Since the dawn of the 21st century, consumers and businesses alike have enthusiastically adopted the “less is more” trend.  As a part of this, there has been a major push against excess packaging, which has probably been of benefit to everyone.  The key word in that sentence, however, is “excess”.  Effective packing, by contrast, is essential for global business.  Here are some pointers as to what that means in practice.

Effective packing fits within height and weight limitations

Packaging can add anything up to 30cm to each side of an item and will also add a variable amount of weight.  The height and weight of the packaging will form part of the overall height and weight limits for the entire package and hence will be a factor in determining how it can be transported.

It is strongly advisable that companies wishing to use air freight make sure that their packages are below 1.5M in height.  This is currently the maximum height to be fitted into a passenger aircraft.

Given the fact that, at present, cargo spaces on passenger aircraft are only slightly more common than the proverbial hens’ teeth, it’s vital to avoid doing anything which could see you lose any space you can book.

Hopefully, this situation will improve over time but leaving aside the fact that nobody really knows when (or even if) this will happen, it still makes sense, in general, to make sure that your packages fit the height and weight restrictions for your preferred mode(s) of transport.

It’s also worth making sure that your use of packaging does not tip your package over into a weight category which needs special-handling equipment.  This doesn’t just have the potential to increase costs, but may also lead to it being processed relatively slowly.

Effective packaging protects the contents of the package

This may seem like stating the obvious, but it can be surprisingly easy to overlook what this means in practice.  For starters, all packages are going to need something to create an internal structure.  This could be anything from air-cushioning inflatable pillows to frames and timber bracing via ratchet straps and chains.  It is usually very much preferable to use packaging which is designed in a way which recognises and facilitates this need as it generally makes life easier for everyone.

In addition to the general requirement for internal structure, some packages are going to have more specific requirements due to their mode of transport, destination and/or contents.  One very common issue is that of water ingress, which is, understandably, commonly associated with sea freight.

There are all kinds of ways water can enter an improperly-packaged shipping container.  It’s fairly common for there to be some water in a ship’s hold and it’s far from unusual for rain to get in as well, particularly if it’s heavy.  There’s also “container rain”, which is basically what happens when a ship goes from a humid climate into a temperate one.  While it is in the humid zone, the water enters a package through the air and when the temperature cools, this condenses into a liquid.

Effective packaging makes life easy for administrators

This issue is likely to take on a whole new level of importance after Brexit when (presumably) exports to the EU will need to go through the receiver’s customs in the same way as exports to the rest of the world already do.  Effective packaging makes life easy for customs agents (and any other administrators) by making sure that the information they need is easy for them to find and understand.  This may include stencilling details on the crate itself as well as sticking documentation to the outside.