Consistent cargo damage can have a number of adverse impacts on any supply chain. Not only can it lose you clients in the short term, it can have a lasting impact on your professional reputation. Needless to say, any supply chain that becomes known for poor cargo-handling is liable to experience a notable downturn in new business. Fortunately, keeping cargo safe throughout its journey doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Supply chain managers looking for practical solutions to cargo damage should consider the following tips.

Select Suitable Cargo Containers

The containers in which cargo is stored can have a tremendous impact on its overall safety. For example, storing cargo in containers that are too large or too small is practically guaranteed to cause problems. The former will provide cargo with ample space in which to slide around while in transit, while the latter will compress it to an uncomfortable degree. To nip this problem in the bud, make sure to carefully measure any cargo you’re transporting, as well as any shipping containers you intend to use. Ideal measurements vary from item to item, but in many cases, there should only be a small amount of free space inside of a cargo container. Additionally, depending on the type of cargo you’re working with, cushioning and other shock-absorbing tools may prove necessary.

Familiarize Yourself with the Cargo

Familiarizing yourself with the cargo you’re transporting can go a long way towards ensuring its safety. The more you know about the cargo in question, the better equipped you’ll be to transport it responsibly. Among other things, this entails ascertaining how fragile items are, how sensitive they are to extreme temperatures and susceptible they are to shock damage. The more types of cargo you familiarize yourself with, the safer clients will feel placing their trust in your supply chain.

Take Temperature Concerns into Account

Certain types of cargo are very sensitive to extreme temperatures, particularly items of the perishable variety. As such, whenever your supply chain is tasked with transporting temperature-sensitive cargo, make sure you have the proper tools in place to help these items maintain a consistent temperature. Depending on the type of cargo being transported, a high-quality electronic cooling system may be required. Smart monitoring systems may help to detect temperature changes (Chakraborty and Gupta, 2017).

Invest in Cargo Monitoring Tools

Investing in state-of-the-art cargo monitoring tools is a great way to set clients’ minds at ease. As the name suggests, these tools are designed to detect and register a variety of problems cargo may encounter while en route to its destination. For instance, cargo that is particularly sensitive to shock damage should be equipped with a dependable impact sensor. This helpful tool will record any significant impacts cargo endures during transport, thereby providing clients with an accurate accounting of how careful your personnel are. Similarly, temperature-sensitive cargo should be equipped with temperature sensors, which will record any instances in which cargo drops below a certain temperature throughout its journey. Sensors can help here immensely (Chakraborty and Gupta, 2016)

Prioritize Safety Over Timeliness

Cargo damage often occurs as a result of a supply chain’s commitment to timeliness. While it’s true that timeliness should be among the foremost priorities of any supply chain, it should never take precedence over safety. No client relishes receiving a late shipment, but most people would prefer to receive a shipment intact than on time. After all, if the cargo is damaged or broken, how promptly it was delivered doesn’t matter. With this in mind, encourage your freight operators to prioritize their own safety – as well as that of the cargo – over deadlines. Yes, they should strive for timeliness, but when inclement weather, traffic congestion and other common transport issues arise, they shouldn’t place their well-being on the line or risk damaging cargo to meet a deadline.

If your supply chain develops a reputation for delivering damaged cargo, your client numbers are likely to take a dive. Regardless of the reasons surrounding the problem, no client is going to happily accept items that have incurred damage or become outright broken while in transit. While every supply chain experiences the occasional mishap, there are a number of simple ways to control the frequency and severity of such incidents. In the interest of keeping your cargo in peak condition and your clients satisfied, put the pointers discussed above to good use.


Chakraborty, A., & Gupta, B. (2016). Development of compact 180° phase shifters based on MEMS technology. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical247, 187-198.

Chakraborty, A., & Gupta, B. (2017). Utility of RF MEMS miniature switched capacitors in phase shifting applications. AEU-International Journal of Electronics and Communications, 75, 98-107.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.