Freight shipping might seem like a complex undertaking, but it's pretty simple with the right company helping you. Freight may be used to refer to goods in bulk that are transported by ship, plane, or train. For those new to freight shipping, it can be a daunting exercise to figure out what you need to know for you to be fully aware of what's going on. Freight shipping has many moving parts, and it's vital to get a handle on the more essential bits of it.
Freight Shipping At a Glance
A person looking to ship freight to a location can easily accomplish this by following a simple methodology:
- Prepare a Bill of Lading (BOL)
- Choose a shipping method based on load
- Prepare pallets for shipping
- Estimate freight shipping costs
- Follow instructions as provided by the shipping company
Freight shipping with a trustworthy company ensures that your goods get to their destination on time and undamaged.
Prepare a Bill of Lading (BOL)
A bill of lading is required for freight shipments. They can operate as a receipt of freight services, a document of title, and an agreement or contract between the client and the freight carrier. BOLs contain pertinent information about a shipment and count as legally binding documents for the shipping company and its client.
A BOL has the shipper's name, who the recipient is, the date of the shipment, the number of units contained therein, the type of packaging, a description of the goods being shipped, NMFC class, the dimensions of the freight, and the value of the shipment.
Determine Shipping Method
Full Truckload (FTL) shipping is perfect for companies that are looking at large carrier shipments that may fill an entire truck. FTL shipping is the typical shipping method for bulk shipments across large regions.
Occasionally, a client may want to ship something that doesn't require the entire container to be used. LTL stands for "Less Than a truckLoad." It's usually used when a shipment doesn't take up a whole trailer and allows freight providers to be more flexible in their options for small businesses and consumers. Freight that weighs anywhere between 150 and 15,000 pounds can be shipped via LTL shipping.
A third shipping type known as Partial Truckload (PTL) is used when there's a shipment that falls between six and twelve pallets worth of goods. PTL shipping tends to be for businesses or individuals that have a decent amount of goods to carry but not enough to fill an entire load by themselves.
Prepare Pallets and Packing
Most typically, pallets come in three distinct sizes:
- 48" x 48"
- 42" x 42"
- 48" x 40"
Custom pallet sizes may also be available on request from your shipping company.
Several different classes of pallets that a shipper can utilize include:
- Stringer pallets: These get the name from the "stringers" that run between the top and bottom of the deck boards to add stability to the pallet.
- Block pallets: These use cylindrical blocks for stabilization and can come with or without top and bottom boards.
- Solid Deck pallet: These don't have the typical spaces between the boards as other pallets usually have. They are helpful in transporting smaller items that might slip through the slats in a standard pallet construction.
- Double Face pallet: These pallets have decks both to the top and bottom of the pallet construction, increasing its durability and stability.
- Double Wing pallets: These have decks extending beyond the stringers, making them look like they have winds when seen head-on.
Crating will protect most items, but there are a few precautions that a shipper can take when transporting fragile items via crate:
- Wrap each fragile item individually. Items such as glass or electronics may be damaged in transit if they bump into another or something else.
- Separate fragile and non-fragile items. If there is movement inside the crate during transport, you don't want your non-fragile items damaging the fragile ones.
- Pack fragile crates as full as you can to ensure very little room for movement within the container.
If your shipment is of a strange shape or cannot be crated or palletized, you have other options. Some clients use foam fillers to protect their items during shipment, while others wrap the item in foam or some other shock-absorbent medium.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has outlined rules regarding the shipment of hazardous materials. The DOT delineates these shipments into several classes:
- Class 1: Explosives
- Class 2: Gases
- Class 3: Flammable Liquids
- Class 4: Flammable Solids
- Class 5: Oxidizers and organic peroxides
- Class 6: Poisons and Etiologic Materials
- Class 7: Radioactive Materials
- Class 8: Corrosives
- Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles
Shipping these substances usually requires getting additional data about the chemicals and informing the shipping company to deal with supplying safety equipment, and labeling the shipment accurately. Some shipping companies may avoid these packages, depending on the level of risk involved.
Estimate Shipping Costs
Quotes may be either binding or non-binding. When it comes to shipping freight, several factors may impact the final cost of the shipment. The initial quote is a ballpark figure that gives the shipper an idea of the cost. Final costs may come up to more or less, based on extenuating factors. Occasionally, a shipper may have to pay additional fees associated with a lack of information (or wrong information) on the BOL.
Fees or "adjustments," as they're termed, happen because information on the shipment is incorrect. Among the most common adjustments we deal with are:
- Oversize Adjustment: Any shipment exceeding 12' will incur an oversize fee. Having correct dimensions for your shipment will guarantee that, if it's over the 12' length, we'll include it in the estimate.
- Lift-gate: A lift-gate truck allows for the loading and offloading of shipments that exceed 100 pounds or that are over 72" in height. These trucks may also be used for pick-up and drop-off locations that don't have an accessible dock.
- Limited Delivery Access: if your final location is unreachable by a truck, you will incur an adjustment fee for the limited access. This fee may also be incurred if there is no available employee for loading or offloading the vehicle.
- Residential fees: If the freight is to be picked up or dropped off at a non-commercial address, the transport company typically charges this fee.
- Reclass: If the NMFC class of the freight is changed or the actual class is different from the one stated on the BOL, a reclass adjustment will be added to the cost.
It should also be noted that any changes to the bill of lading after the shipment has already gotten underway will also be subject to penalties.
Follow the Shipping Company's Instructions
This may seem obvious to most experienced individuals in the industry, but it's crucial that a business follow the shipping instructions that their carriers give them. Freight carriers are bound to do certain things, and for freight to qualify at the port of entry, it must conform to specific regulations. Shipping carriers have a methodology that allows them to clear freight in a reasonable time, but it relies on clients doing their part in following instructions.
The shipping industry is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. A shipping company that knows what it's doing is rare. A1 Transport has been in the freight business for years. We've dealt with almost every kind of goods that a company would need to move. If you want to work with masters of logistics and supply-chain planning, look no further. Contact us today for a quote!