How to Ship Freight Like a Pro

Businesses looking to ship large orders of commercial goods, such as building supplies, automotive parts, or palletized goods, need to be aware of the unique requirements these types of shipments must adhere to. Generally an order of merchandise or commodities weighing 150lbs or more up to 8 or sometimes 10 pallets is considered LTL freight. Here is an explanation of some of the freight industry requirements, packaging guidelines, and fee structures.
 
To ensure a hassle-free shipping experience, it’s always best to research how to ship freight prior to scheduling a delivery. There is no better way to prevent mishaps than to proactively read up on the requirements and clarify any questions you may have before attempting to ship heavy cargo of any kind.
 
We’ll examine these freight shipping requirements a little more closely in just a moment. But first, let’s cover some basic principles.
 

What is Freight Shipping?

Freight shipping refers to the process of transporting any large order of commercial goods or commodities in excess of 150lbs. Freight shipments can be domestic or international, and can be moved by air, sea, or land transportation methods. 
 
Fun Fact: The project value of the global container shipping market is projected to be $12 billion USD by 2027.
 

What are The Different Types of Freight Shipping?

A key part of understanding how to ship via freight is familiarizing yourself with the various handling units and the packaging options available for you to choose from. Here’s a brief overview of the two primary freight handling unit categories:
 

1. Pallets

Pallets are one of the most popular handling units used when shipping by freight. A pallet is a flat, horizontal platform — typically made from wood — that is maneuvered from one location to another by a forklift or another piece of machinery.
 
One of the most notable advantages of using pallets is their ease of handling with a forklift or pallet jack, another is they can often be stacked. Pallets can be placed on top of one another, making it easier to maximize storage space and ship goods more effectively.
 
Pallets also make it easier to quantify the amount of goods or commodities being transported, and since it is a globally-recognized unit of measurement, most transportation companies around the world are familiar with a standard pallet size (48 inches by 40 inches).
 

2. Crates

Crates are a cross between a box and a pallet. They are shaped like a box, but they are made from sturdier materials like oak or yellow pine wood. The construction of crates also makes them more heavy duty, as they are often reinforced with steel clips, large screws, or double-thick bases to ensure long-term use.
 
Many shipping companies prefer crates because they are cost effective and relatively easy to assemble when compared to options made from other materials like plastic or steel. Check out our guide to crate shipping for more information.
 

How to Ship By Freight: A Step By Step Guide

 

Step 1 - Arrange for Pickup

Before your freight can be shipped either domestically or internationally, you’ll need to arrange for it to be hauled to the warehouse or sea port from which it will depart — a process that is typically managed by a “freight forwarder”. This is an essential part of how to ship something freight, so you’ll want to ensure you have a clear plan in place. 
 
Not all freight forwarders accept all orders, so you’ll want to confirm that your chosen service provider:
 
● Accepts the type of item you will be shipping
● Travels to your desired destination 
● Is capable of managing any unique logistical requirements:
● Coordinates cross border shipments with your customs broker
● Provides access to liftgate for pick up or delivery if a loading dock is unavailable
● Provides competitive freight pricing per pallet or crate
 

Step 2 - Document Processing and Staging for Line Haul

After your shipment has arrived at your freight forwarding warehouse, the freight forwarder will place it in a staging facility, inspect it, document and upload any shipping instructions, verify compliance, and prepare the shipment to clear customs (if traveling cross border) and plan to book it on one of their departures (line haul).
 
Only after this process is complete will your items be approved for departure.
 

Step 3 - Customs

If you are shipping an order internationally, the shipment will need to clear customs before it can begin its journey to its ultimate destination. This is a critical step anyone looking to ship by freight needs to be aware of. 
 
There are many “red flags” customs will look for when inspecting your shipment for clearance, including (but not limited to):
 
● Whether or not the goods or commodities make sense for your industry or line of business
● Whether or not your shipment contains Prohibited and Restricted Items such as biological specimens, drug paraphernalia, or firearms
● Missing documentation (US customs invoice, inward cargo manifest, commercial invoice, bill of lading, packing list, etc/)
 

Step 4 - Destination Handling

Knowing how to ship freight isn’t just about getting your order onto a semi trailer, container ship, or cargo plane — it’s also about ensuring your shipment can be properly received when it arrives at its destination.
 
You need to ensure you work with a customs broker who understands the rules and regulations of the country you’re sending your shipment to, as they can vary significantly from place to place. They will also ensure all necessary paperwork has been properly completed and included.
 

Step 5 - Final Delivery

Last but not least, when your shipment arrives at its final destination, it will need to be transported from the carrier's warehouse facility to the recipient for which it is intended. Your freight forwarder will likely assist you in arranging these details, accessorial charges may apply to the order for things like "driver assistance at delivery" or "Liftgate at delivery", so it’s always best to confirm details in advance.
 

How to Calculate Pallet Rates for Shipping

If you are planning to ship via freight, you will want to calculate the cost of the pallets you plan to transport. This will allow you to more accurately estimate your shipping expense and prevent you from encountering additional fines or fees for incorrect classification.
 

Here is our step-by-step shipping guide for getting the most accurate pallet rates:

 
1. Measure the length, width, height of your pallet or crate.
2. Weigh your item (or give your best estimate if you do not have access to a scale) 
3. Determine if the origin location and destination location have any special requirements. If they do not have dock level loading you will need to request a liftgate.
4. Send this information to your shipping company, you may have access to their online rating system, be as detailed as you can with zip and postal codes.
 
It’s important to remember, however, that the result you receive can change depending on a few factors, including (but not limited to):
 
● Your chosen shipping method (air, rail, sea, road, etc.)
● How fragile your shipment is (or if you require special handling)
● If your shipment has unusual dimensions that will make it difficult to stow
● If your shipment needs to be transported in a temperature-controlled environment
● How far your shipment needs to travel
● The minimum and maximum weights and dimensions per pallet of your chosen carrier
 
Check out our guide on how to get the best freight rates for more information.
 

Work with the Transportation Experts

Do you have questions about how to freight ship something? 
 
Our team of friendly and highly professional representatives are happy to provide you with the information you need. With nearly 40 years of experience in the transportation services industry, CSA Transportation can help you move forward with the best possible solution for your needs. Whether you need domestic transportation or require USA-to-Canada shipping, get in touch with CSA Transportation. Ask us how to ship freight today!

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