Shipping goods to your customer is the last link in the chain of producing quality goods and providing great service. But some shipments can be at more risk than others on this last leg. This is often the case when items must be sent by flatbed truck. Because of its unique, open transport method, flatbed trucking is beneficial for large and bulky goods, but it also carries its own risks.
Here are a few ways that you, the shipper, can reduce those risks.
1. Choose an Experienced Partner
Your best ally when shipping unusual loads is a high-quality and experienced logistics provider. This is particularly important if the shipment has to go through multiple states or even across a border. A provider who works with the best owner-operators uses their skills and experience to protect cargo the right way. They will know which routes to avoid — especially during certain seasons — and what permits will be needed.
If possible, use one logistics service that will control the load from beginning to end. This way, you work with one company and can stay in communication in case there are any delays or changes in the transportation route and timetable.
2. Provide Load Details
The more you understand the specifics of your load and communicate them to your transporter, the better they can create the right environment. For instance, if a load is even a little unbalanced and shifts slightly during the trip, it can easily end up in danger. Heavy road vibration and centrifugal force that causes small shifts puts unplanned pressure on the load and may even damage loads around it.
You can help the driver avoid accidental damage by providing details about the height, width, weight, fragility, and special requirements of your items. The driver can then make determinations such as location of the items on the flatbed, how the items will be loaded and secured, and what protective material to put around them. The goal is that the driver has no surprises when they arrive to load your goods.
3. Pack Goods Securely
Every shipper should pack their cargo well before handing it off to the trucking company. But take extra caution with things that will not be transported inside the safety of a trailer. For instance, you may need to include extra insulation material around sensitive objects that will be exposed to all the elements — including extreme heat and harsh winters — or expensive parts and inventory.
Depending on the size and nature of your shipment, you may also need to ensure that the right size pallets are used, that items are strapped properly to the pallet, and that sufficient industrial-strength plastic wrap keeps it all in place.
4. Insure Your Cargo Properly
Most efforts to minimize damage to your cargo involve being proactive about avoiding damage entirely. But no one can prevent every possible scenario that might occur once the flatbed truck is on the road. This means that the right insurance should be part of your mitigation plan.
Start by discussing the type and amounts of liability insurance provided by the carriers. Liability insurance covers many situations, but it may be limited to situations in which the carrier is shown to be at fault. You may want to expand this coverage with cargo insurance that will kick in no matter who may have (or have not) been liable for the damage.
As you prepare your shipments for their trip on a flatbed carrier, you will be doing your part to make sure everything goes smoothly. Want to learn more about the unique challenges of flatbed shipping? Call the transportation experts at Tri Star Freight System, Inc., today.