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When shipping electronics, ensure proper temperature control

Posted: 02 May 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:quality control? temperature control? shipment? shipping process?

For some consumers, procuring new items reaches the conclusion of the transaction the moment the product gets delivered right at the doorstep. Little do they know that there is a tedious and carefully planned shipping involved prior to the receipt of the purchase. Proper storage, packaging, and care and handling of goods all play a vital role. In fact, a good shipment is all about quality control, as improperly shipped or mishandled items have the tendency to arrive damaged, broken and unfit for use.

While the principles of proper shipping are largely common sense, there are many ways to handle different products. For goods such as electronics, for example, temperature control is vital but something that may not be top of mind.

Why temperature controlled shipping isn't just for food

Temperature control is crucial to ensuring that some products arrive in pristine, brand-new condition. Just as ice cream won't be edible if shipped at any temperature other than 20C below zero, electronics need to be shipped within a certain temperature range in order to arrive in working condition. Generally speaking, electronics need to remain at average room temperaturebetween 50C and 75Cto make sure that batteries don't melt and electronic casings don't overheat. Ideally, larger electronics like computers are shipped and stored at 72C.

As with food products, it is imperative that electronics aren't shipped in too cold of an environment, so as not to freeze the batteries or crack the casings. The consequences of not preparing electronics equipment for temperature and moisture control often leads to unhappy customers getting a shiny, new piece of technology that doesn't work.

Packaging the product for shipping

While electronics manufacturers often have no control over their products once they've shipped, they do have control over how they are packaged. The majority of electronics are shipped from overseas, with materials for something like even a simple iPhone sourced from over a dozen separate countries and constructed and shipped from China.

Because of this, most electronics are shipped initially on an airplane, and then over land via truck. This means the packaging from the manufacturer must be extremely versatile and durable [while maintaining brand aesthetics]. You may have noticed that the box an iPhone comes in is completely airtight and tough, with little if any flexibility.

You may have also noticed a small tea-bag looking packet included in the bottom of many products. This is a silica gel to control humidity, which can be just as damaging to the product as sudden fluctuations in temperature. In addition, manufacturers design cases that can withstand significant drops, jostling and rough handling without losing any of their aesthetic qualities. A product may go from traveling via air freight to resting on a pallet in the same day, so the packaging needs to be able to withstand any sort of handling in addition to helping regulate the temperature of the contents.

How can supply chain managers prepare shipments?

While the shipping process may be out of the control of the manufacturers, it is not out of the hands of the supply chain managers, who have control and visibility into multiple aspects of the shipping process. A successful shipment begins with knowing your partners. If you are working with carriers, you need to understand exactly what their specialty is. If possible, go visit a carrier's facilities to see first-hand their container equipment and to make sure it is set at the right temperature and that the humidity and moisture can be controlled. Also visit the loading/unloading area to see the products coming on and off the trucks, how they are being handled and whether they are on the proper vehicles to begin with.

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