Freight shipping is the process by which a large quantity of goods is transported via ship, intermodal transport (road and railway, for example), road, or air. It is a fundamental component of the e-commerce supply chain, especially when it’s used to ship products across borders.
What qualifies as a freight shipment?
Any package that exceeds 30in x 30in x 30in or weighs more than 150 pounds is classified as a freight shipment. For the items that do not meet these criteria, it is less expensive to ship via parcel delivery systems such as DHL and China Post.
Freight shipments can be loaded via pallets or directly placed on the vehicle’s floor. While the latter requires the trucks to be unloaded by hand. Merchandise that has been secured onto pallets can be quickly unloaded using a forklift or docking station.
Each cargo truck can carry about 26 pallets. The pallets are usually 40in long, 48in wide and 80in high, and those taller than 48in are considered double stacked. Since containers and truck beds stand four feet from the ground, most warehouses are equipped with elevated docks to facilitate loading and offloading.
Advantages of freight shipping
Freight shipment services help you get your merchandise to a particular place on time, in a safe and cost-efficient manner. Whether you’re shipping by sea, air, or land, there are several benefits to working with a freight shipping company.
Carrier experience. When you’re shipping critical items, it is vital to ensure your cargo reaches its destination safely and on time. Freight shipping allows you to partner with the best agents in the industry, so it is more likely that your merchandise will arrive safely.
Reduced freight shipping rates. Freight shipping services offer economies of scale for all freight related operations. Freight transportation providers employ and maintain a highly-skilled workforce, so their employees will manage your freight shipment and all related support operations with greater efficiency than an in-house logistics team.
Enhanced customer service. Shipping companies have subscriptions to the National Motor freight traffic association – the standard by which commodities are assigned a specific freight class. Your freight transportation company can provide professional guidance and the latest information on matters concerning freight claims, classifications, and packaging requirements. The commodity classification standards Board (CCSB) frequently updates commodity classifications and industry guidelines. Freight transporters are often required to pay hundreds of dollars to access this information, and it can be hard to comprehend and navigate, especially for someone who isn’t very familiar with the freight shipping industry. Working with a shipping company helps you avoid all these hurdles and hidden expenses. Besides these, other services include;
- Filing insurance claims
- Cargo insurance
- Freight consolidation.
Freight shipping methods
There are a variety of service options for freight shipping. The most appropriate choice for your cargo will depend on its size and weight.
Less than truckload
Less than truckload (LTL) is meant for shipments that are larger than a parcel but not big enough to occupy an entire truckload trailer. LTL shipping is usually applied to cargo consignments that weigh between 150 and 15,000 pounds.
Full truckloads are pallets, or bulk consignments that are sufficiently large to warrant the use of a full semi-trailer, and typically weigh over 15000 pounds. Since most of the space in the trailer is used, full truckloads are relatively inexpensive. They also limit the chances that the freight could be damaged in transit.
Partial truckloads offer clients the freedom to share the cost of a single truck with other clients. Since the shipping cost is split between several parties, the strategy is remarkably cost-efficient. Partial truckloads work best if the shipment weighs more than 5,000 pounds or six pallets.
Intermodal shipping usually combines two modes of transport (rail and trucks). However, there are also situations where it involves the use of at least three means of transportation. It is a reliable and fuel-efficient freight shipping strategy.
Expedited freight applies to time-sensitive shipments that must quickly reach their target destinations. Merchandise that belongs to this category is usually transported by road or air freight. Delivery times can be as short as 24 hours or extend to three days based on the freight transporter’s policy.
How to ship freight
Get your shipment ready
After you have chosen the best shipping option for your merchandise, you need to package it appropriately. Most “LTL” shipments are transported on skids/pallets. You’ll want to ensure the loads are firmly secured, and that the pallets themselves are entirely intact. To guarantee the safety of your cargo, wrap all the boxes in shrink wrap, starting at the top and going all the way down. You may also include a section of the pallet. Then use strong metal or plastic strapping to fasten all the cargo to the pallet.
Label the shipment
Contrary to common belief, it’s not a good idea to place your labels on the pallets alone. It’s better to mark all the items in your consignment, to discourage theft. At the very least, you should label all the flanks of your pallets regardless of whether they are really large or small shrink-wrapped items. This will help you make sure they are not lost in transit.
Fill the Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading is an irrevocable agreement between the client and the shipping company. The bill of lading clearly outlines details about the merchandise to be transported, its freight category, the consignee (receiver) and the carrier.
Call your freight carrier
After you’ve filled the bill of lading, you may call your carrier for the shipment. Remember to record how many boxes, pallets, packages there are, and their total gross weight. The carrier will need all this information when they arrive.
If you are partners with a third-party logistics company, you could use freight shipping to deliver inventory to its fulfilment centres. Your fulfilment partner will help you book freight shipments and advise you on the most appropriate shipping methods. They will also guide you on all the relevant shipment and reception processes, and freight shipping rates to help sure your inventory reaches its destination.
NextSmartShip offer competitive Freight shipment services. If you are looking for a freight forwarding partner for international shipping, do not hesitate to contact us.