How to Prevent Cargo Damage and Reduce Risk of Shipping Loss

October signals the climax of peak shipping season along the BC coast with the Port of Vancouver seeing a flurry of activity in the early autumn. This is the busiest time of the year for shippers and retailers with the holiday season fast approaching. Cargo is being loaded on and off ships, flatbeds, trailers, and railcars, and making its way across the country, continent, and overseas. 

While profits are on the horizon, troubled seas and roads weigh heavy on the minds and bottom lines of suppliers and commercial parties who depend upon the safety of shipments. There is also the impending threat of human interference and negligence. Businesses risk tremendous loss if the right precautions aren’t taken in the shipping process, which is why Park Insurance is here with tips to keeping your precious cargo safe for the season.

5 Tips to Reducing the Risk of Damage and Loss When Shipping Cargo

1. Follow Best Practices of Cargo Shipping Containment

Follow the ABCs of cargo containment before shipping, which include the following: 

    • Place smaller items in appropriately sized boxes/crates and fill with packing material and void-fillers to prevent movement.
    • Isolate liquids from all other cargo.
    • Isolate flammables and combustibles from all other cargo.
    • Ensure proper bottom-to-top weight distribution for stacked (on pallets) items.
    • Ensure balanced horizontal weight distribution for stacked (on pallets) items.
    • Strap stacked items to sturdy and undamaged pallets.
    • Inspect trailers/containers (and doors) for cracks and unintended openings before loading.
    • Inspect trailer/container floors and walls for contaminant spills before loading.
    • Inspect trailers/containers for pests (rodents and insects) before loading.

Beyond the practical tips above, there are other key things you may not have considered. Keep reading.

2. Fill Shipping Containers to Near Capacity

A shipping container with too much room to spare is more conducive to cargo damage as there is no buffer between pallets, boxes, crates, and the interior walls. The numerous bumps and bruises that occur during transport will take their toll unless the cargo is secured in a more dense container so do your best to fill it to near capacity.

If you’re a supplier this may require a change in your shipping schedule. You may reduce the shipping frequency and instead send out items and orders (etc.) on the same day. You may also consider offering better bulk discounts (where applicable) to encourage retailers to order more which will help fill the container. You can make up the discounted revenue by reducing the shipping frequency overhead. Another option is to share the container with other departments and/or partner vendors. There are many ways to make this work, but it may take some creative thinking and planning. In the end, a shipping container with enough cargo to prevent shifting in-transit is one that will better protect your wares. 

3. Take a Final Pre-Loading Inventory

An inventory will have been taken in the days leading up to shipping, but things can happen right up until the moment of loading. Warehouse staff may have inadvertently moved one pallet of cargo out of the receiving bay, or a single box may have been removed from a stack. Uninformed shipping personnel may not be aware of this and proceed to load the cargo on to a trailer and send it on its way. In this case the end recipient will find that they are missing required products/equipment, and if this directly impacts their business you may be held liable. To avoid this, make sure that shipping personnel performs a final inventory before the cargo is loaded, and keep the cargo in their sights until the trailer/container doors are locked. 

4. Apply Commercial/Industrial Shrink Wrap

No matter how dense the stacks and rows are and how well strapped down everything is, moisture ingress and other damaging elements can still reach cargo. Cargo is also susceptible to theft and vandalism in transit. Whether loaded on an open flatbed or tucked into a trailer/container you should consider applying industrial strength shrink wrap. We’re not talking about the rolls you find at your local home and garden center. Instead, we’re referencing recyclable heat-sealed polyethylene shrink wrap. Premium grade shrink wrap provides up to 300 lbs (approximately 137 kg) per square foot of secure, weatherproof, and corrosion-inhibitive containment. It will protect your in-transit cargo from weather events, humidity, human interference, and even pest infestation. Perform an online search for a professional shrink wrap service near you to prepare your goods for shipping.

5. Secure More Comprehensive Cargo Insurance

The most effective way to reduce the risk of loss from material damage and possible claims against your business is to secure additional insurance for your cargo. Comprehensive cargo insurance will provide coverage for damage or destruction to property (products, goods, equipment, etc.) while in transit (by air, land or sea). It will also provide coverage for liability exposure for damage or destruction of another party’s property under your care, custody, or control. Simply put, if you’re charged with moving goods from one location to another (whether those goods are yours or not) you will want to consider dedicated insurance. View more about cargo insurance or simply contact an independent broker at Park Insurance today.