OT-need advice on LTL shopping and damage prevention
We manufacture and ship door sized wood products, in a flat crate. We use 3/4" pine sides and a 1/2" OSB top and bottom, with 4x4 skids at each corner. Usually they get to destination OK. But we also get damage, it normally occurs when a FL driver pushes the crate, and either sticks a fork through the pine , splitting it, or sticks a fork between the bottom and the sides, separating the OSB from the pine sides. Crates weigh from 150 to 500 pounds, normally.
The contents are medium value, say $1000- $6000 per crate. Sometimes we use a heavier crate for larger shipments. We ship from once a month to twice a week, so we are a low volume shipper.
We are using Fed--Ex freight ,mostly, or Ceva, depending on who is less expensive.
Two questions- how can we protect our shipments better? Pallatize them? Ship on edge or upright? etc.
how can we save money on shipping, without going to some brokerage firm where the freight changes trucks 20 times? (one thing we like about using one company from start to finish is it keeps the responsibility for damage with one firm.
I look forward to you recommendations-re-manufacturing damaged product today sparked this query!
Lift truck jockeys just love solid looking crates to use as push poles. Your crate may not be all that solid, but it's easier to push on than a pallet load of cardboard boxes.
I've never had to crate anything quite as flat as what you describe, but one thing I've learned is solid wood splits, whereas plywood doesn't. I normally use up my scraps by building a double or even triple layer eight or ten inches high just above the fork slots. That way, if the guy misses, or wants to push, he has something to put the forks against that won't split. Likewise, I run the sides, and any reinforcement, down past the bottom sheet, so the forks can't get between the sides and bottom. I have a show display crate built like this that has made about twenty trips with no damage.
Based on what I just said above, I'd buy a sheet of 5/8" or 3/4" CDX plywood, yellow pine, if it is available. This is tough, nasty, miserable stuff, just the thing to deal with those nasty forks. I'd cut strips as wide as your crate sides PLUS the thickness of the top and bottom sheets, and nail or screw a wrapper around the perimeter. This should both keep the forks from splitting the sides of the crate, and keep then from wedging between the top or bottom and the sides.
Place I worked for had a nice display model made in Al/steel and such pretty much a cut away of the real product, big pretty solid shipping case for it with foam and all to fit all the bits nice and tight. Last trip it came back looking like a nuke went off in there, broken pieces, wrecked model inside what was left of the box, maybe they unloaded the airplane at 30,000ft...
Moral, there's no fix for dealing with some idiots in shipping/warehouses, the only thing is good insurance. If you use stronger material, more screws, strap it all together, shrink wrap on top, and instead of sticking a fork through it they'll drop it right off the dock, it should reduce the frequency of damage a bit, but it will inevitably happen, even if you use 1" steel plate all welded together, they'll find a way.
Thanks- I will implement the plywood solution and see if it helps.
SND- yes, they can be animals with the fork trucks- I wish there was some way to educate the drivers that when they damage product, in the end, everybody loses. the manufaturer, the client, the insurance co, the freight company, and in the end, their wages.
Do you get the crates back, or are they gone for good when the shipment goes out? If they come back, a 1/4-inch-thick aluminum panel between layers of wood will make it pretty fork proof.
Glad to be of some help. Let us know in a couple of months if it really made any difference.
Originally Posted by stoneaxe
I'm really surprised you weren't complaining about damage from having other freight "top loaded" on top of yours... the proverbial shipment of anvils. I can only assume that the product you are shipping is strong enough in that direction that it hasn't been a major problem, although I did note you did ask about shipping on edge. The problem with that is everybody is going to figure they are less likely to damage it if they lay it down, and when they flip it, whatever it lands on will likely poke a hole in it. You can't win.
Unlike the people here who want to discuss the problems they had shipping their prized machinery find... only to have it destroyed in transit, shipping a steady stream of product becomes a matter of playing the numbers. There will be occasional damage, no matter what you do. So, you have to weigh the cost of whatever measures you take against the effect they have on your damage losses. If putting a wrap of plywood around your existing crate adds $30, but reduces your losses by 10%, maybe it's worth it. Foaming it in place in a box within larger crate may reduce the losses even more, but if it adds $500 per shipment, between the additional time, material, foam equipment, and increased in shipping weight, then it may not be worth it. The only way to know is to track the true cost of the damages.
Last edited by Modelman; 06-27-2012 at 11:13 PM.
You might also ask this question of your Fedex rep.
The plywood bumpers are a great idea.
Last edited by henrya; 06-27-2012 at 09:18 PM.
I've learned the hard way to never leave the top of a box flat. I'll either make the top at an angle, or screw a piece of 4 x 4 to the top from the inside. I received a transformer where the shipper stretch wrapped a 4" long piece of 8" heavy cardboard tube to the top of the box.
Originally Posted by Modelman
Originally Posted by gbent
so far they have not punched a hole through the top- We do put stickers on-"Do not stack"-don't know if it helps or not.
The balance between crating cost paid with every crate, and the damage, paid one out of 100 shipments is a conundrum, as the shipments vary in value. If we were making widgets I would toss them in a cardboard box!