Shipping Day has finally arrived. The equipment that your company has spent months manufacturing and calibrating is carefully packed into custom-built padded crates and loaded onto a truck to begin its journey to your customer’s site.
You are confident that your equipment is protected from bumps and bruises during transit, but have you taken precautions to avoid water vapor damage—the silent, invisible threat lurking in the air surrounding your equipment? If your shipment encounters even mild temperature fluctuations en route, moisture can condense on your equipment and cause serious damage. Choosing the right moisture barrier packaging material can easily make the difference between a happy customer and a soggy surprise when your equipment is un-crated at its final destination.
Before you choose which moisture-barrier packaging materials you’ll use, consider the conditions your equipment is likely to encounter enroute.
Know your equipment
Moisture protection is especially important for electronics and any equipment with unfinished machined parts (exposed metal is susceptible to corrosion).
Consider the entire route
Anything being shipped by boat or plane should be protected from moisture. Even a small amount of saltwater in an ocean container can do a vast amount of damage and shipping containers are often exposed to the elements for long periods of time. The rapid changes in pressure and temperature that occur during flight introduce moisture risk, as well.
Shipments travelling by truck or train within the Continental U.S. tend to be less vulnerable to water damage transit, but can still encounter challenges if they are stored anywhere along the route.
Check the weather
Knowing what environmental conditions your shipment is likely to encounter along its entire route can help you to properly prepare. Knowing that your package is likely to sit on the tarmac during the rainy season in Malaysia, for example, will influence which moisture vapor barrier protection measures you employ.
Review the schedule
To guarantee that your equipment arrives at your customer’s site in the same condition that it left your facility, you need to know more than the delivery deadline. It’s worth learning as much as you can about your customer’s timeline. Will your package be un-crated immediately upon arrival or will it be stored for any length of time? The answer to this question can help you choose a moisture-protection strategy that will last until your customer un-crates their shipment.
Learn about storage
Time is moisture’s partner in crime. If a package with a small amount of moisture is allowed to sit for any significant length of time, that moisture will have ample opportunity to corrode and warp delicate machinery. Moisture protection is a must for shipments that will be stored during transit or at the customer’s site.
How to Keep Your Shipment Dry
Desiccant should be familiar to anybody who has found a tiny bag of granules tucked into a shoebox alongside their new loafers. Desiccant works like a sponge, soaking up any water vapor from the environment. There are many varieties of desiccant, and each has an upper limit in terms of how much water vapor it can absorb.
Careful calculations based on the size of package, type of equipment, and expected environmental conditions during transport and storage are needed to make certain the desiccant never reaches capacity (after which the “sponge” can no longer absorb additional moisture.)
Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI)
VCIs emit chemicals that battle the corrosive minerals in water. (It’s the taglong chemicals, not the water itself, that do the most damage.) There are three types of VCIs: paper, poly, and emitters. Poly VCI is ideal for machinery from cleanroom manufacturing environments because it does not generate particulate like paper VCI can.
Vapor Barrier Bags
A vapor barrier (also called a moisture barrier bag) is basically industrial-sized Saran Wrap. The vapor barrier bag is designed to prevent environmental moisture from entering the space surrounding your equipment.
For especially sensitive shipments, the moisture-rich air surrounding your equipment can be replaced with nitrogen, which is a safe, inert gas.
External Plastic Sheeting
An additional layer of polymer sheeting is often attached to the top of the crate to act as an additional barrier material and help shed water for packages likely to be exposed to the elements.
A re-usable gauge visible through a window installed in the crate, the humidity monitor serves as an early warning system. If it edges into the danger zone, the crate can be opened and the desiccant and/or VCI can be replaced to mitigate moisture damage until the crate can be fully unpacked.
Humidity monitor visible through crate window.
Teach your customer proper un-crating procedures
Not all moisture-mitigation strategies involve products that can be packaged with your shipment.
Sometimes, you need to encourage your customer to follow a better process. For example, rapid changes in temperature can spell disaster, even after the equipment is un-packed.
If a package has been stored outdoors in cold weather, it should be brought inside for a minimum length of time to acclimate slowly to the warmer temperatures. Otherwise, as soon as the cold machinery is uncrated, condensation will form on delicate machine parts.
Prevention Worth Every Penny
It can be daunting to consider how much damage a little moisture can do to your perfectly calibrated machinery as it travels from your facility to your customer’s site.
But, with a little research and preparation, you can prevent dampness from endangering your product and your bottom line.
CDC Packaging Is Here to Help!
Have questions about how to protect your equipment during shipment? CDC Packaging can help ensure your equipment stays dry and arrives safely at your customer’s site. Contact us to learn more.