Burnard International

Cargo Packaging Guidance

Points to consider when packaging cargo


At Burnard International, we place a strong emphasis on cargo packaging. 

Freight is often unique and comes in all different shapes and sizes each with its own specific packaging requirements. Your top priority is to get your freight delivered to your customer in the same condition as it left you. Ensuring your packaging is suitable for the conditions of international transport is the single most important factor in achieving this.

Why should you package Freight?

As we all know, travelling by road, rail, air or sea is not a perfectly smooth ride - all the little bumps and vibrations will jostle your freight around with the potential to cause damage. But with correct packaging, damage to your freight can be minimised.

The bottom line cost of damages is much higher than you may first think

Replacement of goods

Freight costs

Time lost arrange replacements

Time spent dealing with an unhappy customers

Disposal of damaged freight 

Even more important than minimising damage to your goods is protection against injury. Your team, our team and your customers can all be at risk from hazards ranging from jagged surfaces to the collapse of unstable loads.

Packaging Options 

From a basic cardboard box to large wooden crates, packaging comes in many different forms to suit your cargo.

Cartons – makes your freight easier to handle by keeping loose items together. They also provide protection to the display packaging of your product and allows the use of other packaging aids such as foam packing.

Pallets - whether you are moving boxes or a heavy piece of machinery the simple pallet is one of the most commonly used type of packaging. Packing your freight on a pallet provides stability making it easier to handle. Ensure that the pallet is in good condition; that the weight of your goods is evenly distributed; the goods don’t hang over the pallet edges; and the top surface is flat where possible.

Crates – can be made to fit any type of freight. Solid walls and strong weight-bearing structures making loading easier and provides full protection. We recommend that you use a professional crating company, unless you have experience in properly making a crate yourself.

Shrink Wrapping – for protection of the outer surface and stability for palletised freight. Prevents rubbing on cartons, reduces the risk of items being separated from the rest of the order and provides a surface for labelling to be affixed.

Banding/Strapping – either made of steel or plastic is used to stop freight from slipping off the pallet or to bind bundles together.

Labelling – make sure your goods communicate everything we need to know about your freight. Delivery address and any handling instructions, e.g. Fragile, top stow only, this way up, etc.

Factors to consider

There are many things that you need to take into consideration when packaging your cargo.

Top Stow Only? – Depending on the nature of your cargo, you may determine there is a possibility damage could occur should other cargo be stacked on top of your cargo. In this case, you would want to clearly label your freight 'Top Stow Only' and also notify parties involved who are booking the transport.

Depot Environment – Freight depots will have trucks, fork hoists and even rail units running through their site. Shrink wrapping your freight it will protect from diesel dust and fumes put out by these vehicles.

Road Environment – Pot holes, windy roads and crazy drivers are obstacles that our truck drivers will face. Pack your goods with stability in mind to ensure a safe journey.

Display packaging – moving cartons that will be on display in your retail stores? Shrink wrap and outer boxes will provide protection to keep your goods looking brand new.

Labelling – affixing freight labels to your goods will ensure that your goods are handled correctly and delivered to the correct place. Ensure that the labels are easily visible with markings including Sender, Port of Origin, Receiver and Port of Destination. With fragile freight packed into cartons a good idea is to label the box with a picture of the freight. Do not affix labels directly to the surface of your goods, as this could cause damage when the labels are removed.

Cubic – freight cost is determined by the volume of your freight as if it were a cube, i.e. measured to the longest point for all dimensions, so pack well to avoid having parts sticking out and you’ll reduce the chance of damage without costing extra.

Biosecurity Compliance (ISPM 15) – countries such as New Zealand have strict biosecurity regulations in place surrounding the composition of pallets, crates and other packaging materials (ISPM 15). Ensure your packaging is compliant to the country in which your cargo is being sent to, this way you will avoid any unnecessary costs for treatment or destruction of non-compliant packaging.

Common packaging mistakes

Recycled packaging - cartons and polystyrene packing, once used do not have the strength they did when new and will do a poor job of protecting your goods.  Even crates and pallets can become damaged, so inspect these before use.

Single risk packaging - wrapping goods will protect against dust and scuffs, but will do nothing to protect against vibration, crush or impact types of damage.

No space - the space between your outer packaging and your goods is your greatest protection against most damage types.  Leave adequate space filled with compressible packaging e.g. airbags, foam, etc.

Continuous Improvement for your packaging

Take some time to look at your current packaging. Can you make any changes to what you are currently doing? Talk to Burnard International and see if we can suggest any other improvements. Correctly packaging your freight will prevent damage, save you money and prevent injury. Our number one objective is to ‘deliver our customers freight on time, every time, complete and intact’. 

If you would like to know how to improve your packaging please contact the team at your local Burnard International office.