Thank you QAGB,
I appreciate the response. Somehow we have to find a better way to lock this down. In today's security climate, LTL is just too loose for consumables. I realize that 98%+ of the carrier personnel and Cross Dock Personnel are trustworthy, reliable, and ethical as are 98%+ of the shipper and receiver warehouse personnel. That remaining percentage can cause a lot of trouble though. It only takes one bad actor to create a security problem ranging from theft/loss to tampering/death at the other extreme. The probability may be low, but the risk is high. It is serious business indeed.
So, let's think crazy for a minute. I am going to forget cost for a moment and assume that it would be figured out later. (I know, that is a pretty big assumption, but we'll never get anywhere if we shackle our creativity before we even get started.) When you see the crews loading freight an airplane, you don't see them wheeling stretch-wrapped pallets onto the plan, you see containers designed to fit within the plane that actually conform to the curve of the fuselage. It maximizes the space in the plane, but also creates self-contained, sub-compartments within the plane.
What if the LTL world was revolutionized to use "containers" that could be stacked and locked/sealed as individual shipments. It would truly secure the shipment and break the dependency on anyone else along the distribution channel protecting anyone else's product.
It would prevent accidental losses from product falling from one pallet onto another during transit or intentional losses (theft) from someone taking something off someone else's pallet while unloading.
It would prevent unknown tampering with product. The product could not be reached without breaking the seal or leaving obvious damage to the container that would result in refusal of the product.
It would provide a barrier from other items on the load that you may not want to interact (today, you don't know what else might be riding with your LTL shipment).
The containers would allow the carrier to maximize the cubes of the trailer because you could stack them. For example, two standard containers could be full trailer height (leaving room for loading and unloading, of course). Half-containers could be available for smaller shipments. A standard and two half size could equal the full height.
You could reduce dunnage because the containers would keep the pallets from tipping. They could be made lightweight with modern materials. Possibly even collapsible for storage.
The problem to overcome is return logistics for the containers but, again, let's not throw out the idea too quickly. If this solves enough other problems, then some smart person will figure out a way to make that work.
OK... That's my crazy thought for today. What do you think? Maybe this is not needed for all LTL shipments, but for consumables or other high value or high risk LTL shipments, it might be a way to actually provide a secure supply chain. I'd love to hear others' thought on this. Especially LTL carriers.