It’s a common scenario: A product is conceived, designed, and manufactured with immense care and attention to detail. Every step in the process from concept to finished product is scheduled, prioritized, and mile-stoned, except for the final task: Delivering that product to your customer.
Executing that final step successfully requires a fair amount of lead time, especially if you are shipping expensive, heavy, or delicate equipment. The time to consider how best to deliver your product to your customer is actually before the product has even been fabricated.
Plan Sooner, Rather Than Later
As soon as the design process begins, a packaging and shipping team can start to collect the details that will guarantee safe delivery of your product:
- What are the dimensions?
- How heavy will the finished product be?
- Where in the world is it being delivered?
- Which shipping regulations apply to the product and the destination?
- Through what types of weather will it travel?
- What types of transportation will be used?
Armed with those details, the shipping experts can spec out and build custom packaging, so that it is ready and waiting as soon as your product is ready to be packed.
Give Major Players a Sneak Peek
Of course, if you involve packaging experts in the conversation even earlier, it may be possible to save time, money, and headaches. A conversation between your engineers and the vendors who will be handling the packing, rigging, and transport of your equipment could reveal a show-stopper that might threaten your deadline or bottom line at the last minute.
Even a minor detail, spotted before manufacturing begins, can have a big impact. For example, if your design specs are reviewed by your shipper, who reminds you that the maximum height for a piece of equipment being loaded onto a tractor trailer is 108”, you might decide to adjust your design to accommodate that parameter in order to avoid the extra expense and hassle of transporting your equipment on a flatbed truck (where it would be exposed to the elements.)
When to Get Started
“The sooner, the better” is the basic rule for the planning stages. But, realistically, how much time is required to prepare your shipment for a safe journey? The first step is to determine the date on which the product needs to leave your facility:
- First, identify your delivery deadline.
- Then, determine the minimum amount of time it will take for your equipment to be transported from your facility to its final destination.
- Add a buffer of at least one week for unforeseen “speed bumps” such as major weather events that could impact standard shipping lanes.
- The result is your “shipping deadline,” the date by which your product needs to be on the road.
Pencil It In
Once you have determined your “shipping deadline,” you can work backwards from that date to determine how soon you should begin coordinating with your packaging and transport partners.
Depending on the complexity of the shipment you are scheduling, you might need anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to guarantee your shipment a safe journey.
Here is a sample timeline that details the steps that might be required to prepare your product for transit:
Begin Discussions: Initiate contact with packing, rigging, and transport vendors. Provide details about size and type of shipment. Discuss how delivery destination and types of transport will impact packaging choices.
Share Specs: Provide final mechanical drawings (or actual parts) to packager so they can take measurements and design a packaging solution to suit your precise needs.
Determine Cost: Receive price quote from packagers, riggers, and shippers. Send out purchase orders.
Create Packaging: The packaging team fabricates the custom packaging (such as, wooden shipping crates and metal shipping brackets) and places orders for any special materials required for the shipment, such as barrier bagging material and desiccant.
Receive Materials: The entire “Packaging Kit” arrives at your site. The kit includes all materials needed to protectively package a machine, such as wood skids, crates, shipping brackets, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, labels, etc.
Review Checklist: Final scheduling details are coordinated with all parties involved in the equipment packaging process (your facility, field service, shipping, rigging, and trucking companies).
Pack Product: The packaging team arrives to pack the product for shipment. Depending on the your needs, the crew might:
- Disassemble the machine.
- Clean all parts and assemblies.
- Wrap everything in plastic and bubble wrap.
- Carefully package small items in consolidation crates.
- Use a fork-lift to load large components onto wooden shipping skids.
- Vacuum-seal all components in foil bagging with desiccant.
- Enclose all parts and components in custom-made wood crates.
- Label all shipping crates with handling instructions and address labels.
- Provide a detailed list of the contents of each shipping crate.
- Load the completed shipping crates onto a truck or into an ocean container.
Invest in Early-Stage Planning
Although it may feel awkward to discuss the particulars of shipping a product long before that product has even been built, consulting with packaging and shipping experts early in the process can help avoid last-minute hold-ups and expenses.
CDC Packaging Is Ready When You Are!
It’s never too soon to start planning your shipment. Bring CDC Packaging into the conversation early and be confident that your equipment will arrive safely at your customer’s site. Contact us to get started today!