How to Correctly Label Freight for LTL Movement

Correctly Label Freight

Ask any LTL carrier about the leading cause of freight delay, and I bet their first response is "poor labeling".

Whether it’s inaccurate information on a bill of lading, damaged labels or a pallet that arrives at a depot without a label, the majority of shipping delays are simply due to improper labeling procedures. Shipping delays not only make recipients unhappy, but they can also cause shippers to incur additional charges. So it is in every shipping company's interest to pay very close attention to this often overlooked problem.

And the reason this is such a big deal, and a rampant problem in the shipping industry is because it is so easy to miss. One number, one misspelled name, or unreadable labels can turn a quick delivery into an absolute nightmare.

While there are several articles online about proper packaging, tips on how to correctly label freight for an LTL movement are sparse. So, listed below are three easy steps that any shipper can take to prevent common labeling problems.


In Order to Correctly Label Freight, You Need the Right Materials

We know that it’s tempting to skimp on the materials used for packing and shipping. After all, packaging makes up for most of your operation. Cutting it in half save tons of money. But this is an area in which you cannot afford to be frugal. When you cut corners on packaging materials, you put your goods at risk of damage and delays. Both of which cost even more money to rectify!

A leading source of freight damage is packing larger or heavy items with inferior, cheap, or used supplies. With that being said, it’s important to use durable materials, as this will reduce the potential of labels being ripped or falling off, likely leading to delivery issues.

Specifically, here are three items you should always pay attention to when securing materials for packing your LTL shipments:


Never Use a Damaged Pallet or Skid

There is no denying the fact that pallets and skids are a major shipping expense for most companies. However, when that pallet or skid becomes damaged, it’s important to recycle it and replace it with a new one. The integrity of the skid or pallet provides the baseline of integrity for all freight to be stacked upon. If the pallet has broken boards, it can cause the freight to shift weight, leading to collapse or falling off the pallet.

Invest in High-Quality Shrink Wrap – But Use it Correctly

While starting with a strong pallet provides the solid base, using the right shrink wrap or securing materials provides structural integrity. It’s assumed that all shrink wraps are the same, but the truth is that some are simply better than others. We started this blog post by mentioning how you can't cut corners, right? Well, this is another one of those areas where you don't want to cut corners. Spend a few extra cents on the better shrink wrap and save yourself hundreds on a potentially undeliverable package later.

However, while it’s important to use the right materials, if you’re not using them correctly, it’s a waste of resources and money.

Be Aware of Label Materials – Invest in Industrial Printers and Labels

The big three of proper packing supplies ends with the use of industrial-strength printing labels. Without this, you will find it a bit difficult to correctly label freight. These thermal labels are printed via industrial printers and are typically used for express parcel shipments like Fed Ex Express, UPS or USPS shipments. These incredibly durable labels are heat resistant, meaning the backing will not ‘melt’ while being stored in hotter temperatures (which is important especially during summer).

They also adhere quite well to shrink wrap! The shrink wrap reduces the potential of falling off or being brushed off through contact. It is a deceptively beneficial layer of defense to consider. (Yes, we know, we already mentioned this stuff. But seriously, in most packaging processes it is used like it is going out of style. Why not use it with the intent of protecting your labels?)


Use the Right Label Application Methods

It’s estimated that the average single LTL pallet moving more than 1,000 miles exchanges truck containers a minimum of 4 times. LTL shipments use depots or terminals to make this swap of freight from one route to another. Each time the freight is off-loaded and loaded to a new container, the potential of weight shifting, or freight damage is increased. But, so is the potential for the label falling off or becoming damaged.

When placing labels on your freight, you do so in a way that will prevent the labels from being rubbed, peeled, or scratched. This is not always the easiest thing to achieve and it may take a little practice. But luckily for you, we have a couple of tips that might help...

Never Place a Label on Top of a Pallet

LTL shipments typically stack freight on pallets to maximize space. This means if the package is heavy, it’s likely that something lightweight will be placed on top. If you apply a label to the top of a pallet, it will typically become damaged.

Always Place Multiple Labels on the Sides

Labels are cheap – especially if it means removing the potential for a double-digit missed delivery charge. So, why not apply a few labels on the sides of each pallet. Here is a good tip, apply (1) label on the front, and (1) on the left or right side. This way, no matter how the pallet is stacked, it won’t rub constantly on just the single label applied to it.


Work with a 3PL to Find Reliable LTL Carriers

Learning how to correctly label freight is absolutely crucial to shipping anything, really. And while the steps in this blog post are sound, you also need the right partners to help you. Working with dependable carriers from the very beginning is always the wisest idea.

A professional 3PL like Redwood Logistics maintains a solid relationship with a network of dependable LTL carriers who have reduced freight damage claims and stellar delivery rates. If you’re a shipper who depends on safe and on-time delivery of LTL freight, contact Redwood Logistics today.

(Oh, and we have plenty of shrink wrap for your labels!)