Shipping heavy and oversized items can pose some interesting challenges for business owners. After all, these large items are valuable, and have required investment to produce – but the carrier you trust may not be equipped to handle them. Therefore, how can you ensure that they will arrive to your customers intact and on time?
To help, we've compiled a comprehensive guide on how to ship heavy items anywhere in the world – and in a timely and affordable way.
How is Shipping a Heavy Item Different?
There are two primary classifications to be aware of if your company ships heavy items: freight and parcel. Freight shipping applies to anything that weighs over 70kgs, while parcel shipping generally involves more standard shipping services for smaller items. However, anything over 30kgs is classified as a heavy package and costs more to ship.
It is essential to understand this distinction because, while some parcel services do offer freight shipping, it is usually more expensive than using a dedicated freight shipper. While it may be convenient to use the same shipping company that you do for your smaller items, if you are going to be shipping items over 60kgs regularly, then it is worth your time to find a freight service.
Here are some of the steps you'll need to take to get your heavy items ready to be shipped, as well as your best options for getting them to their destination.
How to Package Heavy Items for Shipping
To get a reasonable estimate of costs for shipping heavy items, you must first identify and establish several vital details. These include:
- Special Considerations
- Point of Origin
- Expected Date of Arrival
If you don't know these details, then you will most likely receive a misquoted rate from the provider, leading to longer-than-hoped-for shipping times. Therefore, in order to provide this information to a carrier, it is wise to consider the following best practices:
Choose a Box
First, you need to figure out what size of box will work best for the object you are shipping. This will allow you to identify the dimensions of what you will be sending. This is also the point where you should consider what type of material will be the most appropriate. Corrugated cardboard with stitched or stapled seams is a common choice, but if your product is especially vulnerable, you might also consider a wooden box (note that this may be more expensive).
At this point, you will also need to decide if you want to go through the effort of using a second box to secure the container. Again, these extra considerations add to the overall cost of shipment, but also increase the chance of survival for delicate objects over long distances.
Secure Your Items with Padding
As mentioned, packing paper or bubble wrap is the preferred padding to use when shipping heavy items. Neither will leave any marks on the products and can be disposed of by the recipient responsibly upon receipt of the package. Styrofoam packing peanuts are being used less and less, considering the nonbiodegradable nature of their composition and their tendency to move during shipping, sometimes resulting in damaged items.
Make sure you wrap each component separately in its own padding. When placing everything in the box, always put the heaviest items in the bottom and stack the lighter ones on the top. Make sure that any voids left are filled in with packing material so that the items you are sending don't move around on their journey.
Once you feel confident that the items inside your package won't be going anywhere, seal it up with professional-grade packing tape.
Label Heavy Packages
Make sure that all the heavy items you are shipping are correctly labelled. Start by including a shipping label with both the intended address and your company's return address in the box itself. On the outside, include any necessary consideration labels, such as a 'fragile' or 'heavy' sticker to help ensure that the package will be handled correctly.
Make sure that the outside shipping label is easy to see and double-check that all the information is correct. You don't want to risk having to ship it twice and cut into the profits you are expecting from the sale.
With the knowledge of what your package looks like, the final weight and where it is going, you can start figuring out what shipping service will work best for your items.
As mentioned above, you will need to send your items through either a parcel service or freight shipper, depending on the weight. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of three different services that you can use.
A Local Postal Service
If your large items are on the lower end of the scale, you may be able to utilise your local postal service. These are often the best way to ship items cheaply and can often be very time efficient as well. Some services, such as the United States Postal Service (USPS), offer special rates on items such as media, which can make shipping far less expensive.
However, many postal services cap their weight at 30kgs, so this may not be an option for larger items.
The next service to consider is finding a courier service that specialises in parcel shipping. These include some of the big names of international shipping, such as DHL, FedEx and UPS. These companies take packages that weigh up to 70kgs and usually have options for delivery anywhere in the world. Most also have an option to take packages that are over this weight, but the price increase can be steep.
Another thing to keep in mind if you are considering a courier service to ship large packages is the dimensional weight of your large item. Parcel shipments are usually priced on the amount of space that they take up in the truck. This means that if you have a bulky object, it may end up costing more to ship with a courier service even if its weight is relatively low.
If you are consistently shipping items that weigh over 70kgs, it will be to your advantage to find a consolidated freight solution. When you use a consolidated freight company, you are buying space on a truck that is headed to your item's destination alongside other customers' products.
Consolidated freight shipping services are provided by insured and licensed businesses, and while the cost starts at a premium, you can be assured that your large items will make it to their destination safer more reliably than any other method.
For most items, less-than-truckload shipping, or LTL, will secure your items safely and transport to their recipients. However, if the items are very fragile, or in need of special considerations such as refrigerated cargo space, many carriers offer a white glove service. These services give guarantees such as all packages will be stored appropriately, moved by hand and not by machinery, and generally given extra care to ensure that they travel safely. These services usually cost about twice as much as LTL, however.
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