Category Archives: Blog

Understanding a Bill of Lading

Regardless of what or where you are shipping, the most important document that you will be required to fill out is a bill of lading.  As your premier industrial shipping company specializing in packing and crating, we would like to help you understand what a bill of lading is and explain the importance and relevance of each section.

What is a Bill of Lading?

In general, a bill of lading is a shipping receipt that provides a detailed list of the freight in that shipment.

Bill of Lading Terminology


The information contained in this portion of the bill of lading provides the details of the shipper, who is shipping the cargo, including their name and address.


This portion of the bill of lading contains the consignee’s name and address.  The name attached to the consignee is the only person or business legally allowed to receive the cargo.

 Bill of Lading Number/Reference Numbers

This unique number must be provided by the client for any information about the shipment or the shipping line.  This information includes:

  • Sailing information.
  • Arrival times and other pertinent information.
  • Claims attached to the cargo.

The reference number space provides a number that will allow the client or other freight carriers to trace their shipment.

Port of Loading

The place where the cargo or freight is loaded by the carrier onto the ocean vessel for shipment.

Ocean Vessel

The name of the vessel and the voyage number that will be carrying the freight or cargo from the mainland port (port of loading) to the port of discharge.

 Port of Discharge

This is the port where the freight or cargo is discharged by the carrier from the ocean vessel.

 Place of Delivery

The destination of the freight or cargo.

 Marks and Numbers

This space identifies the number and kinds of packages as well as what each container or crate contains.

  • ‘Number and kinds of packages’ states how many packages are loaded into the container (Ex. 23 pallets and 16 crates).
  • ‘Description of goods’ describes exactly what cargo is being loaded in the crate or container (Ex. 22 packages said to contain 2200 tubes of toothpaste).

 Weight and Measurement

This space states the following:

  • Gross weight – the weight of the cargo packed in the container. Typically, this weight is the combination of the weight of the freight plus the weight of the packaging, but does not include the weight of the container.
  • Measurement – the calculation of the total volume of the freight shipment – length X width X height.

 Correctly filling out a bill of lading will ensure that your freight arrives at its destination on time and is properly passed from one carrier to another.  By understanding each part of the bill of lading, as a business owner, you will be able to gain a better understanding of how the shipping process works, allowing you to be more of an active agent and hopefully saving you time and money.

If you have any questions or would like more clarification on any part of a bill of lading, please contact us today.  We look forward to being a part of your industrial shipping network.







Your Checklist for LTL Shipping

If your business relies on LTL for your shipping needs, then this is the blog for you.  LTL or (less than truckload) shipping is a great method for small businesses looking to get their product to various markets.  If you are using LTL shipping or are thinking about using this method, there are still more ways to optimize your shipping, saving your company money while at the same time getting your freight to its destination on time.

As your premier shipping company that specializes in packing and crating, here is a checklist that will optimize your LTL shipments.

  • Determine the LTL services that you will require.
  • Be sure to deliver on the deadline.
  • Take control and optimize the process.
  • Work with a company that you can rely on.

Determine the Services you Need

Certain types of freight require certain types of trailers.  In order to get the most out of your LTL shipping, it is critical that you know the specifications your freight requires.  Be proactive, know the dimensions of each shipment.  It will save your company money in the long run; help you find the right company for your business and save you time and unnecessary phone calls and inquiries.

Deliver on the Deadline

It is imperative that you get your freight where it needs to be, on time, every time.  The quickest way to lose business and customers is by being late.  Use shipping services that have warehouse space available in the centres that you are shipping to and can track your packages easily and efficiently.

Optimize the Process

The “last mile delivery” refers to the final leg of the transportation of your freight.  This part of the shipping process is where things tend to go wrong and costs can quickly add up.  Take control of this final step by choosing a shipping service with a wide range of options and by working with your customers so that they can choose a delivery time that works for their schedule.

Work with the Right Company

Working with a shipping company that is right for you is the key to any successful business.  You need a company that has expertise in all areas of shipping and one that you can rely on.  At Cratex, we have over 40 years of experience in the shipping industry.  Our experienced and professional staff uses the most up to date technology to ensure that your freight is tracked from the time it leaves your dock until the time it arrives at its destination.

We understand that every business is different and so are its shipping needs.  Stop by or contact us today and see why we are the right shipping company for you.  We look forward to being a part of your company soon.

How Do I Ship a Musical Instrument Safely and Securely?

Whether you are the owner of a music shop, a part of a symphony or a musician, safely shipping your musical instrument can be stressful to say the least.  As your premier shipping company specializing in packing and crating, here are some guidelines on how to safely and securely ship your musical instrument.

In General

All the general rules of shipping apply regardless of what type of musical instrument you are looking to ship.  These rules include:

  • Use quality packing materials – this includes packing tape, bubble wrap, sturdy boxes.
  • Invest in a good case – be sure that your instrument fits securely in the case to prevent any shifting during its destination.
  • Insurance – take out an insurance policy on your instrument before shipping. This way even if something does happen, it will be covered by your insurer.


For stringed instruments such as violins, guitars and basses, use the following shipping guidelines.

  • Loosen the strings – remove the tension on the strings before packing your instrument. This will ensure that your strings will not snap while the instrument is in transit.
  • Properly wrap the headstock. Use bubble wrap or soft cloth to wrap the neck of your instrument as they need extra support in this area.
  • Secure your stringed instrument. Be sure that your case is strong and rigid enough to withstand shifting or jostling.


Instruments such as trumpets, trombones and tubas should be packed according to these guidelines.

  • Wrap each piece individually. Use bubble wrap or soft cloth and wrap each piece to prevent them from bumping into each other and scratching or damaging the instrument.
  • Use rigid boxes with foam to protect large or oversized pieces such as trombone slides. This will avoid any bending or damage.


Woodwinds such as clarinets should be shipped with the following guidelines.

  • Secure the instrument in a rigid case that will prevent any movement.
  • Cover the instrument in bubble wrap before packing it in its case for extra protection.
  • Wrap loose joints to prevent any movement.


Many percussion instruments cannot fit in cases, so use the following guidelines to protect them.

  • Remove the hoops and heads of bigger drums. This will allow you to put smaller drums inside the larger drums.  Then you can put the hoops and heads back on and secure them with tape.
  • Wrap all exteriors with bubble wrap to protect them during their journey.

By following these guidelines, you will be able to safely and securely ship any musical instrument.  If you have other questions about shipping musical instruments or are interested in our shipping services, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping network and look forward to working with you soon.



How to Safely Ship Artwork

So, you are in the market for art, have just found your favourite masterpiece, or are looking to ship a valuable piece to a dealer?  Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, the most important part of any shipment is making sure that it arrives on time and undamaged.  As your premier shipping company specializing in packing and crating, here are some suggestions on how to safely and securely ship art.

Wrap it Up

The better protected your artwork is, the better chance it has of arriving at its destination unmarked and in perfect condition.  To protect your valuable commodity, be sure to wrap it in as many layers as possible.  Before starting the wrapping process, it is important to:

  • Measure your artwork’s length, width and height so that you know the dimensions. This will allow you to choose a properly sized shipping container.  Knowing your dimensions will also help you estimate your shipping costs.
  • Protect the corners of the frame or the artwork by placing cardboard corner protectors.

Once you have protected the frame’s corners and measured your artwork, it is time to wrap your art. Bubble wrap is the best way to protect your artwork as it provides extra protection and cushion, in case of any bumps or bruises along the way.  Wrap your artwork in at least two layers of bubble wrap.  Place the smooth side against the art with the bubbles facing outwards to avoid any impressions or other damage.

Ensure that surfaces are completely covered by at least two inches of bubble wrap.  Tape seams along the bubble wrap with packing tape to create a moisture free barrier.  If you are shipping rolled artwork, make sure that you completely wrap the piece in at least one layer of bubble wrap and seal it before putting it in a mailing tube.

After you have wrapped your art, sandwich it between two pieces of rigid foam board that are at least a half inch thick to provide extra stability and protection.

Here’s the deal:

Do not tape these boards too tight as excess pressure can damage your artwork.

Select the Right Container

After you have the correct measurements of your artwork and have secured it with wrapping and foam board, it is time to select a shipping container.  The external box or crate must be rigid and free of any creases or damage.  Do not reuse shipping boxes with delicate art.  Try to choose a container that has minimal extra space in it and fill this extra space with packing peanuts or newspaper to prevent any shifting during the shipping process.

By following these simple guidelines, you will be able to ship any type of art with the piece of mind that it will arrive in the same condition that it left.  If you have any other questions about shipping artwork or are interested in the shipping services we offer, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping network and look forward to working with you soon





Shipping and your Business – Becoming More Productive.

Just running the day-to-day affairs of a business can be exhausting enough, let alone having to deal with the extra demands of shipping.

  • Are you overpaying?
  • Are you getting everything out of your current carrier?
  • What are the locations that I need to ship to this week?

These are just some of the extra pressures that go along with shipping.  As the premier company specializing in packing and crating, we would like to share the following ways to increase your business’ shipping productivity.

Get Quotes

Regardless of where or what you are shipping, be sure to get quotes, so that you understand the shipping process and what that shipment is going to cost.  With so much business being done online nowadays, the length of time that you will have to wait for a quote from any carrier should be very short or almost instantaneous.  If this is not the case, you may want to think about looking elsewhere for your shipping needs – the adage ‘time is money’ applies in this case.

Reduce Paper

By going online, you will not only be reducing paper, you are also shrinking your business’ global footprint. Digital paperwork will also expedite the amount you are spending filling out time consuming bills of lading and other necessary shipping paperwork.

Try to find a company that uses an automated internal system that takes care of all paperwork.  This will drastically speed up the shipping process, including reorders and repeat customers.

Track It

Being a responsible business owner means managing the aspects of your shipping from the time it leaves your dock or front door until it safely arrives at its destination.  Again, try to find a company that uses an automated shipping system, so that checking the status of your shipment is as easy as logging on.

Go with the Pros

By using a company that understands your business’ shipping needs, you will increase your productivity by reducing the amount of time spent.  At Cratex, we have been in the shipping business for over 30 years and use a state-of-the-art internal computer network to track and store your shipping information.

By employing these simple solutions to your business’ needs, you should be able to streamline your shipping department, while cutting down on time and thus reducing stress while increasing productivity.

If you would like other ways to increase your business’ productivity or would like to know more about our various shipping services, such as our custom crating and packing, please contact us today.  We look forward to being a part of your business.


How LTL (Less-than-Truckload) Can Benefit your Business

Every business’ shipping needs are different.  If you are shipping items that are larger than parcel size, but an entire container is just too much, then LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping may be the answer.  As the premier company for all your shipping and crating needs, we would like to share the following reasons on how LTL shipping can benefit your business.


Perhaps the biggest benefit of LTL shipping is the flexibility it gives your business.  If you require a larger shipment one month and a smaller shipment the next, the flexibility of LTL shipping can accommodate this.  The other benefits of flexibility include:

  • Allows you to ship freight to several locations in a region of the country, province or city.
  • Allows consolidation of many different companies to create a load, thus sharing the total cost of shipping.
  • Will allow you to ship a variety of different products or freight in the same shipment, if needed.


LTL shipping is the most cost efficient of all the shipping options that are available.  The main advantage of using LTL shipping is that the shipping cost is shared between a wide range of businesses all looking for a similar service.  If your business does not require an entire truck and trailer to move your product from point A to point B then LTL shipping is for you.


If you are looking for full control over your shipping needs, then look no further than LTL shipping.  Without the volume required to fill an entire truck then LTL shipping will allow you to control the amount of freight that you want to move while at the same time getting your product to its destination in the same amount of time.

LTL shipping also gives your company control over the amount of freight you want to ship and the opportunity to ship to multiple locations.  These features of LTL shipping give your company the flexibility and control of changing your monthly shipping quotas.

Additional Service Options

If you choose LTL as your main shipping choice, you will have access to a wide range of shipping services that go far beyond dock to dock.  These services include:

  • Liftgate loading.
  • Inside or bay to bay pick-up service.
  • Notification options to alert both shipper and consignee of when freight is being picked up or dropped off.

Go Green

LTL shipping is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to ship your freight.  Because LTL pools many different shipments together to make one full load, hence you are sharing the total emissions of that truck load with a host of other companies.  Many companies are taking steps to shrink their carbon footprint and reduce their emissions.  Why not be a part of this growing movement and choose LTL shipping as your preferred shipping method?

If you are looking for the most cost-efficient and flexible way to move your goods, then LTL is the answer for you.  If you would like more information on the benefits of LTL shipping or have more questions surrounding LTL, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping network and look forward to working with you soon.




Shipping Jargon Unpacked – Part 2

With so many different terms used in the shipping world, we felt that just one blog was not enough to cover all the essentials.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to define the following shipping terms so that you can better understand the shipping process for your business.

Packing List

A detailed document provided by the shipper that declares what goods are included in the shipment and how they are packed.  This slip also includes the number of packages or boxes, the number of items in each carton as well as the weight and dimensions of the shipment.


The shipper is the person or company who is shipping the goods.  If you are importing the goods from an overseas supplier, then that supplier is the shipper.  The shipper is responsible for sending the goods to the consignee.


A standardized metal box used for shipping goods that are usually either 20 or 40 ft long.  Containers can be easily interchanged between trucks, rail and ships without having to unpack the freight.

Hazardous Material

A shipment may be deemed hazardous if it poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property.  Examples include flammable or combustible material, oxidizing or corrosive material, poisons and compressed gas.  Extra precautions need to be taken when shipping any type of hazardous materials.


A non-negotiable document prepared by or on behalf of the carrier at the point of origin.  A waybill shows the original point of shipment, the destination and route, consignor and consignee, a description of the freight and the amount charged for the shipment process.


The company responsible for providing the transportation services to move products.


Refers to the storage of goods in a facility for a specific period.  Freight shippers often store their goods in a warehouse until they are ready to be shipped.


Cash on Delivery.  This is usually a request from the shipper to the carrier to receive payment upon delivery of the goods.  C.O.D. requests will be stated on the bill of lading and will include the accepted forms of payment.

Gross Weight

The weight of the freight, including its packaging.

Shipping Marks

Placed on boxes or packages for identification purposes.  Shipping marks can be the size and weight of the box, the recipient or even the shape of the goods.  They are used to differentiate what boxes belong to whom within a shared container.

By better understanding the shipping jargon, you should be able to decide what type of shipping method is best for your company.  If you would like more information or a clearer definition of any of the previous abbreviations or words, please contact us today.  We also offer a wide range of shipping services and solutions for all your packing and crating needs and would love to be a part of your shipping network.  We look forward to working with you soon.



Shipping Jargon Unpacked – Part 1

There are so many different facets to running a successful business.  When it comes to getting your products to their consumers the last thing on your mind should be trying to understand some of the confusing shipping language that is often used.  As your premier packing and crating source, we would like to offer you the following on how to better understand shipping jargon.


This is the shipping process of transferring goods from one mode of transportation to another.  Transloading is most often employed when one mode of transportation cannot be used for the shipment’s entire journey.


Estimated Time of Arrival.  This term is generally used to describe the time that the goods are slated to arrive at their destination port.


Full Container Load.  An FCL contains enough goods to fill an entire shipping container.


Less than full container load.   An LCL is when you do not have enough goods to fill a 20-foot container.  In this case, your goods will be loaded into a shared container with other companies’ products.

Bill of Lading

The official shipping document that contains the information about the shipment.  The bill of lading represents “ownership” of the goods.  The shipment will not be released until final payments have been completed.  Without a bill of lading, the goods cannot be delivered.

CBM (M3)

Cubic Metre.  This unit of volume is often used when calculating shipment space.  The formula is 100 cm X 100 cm X 100cm = 1 cubic metre.

High Cube (HC or HQ)

Refers to any container that exceeds 8 ft 6 in (102 inches) in height.

C&F (or CFR) and CIF

Cost and Freight or Cost, Insurance and Freight.  This term refers to the buyer paying the amount that covers not only the freight, but also the cost of transporting these goods to the port of discharge.  CIF also includes marine insurance.


The person or company receiving the goods.  The shipper sends the goods to the consignee.


A tariff is a document that sets all applicable rules, rates and charges to ship goods.  This document is essentially the contract for the shipper, consignee and the carrier.

Commercial Invoice

This invoice contains both the buyer and the seller’s details, the type of goods, their quantity and the price of each product as well as the terms of sale.  The commercial invoice is used to declare the details of the freight to customs and dictates the amount of duties and taxes that are to be paid.

By defining some of these confusing shipping terms, you should be able to better understand how your entire shipment process affects your business.  If you would like more information on these or any other terms, please contact us today.  We also offer a wide range of shipping services as well as packing and crating solutions for your goods.  We look forward to working with you soon.
























Reduce your Freight Forwarding Costs

Chances are, the shipment of your products is a large portion of your company’s bottom line and you are always looking at ways to save money on this service.  One area that you may be able to cut some costs is if you are using freight forwarding to move your goods. As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to share with you the following ways in which your company can reduce its freight forwarding costs.

Evaluate Your Transportation Methods

Before you ship your next batch of items, take a moment and review your transportation methods.  See if there are other ways to ship the same goods for less.  You may want to choose a combination of ways to deliver your goods and this is where transloading can save both time and money.

Choose Off-Peak Times

Regardless of which method of shipment you choose, try to use off-peak times to move your product.  Even a day later or earlier can make a huge difference in your total shipment cost.  If what you are shipping is non-perishable and even non-consumer, you may want to take full advantage of off-peak shipping.

Ship More for Less

If it is possible, try to ship more of your product less often.  Like anything, shipping in bulk is always a lot cheaper than shipping individual items.  Again, shipping in bulk is only possible if you are moving non-perishable or other goods that are easily stored.

Eliminate Extras

Another great way to reduce freight forwarding costs is to be aware of all of the extra costs associated with your current shipping methods.  Be sure to do the leg work that you may be charged, such as wrapping and properly stacking your pallets, so that they do not tip or need to be wrapped halfway through the shipment process.   Some extra fees that you may be able to eliminate include:

  • Costs associated with weight adjustments.
  • Fees attached to residential adjustments.
  • Any additional handling fees.

By better understanding your shipping methods you should be able to find areas that you can improve upon or even cut costs on.  If you would like more information about how to better understand the different ways to ship freight and what methods may be the most productive and cost efficient for your products, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping family and look forward to working with you in the future.


Understanding Dimensional Weight

If you have ever received a quote on international air or ocean freight and questioned how they arrived at that total, then read on.  Most companies use a formula known as dimensional weight to calculate the shipping total of your goods.  As the premier shipping company for your packing and crating needs, we would like to explain what dimensional weight is and the various formulas that certain shipping companies use.

Dimensional weight

Dimensional weight is the combination of the three dimensions of your shipping package, otherwise known as volumetric weight.  The 3 factors of dimensional weight are:

  • Height, Length, Width

Many carriers choose to use dimensional weight because of the large shipping capacities that are often underutilized, especially when it comes to shipping small packages.

Here’s the Deal:

Smaller, heavier items surrounded by packaging for protection is considered smart packing, but it also takes up extra room that could be dedicated to other cargo.  That is where dimensional weight comes into play.

Shipping by Air or Ground

If you are shipping goods via air or ground, then the dimensional weight calculations are based on pounds or kilograms.  Many domestic and North American companies such as Canada Post, Air Canada and UPS use this as their dimensional weight formula.

  • L x W x H (inches)/366 (International/Air) = Dimensional Weight (kilograms)
  • L x W x H (centimeters)/6000 (Domestic/Ground) = Dimensional Weight (kilograms)
  • L x W x H (inches)/166 (Domestic/Ground) = Dimensional Weight (pounds)

Package sizes are always rounded up to the nearest inch and weights are always rounded up to the next pound or kilogram for pricing purposes.  Carriers may also compare dimensional weight to gross weight and apply the heavier weight as their pricing.

Shipping by Sea

When shipping goods by sea, weight calculations are also based on dimensional weight, unless the gross weight is heavier.  Ocean freight uses multiples of 20 feet and 40 feet instead of single trailer or cargo areas, thus dimensional weight calculations are based in cubic feet or cubic metres.  The formula used to determine dimensional weight for ocean shipping is as follows:

  • L x W x H (inches)/1728 = Dimensional Weight (cubic feet)
  • L x W x H (centimeters)/1 000 000 = Dimensional Weight (cubic metres)

There are approximately 35 cubic feet to one cubic metre.  Each cubic foot is calculated at a weight of 10 pounds.

These standard formulas are how most shipping companies arrive at their quotes when using dimensional weight.  If you would like any more information or clarification on dimensional weight and how it impacts your business, please give us a call today.  We would love to answer your questions or concerns and be a part of your packing and crating solutions.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.