Every day is a busy day for freight shippers and logistics managers. Orders are packed and prepared for shipment, trucks arrive and depart, and pallets come and go. With so much going on, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time. Here are three common shipping mistakes you should avoid to keep your daily operations running smoothly.
1.) Improper Packaging
Failing to package your shipment correctly can be a costly mistake. Why? Because LTL carriers have a specific amount of space set aside on their trucks to accommodate your freight. If a carrier arrives to find a bigger cargo load than they were expecting, it can cause issues with their other pickups, which in turn can cost you money. So how do you avoid this common shipping faux pas?
First, talk to your 3PL (Third Party Logistics) or Broker and make sure your shipment is accurately accounted for and classified before you book a pickup. Then, prepare packages as instructed by your 3PL/Broker to ensure a good fit and to prevent damage. What does that mean, exactly?
Make sure the width, height, and weight of your load are accurate in your quote and bill of lading. Also, be sure to provide enough cushioning inside each box or crate to keep your products stable, and try to reduce gaps as you pack to prevent excessive shifting, compression, or vibration. Doing so will help you reduce the risk of damage in transit.
2.) Lack of Thorough Inspections
Inspecting incoming shipments can be tough, especially if you have a small staff. But no matter how busy you are, it’s essential that you inspect all newly received shipments. The above is equally, if not more true for managers of large warehouses with dozens of shipments coming and going each day.
If you’re receiving a shipment, you’ll be asked to sign proof of delivery (POD) paperwork upon delivery. While many carriers won’t stand idly by while you unpack every box, they will wait as you do a quick visual inspection to look for any obvious damage. As you inspect, keep an eye out for holes, water spots, and tears. Also, move boxes around and listen for any rattling or other noises that could indicate broken product.
Later, as you unpack your shipment, count your items and record any missing product, damaged goods, or excess product you find. If you find any damaged items, take photos for thorough documentation and report any issues to your 3PL/broker as soon as possible. Since it can take a while for businesses to count large shipments, carriers will usually give you a window of time to file a claim for missing or damaged goods. Make sure you know your 3PL/Broker’s policy and report problems promptly.
3.) Bill of Lading Errors
Address typos are common culprits that cause delayed or missing shipments. Before you finalize a pickup, always carefully review your bill of lading. Double-check everything for accuracy, including shipping addresses, third-party freight charges, services you opted in for, and carrier information.
It’s best to identify and correct address, weight estimate, freight classification, and other errors before your shipment is picked up. If issues surface after your truck arrives, you may face additional charges because the carrier has to re-weigh cargo, re-route trucks, or take other measures to correct the error.
To reduce bill of lading errors, consider having a third party review all your shipment details before you finalize a pickup with your carrier. Often, simply having an extra set of eyes double-check for accuracy is all it takes to avoid costly mistakes.
The real key to avoiding common shipping mistakes is to streamline your processes and to address operational problems as quickly as possible. Regularly working with a reliable 3PL/Broker that gets to know your business can also help you reduce common shipping mistakes.