Want to raise your Dangerous Goods game? Study chess!

Like millions of others, we were inspired by The Queen’s Gambit to dig out the chessboard from the back of the closet behind the kids’ games.

Unlike millions of others, we’re Dangerous Goods pros, and we sometimes mingle our personal and professional obsessions. So lately we’ve gotten to thinking about intriguing parallels between the world of hazmat transport and the game of chess.

For starters, they’re both about managing risk. There would be no such thing as Dangerous Goods if some portion of the goods the world ships every day weren’t, well, dangerous. Our job is to balance that risk against the value of moving the dangerous stuff through the supply chain.

Likewise, chess is the ultimate game of risk management. You can’t win if you play too safely, and you sure can’t win if you play too recklessly. And there’s no luck involved.

The more we thought about it, the more we realized that the components of a successful hazmat operation are similar to the roles chess pieces play. Let’s set up the board and get started!

The King: your brand’s reputation

The chess king is your one indispensable piece. If you lose it, you lose the game. If the Dangerous Goods business is chess, your brand’s reputation is your king. You must defend it at all costs. If you don’t have a good reputation for compliance and safety, your business can’t win.

That said, the king can also be an attacking piece, and a strong brand reputation can likewise be an asset you deploy to grow your operation.

Pawns: your basic (but essential) tools

In hazmat transport, your pawns are basic supplies such as labels, placards and marks. When you know when and how to use pawns, they protect your king and support your attacking pieces. Likewise, correctly using labels, placards and marks is the essential groundwork that protects your compliant reputation and supports your more advanced tactics.

Knights: advanced DG tools

To the chess newcomer, knights can be baffling. (Wait a sec—is it up-two-over-one, or up-one-over-two? And whaddaya mean it can jump over pieces?) But most players of any skill know how to use their knights, and most hazmat operations of any proficiency leverage some more advanced tools.

One Dangerous Goods “knight” is a shelf of current regulatory publications: the IATA DGR, the 49 CFR, the IMDG Code and more. Having these resources on hand and knowing how to use them can be a year-round competitive advantage.

If you ship or handle lithium-ion batteries or devices, advanced Obexion packaging is another knight in your arsenal, protecting your brand from the potential damage of a thermal runaway incident.

Bishops: across-the-board training

Bishops slash diagonally across the chessboard, complementing and enhancing the strengths of the other pieces. In Dangerous Goods, complete training is like a strong pair of bishops, because a well-trained team does everything better across every phase of the business.

With the right training—whether in person, virtual or via online courses—you and your workers avoid compliance errors, process shipments more efficiently and offer better answers when your supply chain partners have questions. Never neglect your bishops!

Rooks: unstoppable data and technology

With the ability to reach any square on the chessboard, your rooks are gamechangers. In hazmat transport, data is the real gamechanger. Having complete, detailed information about your products’ components, makeup, dimensions and origins makes every facet of your operation stronger, and—like a rook sailing across the board—that data accompanies your shipment anywhere across the world map.

A forward-thinking organization that leverages advanced DGIS software is like a grandmaster with rooks dominating open files. Nothing can stop them.

The Queen: a focus on competitive compliance

The queen rules the chessboard. Able to move any direction at any time, her presence makes every other piece more powerful.

No single tool or process is powerful enough to be the queen of hazmat transport. But when you have the mindset to make superior compliance a competitive advantage, that confidence—like the chess queen—makes all your tools and processes more powerful.

Making compliance a competitive advantage means:

  • Eliminating the compliance gaps that cause delays, incur penalties and weaken your supply chain partnerships
  • Communicating with complete data and deploying advanced technology to collaborate with partners throughout the supply chain
  • Being confident enough to not just handle regulated materials that other organizations avoid, but to handle them as safely and efficiently as possible

It means you’re the queen, and you’re at the peak of your game.

Make sure your shipments are safe and in complete compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.


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