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Wondering how lower fuel prices can affect moving freight with a transloading provider? Here are some ways that fuel prices affect the freight business.

The Effects of Gas Prices on Shipping

Since the beginning of 2016, gasoline prices have been at their lowest point in the last few years. As compared to the price of gasoline last year at this time, the world is seeing much lower prices overall at the pumps—so what effect does that have on the freight industry? Let’s take a look at three of the most common methods of transporting freight and see how the lower gas prices have affected each of them individually. You might be surprised to find out what the effects really are.

Air Freight

Traditionally shipping by air is one of the most expensive methods of freight transport. Of course, this is linked to the high cost of airplane fuel as well as the limited space available for air freight. Since the price of oil per barrel is going down, you might expect to see a slight dip in the cost of air freight. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

What translates to lower commercial air fares doesn’t really translate over to the freight side. Most airlines operate just at the edge of making a profit. This means that they are reluctant to lower prices when fuel prices drop. They take advantage of the slight uptick in their profits and sock them away to be able to suffer through one of the more lean times—so if you were planning on taking advantage of lower air freight prices to speed up delivery times, you might want to think again.

Trucking

Unlike air freight, trucking is much more sensitive to the prices of fuel. Since most trucking lines spend a majority of their overhead on gas, lower prices quickly translate to lower freight prices overall. The lower prices are also a great way to breed competition between carriers. This also benefits someone looking to ship freight as you are now able to play companies off of each other to get the best prices for your shipment.

Overall, expect some savings if you are planning on shipping overland by truck. Just beware oil prices when they go on the rise. It might not be very soon after that truck carrier costs rise to match the new price of fuel.

Intermodal

This is one place that doesn’t see much advantage when fuel prices drop. The whole idea of using intermodal transport is to lower your cost by picking several different carriers who will transfer your freight from one mode to another, say train to truck. The penalty is in time, as cargo must be unloaded and loaded, sometimes several times, to reach the final destination.

Unless you are shipping freight by sea, trucking ends up being much cheaper than intermodal. That is because of the competition and direct correlation between fuel prices and truck freight prices.

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Are you thinking of using transloading services for your next freight shipment? Here are some tips to help you on your way, courtesy of Cratex.

Transloading Tips

Are you looking for ways to move your freight more efficiently? Then you have probably considered using transloading, a great way to effectively manage freight by leveraging several different modes of transportation. Instead of trucking to a distribution centre and then further breaking a shipment down there, a transloading company like Cratex can do the sorting for you and get your shipments to where you need them quickly and cheaply. If you are thinking of leveraging transloading for your freight needs, here are some tips, courtesy of Cratex.

Choose Your Transportation Wisely

The whole idea of transloading is to use multiple modes of freight transport. If you have a land based trucking firm move your shipment to a transloading site only to have it put back onto trucks, then you are not thinking along the right shipping lines.

Transloading should involve rail, sea and truck based shipment—maybe not all three in one freight shipment, but some combination of two (or more) should be on your radar.

Pick the Right Transloading Provider

Make sure when you are looking for transloading companies that you pick the right one. Your provider should have access to multiple shipping carriers and offer services that can enhance your freight carrying. Cratex offers services like custom crating, shipping consolidation and land to sea loading along with many years of experience in the field.

Take Time to Plan

The longer you wait, the more your freight shipment is going to cost. Unless there is a good reason for you to wait until the last minute, get your planning done early. Transloading providers can get full very quickly depending on factors like time of year or economic climate. This means that waiting until the last minute can limit your choice of providers or end up costing you much more. Give at least six months to fully plan ahead if you can. The more time you leave for planning, the better off you will be.

Factor in Transloading Times

Remember, the transfer from one carrier to another does not happen instantaneously. Often there can be 48 to 72 hours of delay between the time that a shipment arrives to a transloading provider and it getting shipped back out again. You should factor at least that much time (or more) into your shipping time estimate for your customers. Otherwise, you might find yourself dealing with angry customers with late shipments.

Do the Math

Transloading is not right for everyone. You should sit down and run through a rough estimate of the numbers to ensure that you are going to be seeing the right amount of savings when using a transloading provider. After doing the calculations, you might find you are better off picking options like LTL freight rather than using transloading. Pick what is best for you and your shipment to ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment.

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International Shipping Tips

Shipping domestically is relatively easy. You load up your items into their custom crates or shrink them onto pallets, have a freight carrier pick them up and off they go for delivery. There are a few more moving parts, however, if you are going to be shipping things internationally.

International shipments can go from relatively complicated to nearly impossible depending on where you are shipping to and what the local laws are. Here are some basic tips for shipping large (crated) items internationally. Being aware of these simple things can be the difference between a successful shipment or a disaster.

Is It Worth It?

If you have never shipped before, then you may not be aware of just how expensive it can be to ship large items internationally. It really is the size that matters in a lot of these cases. Relatively inexpensive items (on the order of hundreds of dollars) can end up costing you thousands to ship internationally. Before you set up an international shipment, check into just what the cost of that shipment is going to be. You may find out that the value of the item simply isn’t worth the amount of money it is going to cost to ship it (or receive it) internationally.

What Are the Shipping Rates?

Shipping domestically means that you are going to have flat rate shipping. Domestic companies will charge for distance (typically the further, the more expensive), but the rate is flat and doesn’t vary much after that. International shipping is much different.

Once you cross an international border, charges can go up quite a bit. New rates are applied, taxes and tariffs might be levied, and government approval forms need to be signed. These are typically all added into what is called “landed costs,” which is what the full amount of shipping into another country is going to be. Before you ship, be aware of what your landed cost is going to be so that there are no surprises.

Know the International Law

Did you know that it is illegal to import calendars into Vietnam? If you didn’t and you were trying to send a crate full of novelty calendars there, it might end up being a big problem. Before you try to ship something into another country you need to know what their local laws are regarding the items that you are shipping. You don’t want to find out after the shipment has arrived that it is considered contraband or is illegal.

Consider Using Fulfillment Services

Some companies are able to help you monitor shipping internationally. They are aware of all of the fees that are involved and can help to ensure a shipment arrives where it should and when it should. Make sure to utilize any monitoring services you can to ensure delivery of your shipment.

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If you are thinking about shipping using a wooden crate, then you should know about the different types that are available. Not all crates are created equal.

Not All Crates Are Created Equal

Take a look at all of that cardboard sitting in your warehouse. Is it really providing the protection that it should to the things that you are packing inside of it? The truth is that while cardboard is cheap, it is quite often not the best option for shipping. Cardboard just doesn’t provide the support, protection and safety that your shipment might need.

Having wooden crates custom built for your shipment might be more expensive than cardboard, but you have to balance out the benefits. Wooden crates will help to ensure that your shipment arrives intact and in perfect condition.

If you are thinking about shipping using a wooden crate, then you should know about the different types that are available. Not all crates are created equal.

Closed Crates

This is probably what you think of when you consider a wooden crate. It is a fully closed crate made typically of ply wood. There are no openings in the crate at all, and it is typically nailed or screwed closed.

These crates are great for transporting items that have no need for ventilation. They are also good for carrying items that are a risk of spilling things that could contaminate or damage other items around them. Spills in a closed crate tend to stay self-contained and will isolate any damage to the contents of that crate alone. Spills outside of a closed crate have a hard time getting inside, so your goods remain protected.

Frame Crate

Unlike the closed crate, a frame crate is probably something that you would never think of when trying to picture a shipping crate. Frame crates are exactly what the name suggests. They are a constructed frame of wood that is nailed together. A frame crate has no top or sides (called sheathing). You can see directly inside of the crate to see what is stored there.

Frame crates are typically used to transport things that need support but don’t need protection. Large machinery, custom metal parts and other heavy gear are candidates for frame crates.

Open Crates

An open crate is a crate that is constructed of wooden planks instead of sheets of plywood. A frame is constructed and the planks are attached to the frame either by nails or screws. Open crates are still closed on all sides, but there is typically a gap between the planks that will allow airflow into the crate.

Open crates are great for shipping things that need air and ventilation. Produce is a good example of items that would typically be shipped in an open crate.

Stitched and Wire Bound Crates

These “recycled” crates are typically made of pieces of thin pieces of wood that are held together using wire or banding for support. Triangular corners are used to add strength and reinforce weak spots.

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Here is some advice from your transloading partners at Cratex Group on how to avoid dry run fees.

Understanding and Avoiding Dry Run Fees

The shipping industry is an alphabet soup of abbreviations, acronyms and other terms that have no meaning in the real world. The problem is, many of these terms are associated with rather high fees, penalties and other charges that can add a significant amount to the freight charges. Understanding what these fees are and why they occur is a key in helping to avoid them and paying the least amount that you can for those freight charges.

Let’s take a look at what dry run fees are, why they are assessed and how you can avoid getting them.

What Is a Dry Run Fee?

The dry run fee is something that is assessed when a freight carrier shows up to pick up a delivery, but the freight wasn’t ready. There can be several reasons that this happens. The freight isn’t ready for pickup at the time that the carrier arrives. The shipper was not aware that the pickup was going to occur at that date/time. The freight is ready, but not in a state that the freight carrier is able to pick up. This could be due to the freight not being palletized in a way that the carrier can pick up or that it is just not ready to go per the freight agreement.

Quite simply a dry run fee happens when the freight carrier shows up and leaves empty handed. “Dry Run” is a tongue in cheek way of saying they were practicing driving from the carrier to the shipper.

How Can You Avoid Dry Run Fees?

Of course the easiest way to avoid the fee is to make sure that the freight carrier doesn’t show up until the order is ready to go. This can mean several things.

First, the order must be completed, boxed up and palletized. A freight carrier is there to pick up and go, they are not going to assist in packing the order. They are also not going to have time to wait around while the order is completed.

Secondly timing between the shipper, receiver and freight transport company is critical in ensuring that this does not occur. If the receiver is the one who is arranging shipping, then any delays that the shipping company is experiencing must be communicated properly and in a timely manner. This is also true if the shipper is the one arranging the freight. Communication between all parties is critical to ensure that the timing works out properly.

Not All Is Lost

Sometimes freight carriers will not charge a dry run fee. This is simply good will on their part for not wanting to raise freight charges unnecessarily. If you have a freight carrier that chooses to do this, do not abuse them. Try to make it a one-time occurrence.

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Transloading is a great option if you are not able to reach your final destination with just one mode of transportation. Two of the most common uses of transloading are rail-truck or ocean-truck transportation. Transloading is a great way for you to get your goods from one point to another using two (or more) modes of transportation. Before you decide to integrate transloading in your transport plan, there are some things that you should keep in mind. Here are some basic rules so that you can include transloading properly into your transport plan. Not All Containers Are Created Equal If you are going from ocean containers to domestic trailers, then you need to realize they are very different in size. As a matter of fact 3 of the 40’ ocean containers will fit into 2-53’ domestic trailers or containers. This means that in order to save money you are going to want to avoid directly loading the ocean containers onto a trailer. If you are going the other way (truck to ocean), you will need to plan for the extra containers that you will need to complete the shipment. Don’t Forget to Add Time Shipping directly (if you can) typically costs more than using transloading. The issue is that transloading takes additional time. Containers need to be loaded (or unloaded) and then moved to the second mode of transportation. Sometimes the shipping times for rail or ocean do not match up directly with your needs. Before leveraging transloading services, make sure that the additional time added will not make your delivery late or even too late to be accepted. Nobody needs a load of Christmas decorations in July, so plan appropriately. Use Customs Effectively If you are shipping internationally and by ocean, then you are going to have to cleared customs. Not doing so will hold up your shipment until the proper documentation is filed and finished. By clearing customs at the port, you will not have to worry about any problems inland. This can add flexibility in your cargo handling and can help to eliminate the expenses associated with moving the cargo in bond. Does the Math Work Out? Realize that transloading is not a magic bullet. There is a tradeoff of costs that is going to happen. Before committing to transloading, make sure that the added costs of handling your goods is going to outweigh the costs of transportation. Don’t Wait until the Last Minute Transloading takes some logistics in order to work properly. This means that you cannot expect a transloader to be able to handle your shipment at the last minute. You need plenty of time to work out the timing of the shipment and coordinate all of the moving parts. Make sure to include all of the players in your supply chain to avoid issues. Trust Cratex for your Transloading Needs Need help setting up transloading services for your company? Contact Cratex Group today!

Rules for Including Transloading in Your Transport Plan

Transloading is a great option if you are not able to reach your final destination with just one mode of transportation. Two of the most common uses of transloading are rail-truck or ocean-truck transportation. Transloading is a great way for you to get your goods from one point to another using two (or more) modes of transportation.

Before you decide to integrate transloading in your transport plan, there are some things that you should keep in mind. Here are some basic rules so that you can include transloading properly into your transport plan.

Not All Containers Are Created Equal

If you are going from ocean containers to domestic trailers, then you need to realize they are very different in size. As a matter of fact 3 of the 40’ ocean containers will fit into 2-53’ domestic trailers or containers. This means that in order to save money you are going to want to avoid directly loading the ocean containers onto a trailer. If you are going the other way (truck to ocean), you will need to plan for the extra containers that you will need to complete the shipment.

Don’t Forget to Add Time

Shipping directly (if you can) typically costs more than using transloading. The issue is that transloading takes additional time. Containers need to be loaded (or unloaded) and then moved to the second mode of transportation. Sometimes the shipping times for rail or ocean do not match up directly with your needs. Before leveraging transloading services, make sure that the additional time added will not make your delivery late or even too late to be accepted. Nobody needs a load of Christmas decorations in July, so plan appropriately.

Use Customs Effectively

If you are shipping internationally and by ocean, then you are going to have to cleared customs. Not doing so will hold up your shipment until the proper documentation is filed and finished. By clearing customs at the port, you will not have to worry about any problems inland. This can add flexibility in your cargo handling and can help to eliminate the expenses associated with moving the cargo in bond.

Does the Math Work Out?

Realize that transloading is not a magic bullet. There is a tradeoff of costs that is going to happen. Before committing to transloading, make sure that the added costs of handling your goods is going to outweigh the costs of transportation.

Don’t Wait until the Last Minute

Transloading takes some logistics in order to work properly. This means that you cannot expect a transloader to be able to handle your shipment at the last minute. You need plenty of time to work out the timing of the shipment and coordinate all of the moving parts. Make sure to include all of the players in your supply chain to avoid issues.

Trust Cratex for your Transloading Needs

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The Difference in Plastic Wraps

The Difference in Plastic Wraps

When looking at shipments that arrive, shipments that are waiting to go or freight that is sitting on your manufacturing floor, you will see it wrapped in different types of translucent plastic. All plastic wraps are not created equal. The two main types that you will encounter are stretch wrap or shrink wrap. They may look similar, but there are some very distinct differences between them. Here are the differences between shrink wrap and stretch wrap and when it is appropriate to use one or the other.

Shrink Wrap

Shrink wrap is a type of plastic protection that goes over a wide range of shipments. The wrapping is applied loosely, then heat is applied to the plastic. The heat causes the wrapping to shrink down around what it is covering conforming to the unique shape of the package.

Shrink Wrap has many uses. First, it is a good way to protect items from the elements. The barrier formed by shrink wrap keeps out dust, dirt and moisture. This is great for shipments that might be exposed to the elements or have particular sensitivity to moisture.

Shrink wrap, while forming a protective barrier, can also be used to hold pallets of boxes or other loose material together. It means that using things like straps or tie downs on a pallet are less necessary (depending on the shipment) because the shrink wrap will hold everything in place.

If you are thinking of using shrink wrap, remember that the barrier is air tight. That means the items, if they have any moisture or are prone to moisture damage, will not be able to air out. However, if you know this ahead of time, you can always prepare your shipment by having ventilation holes put into the shrink wrap in order to provide air circulation.

Also, remember that some amount of heat is going to be applied to get the shrink wrap to the proper size. If your shipment is very sensitive to heat, you may not be able to use shrink wrap.

Stretch Wrapping

Think of stretch wrap as an industrial sized cling wrap. It is a stretchable polyethylene plastic film that wraps around your shipment. When you pull on it, the film stretches instead of breaking, much like elastic. That makes it useful in holding together pallets of boxes or other loose items. It is also much more affordable than other types of pallet wrappings you might use to hold your shipment together.

Stretch wrap is available in a wide variety of types, including specialty films that are static proof or protect against UV rays. Stretch wrap also provides some protection against dirt and elements, but not as much as shrink wrap does.

Shrink wrap is very versatile and can be used for many different applications. Machines that apply shrink wrap can automate the process as well.

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Types of Packing Foam

Types of Packing Foam

It is very important for anything that your company ships to arrive without damage. That is why so much time and money is spent getting custom crates, pallets, boxes and labeling right. One thing that it is very easy to overlook is packing material. It is almost given a second thought as what you toss in after the fact when the real packing is all over and done. The truth is, there are several different ways to provide padding for your shipment; packing foam is one of them. Here are some of the types of packing foams that you can choose from for your shipments.

Egg Crate Style Foam

This style of foam is called egg crate foam because when you look at it, there is a resemblance to what eggs come packed in. It is not what eggs come packed in, but egg crate foam offers several advantages as a packing material. First, it comes in rectangular sheets and is easily cut. That means that it can be used in just about any application because it can be cut to size.

Secondly, it is very good at conforming to the shape of the thing that it is being placed around to protect. This means there is more surface area in contact directly with what you are shipping so that it offers maximum protection.

Finally, because of the shape, egg crate foam offers more air circulation than other types of packing foams. The depressions in it allow air to move, unlike more dense foams that do not.

Egg crate foam is good for many different shipping applications, and is also good as a secondary packing material when mixed with other types.

Polystyrene Foam

When you open up a brand new television, polystyrene foam is likely what you will find protecting it inside the box. This foam is tough, durable and holds form very well. It has many applications as it is easy to make custom fits with. It also comes in a variety of thicknesses so that you can pick what is appropriate for your application.

Polystyrene foam also offers good temperature protection as it functions as an insulator as well. The fact that it is lightweight means that it will not add much to the cost of shipping.

Anti-static Foam

If you are shipping electronics or anything else that might be sensitive to static, anti-static foam is the way to go. Since one of the ways that electronics can be damaged is by static electricity, this foam is made specially to prevent the buildup of static charge. Instead of building up to a shock, static electricity is dissipated, providing that extra layer of protection for any circuit boards, microchips or other electronics that are sensitive to this type of electricity.

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What Is Disposition in Freight Shipping?

What Is Disposition in Freight Shipping?

The freight business loves to use words and change the meaning. If you thought disposition was something that described your mood or your approach to a situation, you would not be wrong… unless you were talking about freight. Disposition in regards to transloaded freight shipping can be a serious issue that needs to be addressed quickly. Let’s find out what disposition is, what might cause it and the best ways to handle it.

What Is Freight Disposition?

Your shipping company may call up to notify you of freight disposition. When this happens, it means that, for some reason, the consignee of the shipment has refused delivery and has requested that the shipment be returned to the terminal. The disposition request is essentially your shipping company asking you what you want for them to do with this returned shipment. This can become a serious issue as your returned shipment is taking up space, which may be costing your company money. It also is preventing them from completing your shipment which could mean a delay in payment for their services. Finally, they may be incurring more costs as they need to figure out where the returned freight has to go.

What Causes Disposition?

There are several reasons that a consignee could decide to reject a shipment. Often they are encouraged to do so by a freight carrier, or even the shipping company itself, if it appears that there are some kinds of issues with the order. Some of the more common causes are:

  • Mistakes in Paperwork – The bill of lading needs to be an accurate representation of what is being shipped. Mistakes on a bill of lading can reflect mistakes in shipment. Who is the cause of those mistakes needs to be routed out by the shipper and the shipping company, not the consignee. Shipments will often be rejected for this reason.
  • Signs of Damage – When a shipment arrives with signs that it might be damaged, it is recommended that the shipment be refused. Often simply signing for a shipment is acknowledgement that it arrived undamaged. Any time there is suspected damage in a shipment, it can be refused.
  • Delivery to a Wrong Location – Sometimes a shipment can show up at the wrong place. This may be due to a mistake on the bill of lading or for other clerical reasons. Regardless, a shipment that is delivered to the wrong location will often be declined and sent back as a problem to be dealt with by the shipping company and their freight carrier.

What to Do about Disposition?

If you are notified of a shipment disposition, don’t wait to handle it. The longer you wait, the more it can cost you in the long run. Work with your carrier and consignee to figure out the best course of action and get the situation resolved as quickly as possible.

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What Is a Drop Trailer?

What Is a Drop Trailer?

If you are using Less than Truckload (LTL) shipping, then you probably run into a lot of terms that just don’t make much sense. It is very important that you know and understand everything that is going written on your shipping contract or your bill of lading. So, you have probably run across the term “drop trailer” at some point or another. What is a drop trailer, and why do some LTL companies use them? Let’s find out.

What Is a Drop Trailer?

Put simply, a drop trailer is a truck trailer that is left at a location for some amount of time. It is “dropped” there for a later pickup. So why would a shipping company do that?

Mostly, it is because the location that the trailer is dropped at does a large volume of shipping. A drop trailer will typically fill up in a week or maybe even a day. Typical places a drop trailer might be left are warehouses, factories or even places that specialize in CPG or consumer packaged goods. Anywhere that a large amount of freight is going to be leaving is a great place for a drop trailer.

Can My Shipment Be Delayed by a Drop Trailer?

Yes, a company that uses drop trailers may pick up your shipment then drop the trailer at one of the drop trailer sites to be filled the rest of the way. Keep in mind that the people using the drop trailer service are fully aware of the delays that might be involved with using one. That doesn’t mean that those who are expecting your shipment are going to be as knowledgeable.

If your shipment is time sensitive and has a deadline, you may want to avoid using a carrier who does drop trailers on a regular basis. You could also see if you can work a deal out with them to ensure that your shipment is not part of a drop trailer shipment.

Perishable Items are a No-No

If you do decide to go with an LTL carrier who does drop trailers, it should go without saying that a drop trailer is bad for a business who deals in perishable items. If you are shipping perishable items and your carrier mentions drop trailers, switch to a different carrier. Nobody wants produce that has been sitting around in a hot trailer for a week!

Not All Carriers Do Drop Trailers

The intention isn’t to start an LTL panic. Many carriers don’t have the resources or the time to deal with drop trailers. Being aware what carriers do and which ones don’t can help you to avoid having unnecessary delays in your shipments as well as making sure your perishable good arrive intact!

Trust Cratex Group for Your Transloading, Industrial Packing and Custom Crating Needs

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