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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!

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The Difference between Pre-carriage and On-Carriage

The Difference between Pre-carriage and On-Carriage

Have you ever taken a look at your bill of lading and wondered what all of the terms that they are using on it are? The shipping industry can use a lot of confusing technical terms that make you unsure whether or not your shipping documentation is correct or not. Let’s take a look at two terms you may see: pre-carriage and on-carriage. Not only are these terms common, they can affect information on your bill of lading that may lead you to believe that it is incorrect or that you are being over charged.

What Is Pre-Carriage?

Pre-carriage is simply defined as any movement inland that is done on your shipping container before it is delivered to your port or terminal. This includes all movement from your facility to the port or terminal. It can also include things like moving empty shipping containers to your site in order for them to be loaded, or recovering them from your site for other reasons.

An example of this would be if you were planning on shipping something from your Vancouver location. You have a container delivered to your site from the port, then trucked from your site to the port. All of this movement occurs before the shipment has arrived at the port, and it is therefore considered pre-carriage and would be listed as such on your bill of lading.

What Is On-Carriage?

On-carriage is the term that is given to any inland movement that occurs to your shipment after the container has been picked up from the main port or terminal. This typically occurs at your destination port or terminal if you are shipping or at your local one if you are receiving. This movement will be reflected as such on your bill of lading.

An example of on-carriage would be the following. You have a shipment arrive at the Port of Vancouver, and it needs transported to Calgary. The shipment would arrive, be unloaded and placed onto rail cars or trucks and then moved to your destination in Calgary. This would be an example of what would be marked as on-carriage movement on your bill of lading.

Related terms: Merchant Haulage and Carrier Haulage

There are some related terms that you might see crop up in association with pre-carriage and on-carriage. Those terms are merchant haulage and carrier haulage. They typically refer to who is doing the transportation of your goods and can reflect your destination on the bill of lading.

Merchant Haulage is transport done by you or your agent once the shipment arrives. That means your bill of lading will not reflect your final destination. Carrier haulage is transport that is done on your behalf by the company you have contracted at the terminal or port. This will be reflected in the final destination on your bill of lading.

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How Does Rail to Truck Transloading Work?

How Does Rail to Truck Transloading Work?

Want to learn about a process that can save your company a substantial amount of money on shipping costs?  It’s called transloading, a process where a company receives your goods from one mode of transportation, say rail, and then ships the goods back out on another mode of transportation like trucks. As the shipment is received, it can be sorted, repackaged and sent on transportation that will get it to where it needs to go. Here is how the process works if you are shipping bulk by rail and then transloading to trucks.

Initial Shipping

When it comes time to get your shipment ready to go, you want to save as much as possible. If you are moving your goods a long distance, it pays to use bulk transport like rail. So you get your shipment packaged up and ready to be sent by rail to the transloading site. Your shipment can arrive by any means available on rail, flatcars, gondolas or boxcars. Make sure to pick the right choice for what you are shipping. If your goods need climate control, make sure to pick an option that includes that feature.

Receipt at the Site

Your transloader will be aware of when your shipment is going to arrive and will be prepared to receive it. As the train carrying your goods arrives, the host railroad will notify your transloading company that it is there and that they can come get it. The freight car is spotted or placed at the transloading site in order to begin the process.


The transloading company now gets to work. Each of the railcars that you sent will be carefully unpacked. The goods in them will be inventoried and received. If you are transloading bulk goods, you should arrange ahead of time how you want your transloader to handle them. Typically, they have access to any of the normal equipment at a rail yard such as gravity outlets, pneumatics or even mechanical scoops.

Optional Storage Time

Do you need your transloading site to hold onto your goods for a short amount of time? You may wish to do so in order to make sure you don’t need to use LTL shipping, or if you have a timing issue like holiday goods arriving too soon for a holiday. Short term and long term storage agreements can be worked into a transloading order.


Once your goods are ready to head out, they will be loaded onto trucks for the final delivery to their destination. Many transloaders will work out the details for you as part of your transloading agreement, or some will be willing to let you make arrangements with a shipping company on your own. Be sure to discuss this with your transloading agents prior to your agreement.

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The Ins and Outs of Packing Materials

The Ins and Outs of Packing Materials

You probably spend a lot of time thinking about what it is that you are going to be shipping. You might spend an equal amount of time thinking about what kind of container you are going to put it into when you are going to ship it. But what about the other things that go into the shipping crate or box along with your shipped items. There is a little more to it than you might think. Here are some of the different types of packing materials that you can use for your shipment and how they differ.

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What is the Container Department?

Ever wondered what that container department does? You may have run across them under this name or perhaps one of the other names that they go by, like Logistics, Container Control or Equipment Control. Regardless of what their name is, it is their responsibility to track all of the shipping containers that belong to a shipping line or NVOCC operator. This includes 20 foot, 40 foot and 45 foot dry, reefer, high cube, open top, flat rack and hard tops, among others. Here are some of the ways that they keep track of this information.

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