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Shipping paint by air; one manufacturer responds


SkyKing
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Modelers often ask, "Why can I buy Brand X paint here in the U.S. but not Brand Y?" I emailed Sovereign Hobbies asking why it was possible to purchase their Colorcoats paint here in the U.S. but not certain other brands (i.e., Hannants' Xtracolor). This is the reply from Sovereign's James Duff, posted here with his permission:

"Flammable liquids are, like many substances which have properties beyond completely inert (such as explosives, infectious substances, etc) classified as Dangerous Goods by IATA who administer the rules that all vaguely 21st century civil aviation national bodies follow. A similar rule set exists for sea transport.

"Flammable liquids actually aren't such a big deal as explosives and biohazards but in common with them, all such cargo must be correctly manifested and packaged in accordance with strict rules. The packagers need to have certificates to prove they have been trained etc. A stack of paperwork is required for each such item of cargo describing the contents and the conditions under which it can become unsafe (temperatures, etc). Knowing this the cargo handlers can load the aircraft keeping potential fuel sources like Colourcoats away from potential ignition sources in the aircraft.

"From our point of view, none of this is difficult - we just get a Dangerous Goods shipping specialist to do it. We send them our goods, Material Safety Data Sheets and our trade customer's shipping address and they do all the IATA certified packaging and paperwork then book it onto an airline then have it delivered to the door once across the water.

"Unfortunately it's expensive. The paperwork is the expensive part. It costs hundreds to get a single 14ml tinlet onto an aircraft. Believe it or not, sea cargo is worse. Having paid for the paperwork the rest of a typical trade order is a relatively small incremental cost. If around 1000 tinlets are ordered, the shipping cost is in the order of $550 US. The bigger the order, the smaller the shipping burden must be carried by each tinlet's retail price once in the USA.

"What Hannants lacks is trade customers to bankroll the shipping cost and distribute from a central location in the USA nowadays (they have said as much in the public domain). A single tin of Xtracolor could easily be sent legally to the USA, but it would cost around $400 delivered with $397 of that the one-off Dangerous Goods shipping paperwork!

"The frustrating thing for all of us making solvent or oil based model paints is that liquids with very similar ignition characteristics can be sent easily in the regular post if it says "Nail Polish" on the label instead of "Model Paint". The postal companies just seem to lack any competence in their safety departments having suffered many a tedious conversation. They are unable to understand the MSDS and that they have precedents set in nail polish. Sadly us modelling companies lack the lobbying weight that the cosmetics industry has.

"I hope this answers your question.

"Kind regards,

"James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd"

 

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Dealt with this all the time when I worked with Sherwin Williams and PPG. US is a little better than Europe but still difficult. I know Valspar had a standing rule that shipping any paint via airplane without VP approval was a termination offense due to an error by someone and a six figure fine for shipping the four gallons incorrectly. 

I really miss Xtracolor paints

 

Dave

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