CUSTOMERS trying to cut costs and failing to take the advice of express companies are jeopardising the safety of their consignments, according to a senior industry official. Speaking in Hong Kong, Hans de Bruyne, corporate risk and security manager of TNT Express Worldwide, listed points that shippers should follow to minimise risk for their organisations. 'Express distribution companies are taking every step possible to guarantee the complete and safe delivery of all shipments,' he said. 'Some responsibility, however, rests with the shippers themselves.' The nature of the express industry dictated that packages travel through areas outside the control of the express company, such as customs, and it was on these occasions that consignments might be at risk. 'It is of primary importance that our clients notify us of valuable shipments in good time,' he said. 'Highly trained staff can then offer advice as to packaging, recommended levels of insurance coverage and, most importantly, can pre-alert receiving locations of the transit of high-value goods. 'We have seen instances where clients have written the cost and precise description of valuable goods on the outside of the packages. 'It would be simpler to write: 'I am valuable; please steal me!' Common sense must be applied and we are always ready to provide advice to customers.' The packaging of goods for shipping with any express company was the customer's responsibility. 'With more than one million items handled daily, it is not feasible to ensure that all shipments are adequately padded or labelled for their own safety,' Mr de Bruyne said. 'Those who follow our advice virtually eliminate the chances of their shipment failing to reach its destination.' Even though the ratio of lost consignments was at its lowest point in several years, 0.003 per cent in the case of TNT Express Worldwide, express operators were anxious to boast an infallible system. Millions of dollars were spent annually on extensive computer networks, scanning technology and sophisticated track and trace systems. Added to this was the introduction of enhanced training processes for staff within the industry and overall improvements in service. TNT Express Worldwide had seen damage and loss ratios reduced by 74 per cent since 1993. As a final rule, clients were urged to take out insurance to provide adequate cover on the rare occasion that delivery was unsuccessful. Some express operators were so confident that their end of the security blanket was being upheld that they had created their own insurance companies. 'Customers can see that this matter is taken very seriously. After all, some of the goods we carry are of extreme value. We even had an instance where one kilogram of material requested for carriage was valued at US$65 million,' Mr de Bruyne said. TNT Express Worldwide offered a 'one-stop' service in Asia Pacific and across the globe.