What You Need To Know About LTL Freight PackagingWritten by Neal Willis
The LTL freight environment is full of potential damage-causing hazards including shock, vibration and compression. Handling and climate can also affect packaging and the condition of an LTL freight shipment, and poor packaging can lead to higher LTL freight costs, because it leaves freight more susceptible to damage and/or loss. Depending upon the origin and destination of the LTL freight shipment, the temperature and humidity from one place to another can change drastically over a relatively short period. Unless it is being shipped in a temperature controlled trailer, most LTL freight carrier trucks and trailers aren’t conditioned, which means the freight is subject to the same, if not more extreme temperatures inside the trailer than what’s present outside of the trailer.
Whether it’s against forks or other equipment and/or freight, LTL freight is going to be scuffed, rubbed, jarred and jolted, so using strong and durable corrugated fiberboard boxes can help with protecting LTL freight shipments against damage. However, it’s important to note that shippers should make sure they’re using corrugated containers that are in compliance with NMFC Rule 222, which specifies strength requirements and the use of the Box Makers Certificate for corrugated boxes.
Due to space and time limitations and the general nature of the LTL freight environment, stacking is sometimes unavoidable, but using shrink wrap and warning labels, such as “Do Not Stack” and “This Side Up” can help minimize the risk of a damaged shipment. Since most LTL freight carrier networks are designed to handle palletized freight, palletizing LTL freight shipments can also help with protecting against freight damage as it helps the carrier to more easily handle the freight while it’s moving through their network.
According to NMFC guidelines, some commodities call for different minimum packaging requirements and shippers have the obligation to package LTL freight shipments in such a way as to be able to withstand the normal rigors of the LTL environment, which translates to the fact that LTL shipments need to be packaged so that they can survive bumps in the road and when being handled with forks and heavy equipment throughout the warehouses and terminals.
It’s important to remember that every LTL freight carrier can have their own terms and conditions that could affect the packaging of an LTL freight shipment. Different LTL freight carriers can have varying size and weight limitations, labeling requirements and acceptable items, not to mention different limitations on liability and declared value. Shippers can check their carrier’s Tariff, which is usually posted on the carrier’s website or published in hard copy, and they should also check the NMFC guidelines to ensure they’re following the rules.