If your business depends on cargo being delivered on time and in new condition, it can be nerve-racking to deal with a delayed or damaged shipment. While freight damage isn’t common, it can and does happen, often with consequences for all parties involved.
Freight damage can occur with every transportation method, from sea freight (where a container with damaged contents may go unnoticed for weeks) to faster methods such as road cargo and air freight.
It can also take a long time to find out which party is responsible for damaged freight, from the initial supplier to the logistics company responsible for the delivery. Often, you might never fully know how the damaged occurred and which party is fully or partially responsible.
In this guide, we’ll look at the process of trucking cargo damage and learn how common cargo damage really is. We’ll also look at the best practices for reducing the risk of your packages or commercial cargo becoming damaged during transportation.
How Often Does Cargo Damage Happen?
Cargo damage is fairly uncommon. The vast majority of shipments, whether delivered via sea, air, rail or road, reach their destination on time and in the same condition as they were in when they left their original port.
However, cargo damage can occur in one of several ways. Often, large parts of a shipment are damaged due to poor delivery practices. When items aren’t properly secured, for example, they can move within the delivery container and become damaged due to impact.
In other cases, cargo damage can occur when a product or item isn’t properly packed before its journey. Fragile items, electronic products, and other items that are easily damaged can often be bumped, scratched or damaged in delivery because of insufficient protective packaging.
It’s worth remembering that all of these outcomes are uncommon. The vast majority of personal and commercial deliveries reach their destination in a normal condition without any damage, while only a small number of deliveries are damaged while in transit.
How to Avoid Cargo Damage
Damaged cargo can have a variety of negative impacts on your business. First, it can increase costs by requiring you to replace the damaged items. If the damaged items were intended for a client or customer, it can also hurt your relationship with the people that drive your business.
Finally, there’s a time cost to dealing with damaged cargo, one that can’t be recovered. Fixing and replacing damaged items is a time-consuming task that limits your ability to focus on other, more important aspects of your business’s growth.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to reduce the risk of your cargo being damaged in transit. The list below contains five simple tactics that you can use to reduce freight damage, from changes to your packaging process to change the way you load your vehicles:
- Use impact protection to insulate packages. From old favorites like styrofoam to soft, biodegradable plastics and bubble wrap, it’s always best to add an extra layer of impact protection to all of your cargo packages to prevent bumps, scrapes and other damage.
- Package thoroughly using new materials. Reusing packaging is an easy way to lower the cost of transporting cargo, but it’s not without risks. Make sure you package all cargo using new packaging, and never exceed a box’s maximum weight limit.
- Seal to keep weather and leaks out. Rain and moisture from other packages can leak into yours if given the chance. Seal your packages and keep them free of water damage by using thick, water-resistance reinforced tape to cover edges, corners, and openings.
- Label all of your packages. It’s not just damaged packages you need to worry about — for many businesses, lost or misplaced cargo is just as much of a problem. Always label your cargo to make sure it goes where it should and is easy to identify.
- Pack your vehicles securely. The way you stack cargo can have a huge effect on its durability, especially on long trips. Pack intelligently and use reinforced cardboard as a packing tool to distribute weight evenly and prevent boxes from tipping and falling.
Finally, you can further reduce the potential costs of damaged cargo with the right commercial insurance policy. Many commercial truck insurance policies cover damage to cargo and contents, allowing you reduce the risk of damage affecting your company’s bottom line.