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Packaging

Much of the mail you'll be asked to send out as an administrative assistant will consist of letters and documents. But even with a mailroom on the premises, you may have to prepare and send out the occasional package yourself. For a package to arrive in good condition at its destination, it's important to observe four basic principles in packaging your shipments.

  1. Use a corrugated container. These "cardboard boxes" come in a variety of strengths and weights. Primarily there are three basic types: singlewall, doublewall, and triplewall containers. You can tell the difference by examining the sides of the box and noticing the number of layers. Singlewall containers have two outside liners and a wavy corrugated medium in the middle. Doublewall boxes have two wavy corrugated layers in the middle separated by a third liner. A triplewall box has three corrugated layers and a total of four liners.

    Select a box that is large enough to allow some room around the contents in every direction. This will allow the contents to be safe from punctures, tears, or rips on the corners or side of the box that may occur in transit. Boxes are available from many shipping supply companies, as well as mailing and packaging chain stores. Make sure that the box will support the weight of your shipment. Every box has a stamp printed on it specifying the maximum weight it will support. Doublewall and triplewall containers are stronger than most singlewall boxes. It is not a good idea to reuse shipping containers unless they are in good shape and will not be supporting much weight. Moisture and other shipping conditions tend to lessen the strength of corrugated containers.

    To see whether a box is strong enough for mailing your item, look for the manufacturer's strength certification on the bottom of the box. The first and last measurements are the most important to you. "BURSTING TEST" shows you (in pounds per square inch) how well the fiberboard can resist rupture or breaking. "GROSS WT LT" shows you (in pounds) how much weight the box can hold.

    You can choose a box by grade if necessary. Once you know the load type (easy or difficult), weight, and size of your item, you can use Table 4-5 to determine the necessary grade.

  2. Protect the contents. Use wadded-up newsprint, crumpled brown grocery bags, air bubble pack, foam peanuts, or shredded paper. Depending on the contents of the package, it may be a good idea to wrap the contents in plastic as well to keep the packing material from sticking to the contents or getting inside. The packing material should be placed on the bottom, all four sides, and the top to provide several inches of protection between the contents and the sides of the box.

  3. Close the box securely. Most shipping companies, including the USPS, will not accept boxes tied with string, nor should you use masking tape or regular cellophane tape; neither has enough strength to keep the box closed. Instead, use carton-sealing tape, pressure-sensitive place tape, water-activated paper tape, or water-activated reinforced tape. Generally, apply three strips of tape to the top and the bottom. One strip should seal the box, and the other two strips should seal the sides.

  4. Use the proper labeling. Make sure you include a zip code. As an added precaution you may want to include the addressee's telephone number. Your company's return address is also important. You never know if the recipient has moved or is out of town and cannot receive your shipment. In some cases, your shipment can be held at the destination, but there are time limits on this. It's also a good idea to pack a copy of the label with all of the identifying information inside the box, so that if the outside label is damaged or removed, the shipper can determine the destination by opening the box. When applying your labels to the package, always place them on the top of the package away from seams or box edges. Apply several strips of clear carton sealing tape over the label to prevent it from falling off.


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