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The Under-Recognized Workhorse of Logistics

Most people outside of the logistics industry picture transportation modes and infrastructure when they think about the industry. While they are the largest part of the industry, a critically important contributor to the movement of goods is packaging. Packaging should be cost-effective, facilitate handling, and provide adequate protection for the goods being shipped. The decision factors associated with the type of packaging used include the nature of the goods (size, weight, fragility, hazardous, etc.), the environment it will be subject to, and the transportation mode(s) that will be used.

Here are some packaging options to consider.

Fiberboard boxes (cardboard boxes) are the most common container used in shipping. They are low-cost, efficient, and lightweight. Boxes can be reinforced with tension straps to add support. One weakness is their susceptibility to moisture which can reduce their strength by up to 50%. Water-resistant tape and adhesives can be used to counter the effects of humidity.

Nailed wooden boxes are good for overseas ocean freight shipments of moderately heavy commodities as they can support much more weight than cardboard boxes. They can contain more difficult loads without distortion or breaking open and are more resistant to puncture, breakage or crushing. As with all wood products, be sure to follow the phytosanitary measures required by the country or countries they will be shipped to and/or will transit through.

Crates come in two types: open (skeleton) and fully sheathed. Open creates can be used where the contents do not need much protection and packing is only required for handling and stowage. Sheathed crates provide similar protection to wooden boxes and accommodate larger contents.

Steel drums are good for transporting liquids, powders, granule compounds, chemicals, parts, and food ingredients. They can also store hazardous materials when the specification and labelling meet safety regulatory requirements.

Barrels, casks, and kegs are the precursor to the steel drum and have been around since ancient times. They are no longer used for shipping oil but are still used to store and ship wine and liquor.

Multi-wall shipping sacks are used for powdered, granular, and lump materials. They are made of heavy-duty craft paper which makes them flexible and lightweight. They can also be coated, laminated and layered to give them additional strength. Sacks can have pasted or sewn bottoms. Valve sacks facility high-speed filling and avoids spillage.

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