Common pallet shipping mistakes and how to avoid them.

Loading pallet forklift

If you’re shipping freight, chances are it will require palletization. Shippers use pallets for varying reasons but primarily because they keep freight together and safe in transit. Unfortunately, both novice and expert shippers can make costly mistakes when it comes to preparing their pallet shipment.


What is pallet shipping?

Pallet shipping, sometimes referred to as “skid shipping,” is a form of freight packaging with the main goal of keeping a shipment secured. Pallets are flat surfaces and act as a foundation for freight to rest on. They are loaded and unloaded using a forklift and are a highly economical way of transporting goods from one place to another. Before you ship your freight, it’s important that you understand common mistakes to avoid. 


Choosing the wrong pallet for your freight.

Choosing the wrong pallet for your shipment can be detrimental to the security of your freight. Avoid any pallet that’s made of a slick material like egg carton as your freight is more likely to move around. You want to select a pallet that’s made of sturdy wood and can withstand the weight of the freight that will be stacked on top of it.

Loading freight onto a pallet that’s the wrong size is also a mistake. Most shippers choose a standard pallet which is 48” X 40” and can hold up to 4,600 lbs. A pallet should also allow easy four-way entry forklift access on all sides to assist with loading and unloading.


Getting loose with securing the shipment.

While the right kind of pallet is important to the safety of the freight, how you package it can make a world of difference as well. Avoid making the following mistakes when preparing your shipment on pallets:

Top-heavy freight: One of the biggest mistakes shippers can make in the initial packaging is placing heavier items on top of the pallet and lighter items on the bottom. This causes your freight to be top heavy and is more prone to falling over. Instead, place heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on the top of your package.

Improper shrink wrapping: Shrink wrapping is a great way to secure your shipment. However, if it’s done the wrong way, it could jeopardize the security of your freight. Depending on your shipment, you’ll want to wrap your freight five full times from top to bottom to ensure that the shipment and pallet feel like one unit. Once the pallet has been wrapped, stick labels onto the shrink wrap to indicate if the shipment might be fragile or that nothing should be loaded on top of the pallet.

Not strapping your pallet correctly: Many shippers use straps to secure the shipment to the pallet as an added precaution. The correct way to strap your pallet is to wrap the straps all the way around the pallet and through the forks. An important last step to remember is to ratchet the straps in place for the most secure fit.

Loose banding: Loose bands won’t be particularly helpful for keeping freight secured. Our packaging experts recommend that shippers use metal bands as opposed to plastic ones because they’re sturdier and more likely to hold freight in place as it travels.

Not utilizing crush cones: If people aren’t aware of the proper care for your freight, they’ll likely not handle it properly. A crush cone is a triangular warning sign that can be placed on top of your shipment warning others not to stack anything on top.


Forgetting proper documentation.

Once your freight is ready to be picked up, the carrier will need a Bill of Lading (BOL) before they can move it. If you don’t have this piece of documentation, your freight isn’t going anywhere. The BOL acts as a receipt for the goods being shipped. It contains information about who the sender is, who the recipient is, the date of shipment, number of units being shipped and more. The BOL should be securely attached to the packaged freight.


Final thoughts.

Pallet shipping is one of the most cost-effective ways to get freight from point A to point B. Improperly packaging your pallets can lead to damaged goods, slower loading and unloading times and lost space inside the carrier’s trailer, causing your costs to rise. At Freightquote by C.H. Robinson, we work with all kinds of shippers to make sure their pallets are packaged and shipped the right way. Rely on a trusted freight service provider to keep your shipments secured.


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Additional pallet resources:

How to properly prepare goods for LTL shipping 
3 best practices for LTL shipping
6 LTL shipping mistakes you could be making 


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