Navigating the World of Biological and Chemical Shipping Logistics
Safety Assessment
Sebastian Tomlin

Navigating the World of Biological and Chemical Shipping Logistics

Five key factors that should be considered and evaluated to create a smooth and safe shipping process for study materials

The physical shipment of commodities is often the last thing that is considered when determining a study project plan, however this can lead to unforeseen delays in the start of the project itself. It is therefore important to consider the shipment design as early in the process as possible, and it helps to work with a CRO who employs industry subject matter experts that can assist. Below are some of the factors that should be considered and evaluated to create a smooth and safe shipping process for your material:

Description (including HTS code): It is important to know the commodity that you are shipping, and the intended use of the commodity at destination. This seems obvious enough, but an insufficient description of a commodity can lead to confusion, delays, and legal issues if not entered properly upon Import, if mistakes are made when entered into Customs, or if the wrong permits/licenses are used (see point 2 below!). The shipment may not be authorized to enter the country of destination if the appropriate documentation has not been considered. Delays can also occur with Import Brokers if they are unaware of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code associated with the commodity. This is important as it influences whether Import duty/tax is applicable on the commodity, and can also impact whether Import permits/licenses apply at the destination. Lack of information and inaccurate/missing HTS codes can lead to shipment delays.

Import/Export Permits and Licenses: Knowing the commodity you are sending is important when it comes to determining whether Import/Export permits/licenses apply to your shipment. Depending on the destination, there may be additional commodity statements that can be made, or general licenses that can be used for the commodity in lieu of a permit/license. This is a critical part of the shipment design process, as it can mean the difference between a smooth regulatory export/import process or a significant delay, or worse - the rejection or destruction of the material due to a non-compliant entry. Ideally, details for permits and licenses should be discussed between Importer and Exporter as soon as possible prior to a shipment date.

Packaging: Part of knowing the commodity means being aware of any Transport Hazards associated with the material, so that you accurately classify the shipment for the required mode of transport. This will determine primary and secondary packaging requirements, as well as the most suitable outer box for the commodity to be packed in (appropriate training should also be considered). In addition to this, knowing the temperature stability of the commodity is key to deciding on the most appropriate outer box. Must the commodity remain within a required temperature range during transit? Have you considered qualifying/validating the packaging for use, so that you can be confident that it will keep temperature for the duration of the transit?

Route (and Incoterms): How will the shipment get from A to B? There are many transport modes available, across multiple integrator/courier/Freight Forwarding companies worldwide. The urgency of the shipment, security, temperature sensitivity, and financial considerations all come into play here when determining an appropriate route. In addition to this, it is important to consider the Incoterms that will be used for the shipment, as these determine responsibilities between the seller and buyer during the transport process. Uncertainty surrounding shipment terms or a poorly designed routing/shipment lane can result in shipment delays and can jeopardize the commodity.

Trackability: As technology continues to develop there are multiple ways that you can track a shipment from origin to destination. It is important to understand what information you can glean in order to monitor a shipment successfully in all stages of transit. For example, you might decide to use GPS tracking technology to monitor the shipment, and/or utilize airway-bill numbers from airlines/integrators, in further combination with Freight Forwarder tracking systems.

Interested in learning more about how Charles River can assist in the most time and cost-effective way? Please contact the Specialist Logistics Services team [email protected] (+1 774 314 2265). Our combined experiences spanning decades across different continents and countries will ensure you receive the advice and expertise you deserve as a Charles River customer.