February 2015 | Commentary | Viewpoint

Seven Common Shipping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Tags: Supply Chain Management, Logistics

Erez Schanin is Vice President of Operations, G-Force Shipping, 877-743-6723

Moving cargo is part of daily operations for a wide array of industry sectors worldwide, and processes to maximize time and cost-efficiency can be surprisingly detail-oriented.

When moving freight is an every day operation, proper execution is a must. It can be easy to overlook the following mistakes, resulting in unwanted and unnecessary organizational spends and headaches.

  1. Improper packaging. Improperly packaged freight results in a higher probability of shipment damage. Carriers have begun declining many damage claims due to improper packaging. Eliminate unnecessary costs and limit liability by taking time to consult with a packaging professional.
  2. Inaccurate shipment weight. Some organizations may not have the proper equipment to weigh cargo, which leads to estimated weights. Carriers have certified scales at their terminals, and will re-weigh shipments and tack on a fee to the bill if the original estimate is inaccurate. Re-weighing fees add up quickly, so purchasing a proper scale from the start saves money.
  3. Inaccurate freight class. Businesses often search for ways to ship freight at the lowest class possible, because lower classes cost less. Carriers will most likely catch incorrect class designations, resulting in a re-classification fee. Freight class is a large factor in how carriers determine their charges, so they spend a lot of time and effort on re-classing freight to ensure they are getting paid correctly.
  4. Shipment services. Shippers must understand the consignee's capability to receive freight. For example, if the consignee doesn't have a lift gate when the cargo requires one, the shipment could be brought back to the carrier's terminal. The carrier will provide a lift gate and add a redelivery charge to the invoice. Knowing where your freight is going, and assigning the proper services to your shipment in advance, are important factors in maximizing effectiveness and efficiency.
  5. Relying on a single carrier for all shipments. Some shippers rely on one carrier for all their transportation needs. While it is reasonable to form trusting relationships, relying on one carrier alone to handle all your shipping can cost you big time. If the carrier experiences a strike or downsizes its facilities, you can find yourself with a lot of freight piling up and nobody to move it. It is a wise business practice to have contacts with several carriers in order to enjoy competitive rates and flexible operations.
  6. Delivery receipt. Consignees should inspect all freight they receive, and note any abnormalities before signing the delivery receipt. If damage is omitted on the delivery receipt, it will be difficult to recover any costs with a damage claim. Shippers and carriers can point to a clean delivery receipt ,and claim any damage must have taken place after delivery. When in doubt, make a note that there are possible damages pending inspection.
  7. Incorrect address. This remains one of the most common shipping mistakes. If shippers don't take time to check the destination address on the bill of lading, freight could wind up where it doesn't belong. Even one wrong number in the ZIP code can result in a time-consuming effort to track down a shipment.

Ask for Help

Most of these mistakes can be avoided by reaching out for help. By simply contacting the carrier or freight representative, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to an easily avoidable shipping mistake.