Be Prepared: How to Secure LTL Freight
Not everyone has the freight volume to take advantage of truckload (TL) rates, so many companies must ship their freight less-than-truckload (LTL). TL goods require little or no handling between the point of departure and the delivery site, meaning a low risk of damage. However, this is not the case with LTL freight. Since there can be multiple touch-points between pickup and delivery of LTL, it is imperative to package freight correctly.
You can minimize the risk of damage to your LTL freight by carefully preparing LTL shipments and securing freight to packaging designed to withstand shipping rigors. To secure freight, follow these four simple steps.
Pick the Right Pallet
The first step in preparing LTL shipments should be to carefully palletize goods. Palletizing freight helps ensure that multi-piece shipments stay together. Before palletizing products, check with the shipper for any weight or size limitations to avoid extra fees.
Palletizing can help reduce the cost of shipping LTL freight since a pallet is considered a single piece, regardless of the number of packs on it. Unpalletized goods are considered individual pieces, and each one may be subject to minimum shipping or handling fees.
Most shipping pallets are made of wood or plastic. Choose a pallet large enough to support your goods without any overhang. If the product sticks out over the edge of the pallet, it can be easily damaged.
A pallet should be sturdy and free from broken slats or protruding nails. Never exceed the weight recommendations for a pallet. Most carriers prefer pallets with four-way forklift access since it simplifies handling. You may find there is an extra fee with some carriers if you choose pallets that don’t provide four-way access.
Stack Products Efficiently
If your goods are packed in boxes or cartons, make sure the cartons are strong enough to stand up to stacking. It’s better to use new rather than used cartons because of their strength. You have no way of knowing what stresses a used carton has endured and it may no longer provide the support needed to secure the freight.
Make sure all the cartons, boxes or bags are securely sealed. Each carton should have sufficient padding to help ensure product protection. Label each carton or bag individually to prevent loss in the event the pallet becomes damaged during shipment.
Stack your cartons corner to corner to help keep them secure and to add strength. Don’t leave spaces between packages — as this will weaken the overall pallet pack, and may cause shifting of goods that can produce damage.
For the same reason, try to avoid positioning the corners of cartons over the spaces between slats in the pallet. Avoid rotating patterns in the layers on your pallet. Your load will be more stable when the pack pattern is completely uniform. Make sure the corners of the boxes don’t stick out or hang over the edges of the pallet. Protruding corners are easily damaged.
Ensure that the top layer is flat, since uneven layers or partial layers are easily damaged during stacking. Use a sheet of cardboard or heavy paper under every second or third layer to help distribute weight. This will help prevent damage to the bottom layers. Also consider adding edge guards or corner guards for further protection — especially for delicate or fragile goods. Edge guards help stabilize the load on the pallet, but they must extend the full height of the load to do any good.
Secure the Goods to the Pallet
To secure the goods to the pallet, use strapping or metal banding to hold the cartons in place. Once your banding is in place, you can wrap the entire pallet. Use a minimum of 60-gauge wrap and use at least five revolutions to secure freight to the pallet and prevent cartons from becoming dislodged during handling.
Start the stretch-wrap process by wrapping the film around the pallet, then moving to the top and around, under the bottom of the pallet. Make several revolutions in each direction, being sure to capture the pallet — not just the product — in the wrapping.
Label the pallet with the delivery information, as well as the consignee information. Be sure to include telephone numbers for both parties and complete addresses, including ZIP codes. If the receiving party has specified delivery hours or docks, be sure that is on the label, as well as on the shipping paperwork.
Securely affix a label on each side of the pallet and on the top. This ensures the label can be easily read from all sides and will help to eliminate unnecessary handling that occurs if the forklift driver must turn the pallet multiple times to find the address.
Remember, the less handling the pallet undergoes, the safer your shipment is from possible damage.
If you would like to learn more about how Unyson can assist with LTL freight, contact us today.
Director of Unyson Carrier Procurement