or its’ critical components) which then causes resonant frequency vibration excitation. It is therefore important to assess any protective packaging material like paper pads or plastic cushions or packaging foam and test whether the material will perform in direct coupling (i.e. unchanged vibration),
attenuation (decreased vibration) or amplification (increased vibration).
Failure to do so could result in your high value product, arriving at its destination damaged or impaired.
Storopack’s protective packaging can be used to create protective padding to provide optimum level of protection from vibration for specific items.
C. Moisture
Moisture can take the form of leaks, spillages, rain and even atmospheric conditions (i.e. condensation). All can prove fatal for your products or equipment.
This is particularly true for any items that feature or rely on electronic components for their usual operations. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, water conducts electricity. What this means when moisture gets into your equipment’s electronics, is that the water creates short circuits, effectively re-routing the power current to paths of lower resistance (to somewhere it is not meant to go). If this in itself does not stop the item working, the subsequent overloading of specific components will. Secondly, even if the power source was not present / active during the exposure to moisture, and the device or part is fully dried out, the corrosion caused by the water when in contact with various connectors and other elements can prevent the power current flowing correctly. The other point to bear in mind is that you may be supplying parts or products that feature a decorative surface that may
become damaged by contact with water. This damage can be just as costly depending on the circumstances.
There are wide range of products available which can protect your product from the moisture damages- like plastic coated or wax coated Shipping Cartons, Plastic wraps (Stretch Wrap) to the product, Anti- corrosive (VCI) products, Plastic boxes, AIRPlus® Wrap, AIRplus® Cushions, etc.
D. Dust
Dust is another factor that has particularly serious consequences for any equipment that relies on electronics. Firstly, dust inhibits the movement of air. As such, any equipment or product that uses fans for cooling can be negatively affected, overheating and placing a strain on components before likely failure. Secondly, dust attracts moisture. If dust is present within a component or part, moisture is able to adhere to it and begin causing damage as detailed previously (corrosion, short circuits etc.).
Finally, even small amounts of dust may result in inaccurate or false readings, particularly in calibrated equipment. This can be particularly serious in industries such as medical, research and precision manufacturing). Right packaging can help you to deal with this issue.

E. Static Charges:
The main driver of electronic damage is improper packaging. Also, static attracts dust, which is not attractive to a consumer. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is well-known in the electronics manufacturing industry due to the sensitive nature of the components that are required for their finished goods. By gaining a better understanding of the causes of ESD, you can design a proper packaging.
According to a study done by industry experts, up to 33% of electrical product loss is caused by static. With static, the minuscule spark generated from static electricity may seem irrelevant to the human body, however even the smallest charge is enough to cause tiny electrical components to fail. With the current of an electrical charge, it will travel on any available path to equalize itself, causing damage on it’s way. Over time, repeated instances of ESD like this will degrade equipment’s internal components over time, at best shortening its usable life or at worst causing instant, catastrophic failure.
There are various forms of ESD protective packaging, which includes ESD bags-stretch film, plastic sheets, pouches, Bubble Sheets, Void fills, Cushion materials, foams, coatings, etc. which can be used
to dissipate the static discharge.
F. Temperature/Humidity
Whilst humidity raises similar issues to those detailed above regarding moisture ingress, what can also cause damage to tools and components is temperatures. Extreme heat can cause parts to become pliable and even melt, whilst low temperatures can cause materials to become brittle and degrade. This can also damage components such as led displays and screens. Another way that temperature can cause damage is exposure to frequent changes. This can cause items to expand and contract as they heat and cool. Whilst this may well be within operational tolerances, it can weaken connections and structures, eventually leading to their failure. At a less severe level, these changes can cause electrnic items damage or not functioning properly. This is why specific items may need to be shipped using insulated containers or packaging, in order to mitigate the effects on the equipment or parts.
Polyurethane Foam- FOAMplus®, PAPERplus® in-box packaging materials work as insulators and can be used as temperature proof packaging along with your shipping carton.
If you are already aware of these parameters and using the correct packaging for your product’s safety; the next step is to focus on shipping methods & logistics partner.
G. Wrong Packaging
Product damage is bound to happen during shipping if your choice of packaging material is wrong. Along with the external packaging, the packaging labelling and interior (in-box) filling also help reduce product damage.
Packaging shipping boxes should be designed based on your product’s safety requirements. Type of packaging box- Paper Carton Box (selection of paper gsm, fluting, glue type, box design-FEFCO codes https://www.fefco.org/technical-information/fefco-code, ECT, BCT), Plywood Boxes, Wooden Crates, Wooden Boxes, PP Boxes, Returnable Crates, Type & size of pallets, right size boxes has major impact on the product’s safety during the transit when exposed to different vibration parameters. The selection of right in-box protective packaging materials can help you to reduce the transit damages and optimize the overall packaging cost. Wrong packaging also leads to reduction in the productivity for end-of-line packaging systems and increase in the operational cost. It further leads to product damages in transit,
additional cost if return shipments and part replacements.
Packaging design & selection of packaging materials plays very important part in product’s safety, visual presence and un-boxing experience.

Finally, why should you opt for Sustainable packaging?
Packaging is obviously required to protect virtually all products in transit and storage until they reach consumers. But most of us have routinely experienced wrong packaged or over-packaged products and the inefficient use of packaging materials is an area that is ripe for optimization. Sustainable packaging is important because it reduces the ecological footprint of all the stages in the product’s life-cycle. It helps both the producer and the consumer reduce their environmental impact. The impact of humankind on the natural world is one the greatest challenges we face today and in the decades ahead.
Industry should use life-cycle methods focused on carbon footprints while selecting the packaging materials and should partner with companies those who are concerned about the environmental impact of the packaging materials and provide Life-cycle assessment tools.
2. Shipping Practices:
Damaged products are a major cause of loss in warehousing, manufacturing and other industries, which is very unfortunate — especially since much of that damage can be avoided with the proper strategies.
Packaging is key but the Product packaging is the smallest cost segment in the supply chain, comprising less than 10% of each supply chain Rupee. Warehousing eats up about 25% and transportation 60%. It doesn’t make economic sense to scrimp on packaging materials since you’ll pay for it in other areas. Is it worth reducing the packaging cost & spending more in other areas like return shipments, product replacement and investing more on brand awareness?
Most of the transit damages occur due to wrong shipping practices.
Due to the infrastructural bottlenecks costs per transaction in Indian logistics sector is very much high compared to those in the developed markets. Less economy of scale due to high fragmentation of industry, lack of skilled labour and manpower are also one of the major challenges for the logistic sector. (http://www.ijrerd.com/papers/v2-i10/6-IJRERD-B527.pdf)
Infrastructural problems like bad road conditions, poor connectivity, inadequate air and sea port capacities and lack of development of modes of transports like railways and alternates like inland water
transport and domestic aviation have been constant irritants.
Roads carry more than 60% of India’s cargo and account for the majority of the total logistics costs; they therefore have the most potential to unlock savings. Many of India’s roads and trucks could be in better condition, of course, but benchmarking studies comparing India to other developing economies have found that the unit economics are not too bad. It is the scarcity of skilled drivers that is the bigger problem. McKinsey estimates that coal and steel account for about 12-16% of India’s total logistics costs; the figure for agriculture is about 25%. India’s ministry of road, transport and shipping estimates suggest a 22% shortage in the number of commercial drivers. Coupled with the low skill level of many commercial drivers, that means more delays and more damages—the root cause of the high indirect costs. Improving roads and truck quality without solving this issue will result in a very low return on investment. (https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/QwB4qFUMhwpQCQob0okhMN/Debunking-Indias- logistics-myths.html)

Shipping/ Transit damages mainly occur due to-
– Unavailability of skilled drivers
– Unavailability or lack of training to the people handling loading/unloading activities
– Unavailability of Material Handling Equipment at many logistics hubs
– Mishandling- throwing, dropping the parcels
– Trans-shipments
– In-adequate packaging
– Wrong package testing methods
Transit damages can be reduced with the help of-
– Selecting the right packaging type and size
– Selecting right pallets, stacking products correctly
– Loading trucks correctly to avoid unnecessary pallet movements to the unloading bays
– Using in-box protective packaging solutions
– Selecting the right delivery partner
– Detecting shock and light entering in the shipping container/trucks
– Tilt & Shock indicators
– Monitoring the temperature and humidity inside the shipping container/trucks
– GPS monitoring of the parcels for high value items
– Monitoring the loading/unloading points and loading/unloading methods
Summary:
Transit damages can lead to costs rising through returns, written off products and wasted time. However, it can have more insidious consequences, such as negatively affecting relationships with your customers, delaying major projects and even leading to a poor perception of your company.
So, by understanding the types of damage your products, parts and equipment face, you can begin taking steps to ensure they are adequately protected.
This leads to the final point – that there are two major factors impacting the product damage-
First & easiest factor to be able to control product damage is how you package your items. For example, if you are sending out extremely high value, or fragile products that cost lakhs of rupees, then corrugated cardboard packaging is unlikely to the best solution. It is worth thinking about the cost
of packaging vs the cost of having to replace returned items or faulty equipment. You should think of investing in the right packaging box along with the right protective packaging solution. Secondly, though the transportation of your products is not in your direct control, but the right strategy can be devised to select the right logistics partner for safe transit of your valuable goods.
If your company is experiencing unacceptable levels of damage in transit, why not get
advice on how to solve it?

Kshitij Kulkarni

Kshitij Kulkarni

Packaging Expert

1 Comment

  1. Great insights on how to reduce transit damages by eliminating the various causes for it. As rightly said, most of the times consumers make the wrong choice of material due to economic reasons. Hope this article helps a few of them rectify their processes and eliminate major packaging challenges!

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