In the rush to get orders out the door during the busy holiday season, it can be tempting to skip steps when prepping your freight shipments. But when your freight isn’t properly packaged, it can get damaged in transit — leading to costly fees and delays. Luckily, you can avoid many holiday freight shipping headaches by following these four simple steps to preparing your shipments for success:
1. Prepare your boxes
Before placing your goods on the pallet, make sure they’re prepared to hold up in transit — especially since shipments are typically handled more often during peak shipping season. First, you’ll need to choose the right type of box for your shipment. We recommend using corrugated fiberboard boxes (which have more structural integrity than cardboard boxes), since your freight could be stacked in the truck with other shipments, unless you specify your freight as non-stackable. Then, for an easy and effective way to reinforce your packaging, secure the opening and seams of each box with 2-inch-wide packing tape. Our tips for preparing small package holiday shipments ring true for freight shipments, too.
2. Label your shipments
You wouldn’t put a present under the tree without a name tag — and you shouldn’t put a shipment on your pallet without a label either! Labels are especially important when your freight requires special handling — such as shipments that are non-stackable or that need Protect from Freeze services.
On each label, we recommend listing the shipper and consignee addresses, as well as any other pertinent information from your bill of lading (BOL). Even if you choose not to label each pallet individually, you should still mark boxes “1 of 10,” “2 of 10” and so on to help avoid loss or theft in transit. And remember, if a label is obscured or damaged in transit, your shipment could be delayed! So make sure your labels are clearly visible on all sides of the pallet and protected with a layer of shrink wrap.
3. Properly prep your pallets
Once your holiday packages are ready to be placed on the pallet, there are some additional factors to consider. First, select a sturdy pallet made from wood or plastic that’s strong enough to support your shipment’s load without overhang. When selecting a pallet size, be sure to note the carrier’s weight and size limitations in order to avoid any extra fees! The pallet should be in good condition without any broken boards, protruding fasteners or large gaps where material could fall through. Once you’re ready to load boxes onto the pallet, stack them squarely, corner-to-corner, without any overhang — that means no muffin-topping your freight!
Note: While pallets are the most common for freight shipments, we can also provide you with packaging guidelines for other handling units or if your freight is irregularly shaped!
4. Don’t forget the shrink wrap
The busy holiday season means fuller trucks and more handling of your shipments in transit, which leaves your freight more susceptible to damage. And since poorly wrapped pallets are already the main reason shipments end up damaged or lost, you shouldn’t skimp on the shrink wrap during the holidays! To properly secure your load, use a 60-gauge stretch wrap, wrapping it around the freight (including corners) at least two times. For heavy loads over 150 lbs., you should also fasten the freight with unbreakable straps.
Make sure to follow this quick checklist before sending your shipments on their merry way this holiday season — you won’t regret taking the extra time to ensure your freight shipping is safe in transit!
Looking for more holiday shipping tips? Check out our Guide to Holiday Freight Shipping for more advice on navigating your busy season.
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