How to prevent shipping disasters


How often does this occur? More times than you would think and lots of times it happens on the way back to the freight depot. You may say the truck driver is at fault and sometimes that is the case, but how many times have you seen a car pull over in front of a semi, causing to truck to slam on the breaks or veer to avoid a collision? Truck drivers generally do a great job of avoiding predicaments, so who gets the blame for the way the truck load looks when it is not something to do with the truck?

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If you are part of a shipping department for a company, the answer to the question could be you. Depending on what is getting shipped, how it is packaged and what other items are on the truck all play a part in what happened in this example. No matter what you are shipping, at the least your items should be palletized on a pallet with no broken boards and in good working order, if the weight of the item on the pallet is over 500 – 600 lbs. you should probably be using a solid base instead of 1 x 4 or re-sawn 2 x 4, more weight than that you might need to go to 4 x 4 runners with 2 x material for decking. Whatever is getting shipped should never extend past the pallet in any direction, if your items are right at the edge of the pallet that is almost always a guarantee something on the pallet will be damaged, if not the product than the packaging it comes in. A rule of thumb here is to have the product set back at least 1 inch from the edge of the pallet all the way around. As you can see in one of the pictures some of the items are stretch wrapped, that is a good practice it helps keep product from getting separated from the rest of the shipment, but that is only part of how it should be secured. Without being strapped to the pallet the shipment will slide off as a turn is made, there by sending the shipment all over the trailer the farther the truck goes down the road and possibly causing damage to the order if the product is fragile to start with, and if the boxes are not properly marked and different shipments get thrown together, whoever gets the job of separating the load when it gets to the terminal will have no idea what goes with what. If multiple customers product is on the same pallet that is a receipt for unhappy clients and lost money, if the order is not complete at delivery, new product needs to be sent and another delivery is needed. So to recap what every shipment needs at a minimum, a good solid pallet appropriate for the weight, product set back from edge of pallet, product labeled correctly and stretch wrapped,  banded, and even blocked on the pallet to avoid separating and spilling all over the trailer.

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Now, you think I already do all these things so I will not have any problems or damage. Indeed if this is standard practice your claims rate and unhappy customers are very likely to be a low number. The next problem could be what is being shipped across the country at any given time along with your shipment. That is where it starts to get dicey, no matter how well you think your shipment is contained odds are one or more of the 5 pallets adjacent to yours is not properly packed and could damage your shipment in the event something happens along the way. Plus one of the shipments could contain a HazMat (Hazardous Material) substance and if it starts leaking caused by damage occurred during an accident or just poor packaging you could potentially lose your shipment depending on how the first responders handle the situation. There is no way to find this out and more than likely this thought may never have crossed your mind. In fact even if you wanted to find out you could not and I will tell you why, At each terminal the shipment stops at and is unloaded ( For a shipment going 3 or more states away, take a guess at how many times it is offloaded and how many people touch it, it is a lot more than you might think), as it gets loaded on another truck for the next part of the trip, it is loaded based on how it fits on the truck and how full the truck can be loaded, as the freight company wants to be as full as it can be and it is packed as tight as possible.

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So what to do? As is shown by the last photo, the crates are the best option to insure safe shipping and safe arrival and it shows your customer you really care that he gets his order in good condition, and there are various other ways to help control damage and loss during shipping if the crating is overkill for your product. An over box is one that can be made as additional protection and to help keep everything corralled and is easily produced and not cost prohibitive, sometime heat shrinking the items to the pallet is enough and gives added protection against moisture. Or, if you need something a little more an open slated crate could be what is needed. No matter what level of protection is needed a company like Craters & Freighter can help design and produce a solution to fit your needs.

Much like the Mayhem commercial from All State you never know when an accident will occur and Craters & Freighters is there for you.

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