Category Archives: Blog

3 Common Pallet Shipping Mistakes and How you can Avoid Them

Regardless of whether you are shipping freight nationally, internationally or just across town, chances are you are going to need to use pallets.  Both experienced and inexperienced shippers can make costly errors when using pallets.  As your premier shipping and crating company, we would like to discuss the three most common pallet shipping mistakes and provide tips on how your company can avoid them.

Choosing the Wrong Pallet

The right pallet can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your freight and preventing it from slipping or shifting during its journey.

  • Avoid pallets that are slick or plastic unless you specifically need such a pallet for your goods.
  • Prior to loading your freight, inspect each pallet to ensure that the ones you are using are sturdy and undamaged.
  • Choose a pallet that is the right size for your freight. The standard pallet size is 48” by 40” and can hold up to 4600 lbs.

Improper Preparation

Once you have the right pallet for your shipping needs, the next step is to properly pack and prepare your freight, so that it will arrive at its destination in the same shape that it left your warehouse.  Pay attention to these common mistakes when preparing your freight for pallet shipping.

  • Top heavy freight. Pack all your heavy freight on the bottom of your pallet.  This will not only stabilize your pallet, it will also prevent the heavier items from crushing and damaging lighter or more fragile goods.
  • Poor shrink wrapping. Shrink wrapping is one of the best ways to stabilize a pallet – if it is done properly.  To shrink wrap your pallet, wrap the entire pallet a full 5 times from top to bottom.  You will want to create one stable and secure unit.  If you are shipping fragile items, ensure that nothing is stacked on top of the pallet.
  • Not properly strapping your pallet. To get a secure and stable pallet, it is important to use straps as well as shrink wrap.  Make sure that the straps are tightened and go through the bottom space or opening of the pallet.

No Documentation

A stable and secure pallet load is not going anywhere without proper labeling and documentation.  These important papers will let the shipping company know the nature of the goods as well as where they are going and how they are going to get there.  Be sure that all proper documentation is securely attached to the outside of your pallet.

These helpful tips should help you avoid common and costly pallet shipping mistakes.  If would like more information on pallet shipping or would like to see how we can assist you with your shipping, packing and crating needs, please contact us today.  We look forward to working with you soon.


Shipping Heavy or Oversized Freight?  How Custom Skids Can Help.

Shipping heavy or oversized freight presents challenges that are far different than standard freight shipments.  Many of these logistical problems can be solved with the right shipping materials such as skids and proper shipping methods.  As the premier packing and crating company for all your shipping needs, we would like to share how a custom skid can help you with your heavy or oversized freight.

What is a Skid?

The skid was the main shipping foundation for all freight into the 1930’s.  They were used extensively in World War 2 because of their ability to be pulled by a truck through all types of terrain.  With the advent of the double faced pallet, the skid became primarily a shipping foundation for oversized and heavy freight.

Skids are not pallets and there are some important differences as well as advantages to both, depending upon what you are shipping.  The main difference between a pallet and skid is:

  • Pallets are constructed with a top and bottom deck whereas skids lack a bottom deck.
  • A pallet can provide more stability than a skid, especially for lighter freight.

The reason a skid lacks the bottom deck and rests on pedestals is twofold:

  • The skid’s unique design allows it to be highly mobile and easy to move from all sides.
  • This design also makes the skid stronger than a pallet and can accommodate a wide range of heavy or oversized freight.

How a Custom Skid Can Help  

Not every piece of oversized freight is going to be the same dimension, nor will they be transported or shipped the same.  This is where custom skids come into play.  A custom skid is designed to account for not only the unique size and shape of your freight, but it will also accommodate any specific type of lifting device or any other transportation hurdle that your freight may encounter.  In short, a custom skid allows your oversized or heavy freight the opportunity to become mobile.

Custom skids can also be used to provide a permanent and stable foundation.  This can be especially important if you need to move or relocate heavy machinery around a jobsite.  Custom skids are designed to be stable and reliable and take up little space when not in use because they are stackable and easily stored.

Depending upon your shipping needs, a customized skid may be right for you.  If you have further questions or are unsure if your freight requires a skid or a pallet, please contact us today.  We will be able to answer any questions, and help you with your packing, crating and shipping needs, regardless of the type of freight you are moving.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.



Shipping Internationally – 3 Things you Need to Know

Has your business been expanding?  Are you now looking at larger trade markets and thinking about shipping your product overseas?  If this is the case, then there are some important factors that you need to know.  As the premier business for all your packing and crating needs, here are 3 things that you need to know about shipping internationally.

Know Your Markets

The most important aspect when it comes to shipping is understanding your target market.  An international market will require additional steps when it comes to shipping as well as additional preparation.  From a shipping standpoint, you should be able to answer the following questions.

  • Does the market I intend to ship to have a free-trade agreement with Canada?
  • Do I have local connections in my new market or another viable plan for distribution?
  • Are there any regulations and restrictions that I will face in this new market?

Some in-depth research can go a long way in providing answers to these types of questions.  The information that you gather may influence how you ship or if you even want to include this new market in your expansion plans.

Understand Customs and Tariffs

Be prepared because customs and tariffs are part of international shipping.  Not only will there be paperwork required to declare what you are shipping, you will also be charged additional fees by the customs department.  The amount that you will pay will be dependent upon the country and the type of product you are shipping.

Here’s the Deal:

You will also be charged taxes on your freight and shipment fees.  Talk to your shipping company to have all these fees included in your overall quote so you are not surprised later.

Calculate all Costs

Choosing the right shipping company is an essential part of expanding into international markets.  A few important tips that can save money on your international shipping costs include:

  • Try to avoid costly errors. If international shipping is new to your business, you need to understand that there is going to be a learning process.  That being said, try to keep mistakes and cost overruns to a minimum.  Always be willing to learn from your mistakes and try to be as flexible as possible in terms of your shipping methods.
  • Never guess/estimate weight and size. Make sure that your dimensions and weights are correct.  An overestimate can end up costing your business and hurt your bottom line.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your shipping company may be able to offer you important advice regarding international shipping processes and other helpful ways to help standardize your shipping methods.

Shipping to international markets are a great way to grow your business.  However, in order for this to be a positive experience for your business, you will need to find a company that can help you with some of the complicated procedures that are involved in international shipping.

We would love to be there for you with all your international shipping needs.  We can guide you through this often difficult process.  Call us today and see how we can save your business money and time.  We look forward to being a part of your international shipping network.






Shipping by Road vs Shipping by Rail

In the competitive shipping markets there are a wide range of options from which your business can choose – air, sea, road and rail.  The most popular of these include both road and rail, especially if you are shipping across town, country or even nation.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to share the pros and cons of shipping your goods by either road or railway.

Shipping by Road

Shipping freight by road is the most common method and perhaps the most versatile.  Transporting goods by road ensures that your product is moved directly from your door to its destination.  Road shipping is mainly used for the distribution and delivery of retail cargo.


Some of the pros of moving your cargo via road include:

  • Freight can be delivered quickly and at a set schedule.
  • It is a very cost-effective method especially at short distances.
  • It allows door to door movement.
  • It can track cargo movement via GPS and satellite tracking.


Some of the drawbacks of using road shipping include:

  • Shipping limitations around cargo size and weight.
  • Not cost effective over long distances.
  • Slower than rail over lengthy stretches.
  • Not as environmentally friendly when compared to rail.

Shipping by Rail

Shipping goods by rail is a perfect fit for the long distances and challenges of Canadian shipping.  Freight trains can ship a wide variety of freight as well as commodities and may be the perfect fit for your long-distance shipping needs.


Some of the advantages of choosing rail include:

  • The greenest option for shipping with the smallest carbon footprint. Shipping by rail consumes less fuel per ton than does shipping freight via road.
  • Can carry far more freight, heavier items and a variety of cargo when compared to road.
  • Is a cheaper and quicker option, especially over long distances.


Some of the cons of shipping freight via rail include:

  • Additional costs may be incurred to move freight to its final destination. This is usually accomplished via road shipping.
  • Not economically viable over short distances.
  • Abnormal or cumbersome freight cannot be shipped via rail if the freight cannot fit in standard rail cars. (over height or oversize)

Choosing rail or road for your shipping needs usually depends on a wide range of variables.  These include the distances you are shipping freight, the type of cargo that you are transporting and the number of items that you need to ship.

If you need help understanding the pros and cons of each shipping method or are interested in seeing how we can assist you, please contact us today.  We look forward to hearing from you and would love to be a partner for all of your shipping, packing and crating needs.



Tips on How to Avoid Extra Charges on Freight Shipping

Regardless of the size of your business, reducing shipping costs should always be a goal as it will increase your profit margin and is essential for the success of any business.  As the premier company for your packing and crating needs, we would like to share the following ways on how you can avoid extra charges on your freight shipping.

Get it in Writing

Get all your shipping quotes in writing.  This way there will be no discrepancy or disagreement on what the total cost of your freight will be.  When you are getting a quote, make sure that everything you will need for your freight is included in that invoice.

Fees that need to be included in the quote are:

  • Taxes and fuel surcharges. These types of costs can quickly add between 20%-40% onto your invoice.  Make sure they are included.
  • Get the proper insurance. You may need special insurance or more insurance than is normally provided.  Include this cost in your quote.
  • Make sure that the rate and quote are in your currency, not a foreign one. You do not want any surprises, so make sure that the dollar amount is in the currency in which you are paying.
  • Include any special services such as refrigeration or dangerous goods up front, so that you will know the total cost.

Correct Measures and Weight

Your responsibility when it comes to shipping is to correctly know the width and height measurements, as well as the weight of your freight.  If you do not know these statistics, be prepared to pay more when the carrier shows up to move your freight.

You will also need to correctly package your load.  Ensure that your freight is secured and protected.  This will prevent any freight damage and the time-consuming claims process.

Know Your Limitations

It is also important to know any limitations that you may face when shipping your freight.  These include:

  • Docking limitations. Can a large truck back into your loading dock?
  • The size of your facility. Can a 50-foot truck turn around in your facility’s space?
  • Are you a commercial or residential location?

These simple steps should help you to save money on your freight shipping costs.  If you would like other ways to reduce these costs or are looking for an experienced and capable company to handle your shipping needs, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping process.  We look forward to working with you soon.

Be sure to discuss all limitations and what type of location you are with your shipping carrier.  This will prevent any cost overruns or the inability to even load your freight in the first place.



5 Green Freight Trends for 2019

Every year the quest for a greener approach to methods of transportation grows.  2019 will be no exception to this ever-growing trend.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to share with you 5 green freight trends that are sure to influence how you ship your cargo this year.

2019’s Greener Approach Will Be Driven From The Largest Firms

Much of the demand for a greener approach to shipping transportation will be driven from the largest companies.  Companies like Whole Foods and even Walmart are going to demand greener and more ethical shipping routes and greener transportation partners.  Look for more large companies to use this type of green model for their shipping and transportation needs in 2019.

Localization and Shorter Supply Chains

Long distance shipping is quickly being replaced by shorter, more localized sources.  By sourcing locally, both air pollution and greenhouse gasses can be reduced.  This shift will also further strengthen diverse local and regional economies making this a more competitive shipping model.  This is now the preferred model of many large companies such as Whole Foods as it is supported by an ever-growing consumer base. Look for this trend to continue in 2019 as more large companies make this shift.

Rail Over Road

Rail is quickly taking over as the most preferred way of long haul shipping for a number of reasons such as:

  • Generally rail is a more cost effective way of long haul shipping (up to 60%).
  • Rail offers up to 66% reduction in emissions.

Although rail tends to be longer than truck delivery and can slow delivery time, the cost savings coupled with a reduction in overall emissions should only accelerate this trend in 2019.

Zero-Emission Ocean Shipping

Several large shipping companies are already providing lower emission cargo options.  These reductions are achieved through a combination of slower steaming and more efficient operational measures.  Firms such as Nissan are already using a combination of solar and diesel to ship their cars across the Pacific.  Look for other large companies and even freight companies to continue to reduce their carbon footprint and strive for zero-emission shipping in 2019.

A Changing Industry

The entire shipping industry is changing.  Each year it becomes more and more environmentally responsible and continues to reduce its overall carbon footprint.  This year look for even more radical changes such as:

  • Electric and hydrogen hybrid trucks to replace gasoline or diesel for local and long-haul freight shipping.
  • Solar and hybrid diesel/electric airships to replace conventional air freight.
  • Changes in port cities to clean up air and water pollution such as stricter laws and fines.

2019 promises to be the greenest year yet.  This is great news for the shipping industry and for your company.  Make sure to be an innovator and leader in this approach as this new green trend is not going anywhere.  If you would like more information about how you can become an environmental leader in your shipping or would like to know more about the direction the shipping world is heading, please contact us today.  We would love to be a part of your shipping network.





Tips to Lower your Freight Costs

If you are looking at trying to save some money on your bottom line this year, one place to focus could be your shipping costs.  Chances are, the costs associated with your freight are a significant portion of your company’s overall expenses.  By understanding what type of shipping method is best for your company, understanding how your cargo moves through the supply chain before it arrives at its destination and improving this overall process will save your establishment money.

As the premier company for all your shipping and crating needs, we would like to offer you the following ways on how you can reduce your shipping costs.

Is it Urgent?

Regardless of whether you are shipping locally, nationally or internationally, it is important to be aware of your specific market and when or if there are any peak times.  If you can ship at non-peak times, you may be able to save money on your freight bill.  Some peak times you may want to avoid or prepare for include:

  • Chinese New Year – all ocean carriers are at full capacity during this time.
  • The holiday season (Christmas) – many local shipping companies are at capacity.

Maximize your Loads

The higher the volume (the more freight you ship) the less you will pay per item.  If you are using ocean shipping, you will pay the same for a full or half full container, so it is important to maximize your load whenever possible.

Here’s the Deal:

Decide what size container will best suit your shipping needs and always make sure that you fill it to capacity.

Choose the Right Method

Choosing the right shipping method or a combination of shipping methods can not only save you money, it may reduce your overall transportation time.  Make sure to look at all the possibilities or combinations before making a final decision.

Find the Right Partner

To find the best method of transportation, it is so important to have the right logistic partner.  The right partner will not only save you money, they will also work with you to better understand all the components that are part of the complicated shipping world.  Questions that you may want to ask your logistics partner include:

  • Do they have multiple ocean carrier contracts?
  • Do they have access to a combination of shipping and transloading methods?
  • Can they provide alternate options in case of strike or other unforeseen emergencies?

At Cratex, we understand how important reliable and cost-efficient shipping is to your company and bottom line.  Our friendly and knowledgeable staff have been a major part of Vancouver’s shipping industry for over 40 years.  We can meet all your packing, crating and transloading needs and would love to be your shipping partner.  Please stop by or call us today, so we can get started.  We look forward to working with you soon.


Boxes vs. Bags – 3 Things to Consider when Packaging Goods

Your packaging choice is an often overlooked but extremely important part of your business.  As the premier company for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to share the following 3 things to consider when packaging goods.


The most important factor that will determine your packaging choice should be transportation.  If you are shipping goods a long distance it is important to fit a large amount of product on each pallet.  Your packaging choice should be as light and compact as possible to keep weight and bulk to a minimum.

Boxes are lightweight and can be easily stacked.  Boxes can also be easily manufactured to fit the dimensions of your product.  However, you may need to provide extra protection on both inside and outside the box to prevent any damage that may occur during the shipping process.

Bags are easily compressed and take up far less space than a box.  Vacuum packing or adding air can provide the necessary protection needed during shipping.  You will need an extra layer of outside protection or some type of tertiary container to place the bags.


Sustainability is quickly becoming one of the determining factors for consumers when it comes to buying products.  Many consumers want reusable or recyclable packing materials which means that your packing decisions should be sustainable.

Boxes are easy to break down and are recyclable and reusable.  Bags on the other hand can be great to seal in freshness and protect from the elements but may not be very environmentally friendly.  There are some biodegradable options available if bags are your only shipping option.    


There is a reason why they are called “unboxing” videos and not “unbagging” videos.  There is definitely something more special about opening up a box and removing an item from a well packed inner layer.  It indicates that more care and thought has gone into the product and its presentation.  Whereas opening an air-filled bag and removing a product just feels a little less special.

The type of product you are shipping and the type of product you are selling will determine your packaging choice.  If your main clientele is looking for a higher end product and environmentally conscious, a cardboard box with sustainable packaging should be your packaging choice even if your shipping costs are a little higher.

If the product you are shipping needs to be fresh or must be protected from the elements, then a plastic protective layer or bag may be essential to the quality of the item.  If you are still unsure about what the best option for your packed goods is, please contact us today.  We would love to help you with your shipping needs, questions and concerns.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.


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.
  • Silica.

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.


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.