At FreightCenter, we believe that a successful LTL shipper (Less-than-Truckload) is a happy shipper. So, we’ve put together a blog series called Keys to Shipping Happiness. The first of the series is a simple checklist that should steer you toward LTL shipping success, and away from common shipping disappointments that sometimes lead to costly billing adjustments. When you ship freight, if you follow the steps on this list and check them off as you complete them, you will be well on your way to becoming a happy LTL shipper.
Step 1: Package Your Cargo Properly
When you ship LTL, your cargo shares the truck with cargo from other shippers. You need to package your freight so it won’t be damaged by other freight. Just as importantly, you need to make sure your freight does not damage anyone else’s. Not sure how to package your freight?
- These Packaging Tips should help
- If you’re shipping an engine, it must be completely drained of all fluids and cleaned
- Machines with moving parts must be crated, not palletized
- This blog post on packaging fails will help make clear why proper packaging is so important and maybe give you a laugh or two
If your cargo is going to be palletized, as most LTL shipments are, your packaging is not complete until the freight has been secured to the pallet and shrink wrapped. When shrink wrapping, squeeze the end of the wrap into a rope then tuck the wrap under the freight or around the corner of the pallet. Begin by wrapping around the base of the pallet, then continue up the pallet for several layers. Be generous with the shrink wrap.
Step 2: Measure Your Cargo’s Dimensions
Now that you’ve completed packaging your cargo, you can measure the dimensions accurately. Accurate dimensions are essential to getting a precise quote. In some cases, the freight class—an integral part of calculating the shipping cost—will be determined by the density of the package. In others, you may find that your best price is being offered by what is known as a density carrier, a carrier that prices based on cargo density rather than NMFC freight class. Measuring the dimensions of crated freight is a simple matter of measuring the length, width, and height of the crate. When measuring dimensions of a palletized shipment, the length and width should be the same as the length and width of the pallet, because your cargo cannot hang over any of the edges of the pallet. The height is measured as a straight line from your cargo’s highest point to the bottom of the pallet where it touches the floor.
Step 3: Weigh the Packaged Cargo
Just as dimensions must be measured from fully-packaged cargo, so must weight. Moreover, the weight must be accurate. Today’s carriers use forklifts with built-in scales, so every piece of freight is weighed. If your package’s weight—as reported by the carrier’s scale—is greater than the weight you provided for your quote, additional fees will apply. Here are some ways to make sure you get the weight correct.
- If you are shipping a new product in its original packaging, use the weight from its previous shipment.
- If your business ships several times a month, consider purchasing a digital pallet scale. A $500 investment you make on a scale could produce great savings for you over time.
- After calling for permission, take your cargo to a certified weighing station, such as one you can find in a …
- … junkyard
- … shipping depot
- … warehouse
- You can also Google Public Scales in your zip code for locations that you can take your freight to be weighed
For more on the heavy subject of weight, check out our blog post, “Weight, weight … don’t tell me.”
Step 4: Take Photos of Your Packaged Cargo
You will want to send photos of your packaged shipment two places:
- To your shipping agent, so they can confirm whether or not the packaging is sufficient
- To the consignee (package recipient) so they can verify whether or not the package arrives in the same condition
A photo will be very useful in the unlikely event of a damage claim.
Step 5: Consider Extra Services to Add to Your Order
It’s important to remember that freight trucking companies are not the same as moving companies or parcel shipping companies. Freight carriers move cargo from loading dock to loading dock. If there is no loading dock, they deliver to the curb (and charge extra for needing a vehicle with a lift gate). Some extra services to consider include the following.
- Limited access pickup
- Liftgate at pickup
- First-mile service
- Guaranteed delivery by 5 pm
- Liftgate at delivery point
- Limited access delivery
- Oversized freight
- White glove service
- Final mile service
- Expedited freight
- Inside pickup and delivery
Any extra services (or accessorials) that are added to the order will raise the cost, so it’s good to know which ones you will need (if any) before you book your shipment.
Step 6: Compare Quotes from Multiple Carriers
Now that you’ve completed your preparation, you’re ready to enter your information into our instant freight shipping quote tool and generate quotes you can count on from multiple top carriers. In the quote form, you will see places for you to enter all the information you’ve prepared in the first five steps. Choose the carrier whose price and transit time best suits your needs. This does not commit you to that carrier, it simply saves the quote in your account.
Step 7: Insure Your Shipment
If your cargo is damaged or lost in shipping, the carrier’s liability is limited to only 10 cents per pound. Freight insurance is available to provide coverage that more accurately reflects the value of your shipment. You can add insurance at the time you run your quote, or, or, anytime up until the time the freight is picked up.
Step 8: Verify Your Order with a Freight Agent
You’ll want to speak with your agent to verify:
- Your shipment is packaged properly (after you send your agent your packaging photos)
- The freight class is correct
- Density has been calculated accurately
- All necessary extra services have been selected
- Insurance coverage has (or has not) been arranged
Also, you’ll want to give your freight agent information that could be critical to your shipment.
- Reference numbers
- Purchase order numbers
- RA or RMA numbers
- Dock hours at pickup and delivery
- Any dock, door or bay number that the driver needs for pick up or delivery
This conversation should put your mind at ease and eliminate all surprises. FreightCenter’s freight agents are LTL shipping experts. Contact a FreightCenter agent at 800.716.7608.
Step 9: Book Your Order
After you have verified all important information with your agent, book your order. Paying for your shipment is part of the booking process. Once payment has been received, your agent will generate an email to you all the paperwork you will need, including:
- Terms and Conditions
- Bill of Lading (2 copies)
- Shipping labels (2 copies)
Step 10: Attach Labels to the Package
Attach the two shipping labels provided by FreightCenter to your package; one on the long side and one on the short side. Make sure they are clearly visible and easy to read. To make sure they do not become loosened from the package, add a coating of clear tape over the labels.
Step 11: Be There When the Truck Arrives
Pickup times are requests, not reservations. If you need to have your shipment picked up on a particular date or time, you will need to book that with your agent. Extra charges will apply. Freight is usually picked up in the afternoon and delivered in the morning. When the truck arrives to pick up your freight, you (or your authorized representative) needs to be there to meet the truck. If no one is there, the pickup will have to be rescheduled and additional charges will be added. It is very important that you give the FreightCenter BOL to the driver. If you don’t, the carrier will not process your order with the discounts FreightCenter has secured on your behalf.
Step 12: Review Delivery Steps with the Consignee
The consignee is the person or company that will receive delivery of your shipment. Once you have booked your shipment, send photos of your packaged shipment to make it easy for them to check for damage. If the package is damaged, or if less freight is delivered, the consignee should note the damage or shortage on the Proof of Delivery receipt provided by the driver before accepting delivery of the shipment. Even seemingly minor damage like dented, torn, ripped, crushed or broken shrink wrap, boxes, pallets or crates need to be noted. Make sure the consignee understands that they must be there to accept delivery on the date and time specified by the carrier.
Check Your Way to Shipping Success
This might seem like a lot of information to take in all at once, but if you follow the checklist, step by step, you’ll find that being a successful shipper is not all that difficult after all. And, if you ever need help, your freight agent is just a call away at 800.716.7608. Looking for freight quotes from multiple top carriers? Use our instant freight quote tool now.