Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Small shipments this summer; wave of the future?

Van Lines are increasingly opting for containerizing smaller shipments as the demand for trucks, drivers and help exceed the supply.  The "driver shortage" this year is real, and van lines are taking measures to reduce the demand on interstate drivers and equipment. With the increase of smaller shipments, trend towards less "stuff", and personal possessions, demand for treatment of smaller shipments has risen sharply.  Ways to service these smaller shipments economically and efficiently has led to container shipments. 

Containerized shipping allows household goods to be shipped by alternate carriers and equipment.  Also, scheduling such shipments is much more predictable as most van lines using this method can specifically pin point load and delivery times.  

Small shipments in the past have taken lower priority in load and delivery times, and dispatched space on moving vans.  Small shipments are the ones, during peak periods, are loaded, taken back to the terminal and wait for a driver/truck that can load them and take them to destination; frequently with a lengthy delivery spread.  Household goods weights under 4000 lb are usually categorized as small shipments, and in the past have been subject to minimum weight charges; usually charges on 3000 lb. even if the shipment is only 1,000 to 2,000 lb. 

Most of the containers used (each van line has its own name), typically hold about 1200 lb, the equivalent about one room.   Dimensions vary but are in the area of 87"x45"x87".  
Lift Van

Pictured here is a Lift Van which in the past had been used for smaller international shipments which did not need a full container.  Many of the containers that are being used are of this size; varying in name and construction.  This container may be loaded at the home, while on the truck or loaded at the terminal if access to the home or apartment is difficult.  Van Lines are offering this services or requiring this service which included van line packing, loading and unloading as well as the shipment of the container.  With a Van line this would not normally be a customer self load and unload. 

Containers are "exclusive use" meaning only the customers items will be in the container.  Moving vans in a more traditional move method are loaded with several customers items, separated by bulkheads constructed between customer's loads.  

Consumers Relocation offers at least 3 van lines which provide this service.  Pricing for such shipments is about the same as a full service traditional move as the same services are being offered.  The amount of packing required by van line varies from partial pack to full pack.  Valuation or insurance coverage on for each container varies from about $7,500 to $10,000.  In some cases our contracts offer this coverage at no charge. 

Containerized shipping as described is not your low cost option.  You should expect the costs to be about the same as a traditional full service move in a moving van.  The advantage in cost is the customers final bill will be for only the containers they need and the services provided, not by a minimum weight restriction.  
Loading


Restrictions do apply to items that may be loaded into containers.  Such items as safes, large sofas, tempur-pedic mattress', plants, flammable items, grandfather clocks, and antiques may be restricted.

Storage options are normally available; some at a reduced cost for a period of time, others at normal storage charges for this size of shipment. The advantage here is that your items may be handled less since they may be loaded directly into a container, go into storage and then delivered with the container sealed the entire time.

Consumers Relocation has used a nationally recognized freight service for a number of years which has a household goods specialty group.  This option allows for the container to be dropped off, then self loaded by the customer, then shipped and dropped off at destination for customer unload.  Extra labor may be scheduled at additional charges for this service too.  This option is somewhat restrictive in metro areas where there is not available space for the container to sit while in the customers possession.   During the past several years we have seen a large increase in demand for this service, prior to the  van lines actually formalizing their programs. 

Estimates for cost and surveys are often completed using video survey techniques eliminating the need to have a van line representative to come to the home.  Video surveys have been perfected and prove to be very accurate, and work well since in most cases the cost of these moves is per container, not the actual weight of the shipment.  Very predictable cost.  Video surveys are normally done with smart phones, ipads and similar devices by the surveyor and customer.  

Containerized shipping is growing.  Van Lines that talked about it several years ago, now have a solid program in place and experience with this type of service.  The company we have used for a number of years with household goods freight shipping has perfected their moving services and completed hundreds of shipments for us using this method. 



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