Some thoughts on the subject based on errors we have had to correct and discussions with clients.
- 1. Package quality
- 2. The outer package must be fit to travel the distance. On its journey it has to be loaded on and off vehicles and aircraft and of course more vehicles at the destination.
- 3. The atmospheric conditions inside the warehouse, the vehicles and aircraft may not help your package, none of the modes of transport are air conditioned cushioned environments. If you ever look inside the back of some of the vans and see the mess of packages, you would wonder how many survive. During sunny days (that’s hard to imagine sometimes) the temperature in the back of the vehicle can becomes quit warm.
- 4. Conditions in the aircraft hold don’t help either with a temperature range from -40oC to +55oC, pressure changes as the aircraft gains height (remember the crisp packs), humidity and also vibrations (approx. 1g-8g acceleration, as well as hard landings. So the ambient temperature in the hold during flight is?
- 5. Pressure. Due to altitude, the ambient pressure experienced by a package during flight will be lower than the standard atmosphere at sea level. Since packagings are filled at standard atmospheric pressure of 100kPa (1 Bar). During flight the packaging would be exposed to the pressure in the hold, causing a differential in pressure. This pressure differential in a pressurised hold would be appro 25kPa whilst in non-pressurised hold the differential may be as much as 75kPa. This differential will tend to cause discharge of liquid contents or burst any receptacle. Hence the reason why there are specifications within dangerous goods packaging, but these requirements equally apply to non-dangerous goods. One of the requirements is to only 80% fill a container to avoid leakage during transit.
- 6. The outer box needs to be able to survive changes in temperature and humidity. If you are using a coolant inside the package (cold packs, ice or Dry Ice) and the box polystyrene box has insufficient thermal capacity you may have wet patches on the outside cardboard. This sometimes can be so bad the outer box comes away from the polystyrene box and the package is no longer labelled.
- 7. Clean tidy boxes do not attract as much attention as dirty scruffy boxes that have been re-used and with old labels. These will almost certainly be put aside to clear the volume of packages going through before they turn they receive attention. Unfortunately, the hub sites are under pressure of time. Which could mean the delayed package is held too long and misses the connection and the next connection could be 24 hours later.
- 8. One rule of thumb, your pack (and contents) need to survive a drop height of about one metre; which is the height of the back of the van to the road, which is the mostly likely incident.
- 1. The Air Waybill will have a barcode and address usually of the shipper as well as the consignee. The destination is the most important address on the package.
- 2. It is always a matter of good practice to also place address labels for both the shipper and consignee including contact names and telephone number.
- 3. Additional information can be put onto the labels. The online booking systems only have a certain number of characters per line and if like us you ship regularly to universities and hospital there are always extra lines required for the department and location on the individual who requires the package.
- 4. The delivery information required is usually the post code / zip code, city and organisation. The main couriers have their drop points within these organisations. So they will drop all the packages off at that point, the warehouse, goods in or post room. From there the local guys will take over and deliver directly within the organisation. It always amazes me that you can get a package to the other side of Europe or even the US in a day and it takes another day to go upstairs.
- 5. Other labels can be helpful, fragile, refrigerate on arrival but don’t believe for one minute anybody will act on the information. It reminds me of a joke I heard years ago; well I hope it was a joke. Somebody wrote on the package ‘Photographs – Do Not Bend’ some wise individual wrote on the pack ‘Oh, Yes they do’.
Tips:it is advisable to put copies of the AWB and labels inside the top of the box before you seal it up. That way if the labels are lost they have spares when they open to check the package (before disposal).
- 1. If you selling goods then a goods delivery note is always required by organisations so they can book in the package against their purchasing list.
- 2. Goods going outside of the EU require a commercial or proforma invoice, 4 copies.
- 3. Some countries require import permits
- 4. Other documentation may be required i.e. certificate of origin, certified by the chamber of commerce, sometimes certified by the relevant embassy
- 1. One assumes the consignee is aware the package is being transported.
- 2. They should be aware that the package can be legally imported into the country.
- 3. Are they aware of import duties and / or tax that may be payable before customs release the goods.
- 4. What happens to the goods if they cannot be imported. Usually the goods are automatically returned to the sender and the fees could be quite high. There may also be storage costs to pay. Sometimes you have the choice of having the goods destroyed, quite often there will be a bill to pay for the destruction. Hence there is a calculation, the actual cost of the goods to you, costs involved with returning the package against costs of destruction.
- 1. The harmonised import tax code is very important along with the actual description
- 2. The code will tell customs what the import duty is due.
- 3. The description however must match the code and the customs inspection must understand what is being described. If they don’t understand they will ask for more details along with what the item is to be used for. With the time difference it could take several days to hold that conversation and for the courier companies to transfer that information.
- 4. Under the security regulations as well as customs inspections the package could be opened or X-rayed. Describing only ten tubes when there is obviously 20 tubes or a description of plastic bags when the item is obviously metallic doesn’t help your credibility.
- 5. The Invoice is the place that holds all this information, the number of items, the description and the price. The usual problem there is only one item on the invoice when clearly there are several products.
If you take care of everything in terms of the box and labels along with the correct documents your package should not have a problem and should be delivered on-time. Of course, there is always the observant customs inspector who takes a closer look at you package.
We have a complimentary letter on file from the US praising us for delivery to them on a next day basis of a weekly package, which we had repeated this for about six weeks. Evidently the university in the UK had tried the same route and each time the package had issues and didn’t arrive in time. All we had done was put the box into a clean outer box with good quality labels and the right information on the invoice.