Shipping damage happens. With all the hazards shipments are exposed to en route, it’s no surprise. But while you might not be able to do away with it completely, you can learn what causes it and prepare your shipments accordingly.
You need the data you can collect by using a shock logger. Shock loggers can record any vibrations or impacts that a package has suffered so that you’ll know how likely it is to be damaged — and when it is damaged, exactly what forces were responsible. Using this data, you can make changes to your shipping method, route, packaging, and handling to minimize shipping damage. Here’s how.
Collect Data in Real-Time
A shock and vibration data logger is a device that not only detects when your shipment has been exposed to an impact, shock, or vibration, but records data about those events so you can analyze them later. Many shocks and vibration data loggers have GPS tracking, so you can pinpoint where on the route the shipping damage occurred, and temperature sensors, so you can make sure a shipment has remained within the desired temperature range throughout transit. You can even get real-time alerts about shipping delays and see whether shipments are likely to have sustained damage before even opening them up.
Shock loggers can give you transparency on what your shipments go through in transit. If someone has dropped your package or left your shipment out on a hot loading dock instead of keeping it refrigerated, you’ll know. You can use them to run impact tests, and find out how your packaging holds up under real shipping conditions. You can also include them in live shipments to get real-time alerts for impacts, vibrations, and temperature changes, or follow your shipment’s progress via GPS. At the other end of its journey, your shipment’s recorded shock and impact data can alert the recipient if their goods have been compromised.
If you really want to reduce shipping damage, you need to run impact tests to see how your packaging holds up. Impact tests involve sending sample shipments into the supply chain, where they’ll experience the exact same conditions that your real shipments will experience. The damage they sustain and the g-forces they encounter can inform changes to your packaging strategy and materials. You need this real-world data in order to prepare your shipments properly for what they’ll face in transit.
However, real-world testing isn’t the only thing you can use impact recorders for. Shock loggers can also be useful in laboratory testing of drops and vibrations. Data from real-world testing can help you learn what conditions you’ll need to replicate in a lab in order to test upcoming iterations of your packaging.
Armed with a deeper level of knowledge of what your shipments face in transit, you can make changes to your shipping methods, packaging, and other choices that will help protect the contacts of your shipments. Whether you’re shipping goods on pallets or one item at a time, you need to make sure that your shipments are packed to minimize movement of the contents and cushion them against impacts, drops, vibrations, and other stress.
The results of your impact testing may reveal that you need to package fragile items with a cushioning material that doesn’t get squashed down, like bubble wrap or styrofoam. You may need to buy or develop purpose-built shipping boxes that cater to your specific merchandise. If you’re shipping delicate medical equipment, it’s well worth the extra effort and time to manufacture shipping materials that will cushion your devices and parts as if on a bed of clouds, no matter what kinds of transit stresses they’re really experiencing on the outside of the box. Even if you’re shipping something more prosaic, like bottles of wine, you need to know what works best for keeping your wine inside your bottles — molded-pulp clamshells, or polystyrene inserts? These are the kinds of details you’ll iron out with the help of a shock logger.
When you’re looking to reduce supply chain shrinkage due to shipping damage, you need accurate data about what your goods are experiencing in shipment. When you know exactly how hard your packages have been dropped, what temperatures and climate conditions they faced, and how much they jiggled while riding around on the back of the truck, you’re well on your way to making the kinds of changes that can significantly reduce your losses due to shipping damage.
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