LTL Packaging Guide: How to Properly Package LTL Cargo

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Person standing in front of a computer. She's holding a clip board and standing in front of an LTL shipment of cardboard boxes

When working in shipping or using it for your business, you need to make sure that the cargo arrives at its destination in the same sound condition it was picked up in. Packaging less than truckload (LTL) cargo follows a lot of the same rules used for small parcel shipping. 

However, since LTL shipments are way larger than small parcel shipping, there are some unique steps to take to ensure your goods arrive safe and sound in pristine condition. Here are a few LTL shipping-specific tips for small businesses.

Shipping with Pallets

Shipping with pallets is the golden standard for LTL freight and packaging when a single variety of product is being shipped. This keeps everything together and makes it easily transportable. 

Make Sure the Pallets are in Good Shape

It's important that all the pallets used are in good shape with no nails or big splinters sticking out. These can damage the goods or hurt someone in the transportation process. It's also important in ensuring that the pallet has enough structural integrity to hold the weight of whatever is placed on top of it.

Secure the Pallet to the Trailer

Securing the pallet(s) to the trailer is the responsibility of the driver. Take it seriously. Use straps and tie-downs to secure the pallet itself to the trailer. If the pallet is not properly secured, it may move or tip, and you run the risk of the materials on the pallet getting damaged or even falling off the trailer. 

Securely Wrap the Cargo

The cargo also needs to be securely wrapped and anchored to the pallet. This is typically the responsibility of the shipper. Palletizing is most commonly done with plastic wrap, but some places use steel, aluminum, or tie-down straps. 

Shipping with Boxes or Crates

Shipping with boxes or crates is the most common approach to the LTL freight shipping process. Boxes are frequently then placed on pallets, but sometimes they are shipped loose on their own.

Stack Smart

Use common sense when it comes to stacking boxes. Don’t put heavier items on top lighter boxes or boxes with delicate items inside. Make sure none of the boxes are overhanging the one below it. Improperly stacked boxes can ruin the structural integrity of the stack and make it more prone to falling and damage. 

Push all the boxes and crates to the back of the trailer, closest to the vehicle. This makes the weight more centered which keeps the trailer more stable.

Label Clearly 

LTL shipments via hotshot trucking get handled less than shipments delivered via freight, but it is still important to label clearly and keep track of your goods. This is another task where the responsibility lands on the shippers.

Take Precautions for Delicate Items

You not only need to track what is in your cargo, but also clarify which items are fragile or what boxes need to have a certain side facing up. Take time to clearly label goods that are fragile in order to avoid any unnecessary breaking. Any boxes with fragile items should be stuffed with protective packaging materials such as packing peanuts. 

Shipping a Large Item

Large items that might be shipped include things like vehicles, commercial kitchen equipment, doors and windows, and other items of that nature. These items may require different precautions than boxes or palletized cargo.

Tie It Down

Even the heaviest and sturdiest objects run the risk of tipping over and flying out of the trailer if not secured properly. The damage from a situation like this can be even more dire. Make sure the items are safely and securely tied directly to the trailer and are not going to move.

More Tips of LTL Freight Packaging

Properly securing LTL packaging falls on both the shipper and driver. Even if you think someone else has already done it, make sure to check that everything is properly packaged and secured before the cargo starts its journey. It never hurts to have a few sets of eyes, and hands, to check that everything is good to go. 

There are a few commandments both shippers and drivers should live by to remain accountable and safe.

Secure the Cargo to the Trailer or Truck Bed

It truly cannot be said enough—secure the load to the trailer or truck bed. It's one of the most basic things you can do as a truck driver, but also one of the most important. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong on the road, the cargo will remain safe and secure. 

Sudden swerves or stops can make the cargo shift and get damaged, or even fly off, if not secure. As experienced drivers know, you can’t predict what’s going to happen on the road. Driving as safely as possible includes securing cargo.

Open Road Drivers are Experienced with LTL Shipping

Open Road hotshots are drivers you can trust with all the equipment and expertise to secure your shipment and deliver it to its final destination in the same shape it was when they picked it up.

Open Road is the safest choice for small business shipping. Learn more about the solutions we can provide for you by contacting us today.

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