How to Prepare Fragile Goods for Shipping

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Freight Quote mainly gets enquiries about how to ship big items, but customers also ask us for advice on transporting breakable items. Fragile goods often need more attention when it comes to preparing them for transport. While some items can just be put in a box and forgotten, you often need to spend a bit more time packaging fragile goods to make sure they can withstand a reasonable amount of handling that comes with freight. Whether you’re moving house, or sending a vase across the country, you need to make sure that the goods won’t get damaged along the way.


Take Your Time
As is often experienced, rushing a job means that something is forgotten or not done properly. This the same for freight – if glassware is quickly packed into a box with newspaper wrapping, they could be prone to damage during transport. Instead, it is better to take time to get the right materials and understand how to package the goods correctly. That way you can ship the items without wondering if you packaged them securely enough! If you find you don’t have enough time to package the goods, there are professionals who can do it for you. They have all the materials on hand to pack the items securely.


Invest in Quality Packaging Materials
The best materials to use for fragile goods are bubble wrap, foam peanuts, shrink wrap, polystyrene foam and quality cardboard boxes. You can find these either online at stores such as OutPak Resources, or at your local hardware store. Bubble wrap is useful for almost every scenario as it absorbs some of the shock if a box is dropped or when the truck drives over rough surfaces. Foam peanuts are small loose pieces of foam that are designed to fill the empty space in a box so that the contents don’t move around. Getting a sturdy corrugated cardboard box is also a great way to keep the contents secure.


Wrap Each Item Individually
Wrap all individual items separately, not packed together as this could cause them to break. Goods such as glasses and vases should have the inside filled with bubble wrap, then have the outside wrapped in bubble wrap. If you are sending new items, try to send them with the original packaging of the item – these often have polystyrene foam blocks custom fitted to the shape of the item.


Label All Boxes
Once the goods are packaged, the next step is then to label the box with ‘FRAGILE GOODS’ on all sides of the box. A clear label informs the courier or transport company that the box needs extra care when handling. Along with the rest of the consignment, the box will also need to have a box label with the delivery instructions and address.


Insuring Fragile Goods
If the fragile items are expensive, it can be worthwhile to get an insurance policy for the goods while they are with the courier. Purchasing insurance means you can be financially compensated in the event the goods are damaged during transit. While insurance and packaging may seem expensive, it is worthwhile to make sure the goods will reach their destination without any problems, and is definitely cheaper than having to replace the goods.

Transporting New Furniture – Road Freight or Removalist?

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When transporting furniture, if you are moving house or have just purchased it, getting it delivered can be sometimes be more difficult than imagined. There are several options available when it comes to selecting a freight company that can transport your furniture, whether it is flat packed furniture, boxed goods or large lounge suites. Selecting the right company means you could save money and time.

Road Transport and Pallet Freight– the Economical Option

Road freight services for business to business deliveries are probably the most common form of transport in Australia. The large semi-trailers often seen on the roads are picking up and delivering goods locally and interstate on a daily basis. Generally when you use this service, you only pay for the space you take up, not for the whole truck as some couriers would charge. In most circumstances, all road freight is either palletised or crated for transit. This is also how a freight company can offer an economical cost, as the loading and unloading can be done with a forklift – increasing efficiency from loading the truck to warehouse management. Sending new furniture, such as flat packed shelving, bed frames and tables can all be boxed and packed on a pallet. So, pallet freight on the road would probably be the best option.

Removalists – for Fragile and Bulky Furniture

However not all furniture can be packed on a pallet or crated. Lounge suites for example, can become quite bulky and oddly shaped, so that even manual handling them can be quite a challenge. Where road freight wouldn’t be the best option here, there are professionals that can help. Removalist companies have the best experience in handling this sort of freight, and regularly help people relocate homes and offices. With road freight, the goods would need to be packed ready on pickup, but hiring a removalist means they have all the materials and equipment. They will have plastic to shrink wrap the goods, protecting them from scratches and the general wear and tear of transport. They also have furniture pads to put on the bottom of couch legs, allowing them to easy drag heavy furniture without damaged the floor surface. With the custom level of care that you receive with a removalist, the cost for this service is often much more than a road freight service.

Transporting it yourself

Possibly the cheapest option is to transport the furniture yourself, either by getting a trailer or renting a small truck. If the distance from pickup to delivery isn’t too far, and helping hand is close by, this option could save you from emptying your wallet on hiring manual labour for a day.

Everyday Challenges Our Couriers Face

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Although so much of the freight industry is automated, digitalized and tracked, there is still a huge demand for people to work as couriers to physically transport products to their destination. Couriers may drive all manner of vehicles ranging from small utes and vans to larger buses and trucks, but once they are loaded up and on the road they all face similar challenges.

Driver Behaviours on Our Roads

One challenge that faces not only couriers, but all people that use the roads as part of their day to day job, is the attitudes of other motorists they encounter on any given day. Couriers, as well as paramedics, taxi drivers and others are constantly having to navigate through traffic where driver education is clearly either lacking or wilfully neglected by less considerate commuters.

Melbourne’s network of freeways and main roads suffer from a categorical disregard of the ‘keep left unless overtaking’ rule, which despite being law on roads with a posted speed limit of 80km/h and above, is frequently ignored by the average motorists, to the frustration of couriers who spend a high proportion of the day on our roads.

One reason for the lack of regard for the keep left rule is due to the extremely low tolerances of speeding cameras. According to the RACV website, fixed speed cameras will only deduct 2km/h from a vehicle’s detected speed and a mobile camera will deduct 3km/h from a vehicle’s detected speed. Understandably this leads to more driver focus on their speedometer, and less focus on things like the fact that they are holding up traffic behind them, or changes in road conditions ahead.

In European countries drivers will increase speed to safely pass a slightly slower moving bus or truck, whereas Australian drivers (Victorian drivers in particular) will overtake at a far slower rate on a multi-lane road with the result being there is often little to no difference between the left and right-hand lane.

Unnecessary Delays for Couriers

Other challenges for couriers are things like road accidents, road closures and poor weather conditions. With modern technology being able to notify couriers of things like heavy traffic, couriers are still able to travel by the quickest route, but there is one phenomenon that sees traffic slow to a crawl on a freeway despite the road being clear of hazards – and this is when the accident or hazard is on the opposing side of the freeway and motorists travelling in the opposite direction simply slow down out of curiosity on their way past the scene.

Road Rage

Road rage is another challenge that courier drivers and actually all drivers encounter at one point or other. The trigger for this can be as minor as a motorist choosing to slow down and stop as a traffic light turns yellow whilst the car behind was intending to accelerate to make it through the intersection.

There are many community voices advocating for a higher level of driver education rather than an increase in speeding cameras. Couriers carrying out heavy pallet deliveries need to allow for greater stopping distances due to the increased weight of the delivery vehicle. An increased awareness of this would prevent other motorists from cutting off heavy pallet delivery vehicles as they approach traffic lights and reduce the risk of accidents that scenarios like this cause.

The Significance of Freight

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‘Without trucks Australia stops’ is a slogan commonly seen on the back of trucks, and on a larger scale, an appropriate expression would be: without freight the world stops.

Freight is the glue that holds the world together. Freight is what makes it possible for the local supermarket to sell fresh produce, for car makers to assemble cars with parts built in various corners of the world, and for international aid to reach the people that need it the most.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if freight operations ground to a halt? To give you an idea of the incredible impact this would have, one need not look further back than the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano back in 2010.  Incredibly, a volcanic eruption in Iceland somehow managed to severely affect not only freight, but all air travel over most of Europe’s airspace due to the subsequent ash cloud which drifted across Europe in the days that followed. The consequences of this were enormous, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who had travel plans during that time, as well as major sporting and entertainment events needing to be cancelled.

But it wasn’t only Europe that was affected. Every nation with freight ties to the European continent was impacted. Freight of perishable items were some of the hardest hit, with goods like fresh produce, flowers and pharmaceuticals not being able to be freighted and sold due to reaching their expiry date.

Freight in the Oil, Gas and Mining Sector

On a private scale, if the international freight charges on small, regular goods is as much or in extreme cases, even exceeds the value of the actual item being shipped, the potential buyer will usually prefer the peace of mind that comes with paying more for a similar item available locally. However, in large industries, where down time is very costly, even relatively expensive freight will still be far cheaper than the costs incurred of a machine or piece of equipment staying broken down.

There are some amazing true stories of companies that have gone to great lengths to ensure goods reached their destination rather than relying on the ‘freight gods’. Companies that operate on tight deadlines have been known to simply book a taxi and strap the parcel to the passenger seat, to ensure nothing is left to chance.

The oil and gas industries are an example of hectic environments where downtime is counted in minutes, not hours. Again, freight is taken to the next level by people willing to pay whatever it takes. Scenarios such as paying an employee to take a last-minute flight and personally hand deliver a desperately needed replacement part have been known to occur within these industries, where the cost of the flight, accommodation and a handsome hourly rate for the employee running the errand is only a drop in the bucket compared to money being saved through reduced downtime.

How to Send Big Items

Obviously personalized express freight like the examples above are not possible when it comes to shipping big items. Even so, a last minute exorbitant courier quote for large items might still be the best option in some cases. Large items will often require custom built, heavy duty packaging which consists of materials such as timber and steel. This ensures that these items are not only safe and secure during transport, but that the packaging remains intact during the important stages of loading and also unloading these large items at their destination. Knowing how to send big items securely can be critical in a supply chain.

Packaging Goods for Transport

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If you’ve ever sent items with a transport company, you’ll understand that a major concern for people is making sure the goods arrive at the destination in the same condition that they left in. Packaging requirements can vary from one item to the next, so it is important to know how to ship big items and small ones, and which type of packaging is best suited for your needs. A courier quote for a large item, simply involves collecting and delivering the goods. It is up to the sender to make sure it is packaged adequately.

The risks of not packaging goods adequately are quite obvious. In online retailing, it could be very costly to have made a sale to a customer only to have the poorly packaged goods damaged before they arrive. Or perhaps you needed to send materials urgently to a construction site, but because the goods were damaged the project was delayed. Hence the indirect cost of damaged goods can become quite expensive, with extra freight costs, replacement costs and time lost all adding up to far more than the cost of some suitable packaging materials.

Types of packaging:

Satchels – these are commonly used to send very small and light goods such as spare parts and goods that have a small risk of getting damaged. They are most commonly used with local postal services.

Cartons – are used to transport smaller goods, and are one of the most common forms of freight packaging. Online retailers will pack cartons with many small items, minimising the risk of the goods being lost, and making the delivery economical. To increase protection in a box, it is common to fill any empty spaces with polystyrene foam so the goods remain stable and don’t move around.

Pallets – When deciding how to ship big items it really comes down to what the items are. Pallets are widely used in many businesses to send large quantities of cartons and bulky goods. If you go to a local supermarket, for example Aldi, it is very common to see pallets packed with many boxes of food. Pallets are one of the most economical and efficient way to send goods. To minimise the risk of damage to pallets, they are often shrink wrapped with plastic, which holds all the boxes together on the pallet so they don’t move around during transit. To further increase efficiency in a warehouse, many companies have forklifts onsite to assist with loading and unloading pallets from trucks.

Crates – these are commonly used to transport irregularly shaped items, as well as oversized goods that don’t normally fit on a pallet. Most commonly made from wooden planks, crates enclose goods that could otherwise be easily prone to damage, such as machinery and large electronic goods. It is also important for a crate to have forklift access, so it can be loaded easily onto a truck.

Strapping – is used for sending bundles of goods, for example bundles of poles or PVC pipes. Strapping can be metal or plastic and is made into a tight band around the bundle, so they don’t become separated during transport. Bundles are sometimes strapped to pallets to allow for forklift loading and unloading.

Labelling your freight

Once you have selected the type of packaging you will use, it is then important to correctly label the goods. A label usually has the delivery address, and contact details, consignment number for tracking and the number of items in the delivery. It is very important to make sure the label is clear, and properly attached to the goods to minimise the risk of both it and the consignment going astray.

Rail Transport in Australia Then and Now

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Rail transport is perhaps not something that is talked about a great deal anymore due to the variety of other freight options so readily available, like air and road. Rail transport is actually one of the most safe and reliable forms of transport and in many cases the most economical. A heavy pallet delivery which is not urgent, for example, could potentially be added to a rail consignment at a reasonable price. Obviously, it does have its limitations, but all forms of transport do have a number of disadvantages. Air freight can be notoriously expensive, and transporting goods by road can also leave you reliant on favourable traffic conditions en route to see your goods arrive in a timely manner at their destination. As such, pallet shipping rates will vary, depending on several factors, including the mode of transport being used.

Over 33,000 Kilometres of Track

Australia’s rail network is vast and according to Wikipedia consists of over 33,000km of track. This had its humble beginnings back in the 1800s where for example in 1854, the first steam train between Melbourne and Port Melbourne started operating. You might wonder how Australia functioned prior to building up its expansive rail network. Before rail transport was established, the most common form of transport consisted of transport by sea, or across land by horse drawn carriage.

Consequences of Lack of Planning

The rail network progressed at various rates of development in the different colonies of Australia and very much independently of each other. Due to a combination of a short-sighted vision of the future of Australian rail, and a failure to listen to advice from London, it resulted in different gauges of rail being used in the fledgling states. This caused decades of problems for transport of both people and goods between the different states. It became clearly apparent during the war years when the differences in track width hampered the speed at which goods and troops could be moved across Australia.

Some of the disadvantages associated with the development of rail transport was the enormous initial cost of construction and maintenance.

Type of Trains in Rail Transport

The earliest carriages on tracks were actually drawn by horses and this mode of transport did in fact continue after the introduction of the steam train, especially in city areas where pollution was a problem. Nowadays there are still some steam trains in operation around the world. The steam train, Puffing Billy, in Victoria is still operated daily and is a hugely popular tourist attraction for both children and adults alike. It is run by a tireless team of around 900 volunteers. Other types of trains are electric and diesel-powered trains.

Coal Transport by Rail

In New South Wales, rail transport is an integral part of the coal industry in the Hunter valley, with trains transporting coal from the open cut mines in the region all the way to the port of Newcastle. Coal production in general has been a hotly debated topic amongst locals in the regional towns surrounding the mines. Air quality, an increase in heavy vehicle traffic and the pollution of the water supply are just some of the complaints from local residents. Despite all the precautionary measures the mines take to reduce dust, like employing water carts to wet the dusty haul roads, they never completely eliminate the dust caused by all the machinery on the various mine sites.

Goulburn’s Freight Potential Not What Some Thought

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The Goulburn Post has reported that Goulburn Council’s planning department has recommended that “no further action or strategies be pursued to develop the freight and logistics sector.”

This conclusion comes on the back of a report specifically commissioned by the council, into the logistics and freight sector. The study, which reportedly cost just shy of $20,000, mentioned that Goulburn’s 200km distances from Sydney was a significant factor contributing  to the conclusion.

The article quoted council general manager Warwick Bennet saying that several factors cited in the report prompted GHD to conclude that if the sector had economic potential, it would have attracted “very keen” investment by now. Mr Bennet pointed out among other things that there didn’t seem to be any need for it in the Goulburn region.

Read the full and original article here..

Medical Courier vs General Road Courier

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You may have seen cars driving around with a sign saying “Urgent Blood” and the logo of a healthcare organisation such as a pathology clinic. Most likely, it would be driven by a medical courier. The job of a medical courier, or a pathology courier, is similar and yet somewhat different to a general road courier or delivery driver.

Types of Employment

While couriers are generally employed by courier or delivery companies, or are self-employed subcontractors, medical couriers would most likely be employed by a healthcare organisation. It is very common for organisations such as hospitals and pathology providers to operate at more than one location, and medical couriers often transport items from one location to another within the organisation. This contrasts with a general courier, whose work could take them all over the place, picking up and delivering goods from many different sorts of locations.

Types of Deliveries

Couriers in general can deliver just about anything, from documents to goods ordered online. Time is of the essence for them as they will often be paid per delivery; so the more deliveries they can make, the better they will be paid. In most cases the customer is paying for fast delivery as a convenience. However, when working as a medical courier, timely delivery can literally make the difference between life and death for a patient, or at least affect their recovery.

For example, a patient may have a blood test at a pathology collection service to determine the cause of their illness. The medical courier may need to transport the blood sample to a laboratory for testing. Obviously the quicker the treating health professionals receive the blood test result, the quicker appropriate treatment can begin.

Transporting such pathology samples would generally form the bulk of the workload of a medical courier. They could also pick up blood donations and deliver them to where they will be needed. Pathology samples and other such items usually need to be kept cool or refrigerated, and delivery vehicles will have insulated coolers or fridges for this purpose. The expression “cold chain” is used in this context to mean that the items are kept cool the entire time, and this is the responsibility of the medical courier during the pick-up and delivery process. The items are often fragile and need to be handled with care, following instructions given.

Challenges Facing Road Couriers

Both general and medical couriers face the daily challenge of traffic. Peak hour, roadwork and car accidents can greatly increase the time needed for pick-ups and deliveries. Some of these can be planned for, whereas others may be totally unexpected. As mentioned above, a delay for a medical courier is not only inconvenient, but can affect the health of patients whose pathology samples are being transported. In addition, any delay or other incident such as a faulty refrigerator that leads to a breakdown in the “cold chain” could have an adverse effect on the samples meaning the tests may need to be repeated.

Importance of Medical Couriers

In addition to the responsibilities of a general courier, medical couriers play an often-overlooked role in patient health.

Kenworth Trucks – Quality and Profitability

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Kenworth, the name brings to mind immaculately presented prime movers, cruising along the highway, hauling multi combination trailers. Kenworth is synonymous with quality and profitability not to mention chrome bull bars and glistening paintwork.

The origin of the brand name Kenworth is quite simply the combination of the surnames of two of the business partners who reincorporated the business back in 1923. Their names were Harry Kent and Edward K. Worthington. Many people are unaware of the fact that Kenworth also built buses and coaches right up until the middle of the 1950s, before they succumbed to the high demand of heavy truck orders and resorted to focussing primarily on trucks.

Over 60,000 Trucks Produced in Australia

Since 1971, when the first Kenworth rolled off the production line in Australia, over 60,000 Kenworth trucks have been produced, and according to Kenworth, an astounding 70% of these trucks are still on the road today. This is testament to their high quality and the vision of the brand to build to a standard capable of handling Australia’s harsh conditions over hundreds of thousands of kilometres. Kenworth employs over 1000 people in Melbourne alone, the majority of employees being involved in the manufacturing operations.

Market Leader in the Truck Industry

Kenworth is today a market leader in trucks and has a vast range of models in their current range, varying from the classic bonneted models through to the cab over variants. The T610SAR is an example of Kenworth’s brilliant workmanship and engineering – an absolutely stunning truck proudly designed and built in Australia. Kenworth is proud of the fact that this is one of the most aerodynamic and fuel efficient trucks it has ever produced. It is powered by the renowned Cummins X15 Euro V engine which has Advanced Dynamic Efficient Powertrain (ADEPT) technology and pushes out a formidable 600hp.

Safety Features and Driver Comfort

Kenworth’s popularity in the Australian market is due to a number of factors including their reliability and durability over long periods of time. They also have a vast array of safety features as well as a high focus on driver comfort. This is crucial when considering the enormous distances needing to be covered in Australia, whether it’s working as a container transport truck or pulling other loads, and the harsh weather and road conditions drivers are often faced with.

The Kenworth C510 is a perfect example of a rugged truck designed to handle the most extreme conditions of Australia’s mining industry. It is fitted with a powerful 19 litre engine and its cooling system is purpose built to comfortably handle the 50 degree temperatures commonly experienced in these areas.

Ongoing High Demand for Kenworth Trucks

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why Kenworth trucks remain in high demand. Not only do they design and produce quality trucks, but they have the aftermarket service to keep the trucks on the road and their customers happy. Through PACCAR Assist, they are able to offer around the clock roadside assistance, seven days a week. In Australia alone there are 57 parts dealerships. With this kind of support network it’s no surprise that Kenworth’s popularity is not showing any signs of waning.

Time to Invest in Your Own Delivery Vehicle?

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Couriers and transport companies play a vital role in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer economy, picking up and delivering goods usually for a fraction of what it would cost the business to make the deliveries themselves. If you’re in the business of shipping out goods regularly to your customers (e.g. you are an online retailer) and the volume of your deliveries is increasing, then there may come a day when investing in your own delivery vehicle and employing a driver would result in a reduced cost overall.

However, before taking the plunge and splurging out on a new van, ute or truck, it’s important to take a good hard look at the characteristics of your deliveries, as this will provide some helpful pointers and enable you to make a smart and informed decision. This article describes some of the main things to consider.

Total Cost of Outsourced Deliveries VS Cost of Owning a Vehicle

If your total deliveries cost on an annual basis (i.e. the amount you’re being charged by the courier or freight companies you use) is not much more than the maintenance, insurance, registration and depreciation expenses on owning a vehicle, then it’s very unlikely that investing in a vehicle will pay off. However even if your freight costs are astronomical, and far exceed the combined costs listed above, there are still a couple more questions you need to ask yourself.

Could it be Worth Obtaining a Freight Quote from Another Transport Company?

Perhaps your current freight company is charging you more than its competitors. In any case, it doesn’t hurt to contact a couple of transport companies and request a freight quote, or estimate, based on your typical transport needs. If the prices are vastly different you have every right to switch. Having a conversation with your current transport company, informing them of your intention to switch, could mean they offer you better value for money.

Are the Outgoing Consignments Similar – or Vastly Different?

Let’s say you run a flat-pack furniture business out of a warehouse in Adelaide, and most of your customers are in the Adelaide and surrounds region. Assuming that most of your outgoing orders will easily fit into a small van, then as your business grows, there may come a day when it will be cheaper to buy a van and employ a driver, for the simple reason that this one delivery vehicle, will be able to accommodate practically all your outgoing shipments. Conversely if you are in the business of reselling all types of building materials – where the outgoing consignments might range from some buckets of paint and a few brushes, to multiple pallets of cement or 6m lengths of timber – – then the case for investing in a delivery vehicle might be hard to make.

Whatever your situation, make sure that your decision is based on sound logic and that all the relevant costs are factored into your calculations.