Friday, May 9, 2008

Pallets and forklifts and waybills, oh my!

LTL (less than load) shipping is significantly better for books than individual package shipping in a key way: the boxes are rarely damaged. If you take a half-ton of boxes, put them on a pallet, and shrinkwrap them all together, then the boxes simply don’t get thrown around in transit the way they do if they’re all tossed into a container. Sure, I’ve occasionally received an LTL shipment where a forklift drove into the side of the boxes, but that only damages a couple of boxes. And it’s pretty rare.

It took me a number of years to figure out that I could have LTL shipments held at the terminal for pickup instead of dealing with the difficult logistics of a residential delivery, and it sure makes life easier. The forklift driver yesterday was able to slide the entire pallet straight into the back of my car with a few inches clearance. I’ve always wanted to try doing that, but usually the dimensions are wrong. I was a little disappointed this morning when today’s forklift driver chickened out of trying it with today’s pallet, but I can’t blame him given the dire warnings about the consequences if he screwed up from the terminal manager who was hanging out with some of his drivers by the ramp. So we took the five minutes required to unwrap the pallet and transfer the individual boxes into the car. The staff at the Roadway terminal have all been extremely helpful this year, and I’m glad to read that they are still a union operation.

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