delivering heavy awkward freight

Shipping Oversized and Heavy Items

Shipping oversized and heavy items poses quite a few problems, and this is often then reflected in the freight bill. Carriers tend to price based on weight or the cubic volume that an item will take up in their truck. There is a premium on truck or van space and the vehicle also has weight limitations, plus the drag of fuel usage of heavily loaded vehicles.

Beyond that there is also the impact of loading and unloading the items into the vehicle. Heavy or large, awkward to handle packages require tailgates and forklifts to assist the warehouse staff and driver. When delivering to locations that do not have forklifts, such as a residential address, either a special vehicle equipped with a tailgate needs to be booked, or a ‘2man’ van. Clearly, specialised equipment and extra staff will incur further costs to the transport company, then passed on to the shipper.

Further, automation in Distribution Centres of sortation processes for shipments can’t always be utilised by oversized and heavy (dense) items. If the shipping order needs to be manually sorted, this again incurs further costs.

So, what can you do to reduce these costs?

New Surcharges for Shipping Oversized and Heavy Items

This is a perennial question, but it has received more scrutiny in recent months as more and more Australian transport carriers have added new surcharges to cover the costs for un/loading freight and sortation. This could be for a number of reasons such as:

  • Adding new automation to their depots: particularly conveyor belts with scanning devices to assist with sortation
  • A desire to streamline their operations and focus on easier to process orders; in part due to an increase in shipping volume; supply & demand factors
  • An increase in ecommerce, B2C shipping orders which means a higher percentage of freight being delivered to homes where there is not the capacity to unload freight at the recipient’s end i.e., no forklifts
  • An increase in Occ Health & Safety compliance putting limitations on the kilos that the delivery person is allowed to lift
  • A focus of the business on ecommerce, B2C customers rather than on B2B, wholesale, or distribution customers; who have the equipment and facilities to assist with unloading
  • A reduction in bulk shipping of skids, pallets, and cages due to the increase in B2C and single item shipments

Despite the increase in surcharges from carriers, (that are different dollar amounts and are triggered at different dimensions and weights), the fact of the matter is that some oversized and heavy items are still quite popular, and customers must be serviced. There’s a market for it!

We’re talking about items such as long handled (overlength) brooms, gym equipment such as heavy bar bells, large (and also fragile) TV screens, basketball hoops, etc., etc. People need and want them, and they want them delivered straight to their homes, in a cost efficient and speedy manner, shortly after they process the order on your online store.

So, what can you do to reduce the costs and improve delivery rates of your popular but awkward SKUs?

Freight Review

Given that several carriers in the Australian market have recently introduced new surcharges for these oversized and heavy items, many shippers are currently scratching their heads at their new freight bills and wondering how they can reduce their freight costs and protect their sales margins.

A good place to start would be with a freight review. A proper freight review will use predictive modelling based upon historic data; your freight bills, (including of course surcharges and fuel levies), your shipping data that can be imported into freight software that will cross verify the data for discrepancies; accuracy to produce a freight profile for your individual business and be benchmarked against industry standards. Carriers that match your freight profile; including carriers that accept your awkward freight and whose delivery network matches your laneway usage can then provide rates that can be imported into the freight software to provide predictive modelling on the potential carrier network distribution solutions and freight costs.

This is the type of work we do here at Freight Controller; we have the software and the carrier relationships, the logistics expertise to provide this type of data-driven freight review.

Shipping Oversized and Heavy Items as a Bulk Shipment

In some cases, and a proper freight review should show this, you may be better off shipping the consignment on a skid. This may change the carrier used, (or the service of that carrier), but sometimes the cost of sending on a skid for the heavier packages satisfies the carrier’s compliancy requirements. For multi-item shipments it might be optimal to use a pallet, again for compliancy reasons but it may also end up cheaper.

Transport Management Software

Secondly, having a Transport Management Software (TMS) system that can:

  1. Outline the Surcharge Fees for each consignment prior to shipping
    1. Add that fee to the overall shipping costs as shown on your online store to a customer with their carrier selection options:
      1. which minimises the need to go back and add extra charges post shipping to the customer, or wear the costs internally
  2. Provide a Rules Book & Guidelines – to enforce the company processes with regard to which carrier (and / or service) can be used depending on the order type; in this case we are referring to automatic elimination of carriers from selection if the item(s) extend past their charge weight limits – cubic / dimension or actual weight
  3. Can compare Loose or in Bulk options – a TMS system that will show you the Loose and Bulk options; costing and delivery times with the click of a button to assist the user in making the best shipping decision for each order; sending as loose items or on a skid or a pallet.


The combination of the above two methods are highly effective for managing issues around rising costs, longer delivery times or lost freight due to the risk of selecting the wrong carrier (and / or service) for your oversize and heavy items. The first, the predictive modelling freight review, being the method of tailoring a carrier distribution network for your individual freight needs and forecasting the results; particular with future freight costs of said review, and the second providing the system smarts to enforce logistics policies and ensure your staff with have the tools to support the business’ goals to further reduce the costs and improve delivery service for the optimised shipping solution for your oversized and heavy items.

If you would like to learn more about how to optimise shipping oversized and heavy items for your organisation please contact us for a consultation.

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