5 Hacks for Packing a Box to Avoid Shipping Damage

shipping damageShipping damage disasters can be avoided, even accounting for the occasional overly aggressive delivery service.  Look at the bent base brackets on the pictured Xantrex power supply.  This is a prime example of shipping damage and we see this a lot.

Why the damage?  Do the delivery guys and gals really have it in for us?  Not really (well, maybe a few) but they have a lot to deliver and they aren’t always gentle so you need to pack appropriately.  Both delicate items and heavy items require special packaging to survive shipping.

Here are some important tricks for successful shipping no matter which carrier you use:

1.  BOX IT WELL : Choose the RIGHT BOX, not just any box will do.

  • Always choose heavy corrugated cardboard boxes that are not damaged. If you have the original box for what you are shipping, so much the better because it will have specially molded pieces inside to cradle your equipment properly.
  • If your item weighs more than 30 pounds you should use a double-walled box or you can double box the item with packing material in between the two boxes. The box should be large enough to allow for plenty of packing material. The heavier the item the heavier-duty the box needs to be.
  • If your shipment is over 50 lbs we recommend strapping it to a wood pallet instead of a boxing it. Then ship the item via truck.

2.  PACK and then PACK some more: Use A LOT of good packing material and pack the box tightly.

  • Use 3 inches of cushioning on all sides. Bubble wrap and foam are usually good choices (it would be difficult to use too much) for cushioning. Avoid using old newspaper and fabric, especially right up against electronic equipment.
  • Use anti-static sleeves or bubble wrap for printed circuit boards and other electronics, both industrial electronics and consumer types.
  • If you are shipping multiple items wrap each one separately covering all sides of the object.
  •  Completely fill the box so no empty space is left. You want to prevent movement because movement results in damage during shipping.

3.  SEAL IT UP GOOD:  Tape up Every Seam.

  • Use good, 2 inch wide pressure-sensitive shipping tape or 60-lb- grade water activated tape and seal every seam leaving no flaps flapping.
  • Don’t use cellophane tape, duct tape, masking tape, string or twine. They either fail or get hung up on the carrier’s automated processing equipment.

4.  LABEL IT WELL:  Fill it Out Fully & Neatly.

  • If you are hand writing the shipping label PRINT and be neat about it. Don’t leave any blanks – the shipper is not a mind reader or a hieroglyphic specialist.
  • Attach the label firmly to the outside of the box in a plastic sleeve . Don’t have a shipping sleeve? Use a Ziploc baggie and tape it to the box.
  • Put a second copy of the packing slip or label INSIDE the box too in case the outside label gets damaged or torn off.

5.  STRANGE BUT TRUE: A final tip to the wise shipper:  labels marked “Fragile”, “This End Up” or use of “UP” arrows are a fail!  Ironically, these are often ignored or seem to bring out the worst in some people.  Better to just pack your item very well, complete the shipping documents clearly and leave it looking rather plain.

Remember that the shipping world is an industrial one full of none-too-delicate automated equipment. They move an amazing amount of stuff around the country in practically a nanosecond – a Star Trek transporter would be just that much cooler.

If you have had some “interesting” shipping experiences (who hasn’t?) you will have fun reading this Popular Mechanics article where they experimented and compared shipping using three major U.S. carriers (you probably know which ones!) and recorded the results.  They may surprise you!  Check it out here:  http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/tests/which-shipping-company-is-kindest-to-your-packages

 About the Author: ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing services for printed circuit board repairs of all types and manufacturers, drive repairs, servo motor repairs, CNC equipment repairs, encoder repairs, monitor and touchscreen repairs, control and PLC repairs, test equipment repairs, light curtain repairs, and much more. The friendly and knowledgeable customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair concerns. RUSH service is available! You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419 or going to www.acsindustrial.com.