A pallet is handled many times on its journey from point A to point B – especially with less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. As your LTL freight is moved between trucks, warehouses and shipping docks, there are a lot of opportunities for damage if it isn’t palletized correctly.
While damage is sometimes unavoidable, you can often avoid issues by properly preparing and protecting your shipment before pick-up. One important way to protect your freight is to make sure it doesn’t hang off the edge of the pallet.
What is freight overhang?
Overhang, or “muffin-topping” your freight, is what happens when your product extends beyond the size of the pallet. This decreases the strength of the pallet and exposes your shipment to damage.
Why can’t I muffin-top my freight?
LTL freight shipments are typically loaded and unloaded from the truck with the help of a forklift. The forklift’s prongs slide into the pallet, lift it up and move your freight to its next location. If your product is hanging over the edge of the pallet (and the forklift’s prongs) it could get crushed against a wall or bumped against other freight.
Your pallet should take the brunt of the abuse, not your freight! Pallet overhang can result in scrapes, punctures and compression damage to your shipment – and the more your freight is moved, the more chances it has to be damaged. In fact, one study found that pallet overhang can reduce top to bottom compression strength by more than 30 percent.
How do I avoid pallet overhang?
There are many different pallet sizes to choose from, so you should be able to find a pallet size that is big enough for your product. You can even order custom-built pallets if you need an unusual size. Ultimately, whether it means finding a larger pallet, trying a different way to stack your product or even repackaging your freight in a totally new way, it is very important to have your freight fit correctly on the pallet.
If your LTL freight shipment is damaged in transit due to improper packaging – such as muffin-topping your freight – your claim may be denied. Read our article to learn more tips for prepping and protecting your freight shipments.
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Comparing Freight Service Types
Depending on what your freight is, where it needs to go and how quickly it needs to get there, different freight services provide options to help you make it happen.