What Causes Transit Damage & What You Can Do About It


transit damage

It’s an unfortunate reality, but one that many businesses are no stranger to: products damaged in transit. Of the billions of packages that are shipped every year, a percentage arrive at their destination with visible damage that can translate into faulty or unusable products.

In 2018, the three leading U.S. couriers — the USPS, UPS, and FedEx — delivered around 13.5 billion packages. Of those packages, 11% arrived damaged or were misdelivered.

Naturally, transit damage places strain on a business’s bottom line. On one hand, you have to eat the cost of lost inventory. At the same time, you also have to absorb extra shipping costs to cover the return of the damaged item and then — if requested — send a replacement. (Not to mention, there’s also the cost of productivity loss to manage these additional shipments.)

Combating costly transit damage begins with understanding some of the reasons it happens in the first place.

Common Culprits for Transit Damage


Manual Mishandling

When you consider all the hands that product packages touch throughout the supply chain, it’s easy to see where the issue of mishandling comes into the picture. There’s always a chance a truck unloader or warehouse employee could accidentally drop a package. Or, if the package contains fragile or hazardous products and doesn’t spell out specific care instructions, someone may unknowingly mishandle the product and compromise its quality.

Mid-Transit Vibrations

No matter the way products are transported — planes, trains, automobiles, or ships — they are subject to some level of vibrations in transit. While a product and its packaging might be built to handle more natural frequencies, other variables can compound these effects. In many cases, packages are stacked on top of each other in transit, which can magnify the vibrations’ impact. Alternatively, turbulent weather conditions or bumpy roads can increase the strain on products.

Extreme Temperatures

While not every product is impacted by exposure to extreme temperatures in transit, many are — a list that includes electronic devices and pharmaceutical products. If we look at this through the lens of extreme heat, the internal circuit components of a phone or computer could degrade and the devices might fail to perform upon arrival to a consumer. Or, a vaccine could lose its efficacy due to temperature fluctuations and have to be thrown out upon arrival to a hospital.

Optimize Your Packaging to Reduce Transit Damage

Transit damage is an implied risk that businesses take on when they ship their products. But with the right packaging solutions in place, businesses can effectively curb the potential for loss.

Custom Dimensions

When designed to the exact specifications of your products, packaging creates a more secure home for them. Products that have less space to move around while in transit are less likely to experience damage in the process. (As an added bonus, you’ll save the costs of unnecessary extra packaging space!)

Proper Cushioning

A little cushioning can go a long way in keeping products free of transit damage. Designed to fit your products’ dimensions and built from quality materials, foam inserts help keep your products protected from the stress of vibrations and drops.

Integrated Solutions

While a package’s structure and materials are vital to the safety of temperature-sensitive products, integrating gel packs or phase-change materials into package walls helps maintain proper temperatures during transit.

Easier Portability

The less of a struggle it is for supply chain personnel to move your product packaging, the less chance there is for transit damage. Outfitting your custom packaging with handles or wheels — especially when products are on the heavier side — helps to ease concerns on this front.

Proper Labels

Clearly communicating care instructions on packaging reduces the risk of manual damage, too. For instance, you can use stenciling on the exterior of your product package to indicate industry symbols and shapes that ensure safety is maintained in harsh environments.

Quality Assurance

While product packaging can be designed and manufactured to handle the elements, it’s critical to verify that it does. Performing drop tests, vibration tests, and temperature tests helps close the loop and deliver peace of mind.

Looking for a partner to support your product packaging needs? Look no further than Cases By Source, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of custom cases. Get in touch with us today


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