“Prevention may be a tedious pill to take, but damage control is always a bitter pill to swallow”. Countless times have your instincts guided you through something that you more than often have chosen to ignore, and realize that your gut has been right all along. Same goes with safekeeping your freight; more than often the simplest and the most practical precautions have helped save thousands of dollars on damages, as well as time inconveniences incurred during the process of insurance claims (if any). But there are a few simple steps one can take in ensuring the safety of your precious cargo;
1. Strength in Numbers
Stacking your freight may be one of the most sensible way to ensure that the contents of your boxes are intact. But which method should you use?
- Soft and fragile items in boxes: These type of contents require the column stacking method. Utilizing this method requires you to stack a column and build it on a pallet, wherein the weight of each box is supported only by the box directly underneath it. This improves the boxes’ strength and durability by 50% in comparison to the interlocking method.
- Hard, solid boxes: Canned groceries, filed documents and photo albums are typical examples of the contents of these boxes. It is recommended that you use the interlocking stacking method wherein the boxes are arranged to form like a brick wall. Multiple boxes below partially supports the box above it which enhances the stability of each stack.
Note that to effectively assure the stability of the support provided by these methods, you must ensure that boxes are aligned and does not hang over the pallet’s edge. Overhangs are one of major cause of freight damage during shipment because they tend to bump and lodge itself with other shipments. Also making the top of your stack flat gives protection from damage incurred by other freight stacked on top of it.
2. Using the right material
Choosing the right material for your pallet is essential in ensuring that your freight will withstand the impact incurred during the shipping process. This will also match the proper packaging in correspondence to the volume and weight of your freight.
- Wooden pallets: These are the common pallet type used in delivering goods in various groceries. This pallet type is the best option recommended because it keeps the stack’s integrity when being moved via forklifts, as well as through various shipping conditions. When using these pallet types, be sure to avoid those that does not have bottom boards because they are known for unequal weight distribution and reduces the side’s strength. One must also avoid corrugated pallets because the moisture from certain items being shipped compromises the strength of the materials used in these pallets.
- Plastic pallets: This pallet is also one most viable option for shipping cargo because of its reduced weight and perfectly molded exterior. Almost holds the same strength as that of the wooden pallet but is much more brittle in nature and its top deck is quite slippery. Extreme caution in packaging and securing your shipment is advised when using plastic pallets.
There are more options available when choosing the pallet type for your shipment. Just make sure that you stack your shipment properly and securely with whatever pallet type you may choose. Proper organization and using the right packaging materials greatly increases the stability and weight distribution of your freight.
3. Protection and Stability
Once you’ve successfully organized your shipment, the next step is ensuring that it is properly secured using the right materials for travel. One of the worst scenarios is a couple of boxes falling out from the pallet because one fails to wrap a corner properly so it won’t lodge with the other shipment in the cargo.
- Wrap them properly: Covering your boxes via shrink wrap is one of the best way to keep them tight and secured during shipment. This would also add to the stability of the pallet. For precautionary measures it is best that the wrap overlaps by at least 3 inches through the pallet’s base and also on the top of the load.
- Banding: This secures the load to the pallet. A firm tight banding greatly reduces the risk of breakage to your freight and improves the overall stability of the pallet.
- Solid top and bottom load protector pads: Corrugated and Masonite sheets can add much protection to the boxes located on the top and bottom of the stack. The pad on the top secures and protects your boxes from other shipments that might be placed on top of it. This also helps on the weight distribution of the top weight, preventing unwanted “point pressures” that may build up on any point of the stack that may have uneven weight. The pad at the bottom on the other hand, helps in preventing boxes in your stack from falling at the holes in the pallet.
4. Label and Inventory
This one goes without saying. Taking necessary steps in labeling the boxes with the proper weight and content classification (fragile, flammable, liquid etc.) greatly increases the accuracy on which boxes goes with which, what should go on top, and what should be isolated from the rest of the pallet. One should also remove old labels or brands on boxes if reusing them and not just covering these with masking tapes, as these may accidentally come off during the stacking process. Also, one should use less labels and classification, as to reduce confusion in the stacking process. The proper classification type also increases the accuracy of your inventory per boxed item.
5. Choosing the right Carrier
This ultimately is one of the most critical piece of the equation because even if you go through great lengths in protecting and ensuring the proper packaging of your shipment and yet entrusting it with someone who would mishandle them during shipping disregards all the necessary precaution you have made. Always go for carriers that have the highest FMCSA score, have a notable length of tenure in the business, and almost zero loss freight count on their card.
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