Getting freight moved to the right place at the right time is the goal of shippers and carriers alike.
At Averitt, we continuously focus on quality measurements and work with our associates and shippers to strive for the top track record. Our on-time delivery rates are among the best in the industry while our incident-free rate is also among the top at 99.6 percent.
Less-than-truckload shipments typically encounter multiple touch points and a demanding environment along their journey to the ultimate consignee. It’s not surprising, therefore, that even properly packaged and labeled shipments can occasionally become damaged or misrouted.
Yet, there are several basic steps that shippers can take to make sure their shipments arrive in their original condition, and most are fairly easy and don’t cost much, according to Gary Whitaker, Averitt’s Director of Cargo Claims.
PROPER PACKAGING IS PARAMOUNT.
Simply put, when it comes to preventing damage, the number one consideration is packaging, says Whitaker.
PACKAGING FOR LTL
Many shippers don’t realize that their shipments will be combined with many other shipments in the LTL environment, which puts added stress on shipments as they move through a carrier’s system.
PACKAGING, INSIDE AND OUT
It’s critically important that shippers choose proper packaging. It should meet the requirements of the commodity that’s being shipped. In addition, if the product is in a box, then include interior packaging, either cardboard or Styrofoam peanuts, whatever the requirements are for that commodity. Using quality material also goes a long way in protecting freight. Shippers should stay away from used packaging or packaging that’s been exposed to moisture.
DON’T FORGET THE CRATES
Likewise, it helps to select quality lumber for crates. Choose material that doesn’t have a lot of knots and build crates based on NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) specifications.
SKIMPING ON MATERIALS LEADS TO MORE DAMAGES
Meanwhile, Whitaker reports seeing more shippers skimp on packaging materials in an effort to save money in the current economy. Not surprisingly, this increases the chances for damaged freight. However, an investment in high-grade lumber will result in a well-constructed crate, and with proper care it can be used over and over again.
LABELING IS A CLOSE RUNNER-UP.
Proper labeling is absolutely essential and goes hand-in-hand with the right packaging. A label that’s not properly affixed to the box or crate can easily fall off, and if there are no other markings on the box or crate it can immediately become lost.
DOUBLE-CHECK THAT LABEL
Equally important is a label that contains correct information for the shipper and consignee.
INSIDE AND OUT
Another tip — don’t just label the outside. Put a label inside the box or crate too. And when it comes to skids with many boxes on them, sometimes shippers will only label a single box and then shrink-wrap the skid, but there’s always a chance that a box can slip outside of the shrink wrap.
READ UP, ASK QUESTIONS.
Averitt has many resources to help shippers pack freight properly, including online materials and a knowledgeable staff that can offer guidance over the phone.
WEATHERING THE TRIP
Staying on top of weather conditions is also a good idea. Winter is obviously the toughest season, and freezing temperatures can affect a lot of different freight, while high humidity in the summer months can quickly compromise the strength of corrugated boxes and containers.
CONSIDER ALL ANGLES
Aside from weather, there are a host of other variables that come into play. The number of shipments being transported, the size, shape, warehouse conditions, special loading — all of these have a part.
According to Whitaker, Averitt’s claims ratio dropped to 0.51 in 2010 — the lowest it’s been in more than 20 years. This is a great success story, but there’s always room for improvement.
Averitt continues to work with shippers to educate them on the latest prevention methods to help reduce damages and avoid losses, while shippers are increasingly doing their part to properly pack and label their freight.
The end result is a satisfied customer on the receiving end!
If you have any freight care thoughts or questions, please contact Averitt’s Cargo Claims team email@example.com.