If you've ever taken a golf or skiing vacation, you know how difficult it is to get your clubs or skis through baggage claim and to your final destination.
Now imagine you're in the U.S. Olympic team, and you're trying to get your clothes and gear to Sochi, Russia in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. How do you do it?
It's not as easy as dropping your skis and poles at baggage check and hoping for the best. For Olympians, such as the skiers, they have several pairs of skis for different conditions of the snow, backup skis, backup-backup skis, and so on.
And it's worse for the equipment intensive sports like hockey (any hockey mom or dad can tell you about the equipment), biathlon (skiing and target shooting), and the luge and bobsled.
Imagine trying to get a bobsled through customs.
This is where special third party logistics providers can come in hand. These 3PLs specialize in moving unusual pieces of equipment and packages, dealing with the things that even UPS and Fedex don't want to mess with.
We recently saw an article in the Toronto Star about Conceptum Logistics, a Hamburg, Germany-based logistics company specializing in shipping elite sports equipment. It has a contract with nearly every country to ship bobsleds and luges to Sochi for the Games.
Not just to Sochi. But all the way to the athlete's rooms.
"Usually they have a double room, one bed is for the (luge), one bed is for the athlete," Sebastian Stahl, managing director for Conceptum, told The Star.
Conceptum doesn't just handle sleds though. They handle any kind of shipping that needs to be done. For the Canadian Olympic Committee, Conceptum shipped 13 40-foot shipping containers filled with sports and medical equipment, team uniforms, signs and banners. And the list goes on to include administrative and kitchen supplies; outdoor furniture; ping pong tables; hockey nets; and assorted snack products like Cheerios and granola bars.
Conceptum filled an unfilled niche with sports equipment and has worked to become the leader in that particular field. While other shippers may just see a shipment of sports equipment as just another pallet load, Conceptum Logistics knows that its clients’ lifelong Olympic hopes and dreams are riding on their ability to navigate international shipping laws, bureaucracies and sometimes even battered roads.
Although you might not be shipping skis to the Olympics anytime soon, chances are you will be shipping your products (maybe water bottles or automotive parts) on pallets on a truck to your customers. Just as Conceptum has found a way to successfully ship Olympians prize positions in containers, there are ways to ensure your stretch wrapped loads arrive safely to their final destinations. That feeling is just like winning a gold medal, right?
The most important way to create a safe-to-ship load is to make sure you’re applying the right amount of containment force everywhere – top, middle and bottom – on the load. What's containment force? It's the hugging force exerted by the film that holds your load together.
And trust us, it's a big deal. Proper containment force can mean the difference between a load that gets to its destination damage-free and a load that arrives in disaster. Think of yourself as an Olympic athlete, who, in order to flawlessly execute your signature aerial, needs your skis to arrive at their destination in the exact condition they left the training slopes in the U.S.
But if you don’t know what your containment force should be, then you should wrap your load as tight as possible without crushing the products.
We have developed Lantech's Containment Force Recommendations. It's a simple tool that you can refer to based upon many years of our recorded field observations. Keep in mind containment force is best determined through experimentation. After all, professional skiiers spend years determining their specialty -- downhill skiing, cross-country, freestyle, ski jumping, Nordic combined or biathlon.
For more information, you can contact us on our website or call us at (502) 815-9109.
Click here to read related blog: How to Figure Out the Right Containment Force for Your Loads
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This post was published on February 12, 2014 and updated on November 28, 2018.