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ANALYSISPACKING


Ask the experts


Expert packers often lament shippers’ failure to consult them early in a project, something that can cost customers dearly.


The D/C Group was recently contracted to move three altitude chambers built for horses for training purposes. “The problem is that the company typically builds these units onsite at the horse-racing centre or farm,” said Dominick Cocciemiglio. “These were going to Australia and were not engineered to be moved.”


IEP has recently invested heavily at its Swinderby site in Lincolnshire, England.


pack it and skid it, and so on, in the same fashion. The nature of the packing does not change just because the machine is worth 10 percent of what it was new.” Dan Greenberg, president of Houston based Santini Export Packing Corp, said he does see, infrequently, customers looking strictly on price. “They will go to a two-man pick-up truck and pack on their site – no insurance, no guarantee, no warranty and no sustainability. All they are interested in is the box that the steamship carrier or airline will accept, plain and simple.


“But then there are customers that need a large packing company which has insurance and meets their SHEQ (safety, health, environment and quality) requirements and tracking/tracing requirements. They want our internal systems to match their systems and a small quick-hitter which hammers a box together cannot meet their requirements. These types of client are never going to come to two men in a truck – but, having said that, they can be just as ruthless on price.”


Increasing demand


Packers such as Greenberg are reporting an increasing demand from clients for a wider range of tasks – perhaps expecting Santini to take on the documentation, physical inventory and checking of items. “Some clients are more interested in our ability to check and document what has been received and packed than they are in whether we build the most beautiful box


www.heavyliftpfi.com in the world,” he said. Ian Clifford of UK based International


Export Packers (IEP) agreed. “We are doing more and more work for customers – they seem increasingly to want the complete package,” he said. “They want collection and packing and marshalling, load lashing and securing, documentation. They are so busy, they do not have time for it. Our business has grown and partly that is because we do more of the ‘in between’ bits – the paperwork, talking to the authorities, producing the packing list. The customers want just one person to talk to, to move their kit from A to B.”


Understanding quality


He said there are always what he calls “people under the arches” with no insurance, overheads or accreditation, offering cheap packing. “But the big customers in the market, the blue-chip companies, understand about quality. If you do not have the accreditations that you need to deal with the oil and gas sector, for example, they will not even look at you. “There is nothing to stop people putting together some B&Q plywood and saying it is a packing case – but that is just the cosmetic bit. We have some clients tell us the case has arrived but it is a bit battered and bruised; we say that is the whole idea. The case provides the protection and it is the bracing and packing within the box that is important, as well as understanding about weight distribution, lift points, etc.”


The units were 39 ft 6 ins long. “That made them 1 ft too long to go on flatracks. They were 15 ft 4 ins wide and 12 ft tall, and had no structural integrity whatsoever, so you could not even lift them with a crane. The only way was with four forklifts to spread the weight and lift at the same time.” Each chamber could only be moved by road by fixing temporary timbers widthways on the truck – otherwise, with a large overhang each side, they would have been crushed into the truck. At Baltimore, special skids were built to go underneath the chambers, which were shipped out by ro-ro vessel. “Had they brought us in before they designed these chambers, we could have saved them tens of thousands of dollars; we would have advised them to build them 1 ft shorter to go on a flatrack,” said Dominick Cocciemiglio, president, D/C Group. “But a shipper that has never shipped before does not know that.” At Santini, Dan Greenberg, president, has similar views. “Sometimes it is just not possible to build something in the best way to move it – but my concern is always whether the possibilities were even entertained at all,” he said.


“For example, an oil company can be working one year in Siberia and the next in West Africa. The requirements are not the same; tropical jungle or desert and frozen tundra provide totally different environmental problems. In other cases, sometimes you have paved roads all the way, other times you are 500 miles from anywhere. You cannot pack the same way for both destinations.”


Cheap competition is a common theme.


Ab Kornegoor, managing director of Varekamp Exportpacking & Logistics in the Netherlands, and chairman of the International Network of Packing and Routing Organisations (INPRO), said: “Competition is indeed getting stiffer. The market is dominated by a few larger export packing companies and then a lot of smaller ones that only compete on price – and do so more and more heavily.


“I see conflicting trends. On the one hand, companies try to reduce costs and are vulnerable or willing to use smaller and less professional suppliers to reduce the price. But on the other hand, what we see with our


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