This guide will have you fully prepared when the truck arrives.
If you are reading this guide, the chances are that you have not shipped before, or you are new to how the process works; however, you could be part of a warehouse crew and are familiar with most of this stuff already. This guide will cover all of the cornerstones of the freight industry and will map out the road to preparedness for shippers. For people who have less than 150 pounds (68 kilograms) in total commodity weight (something in a small box), service has to be requested from a parcel carrier such as UPS, FedEx, or DHX. Small items for parcel carriers are not the subject of this shipping guide. This is about shipping pallets, crates, and big trucks carrying big things. The shipping industry is highly detail-oriented, and it is important to be ready in full confidence by getting an understanding of how to be ready to ship your items effectively.
I: Short Glossary of Essential Terms
shipper – the origin party to the shipment freight quote from where the freight is picking up.
consignee – the destination/receiving party where the freight is delivering.
freight class – the rating assigned to LTL shipments based upon density
density – the amount of space a shipment occupies (a measurement in pounds per cubic foot)
FTL – full truckload
LTL – less than truck load
II: What type of truck is required?
There may be vehicle and trailer requirements depending on the weight and dimensions of the commodity being transported. There are many various types of trailers that are attached to the truck. For example, a flatbed is an open air platform with no covering. Also, a step-deck flatbed has a lowered center so as to acquire enough vertical space for tall items in order to clear bridges. A dry van is the most typical type of enclosed trailer, which is what you would consider to be a typical semi-truck trailer or commonly called a 53-foot van. Many smaller delivery box trucks of 40′ or 24′ in length are more accessible for small business and residential deliveries where a longer vehicle attempting to exit a tight street/facility access is difficult and dangerous.
The weight and dimensions of the load will determine whether the shipment is a full truckload (FTL), a less than truckload (LTL), or a volume/partial truckload (VPTL or PTL). A shipment totaling only a few pallets or a few crates, generally not using more than 10 to 16 feet of trailer space (depending on carrier), means that your shipment qualifies as LTL. These types of shipments require your commodity be assigned a freight class via an item classification system. Note for FTL or flatbed customers, prepare to make arrangements to load and unload the shipment from the truck especially if the desired goal is to save money. The maximum weight for a truckload is usually around 40 to 44 thousand pounds (18 to ~20 thousand kilograms ). If your shipment occupies 12-14 linear feet or more of trailer space, then it qualifies as a volume or partial load.
III: Getting ready to ship
a. Do you need to palletize or crate your item?
The first step to preparing for a shipment is selecting a handling unit that allows for your item(s) to be transported efficiently and safely. A handling unit is considered a forklift-ready preparation of the item to be shipped with. Oftentimes, the slot where forklifts and pallet jacks are inserted under the freight is called “cribbing”. In a lot of cases, however, large items to be loaded on a flatbed truck can just be hoisted on to the truck with a forklift or other loading equipment and moved as a piece and strapped to the platform appropriately (and possibly even covered with tarps for weather protection). Sometimes, ramps may even be available to drive or move vehicles or equipment on to the truck bed. In general cases when you need to palletize the shipment, standard pallets most commonly suffice to accommodate the handling of the items, but the following is an extensive list of the types of shipping handling units: