If your business is looking to send out an LTL freight shipment and this is your first time doing so, it’s important to know what guidelines you’ll need to follow in order for your shipment to make it safely to your destination. Proper packaging protects your transit during transit and is required by all freight carriers to ensure that your shipment is delivered safely. Most claims and damages arise from improper packaging, and packaging errors may eliminate your carrier’s liability. Here are five easy tips to protect your shipment from damage:

Identify fragile/breakable items

Before packing your items into boxes, determine whether the items are fragile/breakable. Items that are considered fragile include glass items, computers, electronics, small furniture, household goods and artwork/fine art. Pack fragile items inside new and sturdy containers. Wrap each item separately in bubble wrap or foam padding, and then place each item snuggly inside of the box. Leave room around the sixes of the box and pad with additional cushioning.

Use pallets when shipping multiple boxes

If you’re shipping multiple boxes or boxes that are heavy, using a pallet can make the boxes easier to ship. Always use pallets that are in good condition and that are durable. Stack the boxes squarely on the pallet, and make sure the boxes are lined up corner-to-corner with no overhang. Stack near the edges but don’t go over. Do your best to distribute the weight evenly, and make sure the top surface is flat. This will minimize the chance of damaged boxes. Also, don’t forget to label every box before stacking your boxes on the pallet.

Wrap your pallet with shrink-wrap

The packaging you select needs to be appropriate for the product you’re shipping. Using cartons, crates cages or drums will provide additional protection for your shipment. Additionally, wrapping your shipment with blankets or other cushioning material to secure your pallet is also effective. Shipments can be secured using shrink-wrap, banding or spray adhesive.

When wrapping your pallet, begin by tightly wrapping the shrink-wrap around the bottom of the pallet in the same direction that you started. Wrap the base at least four to five times, and allow the edge of the wrap to go underneath all corners. Next, work your way up from the base so the next layer is joined securely to the first base layer. Keeping the shrink-wrap tight will ensure that the pallet stays together during transit.

Tape and label boxes

For light boxes, use durable tape that is at least two to three inches wide. For heavier boxes, use reinforced tape that’s at least three inches wide. Avoid using household scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape or paper tape. Place tape evenly across the flaps and seams of the top and bottom sides of the box.

Every box in your shipment must have a label indicating the shipper’s complete address. Additional information such as phone numbers and the date shipped can be added to assist the carrier. The labels should be clear and easy to read. You can use any adhesive printer address label. Place the label on the top surface of every box in your shipment, and avoid placing your label over the seam.