the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
Freight Brokers and Carriers: 3 Major Distinctions
04/02/2020 — Jen Deming
It's pretty easy to get lost in freight shipping terminology. A basic question that still puzzles even experienced freight shippers is understanding the differences between a freight broker and carrier. The distinctions between both affect factors like geographical coverage, liability, and responsibilities. Pinpointing these key differences will help you better understand each part they play in getting your loads from here to there.
Responsibility to shipper
When looking at a freight broker and carrier, it's important to understand the primary responsibility of each party in the physical transportation of your freight. A carrier refers to the company, or operator, that directly handles the transportation of your shipment. Common national carriers include UPS Freight, YRC Freight, FedEx Freight, and more. Carriers can specialize in less-than-truckload (LTL), dedicated truckload freight, or even specialized services such as refrigerated or oversized freight equipment.
A freight brokerage is a company that serves as a transportation intermediary rather than directly operating a truck fleet and physically moving your freight. A freight broker's job is to contract available loads with a carrier and find an acceptable rate within a specified time frame according to the shipper. The freight broker cuts down the time and effort it may take for a company to look for its own carriers and may decrease costs by shopping quotes.
Most freight loads are moved by common carriers - the big name, national trucking companies like UPS Freight and others we mentioned earlier. Most national carriers have terminals, or hubs, set up in areas where there is a very high demand for freight shipping. This is where they have the greatest truck availability and most competitive pricing for their loads. For areas outside of these shipping hubs, common carriers may have a limited pick-up schedule or work with regional carriers for rural deliveries. Regional carriers consist of smaller businesses and fleets that operate within a specific area. So while a common carrier can theoretically get your freight anywhere in the U.S., it may take a longer amount of time due to the need to contract a regional carrier.
Because a third-party logistics provider isn't managing assets and trucks themselves, they can essentially operate out of anywhere. Many brokerages have offices set up in hot shipping locations with satellite offices nationwide. Some brokerages specialize within a certain industry and become experts in specific types of loads such as oversized freight or cross-border shipping. They may also develop mutually beneficial relationships with local businesses and local carriers, allowing greater flexibility and premium service levels for special requests. In addition to domestic moves, brokers can also serve as a valuable resource for shippers moving freight internationally, offering guidance and expertise in addition to coverage options.
Liability and ownership of freight
A major difference between freight brokers and carriers is the ownership of the freight while in transit. According to the Carmack Amendment, when a carrier agrees to move a load, a contract is formed per the shipper load and count (SLC) noted on the bill-of-lading. By signing the BOL, the shipper is accepting responsibility by stating that the freight was loaded securely and counted. At the time of pick-up, and until delivery, the motor carrier is fully responsible for the freight that it has on board. This means that should the load experience any loss or damages, then the carrier is responsible. If a claim needs to be submitted, the claim is with the carrier, rather than a broker who may have arranged for the transportation of the freight.
From a legal perspective, a freight broker is not liable for damages to freight because the ultimate responsibility lies with the carrier. However, that doesn't mean that a freight broker can abandon their customer. A quality freight brokerage will have claims experts on staff that are knowledgeable about shipper's rights and responsibilities, liability restrictions, and proper claims filing procedures. While a carrier may have a legal responsibility to damaged freight, a freight broker has an ethical obligation to educate shippers and help out whenever a shipment encounters complicated roadblocks like a damage or loss claim.
The advantage of using a freight broker
When you work with a quality freight broker, you gain expertise, increase operational flexibility, and add a cost-saving alternative that you may not have when working directly with a carrier. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have a team in your corner to help you navigate even the most unique shipping challenges.
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03/27/2020 — Leah Palnik
While you’ve been burdened with adjusting to the new normal that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has created, know that we are committed to supporting you and keeping your shipments moving.
Though this is an ever-changing situation, we will remain open. We are taking every possible measure to ensure the safety of our staff while also providing you with the same level of service you’ve come to expect from PartnerShip. Our goal is to minimize any further disruptions to your business.
We continue to monitor the situation and will make any changes needed to continue to serve you. If you have any concerns, we are here to help.
- Service guarantees for all UPS Freight LTL services from and to all locations are suspended, with the exception of UPS Freight Urgent Services. Read more.
- UPS Freight is prioritizing freight that is deemed essential in areas impacted the most by COVID-19.
- All YRC Worldwide companies, including YRC, Holland, New Penn, and Reddaway, have suspended reimbursement for service failures on both guaranteed and time-critical shipments. Read more.
- FedEx is suspending its Money Back Guarantee and has adjusted signature guidelines. Read more.
- UPS has suspended the UPS Service Guarantee for all shipments. Read more.
- To avoid redelivery fees or returned shipments, check with your recipient and confirm the delivery location will be open and available to accept your freight.
- How coronavirus could affect supply chain and freight shipping
- Market updates in response to COVID-19
- FMCSA waives HOS nationwide for COVID 19-related movement
- Dry van demand rises as stores restock empty shelves
- Will coronavirus change trucking demand and rates? Watch these 4 factors
- Cargo handling continues at US ports despite coronavirus spread
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Ask the Experts: Top 6 Freight Shipping Tips
03/05/2020 — Jen Deming
Every day at PartnerShip, we field tons of questions from both new and experienced shippers looking for freight shipping tips related to product classification, density calculation, carrier tariffs, and more. As your shipping partner and expert resource, we've seen it all, but some key takeaways stand out above the rest. We asked two of our most knowledgeable freight veterans, Polly and Trevor, what they thought were the most important, can't-live-without freight shipping tips for businesses today. That way, you can anticipate challenges before they start and prioritize what common obstacles shippers face today.
Shipping Tip #1 - Freight transit time is an estimate
When a shipper wants to schedule a freight move, one of the first things that comes to mind is "when will it deliver?" It's an understandable question that needs to be answered so that the shipper can communicate with the delivery location. When quoting a shipment, the carrier often provides a transit and delivery estimate based on the shipment date. But, there are many things that the truck may encounter while in route that can cause a delay. Our Truckload Brokerage Manger, Polly, helps arrange hundreds of shipments a month and warns shippers that traffic and inclement weather can both affect pick-up dates and transit times. Additionally, standard freight services operate during business days and don't travel over the weekend, so this has to be considered when estimating arrival.
When you are using LTL or partial truckload services, be aware that your shipment will be sharing space with other loads on the truck. If for any reason loading is held up at any locations before yours, you may experience a delay or a missed pick-up as a result. If timely delivery is imperative, there are just-in-time and expedited options to consider. We want shippers to understand that they must be informed on potential delays on either end of the shipment and to build in extra time to ensure delivery success.
Shipping Tip #2 - Anything "above and beyond" costs money
Freight shipping is a complicated business. However, one fact is fairly straightforward: the carrier's responsibility to your freight is to pick it up and get it to where it needs to go. As our Revenue Services Manager, Trevor, can attest to, the more complicated the shipment and the more extra services you need, the higher your bill is going to be. Specialty equipment such as flatbeds or refrigerated vans are going to cost more than a standard dry van, just because they are less common and they do require more work from the driver. Accessorials such as driver assist in loading and unloading, limited access locations, and residential delivery fees cost extra because these require more flexibility, maneuverability, and effort than a typical dock pick-up.
Predictably, guaranteed delivery or expedited services will cost more. Working through weekends or holidays will always be a bit more expensive because it extends the hours of service. With ELD enforcement in full effect, drivers must be more careful about the restrictions on the hours they work. Often because of this, a team of drivers may be required to fulfill the delivery requirements, and that is very likely to cost more.
Finally, it's important to know that last minute requests will likely affect your costs in procuring a truck. Depending on availability, if it's tough-going trying to find the truck you need (especially if it's something more specialized than a dry van), the request is likely to work out in the carrier's favor. Working with carriers directly, Polly often sees drivers charging premiums for available trucks knowing a customer needs coverage immediately.
Shipping Tip #3 - Damage will happen, it's just a matter of time
Damage is a dirty word in the freight business, but it doesn't take very long for most shippers to realize it's almost unavoidable. The very nature of freight shipping is risky. Often, loads are moved to and from terminals and are loaded on multiple trucks. More hands on your freight means more risk of damage, so it's important to offset as much of this risk as possible by properly packaging and setting up claim filing success.
If your business is shipping especially fragile items such as built furniture, machinery, or electronics, start with crating as much of the load as possible. While custom crating may be costly, limiting damage will be worthwhile in the long run. If your shipment consists of multiple crates or pallets, be sure to label your paperwork and the pieces accordingly so they are kept together at each terminal. In the case that you are especially worried about the security of your freight, it may be worthwhile to look into more secure services like partial options or a dedicated truck.
Lastly, shippers must be aware that shipping personal items is rarely accepted by a freight carrier - especially since it's nearly impossible to designate liability. If your shipment experiences damage, you're not likely to get a satisfying payout. If you want to move personal effects, research local white glove delivery or moving services who specialize in these types of moves rather than a standard freight carrier.
Shipping Tip #4 - It's a carrier's market, make them want to work with you
With more and more freight entering a network with limited carrier capacity, available trucks are harder to find. Those who are able to move your shipment are going to have the upper hand and can pick and choose who they want to work with depending on a variety of factors. It's up to shippers to make themselves desirable to the carrier.
Because the ELD mandate has tightened the hours that drivers are able to work, shippers who are extra considerate of their time are going to be appreciated the most. Detention is frustrating for the driver, and expensive for a shipper. If a business can streamline their loading/unloading process to avoid that risk, a driver will note the efficiency of that location. Remember that the reverse is also true. If a driver is consistently delayed because your team is unprepared, or the driver has to help with loading to keep to a tight timeline, the extra effort will cost you.
On a related note, if the shipper or receiver is willing to extend warehouse hours to accommodate driver delays or early arrivals, carriers are more likely to take on the load. It's hard to accurately predict an exact transit or arrival time due to factors like weather or traffic. If a driver is less stressed to make a delivery window or is allowed to unload early so they can get back on the road, all the better.
A few additional things that will help increase your chances of becoming a preferred shipper? Working with truckload carriers daily, Polly says that a friendly warehouse team, prepared storage space, and a comfortable waiting area all help. Throw in perks like free Wi-Fi and access to coffee, and you're golden. Feeling appreciated goes a long way.
Shipping Tip #5 - Documentation is everything
In freight shipping, documentation can serve legal purposes, direct carriers to delivery, and exist as product invoices for receivers. Making sure you have accurate information on every piece of shipment documentation is important, from address labels to unit count. The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important shipping documents because it serves all three purposes listed above and then some. The BOL also helps determine the cost of your shipment based on class and commodity as well as additional services listed. In navigating claims and billing adjustments daily, Trevor stresses that making sure this important piece of paper is accurate is the first step in preventing bumps in any part of the shipment process.
Your freight invoice is also a very important piece of paperwork. Checking your final freight bill or invoice from the carrier is key in auditing your pricing, classification, extra fees, etc. It's a valuable resource to review where you can improve freight operations, check for errors, or minimize extra freight costs.
Proof of delivery receipts and inspection reports are also very valuable carrier-provided documents to review, especially should you need to submit a claim. Photos taken at pick-up and delivery are necessary as well for building your case against a carrier should your shipment become damaged. Every piece of documentation that is required throughout the freight shipping process can make or break a shipper should problems arise. Trevor insists that if you're looking for the most streamlined experience, ensuring every document is filled out correctly with accurate information must be a top priority.
Shipping Tip #6 - Freight quote vs freight rate
The last distinction we would like to make for shippers is understanding the differences between a freight quote and a freight rate. Trevor prepares invoices daily and stresses that a quote is an estimate and is only as good as the details provided.
A final bill is invoiced after the carrier charges the broker, or the shipment has been moved, and it can differ from the original quote due to discrepancies in the provided details. Even minor adjustments in weight or class can greatly affect a final invoice. If the weight was estimated, or a class number isn't researched properly, you may see a huge change in your final bill.
Additional services like liftgate, driver assist, residential delivery, and more can all show up after the fact because shipment locations weren't researched properly. Additionally, if services were requested by either party after the quote was made, you'll see that adjustment in the final rate as well. Understanding that a freight quote can be flexible based on the many variables that affect a final freight rate can prepare shippers for any discrepancies.
While there's so much that we want our shippers to know when arranging their freight transportation, these key items are the most important. Staying informed and keeping these freight shipping tips in mind better prepares you for potential challenges while keeping your costs low. If you have questions along the way, you have a knowledgeable resource in PartnerShip. With an expert team including Polly and Trevor available to answer your most complicated freight questions, we can steer you in the right direction. Call 800-599-2902 or contact us today for more information.
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Logistics and Legal Rights: Where Do Shippers Stand?
01/23/2020 — Jen Deming
Every shipper will likely encounter loss or damage and seek reimbursement by filing a claim. In order to navigate this tricky scenario, smart shippers become their own advocates by taking a deep dive into the legal policies that affect shipper's rights and responsibilities. When going against powerhouse national carriers who have every resource in their corner, you can arm yourself with critical information that helps you get the best outcome possible for your business.
The Carmack Amendment Basics
First things first, the term "Carmack Amendment" is frequently thrown around in the industry, but what exactly is it and why should shippers care? Put simply, this law was set in place in 1935 to draw the line between carrier and shipper liability. Prior to that, with the Bill of Lading (BOL) serving as a legal contract of carriage, carriers were almost exclusively held responsible for damage or loss. With the passage of the amendment, it was determined that the carrier should be held responsible unless one of the outline exclusions is met. This change let to a positive impact on the industry, incentivizing both carriers to proactively prevent theft and shippers to more effectively prepare their freight.
5 Carrier Exclusions to Responsibility
The Carmack Amendment clearly outlines five specific instances in which a carrier is not to be held liable for damage, delay, or loss to freight. These events are intended to protect the carrier from circumstances outside of their control. The five are:
- Acts of God: A carrier cannot be held liable for instances of natural disasters or other uncontrollable phenomenon such as severe weather, medical emergencies involving a driver, etc. In order to act under this defense, the event must be notably unanticipated and unable to be avoided.
- Public Enemy: Carriers are exempt from damage liability if the incident was caused during a defensive call to action by the government, or "military force". While there has been relative peacetime on American soil for quite some time, the "public enemy" defense has also applied to acts of domestic terrorism in some recent court cases. It does not include events caused by hijackers, cargo theft, organized crime, or other criminal acts.
- Default of Shipper: This is the most notable exclusion for shippers to be mindful of and indicates any event that the carrier can prove damage was caused by the shipper. This can include a defense of negligence, poor packaging, improper labeling and other mistakes made during preparation. The majority of carriers will try to prove these circumstances if there is any doubt a shipper could have made a mistake. Shippers must properly offset this risk with secure packaging, correct labeling, and maintaining communication with your customer for delivery.
- Public Authority: If the government takes action that results in damage or delay, the carrier is not liable. Government policy cannot be controlled, so road closures, trade embargoes, recalls, and quarantines all exempt a carrier.
- Inherent Vice/Nature of Goods: Some commodities are naturally subject to deterioration over time, and as long as the defect was not caused or sped up by the carrier negligence, they are safe from liability. A common example of high-risk commodities include produce, live plants, and medical supplies. If you are shipping temperature controlled or time sensitive products, be sure that you are taking every precaution to ensure security and viability.
Just as there are five distinct factors that exclude carriers from responsibility, there are three factors the shipper must prove in order to start a damage claim. To begin, it must be demonstrated that the shipment was picked up in "good" condition. This protects the carrier should the shipment have been damaged to begin with. In order to defend yourself, take pictures of your freight before it is picked up proving all is well. Collect invoices, product descriptions, and item counts so that you have a leg to stand on in the case of any loss or shortage.
Secondly, the shipper must prove that the load was delivered in damaged condition. Complete a thorough inspection before you sign and again, take pictures of everything for proof. Concealed damage, hidden and only discovered after the carrier has left, is a tricky area for claims. Open and dismantle your packaging at delivery to check for issues, and don't feel bad for delaying a driver. If there is any doubt at all, make a note on the delivery receipt. If you are not present for delivery, make sure clear expectations are established with the receiver or customer so that everyone is on the same page.
Lastly, the shipper has to prove that the freight damage resulted in a specific amount of loss. It won't work to throw an arbitrary number in a freight claim, so collect itemized receipts and quotes or bills for replacement or repair costs. Be reasonable and accurate in your request.
Fair Compensation Rights for Shippers
Even if the shipper does everything right, claim payouts are rare what would would expect. Carriers do everything in their power to minimize financial losses, so they will look at every loophole possible. So how does a carrier determine a claim payout?
The amount is typically determine by a set dollar amount per pound based on the commodity. It's important to review carrier tariffs and agreement limits before you ship your product. Some carriers will pay nothing on a used item, so be sure to review the fine print. It's also critical to have an accurate BOL. If there are incorrect details, you're likely to see that reflected in your payout. It's also important to note that a carrier claims department will examine the damage, and limit a payout if they feel the product can be salvaged or repaired at a lesser amount than what is requested.
Since carrier liability is limited, a smart shipper will obtain supplementary freight insurance. It's a super smart option for anyone shipping fragile goods or a high value commodity. While most carrier liability only pays out a certain dollar amount per pound of freight, freight insurance can be purchased in the value of coverage you need, and you are not required to prove the carrier is at fault.
It's important to note carrier compensation timelines for payouts. A carrier should acknowledge receipt of the claim within 30 days, with a ruling completed within 120 days. In the event of a denied claim ruling, the shipper has a right to file a lawsuit. Most need to be filed within 2 years and one day, but there are exceptions so it's best to work quickly.
Shipper's Requirements for Proper Claim Filing
It's up to the shipper to follow a precise protocol in filing a claim to increase their chances of a suitable resolution. Collecting as much hard evidence as possible will help your case. Seeking written statements by warehouse receivers and testimonies of loading procedures, as well as video evidence can assist your cause. Being thorough is crucial but working quickly is just as important, so be mindful of deadlines. You have nine months from the delivery date to file, but for those concealed damage cases, you have five days—so get on it.
Documentation you may need to file:
- Proof of delivery
- Original BOL
- Freight bill
- Merchandise invoice
- Replacement invoice or repair bill
- Pictures of damaged freight
Knowing the basics of the Carmack Amendment and how they relate to shipper's rights helps protect your business in the event of damaged or lost freight. the best part is, you don't have to go through the claims process alone. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have an informed ally looking out for your best interests and your company's bottom line. For a thorough rundown on freight claims, download our free white paper.
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What is the Difference Between Cross-Docking and Transloading?
01/14/2020 — Jerry Spelic
They are common questions in logistics and warehousing: What is cross-docking? What is transloading? What is the difference between cross-docking and transloading?
First, a definition of each of these freight services.
Cross-docking is unloading inbound freight from one truck, holding it in a warehouse or terminal for a very short period of time, and loading it onto another truck for outbound shipping.
Transloading is when inbound freight is unloaded, the pallets are broken down, and their contents sorted and re-palletized for outbound shipping.
Here is an example of cross-docking: A manufacturer needs to ship 20 pallets of products from the east coast to destinations in Texas, Florida and California. The 20 pallets are first shipped to a third-party warehouse in Cleveland, Ohio. A day later, 5 pallets are sent to Florida, 10 to Texas, and 5 to California on trucks bound for those destinations. Since the pallets were never unpacked and were only in the warehouse long enough to move them from one truck to another truck (and from one dock to another dock), they have been cross-docked.
Using the same Cleveland, Ohio third-party warehouse, here is an example of transloading: 5 suppliers of a manufacturer ship a year’s supply of components to the warehouse. The components are stored until they are needed, at which time the warehouse picks them, assembles them into a single shipment, and ships it to the manufacturing facility.
To recap, cross-docking is the movement of an intact pallet (or pallets) from one truck to another, and transloading is the sorting and re-palletizing of items.
Both cross-docking and transloading services are specific logistics activities that can create benefits for businesses; especially ones that utilize a third-party warehouse.
Benefits of cross-docking
- Transportation costs can be reduced by consolidating multiple, smaller LTL shipments into larger, full truckload shipments.
- Inventory management is simplified because cross-docking decreases the need to keep large amounts of goods in stock.
- Damage and theft risks are reduced with lower inventory levels.
- With a decreased need for storage and handling of goods, businesses can focus their resources on what they do best instead of tying them up in building and maintaining a warehouse.
- Businesses can store goods and products near customers or production facilities and have them shipped out with other goods and products, decreasing shipping costs.
- Businesses can ship full truckloads to a third-party warehouse instead of many smaller LTL shipments.
- With storage and logistics managed by others, the need for building and maintaining a warehouse is eliminated.
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Beyond Boxes and Pallets: 10 Other Ways to Move Freight
01/03/2020 — Jerry Spelic
When most people think of freight, it’s usually an image of the ubiquitous 40” x 48” wood pallet that comes to mind. But there are many other ways to move freight, including these lesser known, but still important, methods.
Pallets. They are so important to freight shipping that even though we’ve covered pallets in depth before, we can’t not mention them here.
In addition to wood, pallets can be made of plastic or metal. Plastic pallets are popular for export shipments because they don’t have to be heat treated to be used for international shipping, like wood pallets do. Aluminum and stainless steel pallets are strong and lightweight, and since they can be cleaned and sanitized, they can be used in food processing and pharmaceutical plants, where cleanliness is essential.
Gaylords. Named after the company that first introduced them, Gaylords are pallet-sized corrugated boxes used for storage and shipping. Sometimes called pallet boxes, bulk boxes, skid boxes and pallet containers, Gaylords can have between 2 and 5 walls and are meant to be single-use containers. Frequently used as in-store displays as well as shipping containers, Gaylords can be used to ship items as diverse as watermelons, stuffed animals, and pillows. Depending on configuration and how many walls they have, Gaylords can hold from 500 to 5000 pounds each.
Metal bins. Metal bins are typically made of steel and are mainly used in industrial applications where strong-sided containers are required to hold and move heavy and irregularly shaped items, like metal castings and forgings, stampings and scrap metal. Metal bins can be found in many different sizes and are essential in safely shipping heavy and potentially sharp objects.