The medical field has strict protocols for the handling and use of medical equipment. But many shippers and carriers fail to recognize this special handling must extend to shipping and storage as well. These devices are simply more fragile in nature and require special consideration to make sure they complete the trip, remaining fully operational and sterile. A damaged shipment of medical equipment can have serious consequences. It’s not only a waste of money and time, but people’s health and lives are on the line as well. Here’s how to avoid these common mistakes when shipping medical equipment during winter.
Pack Yourself vs. Professional Service
Medical machines have many factors to consider when shipping them around the country. Most carriers spend time thinking about the actual transportation part of the shipment when they actually need to start with how best to package the equipment.
Many types of medical machines may contain materials that are explosive, toxic, radioactive or otherwise dangerous. These pieces would require special hazmat precautions be taken to ensure the safe transport of the pieces and the people making the delivery.
The best place to start is referencing the device’s owner’s manual or consulting directly with the equipment manufacturer to learn of any special instructions. Sometimes a part may need to be removed during transit, or the entire piece should be disassembled.
Additionally, it’s not enough to put items into a crate or cardboard box, surround them with packing materials, and be set for the shipment. How the items are packed is critical to a successful shipment and medical machines are likely to require the use of custom blocking and bracing techniques designed by packaging engineers. They’ll have tools like tip ‘n tilts, shock indicators, and cushion skid donuts to pack equipment in the most secure and safe way possible.
Freight Class and Specialty Vehicles
Sensitive medical machines – for example those that are calibrated – typically travel via truckload shipping in a specialty vehicle with air ride suspension. The air ride suspension helps absorb vibrations and limit the amount of movement that the equipment experiences.
A dedicated truck is usually the best route so you can have absolute control over the environment as well as limiting delays. But if the machines are not as fragile or susceptible to damage, LTL freight shipping can be a good, money-saving option. Keep in mind though that LTL shipments are loaded and unloaded several times before reaching their destination. How you pack your equipment is vital in this situation as your shipment shares trucks with dozens of other items that can shift during transit and cause harm.
Knowing the needs of your equipment will help determine if refrigeration is necessary, if any hazardous materials need special handling, and if you can get by with simply palletizing unpacked equipment with a blanket wrap. And while density and commodity determine the freight class, you should have an extra review to make sure it’s accurate and that your shipment isn’t undeliverable at its destination.
Since shipments could be subject to moisture, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations, it’s important to plan your shipment and the route being taken well in advance. If you’re traveling through the American southwest during summer and heat is a problem for your equipment, a refrigerated truck may be necessary. Be sure to consider every stop along the way and not just the starting point and destination.
Time Involved Once Delivered
The downfall of much of the logistics for medical equipment is the failure to factor in the time involved with set up or installation and training once the machines have been delivered. This is especially true if you’re shipping a brand-new product that requires additional effort on the side of set up and training the medical staff in its usage.
This factor of time once delivered is critical because you’re dealing with multiple people’s schedules. These events could include people from the manufacturer, from your own company, and from the recipient. A lot of effort has gone into coordinating all those people to be together in the same place, particularly if there’s cross-country travel involved.
To ensure a successful installation and training period, add a time buffer to your schedule. Depending on the route and method of shipment, you may want to add anywhere from 5 days to 2-3 weeks into your timeframe. Less time for more straightforward shipments where little needs to be done to the equipment, and more time for machines that had to be completely taken apart for transit. And of course, it never hurts to factor in time for weather delays at this time of year.
Know Supply Chain Trends
The end of the year is one of the busiest times to be moving goods around the country. Not only is it end of the fiscal year for many businesses, but it’s the holiday season. Additionally, late fall to early winter is prone to natural disasters and inclement weather. It all adds up to potentially creating daunting situations and little room for error.
While planning ahead is your first line of defense, your strongest offense is working with a carrier known for their creativity and follow-through. As an independent Landstar agent, Pride Logistics is backed by one of the largest capacity networks giving us the unique ability to seamlessly combine multiple lanes of transit to meet tight deadlines. The options we provide are always based on anticipating challenging scenarios from our own experience and staying on top of current supply chain issues.
More than once we’ve made it possible for last-minute supply chain orders to get on the truck moments before it leaves the dock. Making sure this urgent medical equipment arrived at the precise right point in the production line meant we could help not only minimize downtime, but minimize hospital loss as well.
Whether you’re new to the medical equipment industry or have years of experience, a trusted logistics partner will ensure your shipments move efficiently and safely. Our team has decades of experience moving medical cargo and is incredibly familiar with the requirements and ever-shifting details that create successful shipments. Move your cargo in confidence with Pride Logistics, and get back to what you really want to be doing this time of year.