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How to prepare your freight

01.14.2020 | By AJ Todd | min. read

5 packaging guidelines for pallet freight shipping

In a world where you’re expected to be competitive and streamlined at every turn, you don’t have time to deal with the annoyances of damaged freight. What some shippers don’t realize is that they’re their own worst enemy when it comes to shipping. If you don’t package your freight correctly, you’ll not only have to deal with the damage, but your freight claim probably won’t go through. 

Fortunately, when you prepare your freight correctly from the start, you’ll minimize damages and the headaches that come with freight claims. One of the best ways to reduce freight damage is to use pallets. However, you need to understand the ins and outs of shipping pallets so you can have the most protection against freight damage. 

Why pallets?

Why are pallets the go-to for so many shippers? It comes down to 3 advantages.

1. Increase profit margins

Who doesn’t want to make more money? With pallets, you can pack containers in a way that optimizes your freight class. By palletizing, your freight is more appealing to carriers because it’s easier to handle. FlockDirect™️ can help you increase profit margins even more by combining your LTL pallets on one truck, unlocking full truckload service and impacting your bottom line.

2. Help your carrier help you

Nobody’s perfect, and your carrier may make a mistake that leads to damages. But when you palletize freight, you’re setting your carrier up for success. For example, if you’re using forklift-friendly pallets and label everything correctly, you’re helping your carrier do a better job. That saves everyone time and money. 

3. Significantly reduce freight claims

Freight claims aren’t fun, but they’re a necessity if you have damaged freight. Of course, you can avoid claims from the start if you package freight with pallets. This approach minimizes the fragility of your freight and makes it easier to move, which means you aren’t dealing with insurance claims left and right. 

We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but most of our FlockDirect shippers never have to file a freight claim. Our proprietary algorithms enable shared truckload (STL) service, a streamlined shipping mode that allows several shippers to share trailer space in one multi-stop truckload. (We’re also the only logistics provider to offer STL shipping.)

STL service provides the tailored experience of TL shipping for a fraction of the cost, as well as eliminates the need for LTL-size shipments to move through the damage-prone hub-and-spoke system. When shippers choose FlockDirect, our technology pools their freight with other loads that are moving along the same route and delivers each shipment in the shared truckload in one piece. That’s much better than processing freight claims, isn’t it? 

5 tips for better pallet freight shipping

Your business has to move products without damage—and fast. Follow these 5 tips to perfect your shipping pallets to reduce freight claims. 

1. Prep the freight correctly

Your pallets are only as good as the boxes in them. Stick to these best practices to prep your freight right for palletizing. 

  • Stack sensibly: Don’t get creative here. Stack your freight in columns, forming squares or rectangles. You don’t want anything leaning in transit, which is why these shapes are best. 
  • Bundle like products: You can limit damage by bundling similar products together. This will make it easier to unload the freight, too. 
  • Slip sheets: Whether plastic or cardboard, you should add a slip sheet between every layer of cargo to evenly distribute the pallet’s weight.
  • Secure the pallet: Use stretch wrap and strapping to secure everything to the pallet. Wrap it tightly so there’s as little movement as possible. 

Since you’re shipping smaller quantities for LTL, it’s very important to prepare the freight correctly to minimize damage. 

2. Label carefully

Once you’ve prepared the pallet for shipment, don’t forget to label it. It sounds simple, but many shippers forget to include proper handling instructions. Carriers can’t read your mind and, without proper instructions, they might mishandle your freight, resulting in damage. 

Include handling instructions, special warnings about hazardous materials, your contact information, and an inventory sheet so carriers know how to handle the pallet. 

3. Choose the right pallet size

Generally speaking, most pallets in the US are 40” by 48”. Some sizes are more popular than others, but it comes down to your industry, the product you’re shipping, and the truck size. 

Choose a pallet that’s large enough so your cargo doesn’t hang over the side. Ideally, you should choose a pallet that allows for four-way forklift or pallet jack access for fast, efficient sorting. 

4. Distribute weight evenly

Watch your pallet weight. Pallets usually weigh no more than 1,650 pounds. You want to place the heaviest products on the bottom and evenly distribute that weight with each layer. Too much weight on the top or on one side will risk tipping the pallet over in transit, which will definitely cause a freight claim. 

5. Choose the proper freight class

Palletizing not only minimizes damage, but it can also save you money. If you get pallet shipping right, you could drop from FTL to PTL freight class, saving a ton of money.

If freight class sounds like a big headache, ask your carrier if they offer pallet pricing. This bases your pricing not on freight class, but on standard pallet size and weight. It’s a great way to get more predictability with your freight costs. 

Don’t agonize—palletize

Pallets minimize damage, help you avoid the hassles of freight claims, and make your business more efficient. Ship freight safely with pallets and avoid unnecessary claims so you can be more profitable. 

Turn your shipping frown upside down with smarter freight options. Try shared truckload for damage-free LTL shipments that arrive when we say they will.