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A pallet being moved in a warehouse
November 18, 2022
Smart freight packing: how you can benefit from better load quality
When the trailer door closes, you want to make sure your load gets to where it’s going on time and safely. Whether it’s just a short trip across a small region or traversing coast-to-coast, your shipment will inevitably experience the bumps of the road.

To help smooth out those bumps, the process starts the moment you begin packaging your load. Smart packing is key to nearly every part of its journey.

Why pack smarter?
First, and most importantly, smart packing is about safety. Simply put, a well packaged load leaves less room for risks to anyone moving or unloading it. The last thing you want is for a pallet to tip when it’s being lifted or an avalanche of packages to flow out when the trailer door is opened at its destination.

Well prepared goods are also better protected from the normal jostling of the transportation process and help prevent quality defects. That means, yes, a pallet of socket wrenches needs to be packed up accordingly, but it also means your pallet of Ping-Pong balls need a defter touch (judicious use of fillers like packing peanuts is key).

And then there’s ensuring your load gets to where it’s going on time. Adhering to packaging best practices will make for smoother pickups, less questions from the driver, and faster drop-offs. You don’t need anyone to have to repackage your load halfway through transit, adding time to your delivery.

To help you on your way, our packing experts at Amazon have a few tips. These are many of the same practices we follow at Amazon to move packages across the world. No load is the same, but these are some general guidelines to follow when using pallets for a typical shipment in a 53’ dry van.

1. Organize smartly
Just like when you’re getting ready to travel, take stock of what you’re bringing and how you want to optimize the space you have. Start by getting your packing materials ready: use only fresh, crisp boxes and your pallets should not be broken or sagging.

When preparing the pallet, proper balancing is key. Your heaviest items should be placed at the bottom to ensure a lower center of gravity and that they won’t crush lighter items. If you have them, you’ll also want to place any liquids on the lowest levels. If one of those containers breaks, you don’t want it trickling down and damaging your other items.

Safety and ease of eventual loading come into play here as well. Don’t allow any items on the pallet to protrude over the edges, which can be a tripping hazard. This also helps when it comes time to organizing the pallets in the trailer so they all fit squarely. You want to avoid having too much negative space (the space between packages) in the trailer which can lead to cargo falling over.

2. Stretch-wrap efficiently and avoid waste
The magnificent invention that is stretch-wrap is designed to be easy to use. But its prevalence has also made it ripe for misuse and overuse. With too much, you can make it cumbersome to unpack, and with too little, it serves no purpose.

The first step is to secure the load itself. Start at the bottom and then work your way to the top, being prudent in your use of the wrap.

This fortifies it together, but you also need to make sure it’s connected to your pallet. Cross the wrap over the top to secure it from above then get down low and loop it under the pallet so it’s snuggly attached. This might involve getting on your hands and knees, but it goes a long way towards securing everything and not wasting wrap.

3. Label it with precision
Too often the important information needed to direct loads properly becomes illegible or hidden in transit. Typically, this can result in delays as someone then has to decipher the label or unpack it so they can read it. Even worse, the load never arrives or is shipped elsewhere.

That’s why you have to be smart about how you label everything. Make sure those labels are clearly visible. We recommend applying them to the upper left corner of the front-loaded side of the pallet. If that spot isn’t available, make sure it is on a flat surface near the top of the pallet. Avoid placing your label around corners or curves because this makes it difficult to scan. While you’re at it, for items that need to remain upright in transit, keep those manufacturer arrows on your boxes pointed up.

Going back to tip number two above, it’s all a reminder of the importance of clear stretch-wrap. As flashy looking as colored wrap can be, it’s more important to be able to see what’s behind it.

This is also a good time to double check your paperwork. Depending on your load, this can mean confirming your reference numbers and destination. For all loads, make sure you have your bill of lading correct and ready.

Getting your packages prepared is just one of the many responsibilities you have as a shipper. Doing it the optimal way just takes more time and diligence, but it helps ensure a smoother delivery. No packing process is perfect, but following these tips will help your loads get to their destinations on time and safely.
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