Prepare Your Freight Shipment

Learn how to correctly prepare your freight shipment to avoid loss, damage and denied claims.

Improperly packaged freight shipments can result in denial of a filed claim if loss or damage occurs while in transit. You can ensure that your freight shipments are properly packaged by following these tips.

NMFC Packaging Guidelines

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) provides design specifications for hundreds of packages. Guidelines for some of the most common packaging mediums are below.

Corrugated Fiberboard Boxes (CFBs)

  • Check the age of the box. Corrugated fiberboard boxes degrade over time, losing up to 50% of their strength in only 6 months.
  • Treat as single-use packages. Most CFBs do not maintain enough strength and integrity to be reused.
  • Check the Box Maker’s Certificate (BMC). BMCs state the maximum size and weight the box can hold. Exceeding these limits could result in a denied claim. BMCs are typically located on the bottom flaps of the box.

Freight Crates

  • Place fasteners in the side or edge grain of the wood. Placing fasteners in the end grain of wood or plywood can reduce holding power by 35%.
  • Check for knots. Do not place fasteners in knots of the wood. Knots cannot be larger than one-third of the board’s surface.
  • Use Diagonal Braces. Each panel should have a diagonal brace to increase strength and integrity.
  • Construct crates with interlocking corners. Crates must be constructed with three-way locking corners, where members will be joined with nails or stapes driven into side grain of joining members.
  • Use a standard crate for weight exceeding 500 lbs. If the weight of the commodity exceeds 500 pounds a standard crate must be used instead of a wire bound crate.

Palletized Freight

  • No broken boards or protruding fasteners. All fasteners must be flush or below the surface before loading packages.
  • Minimize gaps between deckboards. Make deckboard spacing as narrow as possible to prevent forklift damage.
  • Always use 4-way forklift entry pallets. The pallet must be elevated at least 6” from the ground and allow forklift access from all sides.
  • Use adequate size & rate capacity. Pallet should be large enough to house the shipment without overhang and exceeding weight capacity.

Palletizing & Crating

Palletizing freight helps consolidate your shipment and provides increased protection against damage. Here are some dos and don’ts of proper palletizing:

  • DO column stack. Stack boxes in columns from corner-to-corner and edge-to-edge for greatest stacking strength.
  • DO use a slip sheet. A slip sheet is a thin pallet-sized sheet made of plastic or fiberboard and is used to help protect the bottom layer of your shipment. Use a slip sheet under every third layer to help distribute weight evenly.
  • DO use load protectors and edge boards. These increase vertical stacking, increase strength and reduce damage to box edges. Corner or edge boards should run the full length of the load on every corner.
  • DO strap or band your load. This secures the bundled load to the pallet. Keep the banding and/or straps close to the load to avoid damage.
  • DO use stretch wrap. This prevents your load from shifting. It should first be applied around the pallet and continued upward around the load – a minimum of five revolutions is recommended.
  • DON’T interlock stack. A common misconception is that interlocking cartons is a good practice. Interlocking can actually reduce strength up to 50%.
  • DON’T Overhang. Overhang exposes packages to damage and reduces pallet strength.
  • DON’T pyramid your boxes. Pyramid-shaped pallet loads are one of the biggest packaging problems in the freight industry. Top packages on pyramid stacked loads are highly susceptible to damage.

Freight shipping crates can help protect your product and can be constructed to accommodate your specific product’s specifications. Here are some dos and don’ts of crate freight:

  • DO block or brace moveable contents. Any moveable contents must be braced/blocked to prevent shifting during transportation.
  • DO suspend commodities with legs. Commodities with legs must be suspended away from all edges of the crate by a minimum of 1 inch.
  • DON’T allow protrusions. Contents must be securely held within the crate.

Marking & Labeling

All freight must be properly labeled and marked. Handling labels should be highly visible and, with few exceptions, on all sides of the package.

Packages should be labeled with:

  • Name and address, including the correct ZIP code of the shipper and consignee
  • Matching information from the Bill of Lading
  • Pictorial precautionary markings and text for special handling requirements

Shipper Documentation & Descriptions

All shipments require proper documentation. There are a variety of documents needed depending on the product type and origin and delivery locations. Please contact your Unishippers shipping consultant if you have questions regarding shipping documentation.

Have Special Packaging Needs?

Your business is unique – and so is your product! Some items have special requirements and guidelines. Below are a few of the most common types of shipments that need special packaging.

  • Pipes and similar freight. The recommended packing design is a wooden crate. Any shipment where the product can telescope away from the rest of the load will require end protection.
  • Batteries. A variety of batteries are regulated as hazardous materials by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Batteries requiring special shipping papers may only be tendered by contract hazmat suppliers. Products containing batteries must be removed or have the on/off switch protected from activation.
  • Bundled packages. It is recommended you only bundle same-sized boxes together. Use a minimum of four crisscrossed bands to strap the packages.
  • Irregularly shaped items and bare metals. Tape the label on a flat surface of the item being shipped. Blunt all sharp or protruding edges with corrugated cardboard pieces.

Call Unishippers at 866-998-7447 for a shipping assessment. With over 30 years experience and 65+ freight shipping company partnerships, we can help you avoid costly shipping mistakes and streamline your shipping.

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