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5 tips to help you successfully ship a barrel or crate

SHIPPING TIPS: JP Shipping RAM Ltd's short guide can help customers stay ahead of potential problems

THE 2018 Christmas season is fast approaching. With it comes that annual rush to ship presents and provisions.

Because of the high volume of cargo that tends to be shipped during November, the logistics chain from the UK to the Caribbean is at full stretch and delays are common at this time of year.

These delays can be made worse by interference from unpredictable natural events. In 2017 for example, Hurricane Irma effectively destroyed the Port of Philipsburg in St Maarten, which is the main transhipment port serving the eastern Caribbean. The aftermath included month-long delays in shipments to the region, route deviations and a generally challenging time for both customers and shipping companies. Several lessons can be learned from that period.

Below is a short guide to help shipping customers stay ahead of potential problems and expertly apply the best plans of action to mitigate them:

Ship early!
Even regular users of shipping services would be astonished to discover how many customers ship essential items for occasions such as carnival, weddings or Christmas and leave no room for possible delays. Despite popular belief, shipping companies cannot guarantee arrival times as delays can be caused by a whole host of reasons that they have no control over, such as hurricanes, ships breaking down and labour issues at the port of destination. Beating the holiday rush and shipping early significantly increases the chances of your cargo arriving on time.

As the shipper, you must ensure that your packaging can protect your cargo from normal operational handling. Once ready to be shipped, cargo items will be loaded into a freight container, which will be subjected to road conditions, port handling and additional handling at the destination unloading warehouse. Be sure to use sturdy and insurance-approved packaging such as barrels or purpose-made wooden shipping crates. Shipping companies cannot accept responsibility for damage to insufficiently packaged cargo.

Get the address right
It is the shipper’s responsibility to ensure that the cargo is addressed properly. Some countries will hold the cargo indefinitely or fine the consignee if the name and address on the cargo differs even slightly to the name and address on the consignee’s passport or shipping documents. Additionally, if you are arranging for your cargo to be delivered to the shipping warehouse by companies such as Amazon or Curry’s, the best practice is to include your name and shipping reference in the delivery address so that the warehouse can easily identify it.

If your cargo becomes lost or damaged in transit and it is the fault of the shipping company, UK law and typical company policy state that customers can only claim up to around £2 per kg. Customers can effectively manage this risk by insuring the loss of the whole barrel and all of the contents for a lump sum (typically £400), or by seriously considering the implications when choosing to ship valuable items in a barrel. While possible, it is often impractical to insure individual items inside a barrel as their loss or value cannot be verified.

Choose a reputable shipping company
There are a number of dependable shipping companies operating in the UK that have effectively sustained the logistics chain between the UK and the Caribbean.

According to Rob Smith, CEO of JP Shipping RAM Ltd. – a long-time staple in the UK shipping market with direct ties to the Caribbean through its own extensive operations and through its parent company, the Jamaica Producers Group Ltd. – the key characteristics to look for when choosing a shipping company include an experienced staff, a set shipping schedule as some companies will delay sending cargo until they have enough to fill a container, and international and local certification. These certifications can include international recognition as an authorised economic operator under the European Commission and membership in local trade associations such as the British International Freight Association and the United Kingdom Warehousing Association.

With these tips and plans of action both customers and shipping companies can work in tandem to ensure that your barrels, personal effects, presents and provisions arrive in the Caribbean safely and on-time for a stress-free and festive Christmas season.

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