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4 Tips for Shipping Truck Parts

Joe Pietrzak

19 December 2018

When shipping truck parts, aim for perfection by preparing for problems.

Heavy, irregularly shaped, and relatively fragile truck parts are challenging to ship. Parts must arrive in perfect condition and on time to keep assembly lines moving smoothly.

Here are four tips for preventing damage to the cargo and securing the best rates for your freight when shipping truck parts.

4 tips for shipping truck parts

1. Know the expectations

Let’s assume you are buying a couch or dining room table. If you are buying new, you are spending good money to get your furniture in new condition. If an item you ordered new was delivered with a rip or dent, you would refuse that item, right?

A new item means pristine condition. Of course, you know that nicks and bumps will happen, but you want to be the first to make them.

Truck parts fall into the same delicate category as your new hardwood dining table. Parts in the truck and trailer industry are expected to withstand the stresses of demanding use and with time will suffer chips, dents, and rust damage.

But even with heavy-duty application in mind, if the parts are ordered new, the expectation is that they will arrive in perfect condition. Even hard-wearing landing gear for the bottom of the trailer must arrive in pristine condition.

2. Anticipate potential dangers in handling

When the high standard of “new condition” comes up against the realities of shipping, you’ve got a problem. In the course of normal daily transit, shipping may cause damage. Bumps with a forklift or against an adjacent pallet could result in chipped paint. The remedies of painting and replacement are available, of course, but the expectation remains that your truck parts arrive new — not “like new,” but real, pristine, “new condition.” So how do you meet that high standard for your parts?

The best starting point is to identify how damage could happen to your truck parts. Improper packaging is often the culprit. The good news with most truck parts is that you are often shipping the same part again and again. Because these parts are not unique, you just have to get the packaging right once and then repeat.

We offer packaging engineers who review your product and can identify the proper burst values of corrugated boxes. We often find that habitual instances of damage are corrected with minimal expense.

But even if the product is packaged sufficiently, it could run into a carrier mishap from stacking, crushing, or chipping. This creates a significant challenge for shipping truck parts, which customers can reject simply because a box is dented.

When the integrity of an internal product is critical, a dented box alerts the customer to potential damage. A dented box requires additional manpower to inspect a possibly damaged product and administrative fees for inspection. The expectation is a shelf-ready product; otherwise, you are in danger of rejection by the customer.

To reduce this type of damage, identify special handling needs by labeling the exterior of the product and putting special instructions on the bill of lading (BOL). This may include specifying no stacking or palletization.

What is the best way to address challenges like these? Make it a team effort.

3. Consider different modes when shipping truck parts

Your mode choices for truck parts are predicated on value, timing needs, and the potential for damage. Truckload (TL) has the least chance of damage because your product is not handled or touched until it reaches the end customer. But filling an entire truckload isn’t always feasible or affordable.

Less-than-truckload (LTL) offers good value but has the highest touch rate. More touches generally mean more potential for damage. With 50 other products in the truck, yours will need to be palletized. Standard pallets are 48 by 40 inches. Many of our customers will engineer pallets specific to their product to fit safely, without being compromised.

Products also need to be secured to the pallet, which can present a problem if you have a 30- by 30-inch part on a 48- by 40-inch pallet.

What is the best way to address challenges like these? Make it a team effort. With carrier assistance, a 3PL can identify if the pallet is the wrong size. We can then pass our recommendations on to you. Where necessary, we can provide specialized engineer consults. We can also make recommendations based on your historical claims data. For example, if you are experiencing five claims a month for a certain product, we can evaluate the root cause and rectify it quickly once we identify a pattern.

4. Prepare for the inevitable claims

Even with all possible precautions, claims are a standard part of shipping truck parts. Carriers even publish incident rates, demonstrating that they accept and acknowledge a certain number of claims as part of the shipping process. The BOL offers the best way to clearly document your shipping requirements and any issues with the shipment when it is received.

The BOL also offers you the opportunity to declare the value of your shipment. Declaration of value is important when shipping. A carrier publishes its maximum liability by pound, thus limiting its liability unless you declare the value on a BOL. So if you are shipping a part where the value is greater than what the carrier publishes, it makes sense to declare that value.

Process is important, too. When shipping truck parts, the carrier signs and accepts the BOL. When the shipment arrives, the receiver has to acknowledge that the part received is in good condition. If you are receiving inbound parts, it is important to make sure that your receiver accurately inspects and documents damage before a carrier departs. This ensures that the carrier is on notice and the claim is properly documented. When fragile or “new condition” is required in shipping your truck parts, process matters.

There are many considerations in shipping truck parts that differ from other goods. By knowing the expectations, anticipating problems, preparing for claims, and evaluating your mode options, you can ship truck parts efficiently and cost-effectively.

Joe Pietrzak

Joe is a VP of Key Accounts at Evans Transportation.

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