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April 19, 2023
Tips for shippers to prepare their loads for smooth pickup and delivery
At some point in your youth, you likely learned that you should “work smarter not harder.” That adage holds true in the shipping world, especially when it comes to preparing your loads for pickup. It may seem like a small task, but smart prepping matters because it can improve safety, efficiency, and avoid needless costs.

Here are the top tips from our operations experts at Amazon Freight when it comes to loading 53-foot dry van trailers.

Thinking like a grocery bagger
You know when you get home from the grocery store and it’s so much faster to unload your bags when you have all your frozen, refrigerated, and dry goods separated? The same can be said for freight.

Commingled items can cause issues at the receiving docks. That’s because pallets and boxes with a mix of products can create delays when the dock workers have to dig around the trailer and sort through a variety of products. There’s also the risk of damaging goods if heavy ones are packed amongst or on top of lighter, more fragile ones.

There are a few things you can do to mitigate this. First, you should plan ahead. This simple advice can give you the foresight to consolidate your pallets to include just one type of product. If you’re not using pallets, make sure boxes of the same products are grouped together in the trailer.

Don’t underestimate how beneficial pallets are in this stage of your shipping journey. With the aid of forklifts, pallet-loading is much faster compared to filling the trailer by hand with individual boxes which is known as “floor-loading.” In some instances, pallet-loading (and unloading) can take as little as 30 minutes compared to the 4-6 hours typically seen with floor-loading.

Avoid trailer surprises
A trailer with unknown items can lead to delays and additional labor costs if products need specialized handling. It can also create safety hazards for personnel if some goods are too heavy, oversized, or packed poorly.

What can you do? First, be absolutely clear with what is in the trailer. That means thorough and complete purchase orders (POs). You need to ensure you have the right POs and all the POs for every package onboard.

“We love freight but we don’t love trailer surprises,” says Jordan Moskovitz, a Manager of Continuous Improvement for Amazon Freight operations. “What we’re looking to have before we open up the doors is 100% manifest accuracy.”

In other words, everything on the trailer is properly accounted for before it starts its journey. As tempting as it might be to toss in a few more boxes before the trailer doors close, their lack of POs can cause delays down the road.

A clear, well-placed label is an important companion to a PO. Receiving dock workers need to be able to quickly scan and know what’s in a box or on a pallet. Place your labels outside the stretch wrap, and make sure they are not over a seam or near the corners of a carton as they may become illegible while in transit.

Finally, get a plan B for unique items. Bulky and hard-to-handle goods such as kayaks and dishwashers can essentially clog the flow of goods at the receiving dock. If items such as these are in your trailer, communicate up front with your freight provider beforehand.

Getting your product from A to B is a journey that requires a smart first step. Following these tips will help you get you on your way. If you’re interested in working with Amazon Freight to move your loads safely and smoothly, get started by creating an account and start getting quotes.
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