Choosing a packing and crating provider can be a daunting task, no matter what type of service you are seeking. While packing and crating may sound like a simple undertaking, it is not.  The first step in choosing the right provider is having knowledge of all variables involved in the process, as well as an awareness of the industry standards that must be adhered to.
Regulations for importing and exporting cargo from the United States have become more stringent in our post 9/11 society. When choosing a packing and crating  company, you must evaluate that  company’s adherence to Transportation  Safety Administration (TSA) regulations; inquire as to the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC™) status of itsemployees; ask about it’s hazardous materials certifications; and ensure that it is a certified ISPM 15 provider. ISPM 15 is an International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures that addresses the need to treat wood materials used to ship products between countries. It affects all wood packaging materials, including pallets, crates, and dunnages, which are then marked with what is colloquially known as the “bug stamp.”
All of these standards and regulations must be in place before you can think about beginning pricing negotiations and building standards. Once you have all of the relevant standards and regulations in hand, the next step is to evaluate the standards each provider offers for the actual packing and crating of your cargoes. Which ones have the lifting capacity required to safely handle your cargo? Which are familiar with vacuum packing, heat shrink-wrapping, National Certification Body standards (NCB) for
flatrack cargo, etc.? A reputable packing and crating company will be able to offer photos and documentation as examples of packing it has done previously for all types of cargo, including the specific type of cargo you will be entrusting to its care.
Documentation is another key element that most companies do not think of when choosing a provider for packing and crating. Warehouse management systems offered by packers and craters
vary widely from completely in-house systems to those that offer documentation and tracking from cradle to grave on secured Web-based systems.
Whatever your needs, the better informed you are prior to entering into negotiations, the more able you will be to protect both your cargo and your costs.
Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 5, 2009

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