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Freight Packaging for LTL, Truckload, and Parcel Shipping

Freight packaging is one of the most important parts of your freight shipping experience. Bad packaging can introduce you to damaged freight, expensive and time-consuming claim processes, and additional reclass fees. Conversely, using correct freight packaging practices can protect you from these things. If you’re going to get the most out of your LTL, truckload, or small package shipping, it’s important to nail the packaging part. At the end of the day, freight packaging can be just as important as getting the best shipping quote, or selecting the correct freight class.

freight packaging  

Less Than Truckload

The majority of Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipments are going to require some sort of packaging. There are the rare and unique items that can be shipped without any sort of packaging (kayaks, for example), but there are a number of reasons that freight packaging is actually a good thing, and one that shouldn’t be skimped on.

The main reason for correct packaging is cargo safety, not just for your shipment, but for others as well. In LTL shipping, your freight will be on a truck with a number of other people’s shipments. In order to protect all the freight inside the truck through the pickup and delivery processes, having the right packaging is a must.

The most common package you’ll find in both LTL and Truckload is the pallet. Pallets come in a variety of sizes, but the standard pallet size is going to be 48″ x 40″ — that’s Length x Width. You’ll also find a fair number of pallets that are sized 48″ x 48″. While some items can be strapped directly to the pallet, most items should be boxed or crated. Use common sense when boxing your shipment. For instance, if you’re shipping something fragile and breakable, use extra care and packing material such as packing peanuts, newspapers, and bubble wrap.

Once your items are properly boxed, wrap them all together using industrial strength plastic wrap. Make sure to use the wrap to sufficiently attach not only the boxes together, but the boxes to the pallet as well. The standard LTL shipment is going to do a lot of moving, so keep that in mind when you’re packing your freight. Don’t forget that freight insurance is always available.

Truckload & Flatbed

Unlike LTL, your freight will usually remain on the same truck from pickup to delivery. Though this does give your freight a bit more security from damage, many of the same packaging practices you’ll find in LTL can be used for standard dry van truckload shipments. You’ll want to palletize your freight, and make sure to note whether your items can be stacked or not.

Truckload shipments do not use freight class, so you won’t have to worry about that, but it’s still a good idea to know your freight’s exact dimensions and weight, with all packaging and pallets included.

If you’re doing a reefer freight shipment, make sure that you’ve properly packaged all your items so that in case of puncture or other damage (accidents happen), not all of your items will be contaminated by spilled food or liquid. And when it comes to flatbed shipping, confirm whether the carrier supplies straps and tarps before scheduling the pickup. You’ll need proper packaging for every kind of large flatbed load, even if its not a pallet or crate.

Parcel & Small Package

Finally, we’ve come to freight packaging for parcel shipping. Because of the limited weight of all small package shipments (150 lbs. or less), you won’t have to worry about pallets or crates. Parcel shipping also doesn’t use freight class when it comes to rates, so you won’t have to worry if your packaging is affecting your freight quote. When packaging your small package shipment just use a standard shipping box.

There are numerous sizes available depending on your shipment needs. Once again, use common sense when packaging your parcel shipments. More padding and protection for fragile items, etc. Parcel shipping is going to be bumped and tossed around from pickup to delivery, so don’t skimp on the bubble wrap and packing tape.


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