Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, international trade has got a shot in the arm. Countries are able to build bigger, faster and sturdier ships that could transport a large number of bulky cargo. Trading has become so popular today that there are only a few impoverished countries who do not do international trading.
Our modern lifestyle, luxuries and conveniences are possible only because of international trading. Around 80% of the world’s trade by volume are carried out via cargo ships. Since ships carry a large number of goods for trade (big and small); packaging them properly before shipping is of paramount importance. There are both international and domestic standards for packaging goods meant for export. We shall have a look at the international standards for packaging goods intended for shipping.
Organizations these days outsource their packaging requirements to third party specialist firms. It is because the packaging is no longer a neglected or a simple task. It speaks volumes about the company that packaged the product and helps in brand marketing. There are also a lot of packaging standards (local and international) that companies have to comply with these days.
Customers take note of every small detail in the packaging of a product like the eco-friendliness of the packaging material used, design of the packaging, ease of unpacking or ease of use, etc. These details decide if a customer becomes an evangelist of the company or stops being a customer of the company.
One such organization which specializes in packaging products is The Packaging Company. They offer a wide variety of and designs for packaging materials. One can custom choose the packaging requirements from their website. Some of their packaging materials and types include cardboard boxes, variety of polyester bags, custom-made boxes, bubble sheets, mailers, custom tapes with beautiful designs, and mailing tubes.
They also have a plethora of packaging posters. They have their own blog and a helpline to resolve clients’/customers’ queries. They are a world-renowned packaging organization and not only follow international and domestic packaging guidelines but they also package their product in such a manner that their customers find appealing.
International Standards for Packaging Goods
Any item meant for export must be packed according to these international standards or packaging requirements:
- Physical Protection: The materials used to pack an export item must be able to protect against physical shocks, vibrations, extremes of temperatures, moisture and dust. Generally, high-quality packaging materials like stainless steel or high-quality wood is used to pack export items. Other elements like sponges, cotton, paper bits and thermocol balls are put inside the container to absorb physical shocks and vibrations. If biomedical substances are being transported, then refrigeration facility must be available inside the cargo ship to maintain the temperature the biomedical substances need to prevent their spoilage. Hazardous materials like combustible substances, explosives, radioactive substances, etcetera should be handled with extra care and special safe facilities must be provided for their transport. Their containers must contain detailed instructions on how to manage them with all the necessary pictograms (warning signs).
- Agglomeration: This just means that the same or similar substances which can be clubbed together must be put together in the same container while transporting. For example, it is better to put 100 pillows in one container rather than have a separate container for each pillow. The containers’ sizes/dimensions should be multiples of the European Pallet which has the dimensions of length, breadth and height (in millimeters) as 1,200 * 800 * 144 (* symbol should be read as ‘by’ and not ‘into’).
- Labeling: Every product that is exported should contain the following labels in its container:
- The shipping company’s trademark and logo.
- Country of origin.
- Weight of the product in Pounds as well as in Kilograms.
- The number of packages and size of each package (dimensions should be mentioned in centimeters).
- Handling instructions like: “handle with care,” “maximum stacking height,” “this side up,” among others.
- Pictograms, depending on the type of product like corrosive substances, flammable substances, explosive substances, radioactive substances, glass, biomedical substances, etc.
- Port of entry.
Apart from the labels mentioned above, a product should also come with an instruction manual which contains information on how to unpack the product, how to use the product, how to store the product and how to dispose of the product. Cautionary instructions on what not to do with the product should also be mentioned in the product’s instruction manual. Chemical products, Pharmaceutical products, Food products and various types of machinery require additional instructions in their user manual.
Also Read, An expert’s guide to product packaging
Best Materials to use for Labeling Products
Only fast dyes should be used for product labeling purposes as they dry instantly. The most critical product information should be printed in black (wherever applicable in bold letters) and less important information may be printed in lighter colors like red, blue, green, etc. For food products that are packed in sacks (like rice), the dye on the bag should be made of harmless chemical substances (so as not to cause food poisoning). The dye should also not penetrate the sack and color the food product.
Apart from following the international guidelines on packaging products, it would be better if companies packaged products in such a way that reflects the cultural values of their destination country. The packaging should be done taking the destination country’s style, color and size preferences so that it is perceived to be of good value in the destination country.