Packing and shipping heavy items has its own set of challenges. Your packaging has to be stronger and more protective than for standard shipments. Why? Because heavier shipments are more likely to be moved by forklift rather than human power and to switch trucks several times on the way to their destinations.It’s up to you, as the shipper, to pack these heavier items properly to avoid them being damaged or destroyed by handling by heavy warehouse equipment and switching between large tractor-trailer trucks. And, in fact, some carriers will refuse to accept items that they feel won’t survive the crush of a hydraulic lift or the arms of a forklift.

When shipping heavy items, shippers should make sure they can withstand:

Getting dropped
Being subjected to vibration from conveyor belts and trucks
Experiencing compression on all sides from indiscriminate stacking
Undergoing temperature and humidity changes

How do you avoid these problems? By doing a better job packing. Here are some tips to help you do that:

1) Ship on a proper pallet. Some heavier items are best served by securing them to a pallet. The pallet should be made of wood or plastic and be able to withstand the stress of being hauled and lifted. Such shipments should never exceed the weight restrictions of their pallet, according to a Shopify blog called,  “7 Quick Fixes for Your Biggest Shipping and Fulfillment Problems.”

2) Choose Durable Packaging. Choose corrugated cartons strong enough to withstand the weight of a full load of packages stacked on top of them. Only use new corrugated cartons that have been sealed securely with reinforced water-activated tape. You may also want to add an extra level of product protection to the inside of the box by placing a layer of Styrofoam along the bottom, sides and top of the shipment. Reinforce the bottom of the box with extra layers of reinforced water-activated tape for extra protection.

3) Wrap and cushion the items. Place heavy items in the center of the box so they don’t tilt when they are being carried. Surround them with a thick layer of air pillows for more product protection. Fill in any empty spaces inside the box. Never use crumpled newsprint or packing paper as it will compress during shipment. Make sure nothing moves inside the shipment. Heavier items are more likely to shift within a box.

4) Add another box. Slip the packed box into another box that is larger than the first and pad the empty space with air pillows. Depending on the item, you want to leave at least two inches of clearance between the inner and outer boxes. Really fragile items like heavy vases will require more clearance. You need to have adequate cushioning to protect the item in case the box is dropped or punctured.

5) Seal the box with water-activated tape. For heavier items, choose fiber-glass reinforced water-activated tape for extra protection. Water-activated tape actually bonds to a corrugated shipping box, protecting it from opening during transport. Using tape that is not designed for packing probably won’t protect the box from opening during transit or may allow pilfering during the trip.

6) Avoid making boxes too heavy. Consider breaking especially heavy shipments into multiple boxes and wrapping individual components separately. Overly heavy boxes are more likely to break in shipment and present a greater risk that those lifting them may drop the carton.

7) Give it a shake. After the shipment is sealed, shake it. Make sure things can’t move around inside the box. Anything that can move will smash other fragile objects in the box and potentially crush packing material. If you can hear things rattling around or shifting, you need to open the package and repack it. Many carriers will refuse to accept a box if items sound like they are rattling around inside.

The bottom line is this: Heavy items are especially prone to damage as they move through the supply chain. Properly packing them means they are more likely to withstand the vagaries of fork lifts, conveyor belts, transfers to multiple trucks and the challenges of over-the-road transit. That means fewer damaged goods and returns and, in the end, customers who more likely to purchase from you again.