The transport of works of art, design objects, stage décor etc. is a particular risk phase for the objects. To avoid damages or keep them to a minimum, the packaging has to be planned extremely well - especially when the transport is self-organized or if non-specialized shipping and courier services are commissioned.
Specialized shipping companies (see Shipping companies, courier services, self-transport) offer comprehensive packaging solutions. Certified companies comply with European standards presented by the European Committee for Standardization: The standards for ‘Conservation of cultural heritage – Packing and transport’ (CEN/TC C 346 WG 5 – EN: 15 946/2011) are relevant. Furthermore, individual EU Member States have their own norms and standards, such as the Austrian ÖNORM 1000 from 1999 for ‘Transportation services – Requirements for fine arts removals’. It includes standards for each phase of transport down to choosing the right gloves.
Before planning the packaging, it is advisable to obtain information about the destination: Who will receive the goods at the destination; how will they be stored; who will package them before the return transport?
Clearly legible information about the items it contains should be attached to each package: sender, destination, a description and photograph of the object, and, if applicable, any necessary precautions.
When transporting goods beyond the EU border, it must be taken into account that sometimes the customs staff will want to inspect them. The goods should be packaged accordingly.
Valuable objects can be shipped in shock-proof, self-built wooden crates; quite often, strong cardboard is also sufficient. Possible temperature and pressure differences during transport should be taken into account.
In addition to security-related issues pertaining to the goods, it is important to ensure that the packaging - and the goods themselves - meets the import regulations of the destination country. Untreated wood, for example, may not be imported into the United States or Australia.
Information about the import regulations of the destination country can be obtained from the foreign customs authorities with the help of the cooperation partner abroad and are contained in the import and customs regulations provided by DHL (German language only!). Chambers of commerce (IHK) also provide information.
Information about German import regulations is available from the Central Information Unit of the Generalzolldirektion.
Finding the right case can be a challenge when travelling with instruments. Usually, instruments are transported in special hard or soft cases. These are available in various quality standards and various materials for industrially manufactured instruments like keyboards, electric guitars or bass guitars, drum kits and cymbals etc.
Cases are often custom made for handcrafted and historical instruments or instruments with unusual and rare shapes, with features that are tailored perfectly to the requirements of the instrument and the musician.
If transporting instruments internationally by plane, you will also need to consider the appropriate packaging to use. Hard cases that are contoured precisely to the size and shape of large instruments may exceed the dimensions or weight allowed under the airline's conditions of carriage and prevent the instrument from being transported. Alternatively, while the weight may be permissible the excess baggage charges may be considerable.
In addition to traditional hardcases made of wood or aluminium, hard cases can also be made from carbon fibre. These are particularly light and very robust, can be customized to fit the respective instrument and are highly suitable for frequent travellers.
Carbon fibre has been used in aviation and vehicle construction since the 1950s, as it is approximately 30% lighter than aluminium. However, carbon is difficult to recycle (it cannot be burned), releases fibre particles during processing and also consumes a great deal of energy during the manufacturing process. Ultra-light light and sturdy hard cases can also sometimes be tailor-made for the instrument in question using bio-based fibre plastic or environmentally friendly natural fibres and offer a greener alternative.