Category Archives: Blog

Preparing your Freight for Ocean Shipping

When it comes to moving freight great distances or internationally, you basically have 2 choices – ocean or air.  Although both have their advantages and disadvantages, ocean freight is definitely the most cost effective of the two.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to offer you the following tips on how to prepare your freight for ocean shipping.

Pack it Securely

Although ocean freight is the most viable and most often used method of shipping internationally, as an exporter, you need to be fully aware of the demands that your goods will be subjected to.  The main problem that you need to be prepared for is freight damage and breakage.

Ocean freight is most often transported in containers.  These containers may be subjected to all types of movement as they are loaded and unloaded.  Containers may be jostled, dropped or shift unexpectedly.  Prior to loading your freight into shipping containers, be sure that all your goods are securely packed, properly stacked and on a pallet.  This should minimize any problems and your freight should show up in the same condition that it left your warehouse.

Choose the Right Materials

To ensure that your freight is not damaged, it is important that you use the right packing materials.  When it comes to packing your freight, use secure, heavy boxes and ensure that all your goods are securely packed and protected with extra material to take up any excess volume in each box.  Be sure that the weight is evenly distributed on each pallet and secure the pallet with cardboard bracing, strap and shrink wrap.

Prepare for Moisture

Another key concern when it comes to ocean shipping is moisture.  Moisture can damage freight, especially electronics, so make sure to keep your freight dry and your shipping containers moisture free.  When packing your freight in containers ensure that they do not block the built in ventilation.  This will allow warm air to escape and limit condensation and moisture in the container.

You may also want to pack your freight in desiccants. Desiccants are substances that create or help maintain a state of dryness.   Common packing desiccants include:

  • Activated charcoal.
  • Calcium sulfate and calcium chloride.

With properly packed freight, you should be able to limit any damage that may occur due to moisture.

By following these tips, your freight should be ready for its overseas journey.  If you would like more information on how to prepare your goods for ocean freight or are interested in how our services can help you with all of your shipping needs, please contact us today.  We look forward to being part of your shipping team.

Preparing Your Pallets for Shipping

Properly prepared cargo is an important first step for any successful shipment.  Stable, well packed pallets can save you money in insurance claims due to broken or damaged freight.  It also saves time as well because packed freight is easier to move and stack.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to share these tips on how to prepare your pallets for shipping.

Responsibilities  

It is important to remember that you are responsible for packing your own freight.  Moving companies are only required to move your freight from point A to point B.  If your pallets fall apart mid move, freight may be lost or damaged or it could just sit in a warehouse marked as undeliverable.  Take the time to pack your freight carefully, to avoid these types of scenarios.

Packing Boxes

A properly packed pallet starts with carefully packed boxes.  This includes:

  • Quality boxes, superior packing tape and other materials.
  • Fully packed boxes, leaving no space so products cannot be damaged or crushed during shipment. Use packing material to fill the empty areas.
  • Tape around the tops and bottoms of boxes to reinforce them and prevent them from being damaged.

Stacking Boxes

Once you have properly packed all your boxes, it is time to stack them on the pallet.  When stacking, make sure to:

  • Stack heavy boxes on the bottom of the pallet to stabilize the load and to prevent any boxes from being crushed.
  • Distribute the overall weight of the pallet evenly. It is important that there is equal weight on all sides preventing tipping or leaning.
  • Align boxes evenly to build a symmetrical pallet and to prevent any overhang that may cause damage during shipment.

Reinforce the Pallet Load

As you build the pallet, it is important to reinforce it to make it stronger and solidify the entire load.  To achieve this, you can use:

  • Flattened cardboard every couple of levels or rows to stabilize any loose boxes. This will also protect the boxes from damage.
  • Use cardboard beads or reinforced cardboard around the corners to strengthen the overall pallet load and to prevent any corner damage.

Secure the Pallet Load

Once you are satisfied with your overall pallet load and it is stable, reinforced and properly aligned, it is time to secure the load and prepare it for shipping.  It is always a good idea to wrap the pallet load with shrink wrap.  To properly shrink wrap your cargo, make sure to:

  • Wrap your freight 3-5 times for added strength.
  • Use quality shrink wrap and twist to add more strength.
  • Wrap the top part of the pallet, but make sure to leave space so that your pallet is accessible for a forklift.

These steps should ensure that your pallets are ready to ship and will arrive on time without any damaged freight.  If you would like more information on preparing your pallet for shipping or how our services can save you money on your shipping costs, please contact us today.  We look forward to working with you soon.

 

5 Ways to Lower Your Freight Costs

Chances are that shipping costs are a significant portion of your company’s expenses.  As the premier packing and crating company in the Lower Mainland, we would like to offer you the following 5 ways to lower your freight costs and save your business money.

Maximize your Loads

The more you ship, the less you will pay for each load.  Before sending your next container, make sure that it is filled and you have made the most out of the container’s space.

Choose the Right Transportation Method

Maximizing your shipping load is only part of the solution.  It is important that you choose the right transportation method as well.  Sometimes the cheapest mode may not be the most cost efficient.  Some factors to consider when determining the right method for you include:

  • The type of product you are shipping – Is it fragile? Does it have an expiration date? Is it seasonal?
  • Your product’s destination –national, local or international.
  • Will you need multiple transportation methods and transloading – air/boat/rail/truck or a combination of the three?

Consolidate your Cargo

Consolidating your cargo or making it part of a larger shipment with other companies who are shipping to a similar area may be a great way to cut shipping costs.  Even if it means that your freight is travelling in a less direct route, it may make sense from a cost benefit perspective.

Remember:

Part of the total shipping cost can also include storage fees or time in a warehouse.  It is always better to get your product to its destination sooner rather than later.

Time it Right

Try to ship your cargo to its destination at non-peak shipping times such as major holidays.  You will typically pay more for shipping costs around busier times such as Christmas or Chinese New Year.  Many carriers are at full capacity at these times and your shipments may be delayed or charged premium fees.  Plan accordingly.

Reliable Partners

Find a reliable shipping partner that you trust and has your best interests in mind.  A responsible and competent partner should be able to help you consolidate your cargo and find you the most efficient and effective transportation method for all your specific shipping needs.  The right collaborator should also be flexible and have multiple contacts regardless of what type of transportation you are using.

At Cratex Group, we understand the unique world of shipping and work on a personal level with all our clients to not only reduce shipping costs, but to provide the tools and equipment necessary to ensure their freight arrives on time and in the same condition it left the warehouses or factories.  We look forward to working with you soon.

Plastic vs. Wooden Pallets: Which One is Right for You?

Pallets move the world.  They are an integral part of the modern shipping arena and are essential for both storage and transportation.  As the premier shippers for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to offer you the following review of plastic and wooden pallets and which one is right for you.

Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets are not as prevalent as wooden pallets and are designed for certain shipping and storage needs.  Typically, plastic pallets are used for transporting food items as well as pharmaceutical goods or any other type of shipment that has strict hygienic standards.  Plastic pallets are perfect for this type of shipping because they are not porous and are easy to clean, wash and sterilize.

The main benefit of plastic pallets is that they have a significantly longer lifespan than a wooden pallet and can be reused many times without breakage.  They are sleek, light weight and splinter free, making them perfect for manual handling and stacking.  They are also durable, making them ideal for pallet wrapping.

Other advantages include:

  • A very long shelf life – can be used over 250 times with a life expectancy of over 10 years.
  • Easy to clean and will remain fungus free for its entire life.

The major drawback of a plastic pallet is that it is not biodegradable and must be melted down if it breaks.  Plastic pallets also cost 3 times what a wooden pallet does, so depending on what you ship or where you ship they may not be economical.

Some disadvantages of a plastic pallet include:

  • They are not suitable for loads over 1,500 lbs.
  • Their sleek surface makes them slippery and less stable to stack.
  • May not be economical.

Wooden Pallets

Most items are shipped on wooden pallets.  They comprise between 90-95% of all pallets used in the industry because they can be easily reused and repaired.  Wooden pallets hold more weight than plastic pallets (1,500 lbs. – 3,000 lbs.) and are fully biodegradable once they have reached the end of their lifespan.

Some of the advantages that wooden pallets enjoy include:

  • Lower costs.
  • Hold more weight.
  • Easier to stack on

Wooden pallets are more flammable and do not have the same fire rating as plastic pallets.  Make sure to check the building fire codes when deciding what type of pallet to use.

Some of the drawbacks of wooden pallets include:

  • Not ideal for fragile items such as paint.
  • Average lifespan of a wooden pallet is 5-6 trips.
  • Heavier and more cumbersome.
  • Not hygienic and can be difficult to clean. Needs to be sprayed to keep away mold and funguses.

Your decision on what pallet is right for you needs to be based on a combination of factors.  These include the product you are shipping as well as the industry that you are working in.  You should also look at your shipping budget, any shipping regulations and finally the long-term economics.

If you have any more questions about what type of pallet is right for you or how we can help with your shipping needs, please contact us today.

 

 

 

 

Shipping Heavy Haul

Heavy haul is a term that is given to oversized or wide load freight.  Heavy haul may require special permits as the load exceeds the legal limits for weight, height or width and can be more complex than regular freight.  Your heavy haul freight may require transloading partners as well as different permits and routes.  We understand the heavy haul process and would like to offer you the following tips on how to ship your heavy haul freight.

Know Your Dimensions

Before starting the heavy haul process, make sure to know the dimensions of the freight you are looking to ship.  Believe it or not, a few inches can make the difference of the cost, route or even the permits required to ship your load.

Here’s the deal:

If the proposed dimensions or weight are different than the actual dimensions and weight, your freight may be held up, as permits will have to be changed or re-applied for, all at your cost.

Plan Ahead

It is also advisable that you set out a timeline and be somewhat flexible with this timeframe.  Allow for time to secure the necessary permits and make the arrangements, especially if multiple carriers or transloading is involved.  It is also important to allow time or prepare for the unexpected.

Remember:

Construction or weather can drastically change shipment times and dates and need to be accounted for. Be patient and allow extra time for the minor inconveniences.

Seek out Professionals

Once you know the dimensions of the freight and a timeline, the next step is to find a shipping company that is reliable and can take care of all the other details such as:

  • Do you need any special machinery to load or unload? Make sure that your shipping company has cranes or forklifts and can unload and offload your freight.
  • Are there other special requirements? Requirements such as: braces, tie downs, flagging pallets or crates.
  • Can your shipping company take care of the necessary paperwork? Make sure that your carrier can handle the necessary permits and that they are included in your shipping costs.

The more factors that you and your shipping company can account for, the smoother the shipping process can be.  Preplanning can save you not only time but also money which will lead to a better bottom line for you and full customer satisfaction for your customers.

At Cratex, we understand the complexities that come with heavy haul shipping.  We provide state of the art specialized equipment that will get your freight on and off the trucks and safely to its final destination.  We will work with you to ensure that your freight is delivered effectively and efficiently as possible, regardless of its limitations.  When you are looking for a shipping partner for your heavy haul needs, remember Cratex.  We look forward to working with you soon.

How to Properly Pack your Freight for Shipping

It is important to keep in mind that a carrier’s job is to move your freight from A to B, not to prepare it for shipment.  It is up to you to ensure that your freight is properly prepared and packed if you want your goods to arrive at their destination undamaged. Here are some tips on how to pack your freight regardless of whether your goods are being shipped across town or via multiple transloading methods.

The Right Packaging Materials

Using quality proper packing materials is essential if you want your freight to arrive undamaged.  Make sure to use:

  • Quality Boxes.
  • Quality Pallets.
  • Quality Shrink Wrap.
  • Quality Tape.

Packing Boxes

The first line of defense is the box that you are using to pack your goods. Use many small boxes rather than a few large boxes.  When you are packing your goods, make sure that all your boxes are full and there is no empty space.  Space will allow your boxes to collapse and your items may get crushed or damaged.

If there is extra room use packing peanuts, bubble wrap or even newspaper to take up the extra volume.  Make sure to use enough quality tape to seal each box so that the box will not tear open when being shipped.

Properly Stack Your Freight

Once you have packed all your freight into the desired boxes, it is time to pack them on the pallet.

Here’s the Deal:

Always use a pallet to stack your freight.  A pallet provides a stable and sturdy base that will keep your freight off the floor, away from water.  A pallet is also easy to move if you are transloading your freight.

When stacking your boxes, ensure that your boxes are stacked evenly and that the weight of each pallet is evenly distributed.  Stack all the heavier items at the bottom and lighter boxes on top to prevent any of your boxes from being crushed.  Make sure that no boxes overhang or jut out from the pallet as these boxes will be damaged or may dislodge making your pallet unstable.

The Final Touches

A well stacked pallet should not be the end of your freight packaging.  A few final touches will really set your freight apart and ensure a safe and undamaged arrival at its final destination.

  • Applying a layer of flat cardboard every few boxes can help solidify and strengthen your freight pallet and ensure that the boxes that you are stacking remain even and aligned.
  • Cardboard corner beads are a great way to add an extra layer of strength to your freight.
  • Shrink wrap your pallet. Make sure to add at least 3-5 wraps of quality shrink wrap. Twist the wrap to add strength and do not wrap the bottom of the pallet as it will interfere with the forklift tilt.

These tips will ensure that your freight is ready to be shipped and you can rest assured that your goods will arrive undamaged.  If you would like more information on how to properly pack your freight or the shipping options that we can provide, please contact us today.

 

Avoiding Freight Damage

Although rare (less than 1%) damaged freight is a reality that can have a huge impact on your business.  Luckily, many of the accidents that damage freight are preventable.  Here are some helpful tips on how you can prevent and avoid freight damage of your goods.

Start with a Pallet

When it comes to preparing your freight for shipping, do not cut corners.  Regardless of what you are shipping, we recommend using a pallet as a base.  This is especially important if you are planning on using transloading as part of your overall shipping method.  A pallet is neither expensive nor hard to use and provides a stable base that is easy and can be wrapped or bound to protect your cargo.

Protecting Fragile Freight

A pallet is just the beginning of how to avoid freight damage.  If you are shipping fragile freight, here are some great ideas on how to ensure that your freight remains undamaged throughout its journey.

  • Add extra packing on the inside of each box to protect individual items.
  • Pack items in smaller boxes or individually.
  • Add an extra layer of shrink wrap to the outside of the pallet and boxes. (We can help with this process if needed).
  • Pack it in a crate for optimal protection.

Here’s the Deal:

Even if you take these extra steps, the most important part of ensuring that your fragile freight remains undamaged is to correctly label it.  Make sure that your labels are bright and can be easily read when they are stacked.  A fragile label goes a long way and will reduce the chances of freight damage.

Other Strategies to Avoid Freight Damage

Even if you are shipping standard materials, there are many strategies that you can employ to minimize any freight damage.  These include:

  • Pack heavy boxes at the bottom of your pallet and lighter boxes on top.
  • Distribute weight evenly on your pallet and stack your boxes evenly as well. Make sure that no boxes overhang or jut out as these will definitely get damaged.
  • Use cardboard corners around the pallet to strengthen your entire load.
  • Do not use damaged boxes as they will collapse and could potentially damage your freight.

Remember:

Always use a quality adhesive when packaging your freight.  Incorrectly sealed packages are one of the top reasons that freight gets damaged.  Make sure that the tape is at least 2 inches thick and is durable enough to hold up against water damage.

By following these tips, you should be able to minimize or even negate any freight damage.  Undamaged freight will not only save your business money, it will also lead to customer satisfaction.  If you have any questions on how we can help you protect your freight, please call us or stop by today.  We have been delivering all types of undamaged freight for over 40 years and would love to be a part of your shipping process.

 

 

 

 

 

How Green Shipping Can Save You Money

We live in a global world.  The rise and demand for goods and products has forced many businesses to think larger than locally or even nationally.  In order to reach these new found markets, you may need to rethink and develop new cost-efficient shipping methods.  What you may not realize is that often green shipping or sustainable shipping methods can be some of the most cost efficient ways to reach these new markets.

As the premier transloading and shipping company in Vancouver, we would like to offer you the following ways to take advantage of sustainable shipping methods and why they are right for your business.

Why Use Sustainable Shipping?

Sustainable shipping is part of the larger green initiative that is influencing how companies choose to do business and is a major selling factor for consumers.  Businesses that choose to take the extra responsibility of sustainable practices are going to be rewarded by consumers and markets for their choices.  Besides a market perspective, other reasons to choose a more sustainable shipping method include:

  • The high cost and amount of waste of extra and often excessive packaging that comes when you use more traditional means of shipping.
  • Emission rates and extra and often unnecessary shipping costs. These can quickly be paired down by employing transloading to your shipping methods.

How Can You Save Money?

Less is more

Reduce the amount of packaging and material that you are using to ship your products.  If you cannot reduce your packaging, look at greener packing choices, such as:

  • Replace all plastics with paper or other bio-degradable, environmentally friendly packaging materials.

Green inside and out

  • Try to use 100% recyclable materials for your shipping packaging.
  • Reuse packing and packaging if possible to save money.

Ship in bulk

  • If possible, try to ship as many products together to maximize your freight space and weight. This is not only a more sustainable way to ship your goods, the efficiency will also save you money.

Review your shipping methods

  • Take the time to review your shipping partners. See if there are ways to save money by either consolidating freight or if you are a small company, perhaps collaborate with another business that is shipping to a similar or the same destination.
  • See if by choosing sustainable shipping methods there are any savings, rebates or taxes that can be found through greener shipping choices.

The green movement is here to stay.  By choosing more sustainable shipping practices new, you are not only choosing a more responsible way to conducting business, you are also showing consumers that you are putting the environment and earth first.

We would love to help you with your shipping needs and be a part of the new, sustainable shipping market.  Contact us today to see how we can help.

 

 

 

 

Pallet vs. Skid vs. Crate – Which One is Right for You?

We know that your shipping needs are unique, therefore we are equipped with a wide range of shipping services and methods to meet your needs.  Regardless of what you are shipping, there are some basic questions that can quickly be answered that may not only save you money in the long run, they may also expedite the shipping time and prevent freight damage.  One such question is should you be using a pallet, a skid or a crate for your freight and what makes them different from each other?

Although all three of these terms are used interchangeably, and all are made of wood, there are distinct differences between each and definitely times when you should choose one over the other.  This is especially true if you are using different methods of shipping or transloading for your freight.  Here is a definition for each and an explanation of when and why one item should be chosen over the other.

Pallet

A pallet is probably the popular and most utilized way of shipping and storing freight.  A pallet has both a top and bottom deck and thus can be easily moved, loaded or unloaded by a forklift.  A pallet is the ideal for all of your transloading needs because of its stability, its ease of stacking and its ease of mobility.  Other important facts about a pallet include:

  • Can carry up to 1000 kg.
  • Typically 48” X 40”.
  • Harder to drag – more friction than a skid.

Skid

The skid is the original pallet and lacks the bottom wooden decking.  The absence of the bottom deck and the use of less materials makes the skid a cheaper version of the pallet.  Because of a skid’s mobility, they are often used as permanent foundations for heavy machinery.  Another advantage of skids is that they take up less space than pallets when they are not in use and can be stored quite easily.

Crate

A crate is different than either a skid or a pallet because it is essentially a wooden box.  A crate not only has a floor, but four walls and offers your freight far more protection than either of the other two shipping methods.  A crate can be built to fit any type of freight and thus can hold a huge volume of goods.  A crate also provides a stable platform for any goods that need to be securely stored or shipped.

The sheer amount of materials that are needed to make a crate typically makes a crate ideal for stacking but makes them bulky and slightly more challenging to transport.

Which is right for you?

Depending upon what type of freight you are shipping, any one of these three shipping methods may be right for you.  We have been specializing in a wide range of shipping services for over 40 years and pride ourselves in our customer service as well as our ability to save you money and speed up your shipping times.  Call or stop by today and let us help you determine whether a pallet, skid or crate is right for you.

 

How is an Expensive Sports Car Shipped?

Every item we handle demands a different method of blocking, bracing, and crating.

Sports cars, for example, are very delicate items to transport. They are made to move, and to move fast. But they can’t move inside their crates while being shipped.

In this animated gif you can see, step by step, all the work that goes in the process of preparing an expensive sports car for shipping.

Cratex Group animated gif of packing and crating Mercedes Benz

We can expertly pack and crate anything you can throw our way, including environmentally friendly shrink wrapping and corrosion protection. We’ve been developing our own proprietary machinery and equipment for packing and crating for 40 years, and we know what we’re doing. We will take on any challenge.

Contact us today to talk about your special shipment.