The wooden shipping crate has arrived at its final destination. Now your customer can tear off the packaging and start using their new equipment, right? Not so fast! The final step in your shipment’s journey requires a bit more planning and care than a wrapping paper free-for-all under the Christmas tree.

Follow these steps for a successful UNpack:

1. Inspect the exterior.
Do a visual inspection of the entire exterior of the crate. Check for any damage, such as puncture holes from a careless forklift operator. Document any irregularities with photographs.

2. Check indicators.
These handy measurement tools can reveal if your shipment suffered shock, excessive tipping, or exposure to moisture on its journey, so you can be on the look-out for damage as you unpack.

ShockWatch:  A one-time use indicator that reveals if the crate ever sustained a shock above the rated g-forces of the selected ShockWatch. (It does not record how much shock was sustained, but does indicate if the crate received an impact equal to or greater than the ShockWatch rating.)


TiltWatch:  A one-time use indicator that is installed on the outside of the crate, near the bottom. It indicates if the crate ever tipped past 80 degrees during shipment.


Humidity Monitor:  A re-usable gauge that is installed inside the crate, but visible through a custom-cut window. It indicates whether the humidity level inside the crate is at an acceptable level.


If any indicators were installed prior to shipment, check their status upon arrival. Photograph any indicators that reveal your package has been mishandled.

3. Allow crate to acclimate. 
Never unpack a cold crate! Move the crate indoors 24 hours in advance of when you plan to unpack. This allows the crate and the equipment inside to reach room temperature to help avoid any condensation, which could cause moisture damage.

4. Remove metal banding.
The metal bands that encircle the outside of the crate are under tension; use caution when removing them. They can be sharp and are likely to release quickly in unexpected directions when snipped. Wear protective gloves and use a banding cutter or sheet metal cutter to cut through the bands.

5. Remove the top.
Unless your crate has been designed for side access, start with the top panel. Remove the fasteners (screws or nails) to dismantle and remove the top.

6. Take off the sides.
Remove the fasteners (screws or nails) to dismantle the sides of the crate.

7. Un-bag the equipment.
Some equipment is shipped inside a giant foil vapor barrier bag to protect against moisture damage. Use scissors (not a knife) to snip the perimeter of the bag. Remove any additional plastic bags and desiccant (usually made of clay; it helps absorb moisture in the environment.)

8.  Inspect the equipment.
Now that the equipment is exposed, perform a second inspection. Look for scratches, dents, moisture or rust. Photograph anything questionable or suspicious for insurance purposes.

9. Remove blocking and bracing.
To prevent sensitive equipment from shifting around inside the crate during shipment, it is secured to the bottom of the crate with blocking or bracing. Carefully remove the fasteners from any bracing materials so that the equipment is completely free to move.

10. Lift out the equipment.
Use a fork truck to lift the equipment off of the crate bottom (skid). Or, if an integrated ramp has been provided, simply roll the equipment out of the crate. (Sometimes one side of the crate will be designed to act as a fold-down ramp.)

11. Recycle or dispose of packaging.
When your equipment has been completely unpacked, it’s time to clean up. Many crating materials, such as foil bags, plastic packaging, and wood planks, can be recycled. Some other elements, such as foam shock absorbers that have been glued to the wood are not recyclable.

The destination of the crate can also impact how the materials are handled after the equipment has been unpacked. For example, the European Union has relatively strict rules that require the vast majority of packaging materials to be recycled. But in less prosperous areas of the globe, a crate might get reused by the local population (as housing, for example.)

Plan Ahead to Save

There’s no reason to order a “Cadillac” of a crate, when a “Dodge” will do. But sometimes, requesting something extra can have a big impact on the final step of your equipment’s journey.

Discuss your ideal un-packing scenario when you place your crate order:

  • Will your equipment be on wheels? Perhaps ordering an integrated ramp makes sense.
  • Would you like to re-use the crate? Requesting a single removable side could help you preserve the crate structure.
  • Are you shipping especially sensitive equipment? Ask that only screws be used. (Removing nails can be a rough, unpredictable process. Imagine causing shock damage after the crate has arrived at your destination!)

With a little planning and patience, unpacking your crated shipment will progress smoothly to reveal equipment in ideal condition.

CDC Packaging: Improving Shipping From Start to Finish

You work hard to ship high-quality equipment in premium condition. CDC Packaging can help ensure that it does not sustain damage at any step in the journey from your site to its final destination. Contact us to learn more.