• And the PartnerShip June Carrier of the Month Is…

    07/20/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    PartnerShip Loves Our Carriers! Here is Our June 2018 Carrier of the Month

    Without high-quality freight carrier partners, our job would be much harder, and the economy would move much slower. We love recognizing our awesome carriers for a job well done because they help us help our customers ship smarter and stay competitive.

    June’s Carrier of the Month is Boyko Trucking LLC of Richfield, Ohio! They have been in business since 2009 and specialize in LTL and full truckload shipping.

    The PartnerShip Carrier of the Month program was created to recognize carriers that go above and beyond to help our customers ship and receive their freight. PartnerShip team members nominate carriers that provide outstanding communication, reliability, and on-time performance.

    For being our June 2018 Carrier of the Month, Boyko Trucking gets lunch for the whole office and a nifty framed certificate to proudly hang on their wall. The gestures may be small but our appreciation is huge!

    Interested in becoming a PartnerShip carrier? We match our freight carriers’ needs with our available customer loads because we understand that your success depends on your truck being full. If you’re looking for a backhaul load or shipments to fill daily or weekly runs, let us know where your trucks are and we’ll match you with our shippers’ loads. If your wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning.

    Become a PartnerShip Carrier


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  • Keys to Success for Vendor Compliance and Inbound Shipping

    07/10/2018 — Leah Palnik

    Keys to Success for Vendor Compliance and Inbound Shipping

    For many retailers, obtaining vendor compliance and maintaining smooth inbound shipping operations may seem like a tall order. However, with the right planning and follow through, it is achievable. By following these keys to success, you’ll be on your way to reducing your freight costs, avoiding chargeback issues, and creating efficient operations.

    Developing an effective routing guide
    The very foundation of achieving vendor compliance is developing an effective routing guide. Routing guides provide shipping instructions to your vendors that help you gain control of your inbound shipments. They often include modes and carriers for specific lanes, as well as rate and service requirements.

    In order to create routings that are best for your business, you’ll need to consider several factors. Price, transit time, and reliability are all important when selecting a carrier and determining how to have your product shipped. For different services and weight breaks, you want to designate a carrier that provides you with the best rate and can deliver your product in the time you need.

    Conducting an in-depth analysis of your inbound shipments can be time-consuming but necessary when determining your routing instructions. This is where working with the right freight broker can make a huge difference. The broker you work with should provide inbound management services that help determine the routings that will be best for your business and will create the routing guide for you – saving you valuable time.

    Maintaining good relationships with your vendors
    For smooth inbound shipping, you want to have a good rapport with your vendors. Like any other relationship, communication is key. For example, when you send your routing guide out to your vendors, it’s a good idea to include a request for confirmation. However, you won’t always receive one. If that’s the case, following up and opening the lines of communication will be your best bet to ensure vendor compliance.

    If your vendors aren’t using your routing instructions after receiving your routing guide, you’ll need to follow up with a call or email. When you have a good relationship with your vendor, you’ll have the right point-of-contact and will be able to resolve the issue quickly. If not, you could have a harder time achieving vendor compliance.

    Maintaining a relationship with your vendors can be difficult and time-consuming. This is another area where working with the right freight broker can make a difference. When selecting a freight broker, ask about experience in your industry. Quality freight brokers familiar with your industry will already have an established relationship with many of your vendors, which will help with compliance efforts.

    Perfecting your order forecasting
    Managing your inventory can be challenging. But the advantages of forecasting and planning your orders ahead of time are too great to ignore. When you don’t plan ahead and then need your product within a shorter time-frame, you will have to rely on costly expedited services. Spending the time up front to make sure your orders are placed with ample time will be better than spending the extra money in the long-run.

    Also, with more lead time, you’ll be in a better position to handle any issues that arise. For example, if your shipment gets lost or damaged in transit and you need your product immediately, you’ll be out of luck. In that event, you’ll need to file a freight claim which doesn’t always guarantee compensation and is often a lengthy process.

    If you’re not able to place your orders ahead of time, it’s a good idea to consider freight insurance. Unlike relying on carrier liability coverage, you won’t have to worry about if the carrier is found liable or not and often times you’ll get paid out much faster – making it easier to resume operations as normal.

    Conducting regular reviews for improvements
    Once you do have a routing guide in place and have vendor compliance, you can’t just set it and forget it. It’s best to review your routing instructions periodically so that you’re always getting the best rates and service possible.

    You can choose to set aside a specific time each year to do a review. But if you make any changes throughout the year with your orders or any other factor that affects your shipments, you’ll want to take that time to evaluate and update if necessary.

    It’s also important to stay on top of carrier rate increases, accessorial changes, and NMFC updates. These kinds of changes can have a significant effect on your freight costs and you'll want to make sure that you fully understand how these changes will affect your specific shipments. For example, carriers announce general rate increases every year and will present an average increase. If you simply use that average to judge how your costs will be affected, your budget will most likely be off. The increases vary greatly across the board depending on a number of characteristics, so it's important to evaluate them based on your specific shipments. 

    Partnering with the right freight broker
    The keys to vendor compliance and inbound shipping management are easy to master when you work with the right freight partner. PartnerShip can help conduct a complete inbound shipping analysis, create a routing guide, and send routings on your behalf for vendor compliance. Contact us today to get started, or download our free white paper to learn more about managing your inbound shipments!

    Download the free white paper: 4 Steps to Gain Control of Your Inbound Shipping


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  • It All Adds Up: The Operational Costs of Moving Freight

    06/22/2018 — Jerry Spelic

     It All Adds Up The Operational Costs of Moving Freight

    Moving freight is getting more difficult, and therefore, more expensive. If you’ve ever had “sticker shock” from a freight quote, you’re not alone. There are a lot of cost factors that go into the price you pay to move freight, so we want to explain them so you can be an informed shipper and ship smarter.

    Every LTL or truckload freight shipment has fixed and variable costs that are calculated into the rate you pay to ship your freight. Let’s start by looking at the fixed costs.

    Fixed Costs:

    • Truck Payment. Owned or leased, drivers and operators have the expense of their equipment (trucks and trailers) to consider when quoting your freight. New trucks can be leased for $1,600 to $2,500 per month and used trucks can be leased for $800 -- $1,600 per month; a new truck can be purchased for $2,250 a month (purchase price of $125,000 with 5-year financing). On average, truck payments are 16% of the cost of moving freight.
    • Insurance. The FMCSA requires individual owner-operators to carry a minimum of $750,000 to $5 million in liability coverage. On average, liability and damage insurance can cost between $6,000 – $8,000 per year, with newly-granted authorities typically paying between $10,000 and $16,000 their first year. Truck insurance accounts for 5% of the cost of freight shipping.
    • Driver Salary. This is the largest operating cost of moving freight. Commercial truck driver salaries are based on the distance driven, and although drivers spend a lot of time in traffic, at the dock being loaded or unloaded, etc., their operating costs are only derived from miles traveled. With an average salary of $78,200, driver pay and benefits accounts for 43% of operational costs.
    • Office and Overhead. This fixed cost includes a building lease or mortgage, and includes electric, phones, internet, computers, and office support. These costs can vary widely.
    • Permits and Licenses. Permits and license plate costs account for $2,300 annually, or 1% of operational costs.

    Variable Costs:

    • Fuel. The second largest operating cost of moving freight is diesel fuel. A commercial truck can easily consume 20,000 gallons ($64,000) of diesel fuel per year, accounting for 21% of operational costs.
    • Tires. Retreaded truck tires are less expensive than new tires and cost on average $250. Annual tire expense accounts for $3,600, which is roughly 2% of operational costs.
    • Maintenance and Repairs. Trucks need constant maintenance and do occasionally break down. Issues with air lines and hoses, alternators, wiring, and brakes are all common in commercial trucks, and can cost $17,500 annually or 10% of operational costs.
    • Meals. The truck isn’t the only part of LTL and truckload freight shipping that needs fuel! 10 meals a week at $12 each equals a meals expense of $6,500 a year.
    • Tolls. With nearly 5,000 miles of toll roads in the US, chances are good that your freight will be traversing at least one of them, and this will be factored in your cost. For example, a load moving from Chicago to Baltimore will encounter toll roads in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, costing $225.75.  Sometimes a carrier can avoid toll roads, but this will frequently increase the number of miles driven, which also increases your cost. On average, tolls add $2,500 a year, 2% of the total cost of freight shipping.
    • Coffee.  Did you know that truck stops sell more coffee than convenience stores? The average commercial truck driver spends more than $600 a year on coffee. Its effect on cost is negligible but we thought it was interesting!
    • Profit. Remember, freight carriers are in business to make a profit. Owners, operators and drivers are funding their kids’ education or dance lessons, paying their mortgages, and buying food and necessities, so please don’t expect them to move your freight for free.

    There are also many miscellaneous items that can factor into overall freight costs:

    • Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), which have decreased driver productivity approximately 15%. When drivers spend less time driving, transit times increase and drivers move fewer loads, which pushes costs up.
    • Telematics services, such as vehicle and trailer GPS tracking.
    • Driver turnover; not just the cost of recruiting and training, but also the opportunity cost of empty trucks not hauling freight because they have no drivers.
    • Finding loads to move can take up a sizable chunk of every day. Every hour spent not driving loaded miles is an hour a driver isn’t making money.

    The bottom line is that a lot of factors go into the cost you pay for LTL or truckload freight shipping. The costs listed here are conservative and are probably on the low end, so your costs may be higher.

    The struggle is real: moving freight is getting more difficult and more expensive. By shedding light on the costs that go into each and every LTL or truckload freight move, we hope that you’re better informed so you don’t experience “sticker shock” next time you get a freight quote. If you find yourself battling rising freight costs and need some help, contact the freight shipping experts at PartnerShip. We have significant experience in both the LTL and full truckload markets and can help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.

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  • PartnerShip Loves Our Carriers! Here is Our May Carrier of the Month

    06/15/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    PartnerShip Loves Our Carriers! Here is Our May 2018 Carrier of the Month

    We love our carriers, because we know that if it weren’t for our top-quality freight carrier partners, our customers couldn’t ship and receive their freight in a timely and cost-effective way. Our carriers help us help our customers ship smarter. 

    Our May Carrier of the Month is Stankovic Transport, Inc. of Brunswick, OH! They have been in business since 2009 with more than 50 owned and operated trucks and trailers.

    The PartnerShip Carrier of the Month program recognizes carriers that go above and beyond in helping our customers ship and receive their freight. Our truckload team members nominate carriers that provide outstanding service in communication, reliability, and on-time performance.

    For being our May 2018 Carrier of the Month, we’re providing Stankovic Transport lunch for the whole office and a framed certificate to proudly hang on their wall. The gestures may be small but our appreciation is huge!

    Interested in becoming a PartnerShip carrier? We match our freight carriers’ needs with our available customer loads because we understand that your success depends on your truck being full. If you’re looking for a backhaul load or shipments to fill daily or weekly runs, let us know where your trucks are and we’ll match you with our shippers’ loads. If your wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning.

    Become a PartnerShip Carrier


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  • Your Guide to Proper Packaging

    05/30/2018 — Leah Palnik

    The Ultimate Guide to Proper PackagingProper packaging is a critical step in the shipping process. Just one mistake can expose your shipment to costly and time-consuming damages. Not only do you need to use quality materials, but you also need to package your products in a way that will increase strength and durability. Packaging is not a one-size-fits-all game, but it does start with some basic best practices.


    Small Package Shipments

    When picking a box for your products, you want one that is in good condition (no holes, rips, or dents) and is sized just right. There should be just enough space for the needed cushioning and no more. If you use a box that is excessively large you run the risk of being charged according to your dimensional (DIM) weight, which can get quite pricey.

    How you cushion your contents will depend on the product you’re shipping. In general, you can protect the contents of your package with bubble wrap, foam cushioning, paper pad, or packing peanuts. This will help to prevent damages caused by movement and vibration that occur during transit.

    Then it’s time to seal and label your package. Use packing tape rather than duct tape or masking tape, and seal your box using the H taping method. Remove any old labels from the box and place your label on the largest surface. Labeling is an important step for proper packaging, because it helps get your shipment to the right place without any unnecessary delays.

    Freight Shipments
    When deciding how to package your freight, consider the size and weight of your shipment and how it will be handled. What kind of protection will it need? Will it be on a dedicated truck or will it be moved on multiple vehicles?

    Palletizing your freight will give it a solid base and will make movement on and off the truck easy and safe, making it a good choice for many different types of loads. Wooden pallets are the most common, and are typically recommended by carriers like FedEx and UPS Freight. However, you may consider metal, plastic, or corrugated pallets depending on what you’re shipping.

    For the cartons on your pallets, make sure the contents inside are packaged properly with the needed impact protection and each carton is labeled with the shipper and consignee information. While stacking, you need to consider how it will affect the strength of your shipment. Start by placing heavier cartons on the bottom with lighter boxes at the top, and distribute the weight evenly. Use an aligned, column pattern while stacking and make sure there is no overhang.

    Once your pallet is stacked, you’ll want to secure it with stretch-wrap and banding. The stretch-wrap should go around the cartons several times and be twisted every other rotation for increased durability. For banding, use sturdy steel, rayon, polypropylene, nylon, or polyester straps.

    You may also want to consider crating if you’re shipping fragile freight. First, select a crate that is constructed from quality lumber. Most carriers will recommend plywood rather than oriented strand board (OSB), medium-density fiberboard (MDF), or particleboard. You also want to make sure your crate is sized appropriately, with excess space kept to a minimum.

    Proper Packaging Is Key
    Avoiding damaged freight and a claims nightmare starts with proper packaging. Along the way, you’ll also save yourself from costly DIM weight charges and increase the durability of your shipments. The time you spend up front to make sure you have proper packaging will be well worth it. Get in-depth instructions by downloading our free white paper – The Ultimate Guide to Packaging Your Shipments!


    Download the free white paper! The Ultimate Guide to Packaging Your Shipments


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  • Top 10 Trucking Movies of All Time

    05/24/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    It’s an argument decades old: what is the best trucking movie of all time? When you work in logistics and shipping, it’s an even more passionate argument.

    “It’s gotta be Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw in ‘Convoy!’” “Nope, nope, nope! Patrick Swayze in 'Black Dog.' “What about ‘Breaker! Breaker’ with Chuck Norris? That’s as good as it gets.” “Seriously? Burt and Sally in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ is the best of the best!”

    Everybody has their favorite and since we couldn’t definitively settle the argument, the freight and shipping pros at PartnerShip decided to vote on it and create our own list of the best trucking movies in history.

    So here it is: Our pedal to the metal, shiny side up, cross-country driving, east bound and down “PartnerShip Top 10 Trucking Movies of All Time” list.

    #10 - High-Ballin’ (1978)
    Two truck drivers fight off a gang of hitchhikers who have been hired to drive them out of business. There were so many trucking movies in the 1970s that it actually spurred a nickname for the genre: trucksploitation!

    High Ballin’ Movie Poster
    Starring: Peter Fonda and Jerry Reed

    #9 - Duel (1971)
    A terrified motorist driving a Plymouth is stalked on remote and lonely California canyon roads by the unseen driver of a 1960 Peterbilt truck. This was the full-length film directing debut of Steven Spielberg.
    Duel Movie Poster
    Starring: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott and Eddie Firestone

    #8 - Black Dog (1998)
    An ex-con tries to start his life over as a truck driver but when his family is taken hostage he is forced to transport a shipment of illegal weapons. Fans of big rigs and big explosions will dig this one.
    Black Dog Movie Poster
    Starring: Patrick Swayze, Randy Travis and Meat Loaf

    #7 - Over the Top (1987)
    A struggling trucker who arm wrestles on the side to make extra cash competes in the World Armwrestling Championship to win the grand prize of $100,000 and a brand new truck to start his own trucking company. The music, montages, and hair alone scream 1980s!
    Over The Top Movie Poster
    Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia and Susan Blakely

    #6 - Breaker! Breaker! (1977)
    A trucker, who is a martial arts expert, goes looking for his brother after he disappears in the small corrupt town of Texas City, California, which has a nasty reputation for entrapping truckers. If you like movies that feature a guy in bell bottoms side kicking drunken cops in the chest repeatedly, this is the film for you!
    Breaker! Breaker! Movie Poster
    Starring: Chuck Norris, George Murdock and Terry O’Connor

    #5 - Convoy (1978)
    Which came first? The song “Convoy” or the movie “Convoy?” This movie is based on the song by C. W. McCall and Chip Davis. So now you know; the song came first. The plot involves a corrupt official, truckers and a convoy. In the late 70s, you couldn’t escape the CB radio craze.
    Convoy Movie Poster
    Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw and Ernest Borgnine

    #4 - Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
    A trucker with a pet orangutan named Clyde gets involved with the law, bikers, and a female thief. Hilarity ensues. Actually, Clyde steals the show in this one.
    Every Which Way But Loose Movie Poster
    Starring: Clint Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis and Sondra Locke

    #3 - Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
    Directed by John Carpenter, so you know it’s weird.  An all-American trucker gets involved in a centuries-old mystical battle in San Francisco.
    Big Trouble in Little China Movie Poster
    Starring: Kurt Russell, Dennis Dun and Kim Cattrall

    #2 - Maximum Overdrive (1986)
    A comet causes a radiation storm on Earth, causing machines to come to life and turn against their makers. A group of survivors holed up in a
    North Carolina truck stop must fend for themselves against a horde of murderous trucks. That could happen, right?
    Maximum Overdrive Movie Poster
    Starring: Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle and Laura Harrington

    #1 - Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
    It was a neck and neck race with Maximum Overdrive, but Burt and Sally pulled it out at the end to claim the #1 position in the “PartnerShip Top 10 Trucking Movies of All Time” list.

    The Bandit makes a bet to transport a load of beer in record time and picks up a hitchhiker along the way. His enemy for 1 hour and 36 minutes is Sheriff Buford T. Justice. In 1977, “Smokey and The Bandit” was the second highest grossing film behind Star Wars! 

    Smokey and the Bandit Movie Poster
    Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed

    We hope you enjoyed our light-hearted list of the best trucking movies ever. All of the main characters in these movies had one thing in common: they had a job to do, and so do we, to help you ship smarter and stay competitive. Next time you need to move freight, whether it be local or cross-country, LTL or truckload, or four hundred cases of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta, you can count on the experience of the shipping experts at PartnerShip. We might not be movie stars, but our service is worthy of an Oscar!

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  • We ❤ Our Carriers! The April 2018 Carrier of the Month Is…

    05/18/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    We ❤ Our Carriers! The April 2018 Carrier of the Month

    At PartnerShip, we love our carriers. We offer quality service to our customers because of the quality of our freight carrier partners; if it weren’t for them, our customers couldn’t ship and receive their freight in a timely and cost-effective way. Simply put, our carriers help us help our customers ship smarter. 

    This month, we celebrate our first-ever Carrier of the Month, Royalton Star Inc. of Parma, OH! They have been in business since 2009 and operate 12 trucks.

    The Carrier of the Month program recognizes carriers that go above and beyond in helping our customers ship and receive their freight. PartnerShip truckload team members nominate carriers throughout the month that provide outstanding service in communication, reliability, on-time performance and flexibility to our shippers, receivers and our team.

    For being our April 2018 Carrier of the Month, Royalton Star receives lunch for their entire office, a sincere letter of thanks from our team, and a snazzy framed certificate to proudly hang on their wall! The gestures may be small but the appreciation is huge!

    Interested in becoming a PartnerShip carrier? We match our freight carriers’ needs with our available customer loads because we understand that your success depends on your truck being full. If you’re looking for a backhaul load or shipments to fill daily or weekly runs, let us know where your trucks are and we’ll match you with our shippers’ loads. If your wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning.

    Become a PartnerShip Carrier


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  • Is it Time to Consider a Drop Trailer Program?

    05/14/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    Is it Time to Consider a Drop Trailer Program?

    Is it time for your business to consider a drop trailer and / or drop and hook freight program? The current capacity crunch and driver shortage has caused serious issues in many businesses’ supply chains and has increased the demand for drop trailer and drop and hook shipping programs.

    What is a drop trailer program? It is when a carrier brings a tractor to the loading dock and picks up a previously loaded trailer. Drop and hook takes drop trailer shipping one step further. A carrier will arrive with an empty trailer to drop, pick up a loaded trailer, and continue on to the destination.

    Many shippers are now considering drop trailer programs mainly because of the new hours of service rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which are more strictly monitored by the ELD mandate.

    Before the change to the hours of service rules, if a driver waited three or four hours or more while their trailer was loaded, they could make up the time by driving more hours. Now, with an ELD required for every tractor, load time and detention is a significant consideration because it cuts into the 14-hour on-duty shift rule.

    To illustrate, if a carrier has to drive an hour to the shipping origin, then wait five hours to get loaded, that means he can only drive for 8 hours after leaving for the destination. If he averages 60 mph, he can travel 480 miles. If the same driver picked up a loaded trailer, he could drive 10 hours before reaching the 11-hour driving limit. If he averages 60 mph, he can travel 600 miles.

    A drop trailer program can also have a significant impact on the efficiency of your supply chain. Drop trailer programs help shippers and carriers plan more effectively for deliveries and outbound shipments so it is important for them to align their schedules. Without drop trailers, a carrier must arrive within a narrow appointment window for employees to load or unload the trailer. Depending on how the appointment fits into their on-duty schedule, and considering traffic conditions, weather, breakdowns and other unexpected events, the driver could be forced to wait for hours, or miss the appointment altogether. In these situations, late delivery fees, detention fees, and a negative vendor scorecard are typically the unpleasant results.

    Drop Trailer Benefits for Shippers:

    • Smoother supply chain operation. You can load or unload a trailer at your convenience or when staffing levels are adequate; no more paying overtime to load or unload when a truck is early or late.
    • Great for time-consuming loads, like floor-loaded freight.
    • Avoid costly driver or truck detention accessorial charges.
    • Higher on-time delivery percentages. On-time freight departure times substantially increase the odds of an on-time arrival.
    • Decrease fines. With strict retail Must Arrive By Date (MABD) requirements becoming more common, drop-trailer shipping can help your carrier arrive on time and minimize the fines associated with missing a delivery window.
    • Better retailer relationships. When you fulfill MABD requirements, your vendor scorecard improves and you are seen as a more desirable vendor partner.

    Drop Trailer Benefits for Carriers:

    • Better planning. You decide when you pick up (and drop off) trailers.
    • No more waiting to pick up a load or be live-loaded; spend more time driving to the destination.
    • Great for time-consuming loads, like floor-loaded freight.
    • Higher on-time delivery percentages.


    There are a few circumstances of which to be aware when considering a drop trailer program. There may be an initial cost to implement a program. Every trailer that a carrier takes out of over-the-road service is lost revenue, so to recoup it, there will be a cost for a drop trailer, either on the front end or back end (or both). Of course, this cost will pay for itself because there should never be any detention fees.

    Drop trailers should not become warehouses; the maximum time a trailer should sit is a week. In most drop trailer programs, trailers turn two or three times a week.

    Finally, there is a lot of up-front work to implement a drop trailer program. Not all carriers do drop trailers so finding one that does can be time-consuming. Trailers make carriers money so if one of your carriers doesn’t want to drop a trailer, simply look at using a different one.

    A drop trailer or drop and hook program is a perfect opportunity to use a freight broker. Working with a broker allows you to tap into their network of carriers and take advantage of their expertise in finding carriers that will drop trailers. The truckload shipping experts at PartnerShip will work with you to find a drop trailer or drop and hook carrier and get you the best freight rates possible. We know the lanes, we know the rates and we will help you ship smarter. Contact us today to learn more about setting up a drop trailer program!


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  • ELD Enforcement: Are We There Yet?

    05/07/2018 — Jen Deming

    ELD Mandate Compliance: Are We There Yet It's been just over a month since the "soft enforcement period" has ended for ELD regulation, and while the shipping industry is seeing huge improvements with compliance, there are still a number of challenges facing shippers. While most of the crunch was felt at beginning of the year, when the initial ELD deadline went into effect, it's going to take some time before we see the industry normalize. As we head into the summer and a heavier shipping season, what can shippers and carriers expect to encounter along the way?

    According to several reports, it appears that the majority of carriers are now using electronic logging devices to track their hours of service, with as many as 95% becoming ELD compliant. While many small carriers originally insisted that they would not comply and figured it was time to make their exit, the capacity crunch and need for experienced drivers has boosted the trucker's market, outweighing the inconvenience of switching over. According to a DAT Solutions survey, over 60% of these carriers have added the compliant devices within the past three months, following the deadline date.

    Survey respondents are, however, confessing that the ELD mandate has a huge impact on day-to-day business, with 87% reporting that the mandate is changing the way they prioritize loads. The most significant factor impacting carriers? A significant increase in detention time – basically any time taking over the given 2 hours. Many shippers fail to recognize that time for loading/unloading freight counts as active "on duty" hours for the driver. The strict HOS (Hours of Service) rules can decrease an already limited amount of hours available for transit time.The good news is, with trucker time being more accurately logged, drivers can now prove exactly how long they were held up during loading. Carriers then have leverage to choose precisely who they want to ship with, and determine who may create problems for them on future loads. While this creates a positive environment for truck drivers, it can leave shippers in the backseat. But don't fret, there are several things shippers can do in order to to create appealing loads for carriers, which we will get into a bit later.

    The data taken from the ELD devices can actually help shine some light on existing safety issues within a fleet. Predictive modeling can determine safety concerns that may arise in the future, such as probability a truck may be involved in a roadside accident. By looking at historical data, it will be easier to determine potentially dangerous routes, trucking equipment, hours of operation, and operators. So far, utilizing data in order to better determine areas of opportunity for increased driving safety is the most positive application of the new mandatory ELD technology.

    So what's to come? As expected, with drivers spending less time at the wheel in one run, transit times will continue to lengthen. This means that drivers have to take less loads per week as well, with 67% stating that they drive fewer miles than they did before the devices. Parking space is in a crunch as well, with more trucks spending mandatory rest breaks at stops. This is also related to yard congestion, or several trucks arriving on time for delivery within a small window. Proper warehousing protocol and smooth receiving and loading procedures is crucial. It may be a good idea for shippers to extend their warehouse hours to offset the congestion. Having properly staged freight ready and waiting with an adequately sized team can also help decrease time spent at the loading dock, freeing up hours available for your driver to be on the road. Another option for shippers is to consider drop trailer freight programs. A carrier will haul a tractor to a shipper's loading dock and pick up a previously loaded and left behind trailer. This can increase efficiency by decreasing detention time and likelihood of deadhead.

    One thing is clear: the initial push-back from owner-operators to make changes in order to become ELD compliant has mostly disappeared. Those originally looking to leave the industry are adapting to new policies and procedures, but there is still a significant learning curve. The biggest take-away is the impact of detention time and a newly invigorated intolerance for running into overtime. Drivers are vigilant, and shippers need to be even more prepared for a smooth and quick load time. PartnerShip can help businesses manage LTL freight moves and connect you with vetted, reliable truckload carriers. Stay competitive and ship smarter with PartnerShip – get a quote today!

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  • Potential Shipping Issues: How to Be Proactive

    04/25/2018 — Leah Palnik

    Potential Shipping Issues: How to be Proactive

    When you deal with freight, there will always be some shipping issues that are out of your control. You can’t stay with your freight throughout its whole journey, and there are a number of sticky situations you might find yourself in. However, if you know how to prepare for some worst case scenarios, you can position yourself to bounce back quickly.

    Weather
    One of the most common disruptions that can cause shipping issues is the weather. Storms and other severe weather patterns can have a significant impact on a carrier’s delivery network. When one area is hit, it creates a ripple effect that’s felt all over. Especially during hurricane season and the winter months, it’s important to keep an eye out. However, even in milder months, you can’t let your guard down because Mother Nature can be unpredictable.

    If possible, give yourself a buffer zone for transit time. Build in extra days, especially for time-sensitive shipments. That way, if a storm hits and your shipment gets delayed, you’ll still be in the clear. It’s also a good idea to work with a broker to gain access to additional resources in a pinch. You’ll be able to expand your carrier network and lean on them when capacity is tight.

    Cargo theft
    Criminals targeting your freight are getting savvier and are constantly finding new ways to hit shippers. Dealing with cargo theft is a nightmare, and it can happen to anyone. Especially if you’re shipping electronics, raw metal materials, food items, pharmaceuticals, or other highly targeted commodities. Thieves are not only surveying ship yards for arrival and departure changes, but are also engaging in sophisticated scams. Some are posing as transportation companies, using counterfeit documents, or working an inside job.

    To be proactive against cargo theft and the shipping issues that go with it, there are a few simple things you can do. Ensure your driver is using a locking system that includes a variety of locks, from king pin locks, air brake valve locks, and glad hand locks. Using GPS tracking is also a good tactic to keep an eye on your freight and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be. Overall, it’s important to carefully select transportation providers and warehouse staff.

    Cyber attacks
    Every time you turn on the news it seems like there’s a new cybersecurity issue. Unfortunately, the shipping industry isn’t immune. The technology that is on trucks nowadays can leave them vulnerable to ransomware and malware that could shut down the vehicles and put your freight at risk. Cyber attackers could potentially be targeting your freight for theft or could be looking to shut down a carrier’s service in hopes of securing a ransom.  

    The risk of a cyber attack affecting your freight right now is slim, but cybersecurity issues are becoming increasingly prevalent across all industries. While prevention is more in the hands of your carrier for cyber attacks on trucks, staying educated and planning ahead is key. Create a plan that details what you would do in the event your freight gets caught up in the middle of a cyber attack. That way the contingency protocol is clear and you’ll have resources readily available.

    Damages
    Dealing with damaged freight involves a lot of heartache. Not only are you out your product, but you also have to deal with the nightmare that is the claims process. You may experience damages that are visible upon delivery or damages that are concealed, meaning they aren’t discovered until after delivery. Luckily, as far as shipping issues go, this is one you have some element of control over.

    Preventing freight damage starts with proper packaging. If you’re the shipper, don’t be afraid to spend a little extra cash upfront to ensure you’re not spending more after the fact. Be conscious of the weight capacity of your chosen container and invest in quality materials. Then choose packaging that is sized right – with just enough room for the contents and the necessary impact protection. If you’re palletizing your shipment, make sure your items sit squarely on the skid with no overhang. Weight should be evenly distributed with heavier boxes on the bottom, and everything should be completely secured to the skid with banding, stretch-wrap, or breakaway adhesive.

    If you are receiving the shipment, make sure you’re following the proper procedures for accepting freight. Inspect your freight immediately and notate any damages on the delivery receipt. File your claim as soon as possible and make sure you have all the necessary documentation. Any small misstep can lead to your claim being denied, so it’s critical that you’re thorough.

    Some shipping issues will be beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. By educating yourself and being prepared, you can mitigate the impact. The shipping experts at PartnerShip have seen it all, and we’ll help you navigate through the toughest issues. Want to learn more about how to tackle freight challenges? Check out our latest white paper!

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  • Laying the Foundation: Construction Shipping 101

    04/09/2018 — Jen Deming

    Construction Shipping 101Warmer weather is finally creeping in and that means construction season will soon be upon us. Shipping in the construction industry is characterized by tight deadlines, oversized hauls, multiple stops and complicated loading and unloading – and unfortunately, a crew can only build as quickly as the materials arrive. Whether building a new home, sports arena, restaurant location or corporate parkway, there is a unique set of challenges for shippers who are trying to transport their materials to and from a staging area to an active construction site. It's important to know what to expect in order to anticipate any possible setbacks that can complicate your plan of action.

    The product and materials being shipped to a construction site or for a building project vary wildly. Lumber, roofing material, windows/glass, dry wall, flooring, natural stone, plumbing fixtures/electrical components, home appliances, and landscaping elements are all commonly shipped construction loads. Additionally, the specialized equipment and large machinery necessary to build needs to be moved from rental location or site to site. Though the product materials may vary, a common denominator for many of these shipments is size of the load and tendency to be over-dimensional, particularly as it relates to width. Understanding and selecting the proper carrier and trailer type is essential in getting your loads transported safely and securely.

    If the building material or equipment IS oversized, you will most likely need to obtain a permit, which can have different requirements depending on the state. You will need to adhere to the requirements for each state that your shipment travels through, so it's important to review requirements for each state beforehand. Maximum legal length for trailers is 53 feet; width is 8.5 feet. Maximum height is 13.5 feet and max weight is 40 tons. It's important to note that weight maximum is based on a per-axle limit, so sometimes simply readjusting the load can keep your shipment legal. Most frequently, if a load is determined to be oversized, it is due to over-dimensional width.

    Pilot or escort cars are required in most states for loads that are over 12 feet wide. In many states, traveling with oversized shipments requires transit to take place during daylight hours, with nighttime restrictions in place up until 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Keep in mind, as well, that traveling during weekends or holidays is often prohibited and varies by state. All of these factors help contribute to the importance of knowing your exact route and researching the requirements for each state that your shipment will be moving through.

    On smaller shipments of a few pieces at a time, it may be possible to ship via LTL freight rather than a dedicated truck. Just like when delivering to schools, churches, or military base locations, active construction sites can sometimes incur "limited access" or "non-commercial" fees. These are charges similar to residential delivery fees that are common with most national LTL freight carriers. Unfortunately, these fees can be unpredictable as some carriers may charge, and others may not. Typically the fee is passed on by the carrier depending on the situation at the time of delivery; for example, extra time and effort spent in accessing the site for unloading. The difficulty in planning for the charge can be an added frustration for shippers.

    Moving via LTL carrier service can also be difficult due to restricted items and limited coverage on high-risk materials such as glass or electrical equipment. It's also super important to be sure you have accurate dimensions, as many of these products will be classed based on density. One final note relates to the security of the shipment. These larger and potentially fragile LTL shipments may be specially crated and packaged, but depending on the length of transit, there is still a risk of damage during loading and unloading at terminals throughout the course of transit. A partial or dedicated truck may be a less competitive rate, but shippers could save money in the long run by avoiding damages and shortening the transit time.

    Businesses looking to move construction equipment and materials can expect to experience quite a few "oh ship!" moments unique to the industry. Planning, researching, and serious attention to detail can help offset any unexpected difficulties that challenge your timeline – not to mention your patience. Rest assured, you aren't alone. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are familiar with the distinct challenges that come with shipping construction materials. From understanding the proper trailer type you need to helping classify your freight, we mind the details so you don't have to.

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  • How to Select a Freight Broker: Top 8 Factors Shippers Should Consider

    04/03/2018 — Leah Palnik

    How to select a freight broker

    Selecting the right freight broker to manage your shipping can make or break your business. You want to be sure they are up to par and will be able to address your needs. The relationship between you and your freight broker needs to be built on trust and communication – not unlike personal relationships. And just like when you’re dating someone new, you want to make sure they check all the right boxes. Here are the top factors shippers should consider when selecting a freight broker.

    1. Licensed through the FMCSA
    First off, to ensure the freight broker you’ve chosen is credible, check that they have a license through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is a federal law that anyone arranging transportation for compensation must have a federal property broker license issued by the FMCSA. You can check here if your selected freight broker is properly insured.

    Licensing involves a number of strict criteria, including bonding and insurance requirements. Insurance requirements vary but cover things like loss and damage or property damage. The bonding protects you against fraud or other unlawful actions that the broker could commit by providing opportunity for compensation.

    2. Specializations that match your needs
    Most freight brokers will offer a number of services and work across a variety of industries, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal. When selecting a freight broker, ask what kind of experience they have shipping your products and if they specialize in the mode you typically use. If they’re familiar with your industry or have experience shipping your product, they’ll know exactly what to look out and understand how to get around some of your common challenges.

    3. Insurance options and claims assistance
    Dealing with lost or damaged freight can be a nightmare. When you select a quality freight broker they will not only provide the option to purchase additional insurance, but they will also offer assistance in the event that you need to file a claim. It’s a full time job understanding everything you need to know about filing claims and a lot can go wrong. Selecting a freight broker that offers protection and can help get you a fair resolution is invaluable.

    4. Strict vetting process for carriers
    The freight broker you select should only work with the most reputable carriers. Before working with a broker, ask about their vetting process. Do they verify the carrier’s operating authority and safety rating? What would disqualify a carrier? They should be checking the carrier’s history and safety ratings through trusted sources like DAT and the FMCSA.

    5. Recognized and certified in the industry
    The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is the premier organization for third-party logistics professionals and holds its members to high set of ethical standards. A quality freight broker will be a member of TIA and will have staff members that are certified through the Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) Program. There are also a handful of other affiliations that can show you the credibility of a broker. Select a freight broker that is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and is recognized through industry affiliations like the NASTC Best Broker Program and Truckstop.com’s Diamond Broker Program.

    6. Tracking options
    Freight visibility is essential when choosing a freight broker. Using tracking systems allows your broker to keep an eye on your shipments and handle any hiccups before they become major issues. Tracking also helps protect you against cargo theft, giving you added peace-of-mind.

    7. Long history in the business
    Freight shipping is complex and can be tricky, which is why you need a master, not a novice. A more established freight broker will not only have more experience, but will also likely have deeper carrier relationships. Freight brokers that are newer to the scene likely won’t have a proven track record or the same kind of buying power a more established broker will.

    8. Overall value
    It may be tempting to choose the freight broker that gives you the cheapest quote, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Working with a broker that offers quality services can be worth the extra cash. Instead of considering price alone, consider all of the other factors, including customer service, quoting tools, claims assistance, tracking capabilities – and then determine what they are worth to you.

    Working with an experienced freight broker that can meet your specific needs can make a world of difference. With the current state of the industry it’s more important than ever to have a broker in your corner that can effectively navigate through a capacity crunch. As an experienced broker, PartnerShip helps you ship smarter with competitive pricing and quality service. Get a quote today.

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  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With These Eco-Friendly Shipping Tips

    03/16/2018 — Leah Palnik

    Tips for Eco-Friendly Shipping

    With freight trucks being a top contributor to air pollution, eco-friendly shipping may seem like an oxymoron. However, there are some green shipping options that can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

    According to SmartWay, an EPA program committed to advancing supply chain sustainability, the transportation sector is responsible for over 50% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, over 30% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions, and over 20% of particulate matter (PM) emissions in the U.S. All of these pollutants contribute to poor air quality and put the health of people and our environment at risk.

    SmartWay also adds that by 2025, shipments of U.S. goods are predicted to grow another 23.5%, and a total of 45% by 2040. As this trend continues upward, it’s more important than ever to offset the harmful effects of transportation-related pollution and harm to the environment.

    1. Choose partners committed to eco-friendly shipping
    You have options when it comes to selecting brokers and carriers to work with. It’s imperative that if you’re interested in eco-friendly shipping, that those responsible for moving your freight make concerted efforts to reduce the environmental risks involved with that transportation.

    Before choosing to work with a broker or carrier investigate what kind of green shipping options they offer. For example, FedEx provides EarthSmart solutions, which includes initiatives like environmentally friendly packaging, fuel efficiency management, and eco-friendly vehicles. UPS has options for sustainable packaging that include reusable envelopes and an eco responsible packaging program.

    You can also look for brokers and carriers that are SmartWay certified. This EPA program helps to reduce fuel use and increase efficiency. To become a SmartWay partner, the broker or carrier need to meet strict criteria and accountability standards. SmartWay also provides performance metrics each year for increased transparency.

    2. Go green with your packaging
    Investing in eco-friendly shipping supplies is another way you can reduce your carbon footprint. For e-commerce shipments, use products that were made from recycled materials or regenerative natural resources. There are a number of companies that sell environmentally conscious supplies. For example, EcoEnclose sells packaging products that meet stringent sustainable packaging criteria. It takes into account the recycled materials a product is made of as well as the carbon footprint across the entire supply chain.

    On top of using packaging that is environmentally friendly, right-sizing your boxes is another way you can go green. Not only will it eliminate extra materials, but eliminating the extra space will help protect against dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. When you use packaging that is larger than the contents inside, you run the risk of paying to ship unused space. Not sure if DIM weight pricing would apply to your package? Check out our helpful DIM calculator.

    To right-size your packages, look into ordering boxes that are customized for your products. EcoEnclose products are fully customizable from the box style, to the size and strength, and can even add your branding. You can also use FedEx Packaging Services, which offers design assistance as well as package testing so you can be confident that your package will hold up in transit.

    For larger shipments, there are green shipping options for your pallets. You can purchase recycled pallets or use a pallet recycling program, like Millwood offers. The Millwood pallet recovery and recycling program will repair damaged pallets or completely remanufacture them. They also offer a green disposal process for pallets that are no longer useable – repurposing pallets into yard mulch, animal bedding, and more.

    3. Consolidate orders
    If you’re in the e-commerce space and you want to do your part to reduce carbon emissions and implement an eco-friendly shipping strategy, think about consolidating orders. In the age of Amazon Prime, consumers are expecting quicker and quicker delivery, which can make consolidating difficult. However, you can offer customer incentives like credits or freebies for selecting slower delivery options. If your customers are environmentally conscious, developing and marketing a “green shipping option” they can select could even be incentive enough. Also consider setting an order minimum before providing free shipping. This could cause customers to order several items at a time instead of placing separate one-off orders.

    Consolidating orders can not only reduce the amount of vehicles on the road and the resulting emissions, but it can also save you money. For example, in many cases the cost to ship three 10 lb. boxes is significantly more than the cost to ship one 30 lb. box. It’s a win-win.

    4. Make donations to offset your impact
    This is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to move towards more eco-friendly shipping. Making donations to environmental programs for your shipments is a great green shipping option, and Carbon Fund offers an interesting way to do so. Use their shipping calculator to determine the carbon footprint of your shipments, then select a carbon offset project to donate to. They offer projects in energy efficiency, reforestation, and renewable energy to choose from. There are a large variety of projects, from one that collects and destroys landfill gas, to one that reduces tailpipe emissions by providing truck drivers with heating, air conditioning, and appliance services without requiring to idle their engine.

    Overall, you can decide to take big or small steps towards a more eco-friendly shipping strategy, and every little bit helps! As a SmartWay partner, PartnerShip is committed to helping reduce the environmental impact from freight transportation. Get a free quote on your next shipment and start shipping smarter!

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  • ELD Updates: From Exemptions to Enforcement

    03/12/2018 — Jen Deming

    ELD Updates:From Exemptions to enforcementAs we enter mid-March, we approach the three-month mark since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate deadline passed in December 2017. While the mandate has been "softly enforced" since the deadline, full enforcement will kick in beginning April 1. A stricter enforcement will include steeper fines, CSA points and subsequent out-of-service citations. That all adds up to tighter capacity and limited available truck drivers. So what does that mean for both carriers and shippers and what's been going on in the meantime?

    As a review, several industries and specific groups have extensions and exemptions that are currently in effect, or will be approaching an expiration date. Most carriers will be required to adhere to the mandate, unless qualified by a series of standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you are not currently required to keep a record of duty status, you do not need to equip your vehicle engine with electronic logging technology. Additionally, if you keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) less than 8 days in a 30 day period, you are exempt as well. If you are a "driveaway/towaway" driver, or your vehicle's engine (not body, cab, or chassis) was made prior to 2000, the new ELD mandate does not apply to you. Rental truck drivers and those covered under the 90- day agricultural extension also are exempt for now. Agriculture and livestock haulers will have to file again, or install approved ELD devices by March 18. If they do not, fines and citations can be issued, but drivers will not be put out-of-service until April 1.

    Since the official implementation of the mandate in December, many additional groups have filed for further exemption requests. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been very transparent in its opposition of the mandate, and has asked for an oversight hearing in order to express its concerns over the mandate and it's implementation. The organization's main issue with the mandate concerns technical issues and malfunctioning, which is an ongoing concern with many of the approved devices. System failures and crashing, issues with GPS tracking and reporting, and mechanical difficulties linking to the truck engine are all cited challenges with the current ELD devices being used. On top of that, the current FMCSA list of approved ELD vendors includes many "self-certified" providers who are NOT actually compliant with requirements. It's a complicated vetting process that leaves many questions and lots of confusion for both truck drivers and law enforcement officials.

    Enforcement of the mandate up until this point has been spotty as well, due to the technical issues with the devices and insufficient training of both drivers and enforcement personnel. In fact, 17 states have decided not to enforce at all until April 1, with the remaining states leaving it up to the individual officer's discretion. The FMCSA has given direction to use a specific code, 39522A, in order to report violations in order to track ELD compliance, but to this time, the code has not been showing up in reports. Namely, this is due to the complicated nature of the devices and the wide range of types being used. Put simply, both drivers and enforcement officers are finding it difficult to recognize whether a carrier's chosen ELD is truly compliant. As a result, drivers are required to carry cards indicating proof they are compliant, as well as instructions on how to operate their software, report device errors, and alternative options to record their hours of service.

    With less than 3 weeks away to a more strict enforcement period, many carriers and truck drivers have yet to move ahead with becoming ELD compliant. Some are battling training issues or troubleshooting their current ELD technologies. Many small enterprises are simply waiting out the soft enforcement period and then find it easier to leave the industry entirely. Either way, it's safe to say that major changes will be occurring in the next few weeks and that the crunch in capacity will continue to affect shipping rates. PartnerShip can help make sure your shipments are covered at a competitive rate. Ship smarter with PartnerShip, get a quote today!


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  • High Freight Rates and Tight Capacity: What You Can Expect

    01/22/2018 — Leah Palnik

    High Freight Rates: What You Can Expect

    If you’ve been experiencing sticker shock from unpredictable freight rates lately, you’re not alone. Shippers are seeing a lot of volatility in the truckload and LTL market, with no end in sight.

    2017 ended with tightened capacity and record rates. By December, the average van rate was $2.11 per mile (DAT) – an all time high. The load-to-truck ratio was also breaking records at the end of the year, with 9 load postings for every truck posting in December.

    Coming off of a record high December, capacity continues to be tight in January – particularly with reefers since they’re needed to keep freight from freezing in the coldest parts of the country. DAT reported that the national load-to-truck ratio at the beginning of the year was the highest ever recorded at 25.2 reefer loads per truck. During which, the reefer rate was at a high $2.71/mile. Van rates have also been breaking records. According to DAT, they were at $2.30/mile on January 6.

    So what can shippers expect going forward? Let’s look at the trends. We saw a bit of a recession in 2015 and 2016 with rates and load-to-truck ratios declining, but that appears to be over. Rates climbed throughout 2017 and we can continue to expect increases in 2018.

    Overall, the U.S. economy is healthy right now and is growing, increasing freight demand. In contrast, the trucking industry is dealing with the aftermath of the ELD (electronic logging devices) mandate. Not only do they need more drivers and more equipment on the road to handle the same amount of freight, but they are also contending with a long running driver shortage. All of this equals tightened capacity, which is becoming the new normal in the industry.

    Recent weather events have been driving up rates as well. Areas of the U.S. that don’t typically experience extreme cold or snow have been hit by treacherous weather that has led to dangerous conditions including low visibility and icy roads. In a tight capacity market, these conditions drive up rates even more.

    In February we can expect to see capacity loosen some (barring any winter storms or other troublesome events), as this is typically the slowest time of year for freight. However, you’re likely to see higher rates than you have in years past, because of the long-term trends.

    In April, drivers not complying with the ELD mandate will be put out of service. Up until then, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel are simply documenting and issuing citations if a truck isn’t equipped with the required device. As a result, we may see some ripple effects. There could be fleets that have held out or hoped to fly under the radar until April. There could also be another wave of trucking companies exiting the market, which will leave a void in the already tight market.

    Now it’s more important than ever to find ways to mitigate the impact of this tightened capacity. Plan ahead so you can be flexible. Providing more lead time and giving your carrier a longer pickup window rather than a specific time can lessen the strain on its network. Planning ahead can also help you shift to more committed freight and away from the spot market. The spot market is more sensitive to disruptions and subject to reactionary pricing spikes.

    Luckily you don’t have to navigate the freight market alone. When you work with PartnerShip, you benefit from our large network of carrier partners and our shipping expertise. We help you ship smarter with competitive rates and reliable service. Get a quote today!

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  • 2018: The Year of the Truck Driver

    12/06/2017 — Jen Deming

    Truck Driver

    Ringing in the New Year means starting fresh and anticipating big changes for future, and truck drivers may be looking forward to 2018 more than anyone. The ELD mandate, driver shortages, fuel costs, and e-commerce boom are all components that leverage trucking companies' ability to determine cost and coverage.

    As we covered in our previous blog post, truckload rates are going up due to a number of different factors. That means that drivers and trucking companies are going to be behind the wheel when it comes to determining how much shipping lanes will be going for. Having this leverage pushes the shipper to the passenger seat, with the potential for less bargaining power and high shipping costs heading into the new year.

    A significant factor contributing to the higher truckload rates is due to an overall shortage of willing and capable truck drivers. Trucking analyst John Larkin suggests that the slow but steady economic increase will result in stronger demand with tighter supply. "The primary driver of the supply/demand tightness is the economy-wide shortage of skilled, blue collar labor," he says. "While driver pay scales began to rise in the 2nd half of 2017, the starting point for wages was so low, that it may take multiple wage hikes before we see any alleviation of this chronic challenge." The ELD mandate, which will be fully implemented on Dec 18, 2017, may add increased tension to an already volatile scenario. Many drivers view the mandate as an invasion of privacy, and may push an already limited number of qualified and experienced drivers from the pool of available carriers.

    The amount of freight being hauled by trucks is expected to increase more than 3% annually over the next five years, as reported by the American Trucking Association. The industry has already seen a 2.8% increase over the past year, and the ATA estimates it could accelerate as much as 3.4% before slowing down again slightly. A notable increase in shipping economy means that though the available trucker pool has dwindled, those who are qualified are more in demand than ever. In addition, because those drivers may have to travel outside their normal area of operations, they can charge a premium. The ATA also reports that trucking will continue to be the dominant freight mode, and in 2017 "approximately 15.18 billion tons of freight will be moved by all transportation modes." The growing economy will further push demand and stretch the pool of available carriers. The ATA estimates that the current 50,000 driver-deficit could expand to 174,000 by 2026.

    With that economic push, and labor shortage, truck drivers will demand higher wages and shippers will have to pay. The third-quarter hurricanes are also said to have played a factor, with drivers understandably asking more for lanes they had run at lower rates previously. Additionally, Florida and Texas, the two states hit the hardest by the storms, are typically some of the most reliable recruiting markets for new drivers. Until the economy recovers in these states, the pool of new drivers will be limited, with many potential recruits choosing the recent wave of construction positions over trucking. A jump in driver pay may keep them interested. According to Bob Costello, the American Trucking Association's economist, observes, "We've already seen fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers." The driver pay structure is also evolving. Where once most carriers were being paid by load, many are now moving to an hourly pay model, specifically as the ELD mandate takes effect. Either way, with the anticipated changes for the new year, it's safe to say truck drivers and carriers are going to have a huge influence on shipping rates for the near future.

    So, now that truck drivers have extra leverage, what can shippers do to help keep down their shipping costs in 2018? Working with a freight broker like PartnerShip can help add value and flexibility to your current shipping options. We shop rates and put in the legwork for you, negotiating on your behalf with carriers for both your LTL and your Truckload moves. If you have questions on how PartnerShip can help manage your shipping costs, call us at 800-599-2902 or get a free quote today!

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  • Need It Yesterday? A Guide to Time-Critical Shipping

    11/27/2017 — Jen Deming

    Holiday Time Critical Shipping

    Holiday fulfillment and expedited freight deadlines are as much a part of the holiday season as cookies, cocoa, and hasty gift wrapping. Shipping managers are very much like the St. Nick of logistics, making sure every order is out—and delivered—on time and accurately to every customer. Between weather delays, unexpected inventory depletion, and rush order fulfillment, planning your winter shipping strategy is a crucial part of your holiday preparation. By being mindful of carrier schedules and deadlines, subsequent holiday surcharges, and familiarizing yourself with time-critical options, you will know which services best fit you and your customers’ needs.

    Sometimes, despite how prepared we think we are, a deadline catches up to us and standard shipping services just are not going to cut it. It’s important to understand the differences between shipping services offered, so that you can make informed decisions that meet your needs while not stretching your budget. Let’s take a look at whether your organization may benefit from time-critical shipping services during a heavy shipping season, and which services may make the most sense for your business.

    There are certain industries that may require expedited freight services more often, and on a more regular basis, not only during the holiday heavy season. Common industries using expedited services include medical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and particularly the automobile industry. It's crucial to understand that during the holiday season, there are going to be additional shippers using both standard and special expedited freight services due to time constraints, further congesting shipping lanes and significantly decreasing carrier capacity.

    Most carriers offer tiered services based on window of delivery, transit time, and dedicated truck type. We will look at the 4 most common types of special services for your urgent holiday shipments: guaranteed, accelerated, time-critical (one-day, two-day), and dedicated truckload. Let's use a freight shipment example, a one-pallet 500 lb load moving from popular shipping hub, Chicago, IL (60638) to delivery in San Francisco, CA (94107). For the purpose of this example, we will assume standard 8am-5pm shipping hours, regular, non-oversized shipment dimensions, and non hazardous materials. Typical transit time for this standard LTL service with most carriers is 5 full business days.

    Guaranteed Services
    Guaranteed LTL shipping services are great for those shippers who may not necessarily need to shave a day or two off of transit time, but definitely need a pre-determined delivery within a certain window during a standard service day. This fee-based service is available on direct-point shipments and can be tailored to either guaranteed morning (before 12pm) or "end of day" (typically 5pm) for delivery. The fee for guaranteed service is minimal and very commonly used, especially during holiday times for retailers

    Accelerated Services
    Accelerated LTL shipping services are suited for shippers who are looking for a faster standard shipping option. Accelerated shipping options fit between standard and time-critical premium services, typically cutting one or two days off of typical transit. The average price for the faster service is about 15% higher than standard LTL services, but differ based on the distance and type of shipments.   

    Time-Critical/Expedited Services
    Time-critical and expedited freight options are premium services offered by national carriers, specifically created to meet stringent delivery deadlines as determined by the shipper. An expedited shipment typically travels directly from pick-up to delivery, with no loading or unloading at terminals and often with dedicated equipment. Teams of drivers often haul in shifts in order to decrease transit times. In especially urgent situations, multiple modes of transit may be used, such as a combination of truck and air freight. Common urgent delivery services include same day, next day, and cross-town deliveries and while there is no limit on distance, the more extreme the request, the higher the shipper will pay.

    For a clearer picture of delivery timelines through various urgent services, we've created the table below:

     

       Expedited Freight Service

     

        Pick-Up and Delivery Timeline  

     

    Guaranteed Services

     

           Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery Fri, 12/8 by noon

     

    Accelerated Services

     

            Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery Thurs, 12/7

     

    Time-Critical/Expedited

     

         Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery by YOUR specified deadline


    Though urgent services are often viewed as "problem-solving" freight solutions in emergency scenarios, more and more shippers are using planned time-critical options as part of their holiday shipping strategy. Just-in-time manufacturers also utilize these services in order to fulfill and meet demand. Though these expedited freight services may come with a higher price tag, oftentimes the cost is offset by reducing inventory costs. An extra benefit to using these services is the added safety and security of the shipment, due to decreased reloading and an escalated level of tracking.

    Even despite solid holiday planning and logistic strategies, shippers may encounter scenarios that require guaranteed or urgent shipping services. If you're not sure which time-critical LTL shipping services are right for your shipment, our shipping experts can find solutions that make the most sense for your business and your wallet. Get a free expedited freight quote today!

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  • Winter Weather Tips for Shipping Managers

    11/02/2017 — Leah Palnik

    winter weather tips for shipping managers

    During this time of year, shipping managers need to be on their toes to stay ahead of winter weather delays. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past several months, it’s that Mother Nature shows no mercy. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey hit, and delivery networks suffered. As Ned Stark famously stated, winter is coming. And with it comes all the unrelenting ice and snow that can wreak havoc on your transit times. The more prepared you are when these storms hit, the better, so we’ve put together a few tips:

    Build in extra days for time-sensitive shipments. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be challenging if you don’t plan ahead for it. Planning is especially important leading up to the winter months and during the holidays, so be kind to yourself and get started now. This will be essential for your supply chain if you’re shipping cross-country or to areas that are prone to winter storms.

    Work with a broker to strengthen your carrier network. With winter storms causing service issues for carriers this time of year, you may need to think about expanding your network. Working with a broker is an easy way to gain instant access to additional resources. Brokers typically work with a vast amount of carriers and have the knowledge to match you with services that would be best for your lane and delivery needs.

    Be flexible when possible. If you have some wiggle room with pickup and delivery dates, it’ll be easier to work out an economical solution with your carrier when weather delays strike. Also avoid setting up unnecessary appointment times that could restrict the driver. If the window of time is too short and the shipment gets held up due to weather, you could be delayed a whole day rather than a few hours.

    Pay attention to service alerts from your carriers. Staying on top of weather issues can be difficult. Luckily many carriers have service alert pages on their websites and some will even send you notifications when they experience weather-related closures or limited operations. Here are a few service alert pages for common carriers: 

    Shipping to a tradeshow? Prepare for the worst. If you’re shipping your exhibit materials to a tradeshow, it’s a good idea to have it sent to the advanced warehouse so you don’t have to worry about it delivering on time. Otherwise, you’re shipping direct to the show site which leaves you vulnerable to devastating delays. If you’re not able to ship to the advanced warehouse, have a contingency plan in place so if you’re stuck at the show without your booth it’s not a total loss. Determine ways you could print materials on-demand ahead of time or bring a few merchandise samples with you.

    Communicate clearly with customers. During the busiest time of year for retailers, how you deliver on customer expectations can make or break your business. Customers are ordering holiday gifts online and making sure they arrive in time is essential. Add some buffer days to your transit times and make shipping deadlines clear and visible throughout the entire ordering process.

    Budget for increased rates. Going into this winter season, truckload capacity is already tight, which has driven rates up. Drivers will also need to comply with the new ELD mandate starting December 18, which puts an additional strain on carriers. Now more than ever, you’ll need to be savvy to navigate the season.

    Being proactive is the first step towards smooth shipping in the winter months. Planning for the inevitable bad weather will help you to not miss a beat when you encounter a service disruption. When you work with PartnerShip, our shipping experts can find solutions that are right for you. Get a free analysis today!

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  • Truckload Rates Are Going Way Up. Are You Ready?

    10/31/2017 — Jerry Spelic

    Truckload shipping costs have been steadily climbing and are poised to go even higher because a perfect storm of events is pushing truckload rates to record highs: the looming Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate; the cleanup and aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; and an already significant driver shortage that has stressed truckload capacity.