Are You Transporting Too Much Air?
When optimizing your packaging and shipments, you want to make certain you’re not transporting too much air. By that it means that you have as many packages packed into the space as possible. The goal is to minimize your empty space. This means you’re transporting as many products as possible per load, which will reduce the number of shipments required. This, in turn, reduces your shipping costs. With companies needing to cut costs wherever they can, reducing the number of shipments needed can have a major impact on the budget.
Benefits of Optimization
In addition to reducing your overall costs, there are a number of other reasons why optimizing your shipments is beneficial. First is that it reduces the potential risks to your products. When there is unused space around each package, it leaves room for packages to move. They may slide into each other, fall if stacked, or otherwise get damaged
Second, optimized shipments are safer for people to work around. When a shipment’s weight isn’t distributed properly, packages stacked on top of each other may suddenly fall and land on people. It’s also possible a truck could even tip over if the weight is shifted to one side. Dangerous chemicals or other hazardous materials could then leak out, leading to further safety issues in addition to environmental contamination.
Finally, shipments that are not optimized may not meet shipping requirements. This can lead to a number of fines and other penalties, including losing licenses or certifications. Many private shipping organizations have additional rules and requirements that will be specified in your contract. Failure to comply with these rules will likely result in voiding your contract.
Tips for Optimizing Your Shipments
When loading a shipping container or vehicle, there are a few basic rules you should follow to ensure that the load is balanced and optimized. These rules may not apply evenly to all shipments, of course, because some shipments do require unique solutions. However, in general, following these tips will help you correctly load containers and prevent accidents.
Make Certain the Container Is Safe
Before you even begin loading packages into the shipping container or truck, make certain that it’s safe. Check the floor to see if there’s any residue, liquid, or other hazard that could damage the cargo or cause an accident. Check for damage such as cracks or holes. Look for anything protruding from the walls or floors, especially nails, and remove them.
Load Your Heaviest Materials First
Once you’ve determined that the container is safe to use, load in your largest and heaviest items. You’ll want to place them along the front of the container. The heavy items always need to go on the floor—never stack them. As you load in the heavy packages, you can start loading the lighter ones on top.
Distribute Weight Evenly
Another thing to remember while loading your heavy packages is to make certain that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. You don’t want all of the heaviest packages on one side of the container or vehicle.
Use Packing Software
Figuring out the best weight distribution and knowing which products are heavier than others can be difficult. That’s why there are a number of different computer programs that can help you with this task. You simply input the dimensions and weight of each package that will be loaded and any special restrictions, then let the software do the rest.
That may also sound like a good amount of work, but many places now use handheld scanners that can capture all of this information from the package barcode. This means nothing has to be manually entered. If RFID tags are being used, this information can even be captured automatically when a package passes by an RFID scanner.
Once the program has the required data, it creates a model of how to load the container, complete with a 3D graphic of how the packages should be loaded. This helps you see exactly how packages can fit together and where, if anywhere, you’ll have empty space that you may need to fill.
Consider What You’re Shipping Where
Do you need to ship everything you’re manufacturing from one location to another? If so, you may be able to group packages in optimal ways. You might be able to fill complete trucks or containers with identical packages, which makes it much easier to eliminate empty space.
On the other hand, if you’re shipping orders or other irregular shipments, you may have to carefully arrange the packages to minimize air. This is where loading software is very helpful.
Fill Empty Space
If you do end up with empty spaces, don’t leave them empty. Otherwise, it’s possible the packages around the space will slide and move during transport. They may crash into each other, resulting in damage, or packages on the upper layers could fall and break open. Instead, fill them with something such as paper dunnage bags. These bags will help keep everything in place and provide cushioning if something does start to fall or shift. The bags are stored flat, but can be inflated to fill any space needed. They are also very affordable and completely recyclable, so you’re not incurring much additional cost or impacting the environment.
We can help
Nefab is here to assist you with any of your packaging or loading needs. We provide dunnage bags and other load securing solutions, plus we can assist you in determining the best ways of packing containers and trucks to avoid damage or accident. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.