Step One: PackagingGood beer is usually in bottles. Bottles are made of glass. Glass is very breakable. Do you see the importance of packaging? If a bottle of beer breaks and leaks everywhere, your box could be ruined, and your shipment could be disposed of by the freight carrier. To avoid this, put your beer bottles in Ziploc freezer bags. One per bag. After that, wrap the bottle and bag with bubble wrap. Everyone knows bubble wrap is fun. Don’t skimp on the bubble wrap. And for added security, you can get freight insurance.
Step Two: BoxesIf you can get some styrofoam wine shippers, then you should. They’re designed for figuring out how to ship beer, and it’s best not to take chances. If you don’t have these, you’ll need lots of packing peanuts and newspaper. Swing by your local liquor store to see if they have wine boxes. These aren’t quite as good as the styrofoam wine shippers, but they help separate the bottles, and give a bit of stability. Pack as many packing peanuts and as much newspaper as possible around the bottles. The goal is to keep the bottles completely still. In a perfect world, you should be able to shake the box and hear not a sound.
Step Three: Freight ClassAfter you’ve got your beer packaged in boxes, you’ll need to get your freight consolidated on standard-sized pallets. If you’re only shipping one box, then you won’t have to worry about palletizing it, but more than one box should be consolidated on a pallet. All LTL shipments have a freight class, and your freight class on this shipment will be Class 65, NMFC 111470. Make sure this information is legible on the bill of lading used at the time of pickup. Freight brokers can put you in touch with reliable freight carriers that have the necessary permits to move your alcohol from state to state. Please note that it’s illegal to ship beer via the United States Post Office. So don’t do that.
Most of the time, the freight will not leave its container from pickup to delivery. The container will be moved from truck to rail and back to truck again; never leaving the container. Here’s some other things to know about intermodal:
Intermodal Shipping is a process for shipping that combines rail and truckload.
Packaging is KeyBecause the container will be moved (rather than the pallets inside like in LTL), dunnage and blocking/bracing materials are very important. The idea behind intermodal packaging is to keep movement inside the container to a minimum. Items must be crated or palletized (no loose boxes), and must be secured.
Intermodal Shipping is cheaper for longer distancesThe rub, however, is that the transit time is longer. And once an item is picked up and in transit, there’s no stopping the freight until it’s delivered. Consequently, intermodal shipping is for items that are not time-sensitive.
The weight limit for this type of shipping is 42,500 poundsAnything over that will need to be broken up into multiple containers and shipments.
Getting a quote is similar to truckload shippingTo get the most accurate quote you’ll need: pickup and delivery locations (lanes), product description, weight, pallet or crate count, value, and the urgency level that the freight needs to be delivered. It’s very rare to receive a same-day pickup (at least 24 hours is needed to plan a pickup), so patience is a virtue in intermodal shipping. The good news is that intermodal capacity is known a week in advance, so you have plenty of time to plan.
There’s a long list of things that cannot be shipped intermodally…So you’ll need to check with your freight broker to see if you product is one of them. Some popular items that cannot be shipped include: fruits, vegetables, fish, medicines, over-dimensional products, rockets, batteries, hazardous material, furs & pelts, tobacco products, and motor vehicles. So yeah, lots of stuff. We’ve covered the basics of intermodal shipping in this blog, but there’s always more to learn. For more information, contact our truckload team. They can get you a freight quote, and see if intermodal shipping is an option for you and your shipments.
If you’re new to shipping and looking for a freight broker, how do you decide who to go with? Do you just Google the phrase “Freight Broker?” Do you reach out to your shipping contacts and see who they’re using? Do you try to go straight to the carrier, and bypass the broker option entirely? Shouldn’t it be easier to get started?
Below you’ll find 10 questions to consider when choosing your freight broker. These questions are not in any particular order or level of importance, but if you can answer all or most of them, you’ll be on your way to getting the right freight broker for you and your shipping.
It’s important to remember that the relationship between a shipper and a broker is a two-way street. Some brokers are experts in certain fields, some put a higher priority on different kinds of service. Freight brokers are always looking to work with great shippers, and a good broker-shipper relationship should be a great exchange of services, that make BOTH parties happy.
Whether this is your first foray into freight, or if you’re an old pro looking for a new broker, utilize these 10 Questions to Consider When Choosing Your Freight Broker: