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Methods for Packing Goods for Overseas Shipping

Packing Goods for Overseas Shipping

Appropriate packing of commercial goods for overseas shipping is essential if you want your products to arrive in prime condition.

This is especially relevant for sea freight but also holds true for land and air freight. Similarly, whilst this article is targeted for commercial goods shipping, suitable packing of personal items for overseas relocation is just as important.

All overseas transportation involves long distances during which your packed goods are subjected to considerable stress. Unsuitable packaging, packing, and securing of your goods can result in damage and the associated costs to your business. Additionally, improperly secured loads can also result in personal injury to handlers or the final recipient when opening the container.

Possible physical conditions when shipping overseas

All methods of shipping goods over long distances will involve some or many of the following;

  • Vibration due to road conditions or air turbulence. This can vary between short-term or quite persistent over the entire length of the journey.
  • Small impacts such as bumps, knocks, or drops that the shipping containers or individual cartons and crates receive as part of normal handling.
  • Rolling or swaying motions, especially for sea transportation, can cause goods to shift positions. These movements can sometimes be quite violent, depending upon the weather.
  • Goods that are not properly secured can fall from their intended position to potentially damage themselves and other products.
  • Impact due to accidents. These can range from very minor to severe. How well your goods survive will be in direct relationship to how well they have been packed.

Sea freight, in particular, is subjected to the potential movement of cargo over considerable periods of time.

Tips for packing goods for shipping

When packing your goods for international shipping, always preference functionality over appearance. The primary goal is to get your items to their destination. There is no point in having beautiful-looking packaging that can’t survive the journey.

If you always assume that goods will shift during transportation, you’ll be thinking on the right track to prevent incidents. If you are manufacturing products yourself for export, including the shipping considerations into your overall process thinking. The first step is protecting goods with effective packaging, the second is knowing how to pack shipping containers themselves.

Individual cartons

If you have smaller items to transport, you will likely want to start by thinking about individual boxes or cartons.  Goods for export /import can benefit from thicker boxes, providing them greater structural stability and resistance to impact.

For more fragile items, you may also want to consider the individual item packaging or packing material inside the cartons. These should help prevent units inside each box or carton from shifting or knocking against each other. Packing material inside a box or carton should also help prevent the effects of sustained vibration.

Items on pallets

If goods are to be palletised, ensure that individual boxes or cartons cannot move or shift during transport. This can lead to boxes falling and damaging their contents or other surrounding items. In the worst cases, this can cause instability of the entire pallet.

Pallets should at the very least be well shrink-wrapped.  Consider adding a cardboard sleeve around the outside, or other structural elements to limit boxes from shifting or skewing.

For commercial cargo such as machinery, parts, or other non-boxed items, wrapping is essential. If left loose on a pallet you may find the international shipping depot refuses to handle them. They will return them to the origin at your cost.

Commercial cargo crates

If you are transporting machinery, it can often be worthwhile constructing or purchasing crates. A crate can help protect delicate or protruding parts of the machine from being impacted and damaged. A crate such as this will usually be designed with a pallet-style base for lifting with a forklift.

How to pack shipping containers

Whether packing a shipping container with pallets, or loading items directly, it is vital to secure them properly for transportation.

Assuming that your goods, boxes, or pallets will move during transport;

  • Will moving damage them?
  • Could they potentially crush or damage other goods?
  • Is there potential for the items to tip or fall?

Standard shipping containers include plenty of tie-down points on the floor and walls. Use these to secure items within the container in order to prevent movement.

If possible, don’t leave too much open floor space. This will automatically limit how much items can slide around during shipping.

Other considerations

There are a variety of other points worth looking at when making decisions on how to pack your goods for overseas transportation.

  • Remember that packing items are non-returnable. In particular, don’t use Chep pallets as these will not be returned and you will lose your deposit.
  • If you are planning to use single-use pallets, check the rules for the country of destination. Some countries will only accept treated timber or recyclable materials.
  • Consider the difference between purchasing single-use pallets and the cost of unloading boxes, cartons, or goods from road transport directly into the shipping container.
  • Take extra care with heavy goods. If they come loose during transportation, they can potentially cause damage to the shipping container itself. Guess who pays for that?
  • If you transport hazardous materials of any sort, take extreme care to protect and secure the goods. A recent case involving a Sri Lankan vessel transporting nitric acid involved a spillage leading to a large fire. In the end, the vessel was irreparably damaged.
  • Always check your total weights. The shipping of containers includes a limit by overall weight as well as volume.
  • For LTL shipping, remember that other goods will be packed into a shipping container with yours. You have no control over what these are or how they pack them. Consider whether it is worth the savings or if it may be better to pay for an entire container.

Of course, it is possible (and advisable) to purchase shipping insurance for your cargo. Making a claim, however, can be complicated and frustrating, and should always be a last case scenario. Why risk your shipment when many potential issues can be solved with a little thought, care, and attention?

Contact Us

For advice and assistance with your overseas freight shipping, come and speak with us. A conversation can save you time and money. We can even help you develop long-term shipping plans.