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How To Avoid Common FTL Shipping Errors

LTL or FTL? When it comes to shipping and logistics, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The key is to determine which option allows you to get the job done on time, at a good price. However, an overlooked factor when it comes to saving money in shipping is in avoiding errors whenever possible. While shipping full truckload (FTL) ensures that only your cargo is on the truck, avoiding mistakes is still key to keeping your shipment on time and secure. To make the most of your shipping, avoid these common FTL mistakes to keep your costs down and keep damage to a minimum.

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LTL and FTL Shipping

OTR freight shipping is the most efficient way to ship cargo domestically or across the border. OTR refers to Over The Road transport, such as the transport of goods via trucks. In this instance, many shippers can choose from LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) and FTL (Full-Truckload) shipping. LTL shipping is lower in cost, as a shipper can add their cargo onto a truck which is already transporting other smaller shipments, with the cargo sharing space with other shipments, thus the shipper will only need to pay for the space they use. This method requires multiple stops along the way and multiple hands handling or moving the shipment, while it's on its way.

FTL shipping ensures that the specific shippers cargo is the only one on the truck, and it heads straight to its destination without multiple stops to unload other cargo, making it safer and quicker usually. While both of these methods have their pros and cons, it is still very important to ship correctly and avoid a few common errors, in order to make the most of the preferred shipping method. If you choose to ship FTL, then you may want to avoid the following mistakes: 

Poor Packaging

While FTL freight provides an element of safety for the cargo, given that it doesn't have as many different hands handling the freight as LTL shipping does, there is still a need to be careful with the packaging used for the cargo. One common mistake is skimping on the packaging, which can result in damaged goods or goods moving around too much during transit. While some damages can be claimed by the shipper, they may lose their claim if the goods were not properly packaged.

Using pallets with extra padding for the goods to avoid damage is essential, but it’s also important to ensure that the pallets are sturdy and don’t have loose nails sticking out, which could damage the package or goods  Boxed goods which are being shipped via FTL need to use sturdy enough material and ensure that bubble wrap or foam peanuts are used to limit damage, whenever applicable. 

Documentation Oversight 

Arguably one of the worst mistakes you can make for a shipment is to miss a document or incorrectly complete the required paperwork for the cargo. Missing documents or incorrect information on a document can lead to fines, extra shipping costs and delays, if the freight even gets to its destination to begin with. For instance, if the wrong address is put in the shipping details then the BOL will also contain this incorrect info leading to the freight being sent to the wrong place or getting stuck at customs due to document error. If mistakes of this nature become habit, some carriers may choose not to work with the shipper due to the inconvenience. 

The classification, value of goods and the addresses or contact info has to be correct, so that the goods can clear customs and get to their intended location. You will want to use a platform which simplifies your paperwork for you, so that you can worry about your package itself. provides a streamlined method of compiling customs clearance and shipping paperwork, and simplifies communication between shippers, carriers and customs brokers. 

Wrong Freight Class or Measurements

Classification is essential in the shipping process, as it informs the carrier on the rules of handling the shipment itself, thus any errors can lead to issues in how the freight is being handled and increase risk of damage. Dimensions of a shipment contribute to determining its classification, so it’s essential to get the measurements correct.

The lower the freight class, usually, the smaller the costs are for a shipment. However, incorrect classification of a shipment can lead to delays in loading the freight and added charges from the carrier for re-classification, as the carrier has to weigh the truck and ensure that are on track with the regulations they have to adhere to.

Lack of Communication With Carrier

Your partner in the shipping process is your carrier, so you will want to have transparent and frequent communication with them. Miscommunication can lead to delays and costly penalties either at the border, or fees from the carrier for added services or delays. Lack of communication can lead to issues when it comes to pickup and delivery, as well as preferred handling of the freight, which is a risk to take with valuable cargo. 

Shippers may also change the delivery time or even destination last minute, so it will be important to communicate effectively with the carrier transporting the goods in order to avoid added fees from the carrier. The carrier also tends to call to confirm drop off, ensuring that a receiver is there for the freight at delivery.

Absence at Pickup or Delivery

Shippers need to be available and have their cargo ready for pickup at the scheduled time they have arranged with the carrier. Usually if a shipper is not ready at the designated time, then the carrier who arrives for loading is delayed and may have to wait, which is costly and straining on the carrier-shipper relationship. Issues also arise if there is lack of space for the carrier to park and unload or load the freight,  as well as if the cargo, documentation or shipper is not ready at the designated time of pickup. 

In delivery, the recipient of the freight needs to be able to be there to accept the freight and unload it, so that the carrier can complete its job. Somebody who is authorized has to be there to sign for the shipment, otherwise delays occur which can become expensive for the shipper. When shipments are delivered, it is also essential for somebody to be there to inspect the cargo for any damage or issues, and make note of them before singing the delivery receipt, in the case there is a need to collect damages if claims are filed.

Limiting The Carrier Pool

For the best shipping experience, there’s no substitute for a reliable carrier. Carriers are businesses like any other, and they may face issues within the company or their scheduling, which can lead to delays and delivery issues. Some carriers may only handle a certain type of freight, and if your business needs change, then you will need options. By keeping a few options or carriers in your notes, you can choose the one most suitable to you in the case things change with your carrier of choice. Backups can happen in transport, so it’s important not to limit your shipping options.

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How To Save Money When Shipping FTL

  • Increase Lead Time: Allowing carriers enough advance notice allows them to allocate and plan their resources more efficiently, which can lead to lower costs and a better relationship with the carrier.
  • Budget For Accessorial Charges: Ensure that you allot enough money for accessorial charges your shipment may need. Avoid document errors or disorganization, as this leads to extra charges to fix and delays your cargo. Always keep your end of the bargain and limit surprises, as a way to avoid extra charges.
  • Broaden Your Carrier Network: The more carriers you have to choose from, the better the chances of negotiating or finding a good rate. You want to ensure you connect with multiple carriers and maintain these connections, in the case of needing a carrier for your freight later on.
  • Plan Ahead: While surprises are bound to happen, planning ahead for your shipment can lead to early detection and fixing of any errors, and the time to find resources to fix any issues. In the case of natural disasters, weather issues or other delays, you want to stay prepared. It is beneficial to streamline your documentation process, and ensure that you have a backup plan in place in the case of any issues or delays.

Shipping mistakes are more common than you think. However, a lot of mistakes can lead to costly penalties or even delays, which can become an issue. Shippers often can choose to ship LTL or FTL, depending on budget and needs. However, even though FTL shipping may appear smoother due to one truck transporting just the cargo, it’s still important to ensure that you are avoiding a few common mistakes which can become costly in the long run.