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Dry Goods Shipping: How to Transport Safely

Resources > Dry Goods Shipping: How to Transport Safely
Discover how dry goods shipping with specialized containers ensures your goods stay safe and free of moisture on the way to their destination.
What Are Dry Goods?   |   Examples of Dry Goods   |   Dry Goods Shipping Containers   |   Choosing the Right Container   |   Dry Shipping Advantages   |   7 Qualities of Top Dry Goods Carriers   |   Packaging Dry Goods   |   Our Services
Published: February 13, 2024
Last Modified: February 13, 2024
Author: Joe Weaver

The American Trucking Associations asserts the following: dry goods shipping involves transporting non-perishable items that don’t require climate control. It’s a vital part of the logistics industry, ensuring products like clothing, electronics, and canned foods are delivered safely and in peak condition.

Dry goods shipping sounds straightforward, but it’s tricky keeping moisture away from sensitive cargo. Imagine shipping off a truckload of your best products, only for them to arrive ruined because the vehicle wasn’t up to the job. Vehicle selection, packaging, and proper equipment are all requirements for hauling dry goods. Even minor moisture intrusion can be financially crippling for dry goods shippers.

Join us as we explore the details of dry goods shipping, what qualifies as a dry good, and the advantages of working with experienced dry goods carriers.

What Are Dry Goods in Shipping?

Dry goods shipping is the practice of shipping commodities that can't be exposed to moisture in transit, such as these rolls of carpet.

In the world of shipping, dry goods refers to non-perishable items that require special procedures to prevent moisture damage in transit. This term includes a variety of commodities, from dried fruit to textiles. 

Dry goods have three major requirements for successful over-the-road transportation:

  1. A semi-trailer enclosed on all sides to prevent rain, snow, and other damaging weather from hitting the cargo. This is also called a dry van trailer.
  2. No refrigeration in the trailer that can lead to moisture.
  3. Packaging suitable for the commodities themselves.

Let’s look at some popular types of dry goods in the USA.

Examples of Dry Goods

At this very moment, you could be sitting on, standing on, eating, or wearing dry goods. The following list lays out just a small selection of these commodities.:

  • Clothing and textiles
  • Furniture and home furnishings
  • Electronics and appliances
  • Hardware and tools
  • Toys and games
  • Books and stationery
  • Grains, rice, pasta, and other non-perishable canned foods
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper products (like napkins, paper towels, and office paper)
  • Office supplies and equipment

What does this wide range of goods have in common? Damp conditions pose a threat to all of them. It’s for this reason that carriers use specialized dry shipping trailers and containers.

What Containers and Trailers are Used in Dry Goods Shipping?

An interior view of a dry van trailer.

For over-the-road delivery, dry van trailers and dry box trucks are the most common methods of dry goods shipping. Of all trailer and truck types, they’re the best equipped to preserve the integrity of dry goods in transit.

Trailers usually have the following dimensions.

Dry Van Dimensions

Width8 feet, 6 inches
Length48–53 feet
Height9 feet

If your shipment is coming from overseas before it hits the road, it will spend that part of the journey in a 20 or 40-foot dry goods shipping container. Their design features are similar to those of an over-the-road dry trailer. 

Choosing the Right Container for Your Goods

Selecting the appropriate container is crucial to maintain the quality of dry goods during shipping. Considerations include the size and type of goods, their sensitivity to moisture, and the expected transit conditions. 

It’s best to bypass a dry van trailer if your freight matches either of the following descriptions: 

  • If you plan to haul any kind of oversize load, you won’t be looking for a dry van to ship your goods. Flatbed and step deck trailers must be used for such cargo.
  • Refrigerated shipments call for reefer trucks, which have temperature-controlled trailers. They’re used for fresh food, live shipments, and certain medicines for the most part.

A dry can is called for if your freight is likely to include: 

  • Loose cargo that fits standard-sized trailers or vans
  • Items sensitive to moisture
  • Non-perishable goods

Basically, any cargo that shouldn’t get wet, doesn’t need to be temperature controlled, and won’t exceed DOT oversize restrictions can benefit from dry van delivery. 

From there, it’s a relatively simple matter of choosing between less than truckload (LTL), full truckload (FTL), and a container large enough to hold your shipment.

Advantages of Using Dry Shippers

Dry goods palletized and stored in a warehouse.

Dry van freight shippers offer advantages that increase the efficiency and reduce the expenses of supply chain operations. By understanding these benefits, businesses can make smart decisions that address their logistics needs and financial goals. 

Here’s a closer look at why opting for dry shipping can be a game-changer for your shipping strategy.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Dry shipping is often more affordable than refrigerated shipping options.
  • Versatility: Dry goods carriers can handle a wide variety of commodities.
  • Safety and Security: These containers and trailers reduce the risk of theft during transit. 
  • Simplified Logistics: Using dry carriers streamlines the logistics process, as these containers are widely available and easy to integrate into most supply chains. 

These benefits make dry shipping an attractive option for businesses looking to optimize their freight strategies and ensure their products arrive safely and securely. With that said, not all carriers are created equally. 

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7 Qualities of Top Dry Goods Transportation Carriers

Choosing the right trucking companies to transport your dry goods requires some discernment. When making this decision, businesses should take the following factors into consideration. 

  1. Reliability and Timeliness: Top carriers have a proven track record of delivering goods over short and long distances on schedule.
  2. Advanced Tracking Systems: They employ state-of-the-art tracking technology that allows shippers to monitor their cargo in transit.
  3. Comprehensive Coverage: Leading carriers offer extensive shipping coverage, capable of transporting goods across a wide geographic area.
  4. Flexible Solutions: They provide a range of shipping options and are able to tailor their services to meet the requirements of each freight shipment.
  5. Exceptional Customer Service: Professional customer management is a must for any carrier/shipper arrangement.
  6. Stringent Safety Standards: Safety is paramount, with top carriers adhering to strict safety protocols to protect goods during transit and ensure compliance with all regulations.
  7. Sustainability Practices: Recognizing the importance of environmental responsibility, leading shippers use sustainable practices to keep carbon emissions down.

Choosing a carrier with these qualities can make a big difference in the success of your dry goods shipping operations. Not only does it ensure commodities are transported safely and efficiently: it also builds your brand’s reputation for reliability.

Best Practices for Packaging Dry Goods

Multiple sacks of feed stored at a warehouse.

In addition to the use of properly-equipped trailers and containers, using the right packaging is an important part of dry freight shipping. This adds another layer of protection against damaging elements and should be given consideration before shipping.

 Here are some of the most common methods for packaging dry goods.

  • Clothing and Textiles: Use breathable, durable bags or boxes to protect items from moisture and dirt. Vacuum sealing is also an option for compact shipping and protection against environmental factors.
  • Electronics: Anti-static packaging materials will safeguard fragile components from static damage. Cushioning materials should be used to protect against impact.
  • Non-Perishable Food and Beverage: Store your foods in airtight containers or sealed bags to prevent contamination and extend shelf life. For bulk items like grains or beans, woven sacks that are resistant to tearing are recommended.
  • Paper Products: Pack these in waterproof containers or wrap them in plastic to protect against moisture. Reinforce boxes with cardboard inserts to prevent bending or folding.
  • Household Goods and Furniture: Disassemble if possible, and use protective wrapping for each part. Cushion and box items individually, marking packages with handling instructions.

Once your items are packaged, they’re ready to hit the road. That’s where we come in.

How USA Truckload Shipping Can Help Your Business 

The advantages of using dry shippers encompass saving money, enhancing security, and simplifying the logistics process. To realize all of these advantages, you’ll want to work with experienced professionals in LTL and FTL dry goods shipping.

USA Truckload Shipping has the resources and know-how to meet your business’s dry delivery needs. Our diverse fleet of vehicles and nationwide warehouse network can give your business an edge in the competitive U.S. shipping market.

Our services include:

Are you ready to upgrade your dry shipping strategy? Give us a call at (866) 353-7178 or submit a risk-free request for proposal. Our expert team is ready to help you move your freight here, there, and everywhere.

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