Choosing the right shipping method is crucial for establishing an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective supply chain for your business. For many companies, flatbed shipping is the way to go. Flatbed shipping is an efficient way to move large loads and oversized cargo from your warehouse to its destination.
However, as with any shipping process, there are a few best practices you need to follow to make flatbed shipping successful. Get the most out of your supply chain when you keep an eye out for these common flatbed shipping mistakes to avoid.
Labeling Addresses Incorrectly
Proper labeling plays a significant role in the success of your shipping processes. As such, it’s important to double-check even the smallest details. Providing the wrong address might seem like an obvious mistake to avoid, but it’s still important to emphasize.
Even minor typos and other small errors can create huge consequences for your shipping process. Without the right address, your freight won’t reach its proper destination in a timely manner. An incorrect shipping address also greatly increases the risk of your cargo getting lost somewhere in the supply chain. Furthermore, shipping addresses—or, more accurately, the distance that you’re shipping cargo—affects the cost of your freight. Putting down the wrong address can lead to higher shipping costs, which creates unnecessary expenses for your business.
Providing Inaccurate Cargo Details
In addition to filling out addresses correctly, you need to make sure you weigh and classify your cargo accurately. Providing accurate information about your cargo’s freight class helps carriers make sure they’re prepared to handle the specific products you give them. Cargo weight listings are also crucial for carriers who need to adhere to specific weight capacities for their trucks as well as the roads and bridges they’ll be driving on.
Cargo details influence shipping price, so ensure you get these details right. Overestimating your freight weight or listing the wrong cargo class can lead to higher quotes that waste money. At the same time, lowballing your cargo weight to save a few dollars will earn you fines from carriers, meaning greater expenses in the long run.
Making Mistakes on the Bill of Lading
A shipment’s bill of lading (BOL) acts as both a receipt and a legally binding document. The BOL contains all the information carriers and drivers need to handle and process freight properly. This information includes:
- The carrier’s name
- Names and addresses of the receivers
- The shipment date
- Tracking numbers
- A thorough, itemized list of the cargo
- Number of packages in the freight
- Type of packaging
- The declared value of cargo
- Cargo weight, volume, and freight class
- Specific handling requirements, if applicable
- Origin and destination of the cargo
There’s a lot of information to keep straight on the BOL, so it’s important to double-check the document before sending the freight out the door. A detailed and accurate BOL can help settle disputes between parties and prevent major issues that can lead to costly lawsuits.
Foregoing Freight Insurance
It can be tempting to skip the freight insurance to save money, especially if your shipping method includes basic coverage with the cost of a full truckload. However, that basic insurance only covers your freight if the shipping company causes cargo damage or loss.
Investing in freight insurance protects your business if your cargo is lost or damaged due to the carrier’s actions, your employees’ mistakes, or natural disasters or other unforeseeable events. Even the best shipping processes make mistakes sometimes, but insurance can help cover the cost of damage whenever you lose cargo.
Ignoring Transportation Regulations
Industry and government regulations exist for a reason. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a strict set of standards to keep drivers of flatbeds and other commercial shipping vehicles safe and responsible. These regulations affect individual drivers and whole shipping companies alike. Failure to meet standards set by the Department of Transportation—or other regulations set by local governments or specific industries—can lead to steep fines, driver suspensions, and other consequences that can seriously disrupt your business. Make sure you and anyone involved in your shipping process follow transportation regulations to maintain a safe, responsible, and compliant supply chain.
Choosing the Wrong Shipping Partner
It’s always important to choose your business partners carefully. If you work with third-party carriers or other outsourced logistics companies, you need to make sure you choose a partner that handles your freight responsibly. Look for a carrier that has the knowledge, experience, and resources to navigate the specific challenges and regulations of your location and industry. You should also prioritize values like transparency, honesty, and clear communication throughout all business dealings. Furthermore, look for someone who matches your company’s values. For example, if you want to prioritize sustainability in your supply chain, be sure to choose a shipping partner that emphasizes environmentally friendly practices.
Palletizing your products creates sturdier, uniform pallet loads that are easier to handle during every stage of the supply chain. Opting out of using pallets can disrupt shipments and lead to massive headaches for carriers; most less-than-truckload carriers won’t accept shipments at all unless they’re properly palletized.
Don’t think you’re wasting your money on this extra shipping step. Palletizing your products benefits you as much as it benefits carriers and customers. By consolidating products into larger loads, you minimize product handling and greatly reduce the risk of damage and product loss. Moreover, palletizing makes it easier to load and unload flatbeds, which means carriers can get in and out of facilities faster than they would without pallet loads.
Cutting Corners With Packaging
A poor packaging process is one of the biggest flatbed shipping mistakes to avoid. In addition to establishing a reliable palletizing process, you want to make sure your case packing, stretch wrapping, and other packaging procedures are up to par. Efficient and dependable packaging processes create stable product loads that protect your cargo throughout storage and transportation. Plus, automatic packaging equipment helps optimize your packaging line to be more efficient and consistent, which prevents delays and accidents throughout your supply chain.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your flatbed shipping processes, let Robopac USA help. Work with our team to find the best automatic pallet wrapper and other necessary machines for your packaging line. With our advanced equipment and expert advice, you can optimize your packaging processes and set your supply chain up for success.