Ugly Freight: What It Is & How To Ship It

The term "ugly freight" is a transport industry term used to describe odd-looking goods that are tricky to package because of their size, shape and fragility. These items require extra care when handled and cannot be couriered. This category includes awkward items such as heavy computer equipment, building materials and fragile items. Ugly freight typically carries a surcharge due to the various challenges faced during packing and transporting. That prized baby grand piano of yours and extra-length garden ladder are both ugly freight! Don't take it literally if your shipping company tells you that your precious oversized items are ugly.

What Is Ugly Freight?

If your package can't be sent via the postal service or courier, it's probably ugly freight. Standard packages have simple dimensions, can be scanned easily with barcodes in material handling systems and fit onto conveyor belts.

Examples of ugly freight:

  • State-of-the-art medical equipment with fragile parts

  • Oversized and valuable artwork and antiques

  • Large high-value items

  • Fragile and delicate items, such as glass and mirrors

  • Specialized IT equipment, such as monitors and racks of hard drives

  • Pressurized canisters, paint, chemicals and other hazardous substances

  • Appliances, furniture, carpets, pianos and other large household items

  • Mechanical parts and machinery that can damage other goods

  • Vehicles and boats

  • Any other special equipment requiring legal licenses

What Challenges Does Ugly Freight Present?

Each item that falls into the ugly freight category has specific requirements for shipping or transporting, which can be challenging for most standard transport companies due to the risks and costs involved. The transporting of ugly freight and shipping oversized items requires the use of a specialized logistics company with experience.

Security Risks

One major challenge is the security risk, particularly when it comes to transporting prescription drugs for the medical industry. Prescription drugs are frequently sold on the illegal drug market, making transportation companies soft targets for criminals.

Financial Losses

Financial losses can also occur from damages to other cargo in transit. When high-value goods are onboard, insurance costs are high. If dangerous goods or drugs are stolen, you might also have to pay legal fees if a client decides to take things further.

Increased Labor Costs

It takes a team to pack and offload huge items, which means increased labor costs. The bigger the team, the higher the spend. Ways to save costs is to ship on off-peak days and ensure the team works quickly.

But it's not only labor costs that increase the spend on transport; it's also having to use manual machinery to assist with loading and offloading. These nonconveyable shipments may require the use of fork trucks, automated guided vehicles, robots and pallet trucks.

Dimension Challenges

Oversized freight is anything larger than 48 inches along the longest side. Some items are within these dimensions but are oddly shaped, so they require the use of specialized vehicles for transport. It can be a waste of money if the incorrect vehicle or crate is used.

Safety of Handlers

The safety of your handlers is paramount when transporting dangerous substances, so make sure they have adequate training. One wrong move and both the handler and environment could be at risk. Make sure you have all the correct legal documentation from the client and safety protocols in place.

What Should You Do if Your Freight Is Ugly?

You need to find a highly-specialized transport company to transport your goods if sending ugly freight is unavoidable. If your item is bigger than 48 inches along the longest side and 30 inches along the second-longest side, your item falls into the ugly freight category. This is going to carry a surcharge, so it's best to do the following:

  • Get a few comparative quotes.

  • Ask how your items are going to be transported.

  • Research logistic companies for your niche.

  • Opt for a company that uses state-of-the-art advanced automation technology.

If you do your research, you'll find the perfect logistic company that welcomes ugly freight.