Protecting Your Shipments: The Ultimate Guide to Shock Sensors for Shipping Success

Dec 18, 2023

Introduction to Shock Sensors for Shipping

Shock sensors for shipping are transforming the way food and beverage producers safeguard goods. Traditional protective measures like bubble wrap or foam peanuts, are now complemented and, in some cases, replaced by these advanced monitoring tools and new material technologies. 

As the logistics industry grapples with more intricate shipping demands, especially for delicate lightweight containers in sectors like food and beverage, shipping sensors provide a timely solution. They offer real-time feedback on a package’s journey, ensuring products reach their intended destination without compromising quality or integrity.

According to Packaging Digest, “As many as 11% of unit loads arriving at a distribution center have some level of case damage.” 

According to Packaging Digest, “As much as 11% of unit loads arriving at a distribution center have some level of case damage.”  While damage in-transit is often thought of as a logistics problem, the root of the problem may actually be in your packaging design, material handling policies, or storage procedures, long before transportation gets ahold of the product.

What are Shock Sensors?

Shock sensors are advanced tools designed to detect and record any significant impact force on a package during transit. Essentially, they act as ‘eyes and ears’ within a package or container, monitoring for damaging shocks, vibrations, or tilts. Sensors range from simple shock indicator stickers to sophisticated sensors with embedded load cells. The latter can trigger alerts, log data, and in some cases, provide real-time feedback about a package’s journey. With shipping performance data, handlers and recipients are immediately aware of potential damage, and producers can make longer-term adjustments based on identified trends. 

Importance of Shock Sensors in Food & Beverage Shipping

The Food & Beverage sector is particularly vulnerable to shipping damage. Per McKinsey, fresh food damage by shipment is approximately 0.25 to 0.5 percent of the value. Including non-fresh, this increases to 2 to 5 percent of all goods supplied to retailers. 

When shipping a pallet of fine wines, spirits, or gourmet chocolates, a jolt, ineffective package or unexpected temperature increase could mean a pallet or truckload of product waste. Here’s where the real-world implications of shock sensors come into play:

Combating Common Causes of Damage:

The primary threats to food and beverage shipments include collisions, theft, poor cargo handling, and spoilage. Shock sensors can deter mishandling or provide concrete data to pinpoint when and where these events occurred.

Preservation of Quality:

For consumables, quality is paramount. Spoilage or damage leads to financial losses and can harm a brand’s reputation. By incorporating shock sensors, companies signal their commitment to quality, ensuring products arrive in the best possible condition.

Financial Implications:

With damages averaging about half a percent of gross sales, the financial incentive to incorporate shock sensors in shipping is clear. By reducing instances of damage, companies can save significantly on replacement, insurance, and dispute resolution costs.

As shipping is increasingly globalized, these shock sensors for shipping will undoubtedly play an even more crucial role in ensuring product integrity and safety.

Understanding How Shock Sensors Work During Shipping

To safeguard shipments, especially those with fragile or valuable contents, shock sensors embedded in the shipment are now the norm. Whether it’s straightforward shock indicator stickers placed on a box’s exterior or sophisticated sensors that mimic the actual shipped product, shock sensors are one of the most effective tools in modern shipping.

Shipping sensors detect and record impacts or abrupt movements during transit, providing real-time feedback or historical data about the conditions a shipment has endured. Choosing the correct shock sensors for shipping depends on a couple of factors, so let’s explore the mechanics of how each type monitors and protects your goods.

Integrating shock sensors into your shipping processes

The underlying principle of using shock sensors for shipping applications is placing a sensor within the shipping container to detect unfavorable conditions and record abrupt impacts during transit. 

Here’s how they work:

Detection Mechanism: Outside of shock indicator stickers, most sensors operate based on accelerometers, which measure changes in velocity. When a package is jolted or dropped, the sensor detects this sudden change, logs it, and in some advanced models, immediately sends an alert.

Data Logging: Especially relevant for shock loggers, the recorded data can be extensive – from the force and angle of impact to environmental conditions like temperature and humidity. This data provides invaluable insights into the shipping process, helping stakeholders understand when and where potential damage might have occurred.

Real-time Monitoring, Notifications & Data Analysis: Advanced shock sensors offer real-time monitoring and notifications. These sensors actively analyze conditions, promptly alerting logistic teams to potential threats. Immediate notifications enable timely interventions, while the collected data and resulting analysis can help refine shipping protocols and detect trends.

Types of Shock Sensors for Shipping

The term shock sensors for shipping includes a range of solutions – from shock indicators to in-line impact force sensors. Each option is suited to different needs. For instance, a shock sticker may be a good test or visual deterrent for lower value fragile goods whereas a pharmaceutical or luxury goods brand should consider a more accurate sensor to reduce loss given the higher values of goods. 

Shock Indicator Stickers:

Often the first line of defense, shock stickers serve as both a deterrent and a monitor. These warning labels are affixed to the shipping package, to serve as a visual reminder of the package’s fragile nature and react to a major shock event. Designed to work alongside impact sensors, they employ a dual approach – the psychological reinforcement of proper handling guidelines and basic monitoring of any impacts.

Impact Sensors:

Impact sensors come in various models tailored to the size and type of shipment and are a step up from shock indicator stickers. Their primary function is to detect impacts based on g-force measurements. It’s essential for these sensors to be accurately placed on the package; even a slight misplacement can lead to skewed readings. Different models offer varying degrees of sensitivity, with some being more attuned to specific angles of force and having caps on the number of impacts they record.

Shock Loggers:

Shock loggers provide comprehensive monitoring; however, price points range from very affordable to premium solutions. They offer a holistic overview of a shipment’s journey, capturing data on parameters like vibration, tilt, temperature, humidity, and even GPS location. The advanced models employ tri-axial accelerometer technology, ensuring detailed and precise readings. When opting for a shock logger, key considerations include its battery life, data transfer capabilities, its range of readings, and real-time alert systems.

Smart In-Line Sensors for Shipping Monitoring:

For the bottling and packaging industry, smart in-line sensors like Masitek act similarly to a premium shock logger with the added benefit of reacting the same way a container would to a shock impact or other shipping conditions. 

This type of shock sensor for shipping mimics the shape and size of the actual product container. Embedded tri-axial accelerometers provide the most accurate and relevant data of any shipping sensor type. They offer extended battery lives for global shipping routes. This type of sensor monitors the shipment and can connect shipping trends to production analytics, offering a unique dataset representing the end-to-end supply chain.

Advantages of Using Shock Sensors in Shipping

With the insights from shock sensors, businesses can optimize their shipping processes, reduce damage, and ensure the consistent quality of their products.

Damage Prevention

Shock sensors enable businesses to accurately track sources of damage, facilitating corrective actions. Deployed post-palletizing, these sensors detail the shocks and vibrations during transfer handling, identifying potential handling failures and resultant breakage. The sensors also pinpoint issues such as sidewall fretting, which can lead to wall perforation as well as label and lacquer damage from friction during transportation.

Monitoring Shipping Conditions

Monitoring transportation conditions is crucial for maintaining product quality. Shock sensors track losses during transport, aiding in the development of quality plans. This data assists in evaluating the performance of shipping and packaging suppliers. When damage occurs, shock sensors provide quantifiable data, eliminating reliance on estimates and assisting in informed decision-making.

Ensuring Goods Integrity

Shock sensors offer insights into quality Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from start to finish of the shipping process. Metrics such as glass breakage and other product loss KPIs are readily available. Additionally, these sensors highlight operational patterns within the logistics chain, enabling focused improvements.

Choosing the Right Shock Sensors for Your Shipping Needs

With the advancements in technology, shock sensors have evolved into sophisticated devices that can do more than just detect impacts. But with so many features available, how do you decide which is the best fit for your shipping needs?

Key Factors to Consider

When selecting a shock sensor, it’s essential to consider several crucial factors to ensure your shipments remain protected:

Battery Life: A long-lasting battery ensures uninterrupted monitoring throughout the shipment’s journey.

Recording Capacity: Determine how many events the device can record. Depending on the length and nature of your shipments, you might need a logger that can capture a significant number of events.

Data Transfer Methods: Modern shock sensors come equipped with features like built-in Bluetooth and cloud storage capabilities, making data access seamless.

Data Analysis: Look for sensors that offer a comprehensive data presentation, making the analysis more intuitive and actionable.

Customization: Some sensors come with manufacturer-set parameters, while others allow users to define their own, catering to specific shipping needs.

Accuracy: The range of accuracy in readings is vital, especially for fragile or valuable shipments.

Alarming Systems: Immediate notification systems alert you when conditions surpass acceptable thresholds, enabling prompt action.

Placement: Consider where the logger should be placed, be it on the container or individual packages, to get the most accurate readings.

Notification Mode: Some sensors offer real-time alerts, while others require data to be downloaded post-shipment.

Durability: Decide between disposable sensors for one-off shipments or reusable ones for repeated use.

Technological Innovations in Shock Sensors

Real-Time Monitoring: Sensors now can provide instantaneous feedback, allowing businesses to react immediately to any potential threats to their shipments.

Cloud Integration: Storing data in the cloud ensures it’s easily accessible and safe from potential on-site damages.

Extended Battery Technologies: Modern sensors are being equipped with batteries that last longer than ever, ensuring consistent protection, even on prolonged shipping routes.

Advanced Data Analytics: With the rise of AI and machine learning, sensors can now analyze trends and offer predictive insights, paving the way for more proactive shipment protection.

Why choose Masitek shock sensors for shipping? 

For industries focused on bottling and packaging, relying on generic shock sensors might not provide the nuanced data necessary for understanding the specific challenges a product might face during shipment. That’s where specialized smart in-line sensors like Masitek come into play.

Masitek sensors are more than just shock loggers; they’re designed to emulate the exact reactions of product containers during potential impacts or changes in shipping conditions. Crafting the sensors to precisely match the size and shape of the actual product containers guarantees accurate and representative recorded data, reflecting real-world conditions for specific container designs.

At the heart of these sensors are embedded tri-axial accelerometers, renowned for their precision in capturing the minutest of shocks or vibrations. Furthermore, these sensors are built for the long haul, equipped with batteries designed to last throughout extensive global shipping routes.

But the capabilities of such sensors go beyond just tracking. They bridge the gap between shipping insights and production analytics. By drawing correlations between how a product is made and how it fares during shipping, Masitek sensors provide a comprehensive view of the entire supply chain. This not only helps in immediate damage prevention but also in refining production processes, ultimately leading to a better, safer product.

Ready to see how smart sensors can improve your transportation processes ensuring products reach your customers in perfect condition? Let’s talk. 

Tracy Clinch
Tracy Clinch

Tracy Clinch, President and CEO at Masitek, brings a wealth of experience in technology innovation and leadership. With a strong focus on customer-centric solutions, Tracy has been pivotal in steering the company towards global recognition in the smart technology sector.

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