Crating, building a custom crate

Crating an item is necessary when the item needs extra protection or is of a high value. No item can survive a truck rollover. Fortunately those are rare. More common, yet still unlikely, is a forklift accident. Crating should protect against most of those incidents. This mirror wall hanging required extra care. If we would have just placed it in the box with some peanuts it would have been damaged in transit.

We examined the art work and decided to float it in the crate, meaning that it would not be depending on the packing for support or protection, even though we would add packing material in as an extra precaution.

Building a crate around a mirror

OSB for bottom of the crate

This kind of crating cannot be done with a standard crate. Even buying a crate big enough to fit this wall hanging would have cost about $400. We were able to build it for under $100. We passed the savings on to the customer. Floating the item in the box made the most sense because the edges were to delicate to support the weight of the whole piece. Once the piece was attached, which we did without adding any screws or holes to the piece, we added the layer of OSB which would become the bottom of the crate.

This piece is very large requiring us to not only create a custom crate, but will also require that we create a custom pallet to place it on.

We will get calls from time to time asking us to provide an estimate. We the only freight company that provides an estimate without having to call or email us. Sometimes people just want a quick answer that will give them some information before they decide whether to ship something. But estimating is just that an estimate. Some items may require special care or crating.

Freight Shipping Palletizing

Freight Shipping items is done via special freight carriers and is quite a bit different from shipping through the standard carriers such as the post office and FedEx. For example we have this load going to Pittsburgh from a customer here in Long Beach. This will require freight shipping.

Boxes fitting on a pallet

Now this is not ready for freight shipping, but you can see that this 200lb load is quite big. We will eventually strap it to the pallet and wrap it so that it is safe and secure. There are 3 boxes and the Post Office wouldn’t even take one of them individually because they weigh to much. We could rebox them and send several shipments through FedEx ground, but the end result is that it would be a lot more expensive. I am going to estimate that this load is going to cost the customer $550. That includes pickup, palletizing and delivery. This came from a customer in Long Beach as it is. We aren’t done because we have to decide whether to use the customer’s boxes or not. They look a little beat up. We may take all the items out and repack them or we may create a bigger box around these three and secure them within that bigger box.

There are a lot of things to consider when freight shipping.

Forklift potential problems

Another thing that concerns me is that this is furniture with some legs.  You can see where the pallet allows the fork lift to get under the pallet. If the legs poke through the  fork lift will tear them right off. We will probably want to reinforce the bottom to ensure the legs can’t poke through

Stacking consideration pallets

Another thing we want to consider when freight shipping is that this pallet is not very stackable. Some freight shippers will do things on purpose to stop the stacking of their items. That is game that needs to played carefully. Loads can actually get damaged because of the stackability. If this was a high value item something greater than $3000. Then we might build a box much higher and move the items up in the box.We are going to build something around these boxes that allows other pallets to be stacked on top of it.

These are just some of the considerations of freight shipping. There are a lot more. That’s why people hire us to give the best way to ship their items.

International Shipping

We like to say that we offer the best way to ship international because “best” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. We are waiting for some shoes to arrive in Nigeria right now, but back to that story in a minute. Now shipping international is expensive. This is most apparent to people who are trying to return items they may have purchased on Amazon. They weren’t aware that the item was coming from China. Now that they have the item they may want to return in, but the cost of shipping it back is more than the value of the item. We see this all the time. How can that be? You might ask. There is a special arrangement with shipping items from China. The cost of shipping from China can be pennies. I won’t go into the details here. The result is that some sellers in China can make money on free shipping selling items really cheap and you can’t return them. For those shipping from the US shipping is expensive. The least expensive is the US Post Office. There are many reasons that this is the most popular way to ship internationally. But best doesn’t always mean cheapest. For example the US Post office generally gets the items to their destination, but then sometimes doesn’t. The least expensive shipping through the post office only tracks the item to the border (or customs) after that the item is not trackable.  This means that the item is lost, sometimes forever. The other dark secret why the postal service is desirable is that taxes are hidden. Technically the taxes are the responsibility of the receiving party. Somehow the postal services gets a pass when collecting taxes. All the other carries will collect the tax before they will let the receiving party collect the package.

The real downside to using the postal service is that sometimes packages will be delayed mysteriously or will never arrive. With the other carriers (DHL, FedEx, UPS) we will always know where the package is and they will take responsibility for the package until it is delivered. I just helped a customer from Cypress, CA send an anniversary card to her parents in Indonesia. She paid $60 to send the card. She has sent a lot to her parents over the years including prescription medicine. There are other places which mail packages in Cypress but she always comes back to us because she knows the service we provide. She also knows that if she sends that card through the postal service it might no arrive. Personally a card I am going to use the postal service, knowing it might not arrive. But she used DHL (which we discount in order to encourage people to not use the postal service) because she wanted the card to arrive. It was important to her. Now when she sends more important packages there is no question she will not use the postal service.

Shipping international also requires that you follow a lot of rules. The rules are so varied and complex that there is no way to know them all. Now we are aware of some important ones. There are websites dedicated to laying out all the rules but they do not catch all of them. For example we just sent a box to Nigeria with 4 cell phones. DHL caught the package before it left and informed us that packages could only have 2 cell phones. No where on their website does it say this. We went to DHL retrieved the package and broke it into 2 packages each with 2 cell phones. Now if the customer had used the postal service those packages would have been rejected at customs, returned to us (hopefully) with no refund on the postage.

There are two countries where you have to use the postal service. Iran and Cuba. There are a lot of restrictions on what you can send there. For example you cannot send more than one package per month to Cuba. But you cannot use the other carriers.

Of all the carriers we prefer DHL. They are the best to work with when their are problems. They also seem to be the most reliable for getting packages where they need to be without excuses. We will use FedEx when the items need to be insured for a high value.

There is more to shipping internationally. We could write a whole book on shipping large items like cars. It can all be done, but you have to be aware of the rules and what best way might mean.