Preparing shipments for LTL carriers
Freight sent via LTL carriers must be handled several times during transit, often by different carriers. It must be packaged to protect it from scuffing, vibration, crushing, dropping, humidity, condensation. Thus, it is normally good practice to load freight onto pallets or package freight into crates. Sturdy shipping containers such as corrugated fiberboard boxes are normally acceptable as well. Carriers have published tariffs that provide some guidance for packaging. Packaging engineers design and test packaging to meet the specific needs of the logistics system and the product being shipped.
Proper packaging freight serves several purposes:
- It helps protect the freight from handling and transit damage.
- It helps protect freight from being damaged by shipper’s freight.
- It helps reduce package pilferage.
- It helps to avoid loss situations; situations in which some of customer’s freight is separated from the rest and lost in transit.
Since freight sent via LTL carriers is subject to miss-routing or misleading, it is a good practice to put the tracking number on each side of each piece of freight. If the destination state and zip code are affixed to each side as well, miss-loading is less likely to occur. Even though it is not required, it is good practice to affix a relatively large label including the four letter carrier code, tracking number, destination station, and destination zip code of the shipment (i.e. ABFS123456789 GA 30301). The easier it is for dockworkers to identify an individual shipment, the less likely it is to be miss-routed. The value or type of contents should not be advertised on the package to help reduce loss. If the only piece of identification is the tracking number, the dockworker will have more difficulty identifying the shipment’s pieces, hence the chances of freight being loaded onto the wrong trailer is greater, increasing the transit time and increasing the probability of the shipment being lost. Proper labels, bar codes and RFID are important for proper routing and delivery.