Read these 19 Packing and Shipping Supplies Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Material Handling tips and hundreds of other topics.
Whether you use an automatic strapping machine or semi-automatic strapping machine, you have a choice of two kinds of straps: steel or plastic. Here are examples of the two so you can better decide which fits your needs, courtesy of signnode.com:
Automatic strapping machines are efficient types of packaging equipment. According to beacontechnology.com, these machines can:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) warns that manually stretch wrapping pallets can injure workers. That is why OSHA recommends using a machine such as a pallet stretch wrapper instead of man power to perform these acts at your place of work. OSHA is concerned about the following when it comes to injuries at the workplace over manually stretch wrapping pallets:
If you pack and ship specialized equipment, delicate materials, or other items with special shipping needs, a custom shipping box might be just what you need to make sure your mail arrives safely at the destination. There are companies that specify in custom boxes, including die-cut boxes and UN-approved packaging. Many retailers turn to these custom boxes, but those in the material handling industry may also find themselves in need of such customized containers. Some companies make custom cases of more durable material such as plastic and metal, but these are designed as carrying cases first. However, if you have especially sensitive materials with limited mailing needs, you may wish to consider such rugged cases to additional protection, if the situation warrants.
A stretch wrap machine can increase efficiency in your shipping department by partially automating the process. The stretch wrap machine can wrap palletized cargo as a unit to protect it from rain, moisture and other damaging factors.
Stretch wrapping also makes the shipment more secure from theft or pilferage by sealing many boxes or packages together as a unit. A stretch wrap machine is an excellent investment for shipping and mailing operations with enough volume. These units come with a powered turntable for easy wrapping operations and a counter balanced film mast, and the units have an 'approach ramp' option to allow loading and unloading with a pallet jack.
If you need to start shipping or receiving internationally, there are a number of things you need to be concerned with. Some are a matter of simply purchasing the right supplies for the job; large, appropriately marked labels, crush-proof boxes, and plastic wrap for the contents of your shipping. The plastic wrap is especially important because your shipment may be exposed to rain, sea spray, and other weather conditions as goods are unloaded from ships and aircraft in the destination country. You should also take advantage of the helpful information provided by ciffa.com, the Canadian International Freight Forwarder's Association. There you can find help navigating the complicated laws that govern shipping overseas, liability issues, and damage claim regulations.
A “drop-n-tell” indicator is something applied to a mailing carton or box that will alert the recipient of shock damage to the box during transit. These indicators often come with labels designed to alert shippers and receivers to the indicators. Using such indicators can improve your chances of a successful insurance claim against a negligent carrier or in case of an accident in transit where your goods are involved. If you frequently ship high-risk materials or have had a string of problems with damaged mail, this may be an excellent deterrent.
If you routinely ship sensitive information or materials, it's a very good idea to add a tamper seal around the edges of all mailing containers. This makes tampering much more difficult. Government inspectors in airports and mail facilities will include a notification of inspection if they are required to open your mailing. Your tamper seals will be broken in this case, but if your recipient sees no official notice inside the package, it's safe to assume the box has been compromised. Tamper seals are very effective; being one of the methods U.S. Customs uses to prevent theft in overseas moves for government employees and military members.
Some companies feel the need to put their brand on everything that leaves the warehouse, including the mail. If increasing your company brand is an increasing concern, there are companies that specialize in printing logos on shipping containers. If you require more heavy-duty packing material, consider purchasing custom labels to stick on the side of your boxes. Either way, you will increase your brand visibility through your shipping operation. If you choose the less-expensive label option, remember to order the more heavy-duty weather-proof stickers, as they offer maximum “survivability” during shipment.
If you need to pack and ship heavy items on a regular basis, consider a bulk purchase of double-wall corrugated boxes where appropriate. These are much stronger than their single-wall counterparts. A single-wall box that can carry 20 pounds of material is outclassed by a double-wall box of the same size, which can handle a whopping 80 pounds in the same size box! Getting these extra-strength boxes insures greater protection to your mailings, and also increases your chances of a successful claim should your shipment be damaged in transit.
Recycling can save you good money on packing and shipping supplies. If you are constantly disposing of plastic wrapping, Styrofoam peanuts, and other materials, consider creating a mailroom recycling bin for these items. They can be easily re-utilized as packing materials, saving you for ordering additional packing for many mailing needs. If you are returning defective items, for example, you can definitely use such recyclables. They may not be suitable for mailing items to your customers, but there are plenty of shipping needs that can include recycled or creative shipping supplies.
Many shops find their packing supplies inventory is in dire need of a shrink wrapping heat gun. These propane powered guns make the shrink wrap process a breeze. Many people only associate shrink wrapping with items you purchase in the store like CDs and DVDs. But shrink wrapping as an enhancement to your packing supplies can give sensitive items such as computer monitors or circuitry an extra layer of protection in transit.
Computer boxes are frequently shrink wrapped before shipping; you may wish to use the same precautions in your own operation by adding shrink wrapping to your packing supplies.
There are a wide variety of packing and shipping supplies commercially available to make your operation run more smoothly; both machinery such as parts scales, stretch wrapping machines and shrink wrap heat guns.
There are also consumables such as high strength steel wrapping and stretch film rolls. The advantage of buying these from an industrial supplier is that you will save money purchasing in bulk.
Shrink wrapping not only protects your shipped items, it also gives a very professional look when the shipment arrives at its final destination. Buying bulk rolls of shrink wrapping will let you do mass-mailing and shipping with no interruptions for resupply.
Your packing and shipping supplies list may also need to include 'safety items' such as corner protectors if your shipping area has machine traffic. You may wish to insure packages waiting on shelves to be shipped have that extra bit of protection against accidental damage from forklift tires or dolly edges.
Some other packing and shipping supplies include the digital floor scale; this unit comes rated up to five thousand pounds. This is the perfect solution for packing operations that do high weight and volume shipping.
You may also want to stock up on stretch wrap film before your heaviest shipping season. Having too much is far better than not enough. Stretch wrap operations also require box cutters and replacement blades--a bulk purchase of these items is also a good idea if your budget allows.
If your packing and shipping department gets a lot of incoming boxes, you can recycle them even if they are stenciled with company logos from other manufacturers. This is possible thanks to fast-drying stencil spray or mark-over spray, specially designed to be non-smearing. Many of these sprays dry within three minutes of application and you can even purchase an optional spray can gun for speedier, clean application. Be sure your employees use these sprays in well-ventilated areas and wear the appropriate masks and safety goggles when spraying.
If your packing and shipping operation does a lot of work with weighty items it is very important to make sure you do not exceed the burst or crush rating of the box. Otherwise, you risk not being compensated by a carrier who receives damaged goods on the other end of the shipment. The strength ratings for shipping boxes may found on the bottom flaps of shipping boxes. Be sure to know and heed the weight guidelines to minimize your liability.
Did you know there are online companies that specialize in bulk and “bundled” packing supplies? If your operation is moving to a new facility, your shipping department can order special packages of packing supplies based on how many office rooms you have, or you can order a bulk number of boxes in varying sizes. You can also order rolls of newswrap paper to go along with the boxes, and any unused newswrap can be utilized by your shipping department at the new location.
No list of shipping and packaging supplies is complete without a parts scale. This can be a major help to your shipping operation--you will always know what the exact postage should be for smaller shipments and your larger deliveries can be properly marked for weight and safe handling.
If you routinely mail out small packages as part of your shipping department, you may not need a larger parts scale, but if you need shipping and packaging supplies for larger and heavier pieces, be sure to purchase a parts scale with a high weight capacity. Some are rated for over one hundred pounds, and may be a better bet if you need to weigh a lot of heavier objects for shipping.
If given the choice, you should use stretch wrap equipment over manually stretch wrapping because packaging equipment will eliminate human error and maintain a professional look. If you need more reasons to go machine over manual, here are 10 of them, courtesy of capspackaging.com: