With the new year upon us already, it’s time to start making your list and checking it twice.
No, we’re not talking about who’s naughty or nice.
Instead, we’re talking about new year’s resolutions.
While 2016 has been something of a tumultuous year for many, it seems that the U.S. Department of Transportation is going to hit the ground running in 2017.
By that, we mean that they are already rolling out new DOT Regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials.
In true U.S. government fashion, they are refusing to sweat the small stuff.
In this case, they are requiring that all companies purchase and implement new hazard diamonds for all material shipped in the United States.
Did you spot the difference between the two?
If you didn't don’t be too hard on yourself.
It took us a while, too.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the border line on the right is slightly thicker than the one on the left.
In fact, it’s just a few millimeters of difference.
As per the exact language from the DOT:
“(c) Size. (1) Each diamond (square-on-point) label prescribed in this subpart must be at least 100 mm (3.9 inches) on each side with each side having a solid line inner border 5 mm inside and parallel to the edge.
The 5 mm measurement is from the outside edge of the label to the outside of the solid line forming the inner border.
The width of the solid line forming the inner border must be at least 2 mm.”
So what’s the point?
Well, starting in the new year you need thicker borders; otherwise, you could be subject to some steep fines.
According to the DOT, the agency might decide to charge you just over a $1 million for non-compliance, although if they are feeling a bit merciful, they may reduce it to just a few hundred thousand.
What about all my old stickers and diamonds, you ask?
Well, they are now worth less than the paper (or vinyl) on which they are printed.
In fact, they are worth about a $1 million less.
All you can do is write off your current stock and buckle down.
The other, and riskier, option is that you could be like the shippers who never comply and take a risk every time that they transport materials.
Sure, it may seem cost effective at first.
If you get caught, then any money saved will be turned on its head almost immediately.
Don’t be the type of company that says things like “we only ship some of the time,” or our personal favorite: “we’ve always done it this way.”
The fact is that compliance exists not because it is convenient to you. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite.
What are Cost-Effective Label Solutions?
If you’re worried about having to restock your supply of hazard diamonds, then you are probably wondering how cheaply you can get new ones and how fast you can get them delivered.
For many shippers, they decide that paper diamonds are “good enough” and roll with those, even though they may not hold up in the transportation process.
Even if you handle with care, paper diamonds invariably disintegrate over time.
It’s easy to see why they are so attractive, though.
Usually, paper diamonds will run about seven cents per label, meaning that you can stock up without breaking the bank.
Unfortunately, however, doing so will also make you non-compliant, which will put you back at square one if you have an incident involving illegible diamonds.
This excerpt is from the DOT regarding the sturdiness of new labels.
Each label, whether printed on or affixed to a package, must be durable and weather resistant.
A label on a package must be able to withstand, without deterioration or a substantial change in color, a 30-day exposure to conditions incident to transportation that reasonably could be expected to be encountered by the labeled package.”
As you can see, paper diamonds are not going to cut it.
So, what are your other options?
You could go with film, but that could more than triple your costs.
While average paper is only seven cents a label, durable film can be 2 or 3 times more expensive.
Right now, you are probably thinking “it’s worth the risk.”
Let us tell you right now that it is not.
Wouldn't it be great if there were a magical third option that would be compliant with the DOT regulations but won’t cost an arm and a leg to implement?
Assuming that the latter is only a pipe dream, we are here to tell you that the former option is a feasible reality.
By that, we mean that there is a third choice, using technologies we’ve perfected over the years.
Brandywine Drumlabels POD Platforms
When it comes to finding a cost-effective solution to this problem, we have the answer: Print On Demand (POD).
At Brandywine, we can print new hazard diamond labels that will be totally compliant with DOT regulations and won’t cost you a boatload of cash.
Not only that, but the quality and reliability are second to none.
That means you get the best material for the lowest price possible.
How can we do this?
Well, we don’t like giving away company secrets, so let’s just say that we have a few tricks up our sleeve that allow you to leverage our LCT™ software and hardware platform.
Above, we said that durable film diamonds can be 2 or 3 times as expensive.
By switching to POD, however, Brandywine can provide the same level of durability at about the same cost per diamond as paper.
That’s half the price of preprinted film.
With Print On Demand, the price difference is negligible when compared to paper diamonds (which aren’t compliant, remember), but vastly superior to higher-end products.
This way, you can save money up front, and not run the risk of citations and being forced to shell out potentially millions of dollars as a result.
When it comes to cost-benefit analysis, there really is no better option.
If you don’t believe us, ask your in-house accountant.
The Real World Consequences with DOT Regulations Fines
Still not convinced?
If you’ve never had a run-in with the DOT (highly unlikely) or have never had to worry about paying an exorbitant fine, then you might think you can get away with being non-compliant, at least until you can see how everything settles down.
After all, who’s to say that the government won’t change its mind and decide that the old labels will work just fine?
Well, to help you understand the gravity of the situation, let’s look at some relatively recent examples of high-profile companies having to shell out thousands of dollars because they thought they could beat the system.
In each case, had they buckled down and bought some cost-effective labels (Brandywine labels, that is), they could have saved themselves a lot of money and even more trouble.
For a company that specializes in shipping packages, you would think that Amazon.com would know how to handle hazardous material.
Unfortunately, in a recent example of corporate hijinks, they shipped some of that material via FedEx without properly marking or handling it.
Also, the company did not train employees on how to manage hazardous items, which resulted in them getting a nasty penalty amounting to $91,000.
Maybe next time they’ll try UPS?
According to legal filings, this high-profile company failed to send hazardous materials through FedEx properly (surprise), which resulted in a whopping fine of over $300,000.
The company tried to fight in in court, but that would have only increased the total cost, as legal fees would have been astronomical.
According to the government, Alfa shipped hazardous materials without labeling them correctly, meaning that they should not have been sent on commercial or cargo aircraft (such as with FedEx).
Even though the amount of material was minimal (one pint and three pints in two separate shipments), the penalty was still severe.
Although the mega store’s infractions involved much more than improper labeling, the fact is that the company still had to pay over $80 million (yes, million) in fines due to how poorly it handled hazardous material.
In fact, when coupled with other fines levied to the corporation by the state of California, the total sum of all fines and penalties was over $100 million.
Again, a lot was going on, but a significant part of the settlement had to do with Wal-Mart failing to train its employees on handling and disposing of hazardous waste.
Wal-Mart also failed to transport material with proper labeling or safety precautions.
So, as you can see, not following the rules can have some serious ramifications.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but we think that there is a better way of putting it.
In this case, 12 cents of printing is worth up to a $1 million of penalties.
Don’t get caught without the proper hazmat diamonds, unless you want to add your name to this list.