Let the Packager Beware!

A Package Dropped 30 Inches Is Not Considered Mishandled!

From Antique Radio Classified for January 1996
(Copyright 1995 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)

What do the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express say about packaging?

The U.S. Postal Service guidelines are perhaps the most convenient to obtain. Ask at your local post office to look through their "Domestic Mail Manual" (they call it the DMM) and read the thirteen-page section detailing the important aspects of packaging. (These are sections 121.1 to 121.766 in the "Preparation for Mailing" section.)

All three carriers reference the National Safe Transit Association (NSTA) test standards which establish the minimum packaging required to withstand the transportation environment. Warning: the phrase "transportation environment" is a quaint euphemism for some allowable rough treatment of your prized possessions or purchases!

Federal Express, for example, performs NSTA industry-standard drop, vibration and impact tests to simulate the transportation environment. Their pass/fail test on packaging includes ten drops of a package on various corners and edges from a height no greater than thirty inches (for packages under 100 lbs.) as well as a certain period of vibration.

This means that Federal Express, along with the industry in general, allows the dropping of your packaged Grebe Synchrophase, Scott All-Wave chassis, or Addison Catalin radio from a height of up to 2 1/2 feet! It is imperative that you do all your packaging with this kind of rough handling in mind. (Editor)

UPS Guidelines for Good Packaging

At UPS our objective is to get every package safely to its designation. You can help us achieve this goal by properly packing and labeling your shipments. The outer carton, the packaging material, the closure and the address label are four key elements in a properly prepared package. By following the simple suggestions below, you help ensure that your UPS-shipped merchandise arrives in good condition.

A corrugated carton is the ideal way to ship most items and provides the best protection for your package contents. We recommend that you select a carton with a minimum 200-pound test rating as described on the carton manufacturer's seal printed on the bottom of the carton. Always use cartons in good, rigid condition with all flaps intact. Cartons that have punctures, tears, rips or corner damage should not be used. Make sure the carton is large enough to allow room for adequate cushioning material on all sides of the product.

A minimum of two inches of packing material should completely surround each item in the shipment. Crumpled Kraft paper makes a good, inexpensive cushioning material, as does bubble-wrap. (Caution: "foam peanut" cushioning material can settle or shift position in a carton during transit, thereby reducing its effectiveness as a cushioning material.)

Begin by packing several inches of the cushioning material you have chosen in the bottom of the carton. Next, wrap individual items separately and place them toward the center of the carton at least two inches apart. Finally, stuff cushioning material firmly around, over and between the items. Use enough cushioning material so that the contents cannot move easily when you shake the carton. Several inches of cushioning material all the way around your merchandise should do it. But remember, the further you keep fragile articles away from the corners and sides of the container, the less chance there is of damage. Extremely delicate items should be double-boxed for added protection. Carefully pack the delicate items in the first container with cushioning, and then place the sealed package in a second cushioned container.

Proper closure of a package is as important as adequate cushioning. To close a carton securely, use a heavy-duty tape designed for shipping, at least two inches in width. Pressure sensitive plastic tape and water activated paper tape, with or without fiber reinforcement, are all acceptable closures.

The "Six Strip Method" for package sealing provides maximum protection against cartons popping open. First, tape the bottom center seam, leaving a two-inch overlap on each end. Next, seal both bottom edge seams. Pack the contents, using the cushioning guidelines above. Now tape the center seam and both edge seams of the box top, exactly as you taped the bottom.

Never use masking or cellophane tapes. These tapes do not provide the strength necessary for proper package sealing. In addition, avoid using string or cord on your package. These can catch on automatic sorting equipment. Finally, don't paper wrap your package. If the paper tears, your adress label may become separated from the package.

(Supplied by United Parcel Service)

A Radio-packing Caution

It is timely to review a caution included in the "Editor's Comments" of the January 1989 issue of A.R.C.:

"I continue to receive reports of tragic experiences in buying and selling plastic radios. My conclusion is: PLASTIC RADIOS DO NOT SHIP WELL and often do not survive. With these radios, a relatively heavy chassis is attached to a brittle plastic cabinet by only a few screws; even if the radio is packed well, when the package is dropped (which it almost always is), the stress on the plastic cabinet where the radio chassis is attached often breaks the plastic at the screw holes. The same problem potentially exists with radios which have heavy components, such as a chassis or speaker, or where all components are mounted on the front panel. When shipping these radios, I urge: REMOVE THE CHASSIS AND OTHER HEAVY COMPONENTS FROM THE CABINET, AND SHIP EACH PART SEPARATELY, DOUBLE BOXED. Sellers, please use this shipping method; buyers, please insist on it!" (Editor)

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Copyright © 1995 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.
Last revised: December 31, 1995. Pages designed by Wayward Fluffy Publications