Why using cartons to ship is smarter

06 October 2023

Why pack your products in a carton? 

When selecting packaging materials for shipping, what’s best?

The transport industry likes items packed into cartons.  Good sturdy robust cartons.  This means double or triple walled cardboard cartons.

There are many reasons why cartons win out over other packing options such as plastic tubs, canvas bags, wrapping in plastic, wrapping in cardboard. 

A good sturdy carton has shockability. If its sustains a knock in transit it can absorb some of the shock, if the internal goods are packed well, they won’t break or get damaged. A good test is if your packaged carton is dropped from a 1 metre height and the contents are not damaged or broken; if this is achieved then you are packaging your goods appropriately internally and the cardboard carton you have used is sturdy and robust enough for courier/freight environments.

This is not the case with plastic tubs for example.  If they sustain a knock they break and put the internal goods at risk of damage or loss.  Similar issues occur with bags, there is no protection for the internal products shipped if the bag is dropped, squashed or knocked in transit.

A carton is easy to stick a label on and it will stay put. A canvas bag, suitcase, surf board cover are extremely difficult to stick a label to. Also the bag may not be covered in transit if any damage occurs. 

One other consideration is many transport companies now charge additional ‘manual handling’ surcharges if your goods are not shipped in cardboard cartons.  This is because the item needs to be handled manually in their transport depots instead of the item travelling down their conveyor belt and being sorted automatically with no manual intervention.  The carriers see goods not packaged in cartons as a risk to their operation for the following reasons:

  • If in a satchel/bag, if the bag is ripped or torn the plastic can get caught in the conveyor belt slats causing their whole operation to stop until resolved
  • If the item is a tube longer than 120cm (100cm for some carriers) the item can’t go around the bends in the conveyor belt systems and can cause blockages if it gets caught in the bend (or your item will get damaged)
  • If you send flat packs and use straps or the flat packs are not tightly wrapped, they can come apart on the conveyor belt and cause contents to get caught in the conveyor slats; if the straps come loose they can get caught in the conveyor belt slats causing the operation to stop also
  • Heavy items (usually over 25kg or sometimes 30kg) aren’t usually handled via the automated conveyor belts due to potential of OH&S issues; so these items are again handled manually via forklifts

All of these reasons cause time/money to the transport company if their automated systems are hindered in any way.  It is best to query these potential issues with your courier/freight partner before shipping to avoid potential extra surcharges or damage to your goods.

Sturdy cardboard cartons (with appropriate internal packaging) is the way to go to have a seamless shipping process for your business.

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