How to prepare LTL shipments.

Focus on the areas that play a key role in packaging and preparation.

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Preparing your LTL shipment.

If a shipment isn’t prepared properly, delays, damaged freight, costly fees and other issues may arise. Focusing on the areas that play a key role in packaging and preparation will set you up for a successful overall LTL shipping process.


Accurate dimensions.

The entire LTL shipment preparation process begins with dimensions. Taking accurate measurements of the length, width and height of your freight results in more precise freight quotes and can help prevent overspending. 

Accurate dimensions are also helpful to carriers, as these numbers determine how much freight can fit in a trailer. Ensuring you have the right dimensions will help to avoid adjustments, optimize the shipping process and build better relationships with carriers.


Proper documentation.

The most important piece of documentation in the LTL shipping process is the bill of lading (BOL). The BOL should be completed and in the carrier’s hands at the time of pickup. 

View the BOL as your receipt for the shipment. It will be needed in later steps when drivers and carriers need to process the shipment. 


Packaging and labeling efficiently.

Packaging and labeling shipments correctly and efficiently is key to LTL. While the type of packaging depends on the shipment itself, crating and palletizing are the two primary options.

Crates have four walls and a floor, which makes them best for holding smaller goods that need to be safely secured. Alternatively, pallets have flat bottom decks that allow them to be stacked on top of each other. Pallets are also easy to store in the interim. There may be cases where you use both, as crates can be stored on pallets and then stacked for ultimate efficiency.

Crates and pallets are not only useful for maximizing capacity, they’re helpful in preventing damage or loss to the shipment. Heavier items should be placed at the bottom of the pallets or crates, and lighter items should go on top. From there, each handling unit should have a label on top as well as the bill of lading. Once you have properly packaged and labeled your shipment, you are ready to load.



When it comes to shipping, each of these steps needs to be properly executed in order to load. Missing a step can lead to delays or other issues later on, negating the cost-effective and efficient nature of LTL shipping. Taking the time to properly prepare your shipment will make things run more smoothly for you, the carrier and the driver.


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Q: What are best practices for measuring freight?

A: It’s advised that LTL shippers round up to the next inch to give you and carriers some leeway when the time comes to load. This also prevents costly readjustments down the road if the dimensions were previously miscalculated. 
Q: What information is needed on the bill of lading (BOL)?

A:  Shippers must provide their name, the recipient’s information, date of the shipment, number of units being shipped, type of packaging being used, a description of the goods being shipped, freight class, dimensions and value. More information may be needed depending on the shipment. 

Q: Why should goods be crated or palletized?

A: Crating or palletizing your freight will prevent bumps and drops, which can cause serious damage. If there are special requirements for the shipment, make sure the crate or pallet is labeled with specific labels such as “Do Not Stack,” “Fragile,” “This side up” and “Handle with Care.”

Q: What should I do if I have a uniquely shaped shipment?

A: If your freight is oddly shaped and unable to be crated or palletized, there are other options to look into. Wrap freight or use foam fillers to ensure your shipment will be safe and secure throughout the journey from point A to point B. 

Q: How long is the loading time for LTL shipments?

A: The loading window for LTL shipments is much smaller than a regular truckload. Having everything prepared is crucial, as LTL shipments are expected to be ready upon arrival. If you miss your loading window, the carrier will likely have to come back the next day and you may be billed a second attempt fee.


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