the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
3 Blunders That Can Sabotage Your Blind Freight Shipment
09/22/2022 — Jen Deming
LTL freight shipments come in many forms, but one of the most confusing types you may have heard of is blind freight shipping. In blind freight shipping, the identity of the shipper, receiver, or both parties is hidden. It’s most commonly used when a business is shipping orders directly from the manufacturer to the customer.
If you think that sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but there are distinct advantages to taking this route when arranging a freight shipment. The most common reason a business would choose to do this is to keep other parties within your supply chain confidential from your customers, such as manufacturers or distributors. The idea is that they would then be deterred from going directly to those sources for a product instead of your business. Sounds good, right? Well, the challenge is that managing blind freight shipments can get pretty dicey, and most missteps fall within three major areas.
- Blind Freight Paperwork Mistakes
Properly preparing and distributing freight shipping paperwork is a stumbling block for many shippers, on even the most standard loads. In blind shipping, up to three separate BOLs must be prepared, depending on which parties aren’t being disclosed. In double-blind shipping, you will have one for the shipper, one for the receiver, and a conventional BOL for the carrier’s use. All three of the BOLs should include accurate shipment details, including weight, dimensions, and product description.
They should also include accurate freight classes so that the load is billed properly. Each of them will, however, have slight but crucial differences to ensure your blind freight stays “blind”. A shipper’s BOL will have all of the usual info, but also include PO# or other identifying information. The receiver may be omitted in order to keep the customer anonymous. Likewise, on the receiver/customer’s BOL, the supplier’s identifying info and address will be concealed. The carrier BOL must contain all relevant information that is typically used on the BOL, including both shipping parties full information.
Failing to prepare BOLs properly, or handing them off to the incorrect party, can result in major headaches. A shipment can be misrouted or lost, billed incorrectly, or the blind freight’s purpose may even be defeated by accidentally disclosing parties to one another. The best thing you can do when managing a blind freight shipment is confirm that the carrier has all of the accurate details when setting up the shipment, including the true addresses of both shipping parties.
- Not Accounting for the Additional Costs Associated With Blind Freight
It’s always smart to assume that if a shipment has any extra services or needs “special” attention, a carrier is going to add some extra fees for their trouble. Due to blind freight shipping complexity, there are extra costs associated with this service. Every carrier charges different amounts, and we’ve seen them anywhere from $50-$150. Check your carrier’s website to determine costs. As seen here with YRC, cost is stated clearly, as well as instructions to prepare a blind freight shipment per their standards. Research these fees and make sure you’re building them into your budget to avoid surprises.
On top of regular fees for the service, you have to remember that any errors you make when arranging a blind freight load can end up costing you even more. For example, if you handed off the wrong BOL, and the address is incorrect, rerouting and redelivery fees may apply. This can really inflate your final bill, as well as create on-time delivery complications and stress with your customer.
- Not Being Aware of Blind Freight Restrictions
Just as we see with blind freight costs, requirements and restrictions on these types of shipments can vary with each carrier. Some carriers have a pretty relaxed approach, while many need additional paperwork or approval beforehand. It’s always important to notify your carrier that a shipment is blind at the start of the process so that you can iron out details.
Many carriers, such as YRC, require a form or document to be prepared online before pick-up, so that an “official” notice is on file for the request. Carriers may also require paperwork to protect their interests in the case of blind shipping. There may also be a waiver to sign, notifying you that while they will do everything in their power to honor the request, if something goes wrong, it’s not on them. Some may even include stipulations, such as a note that re-delivery will not be attempted due to issues associated with paperwork errors. It really just depends on the shipper, so be sure to visit carrier websites and search for policies on blind freight shipping. If there isn't information made front and center, always download the latest rules tariff and read the fine print. It's not fun, but it may help you avoid mistakes.
While blind freight shipping can sound totally overwhelming, the opportunity to use this type of freight service should be considered for anyone working as a “middleman” between customers and suppliers. A great freight broker can help manage all of the details, including paperwork and communication between all parties to ensure accuracy. With the right assistance, you can be sure that your blind freight shipment will go smoothly. If you think your business might benefit from blind freight shipping, get in contact with a PartnerShip freight expert to learn more.
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- Blind Freight Paperwork Mistakes
4 Ways Consolidating Your Freight Will Make Your Life Easier
07/18/2022 — Jen Deming
Combining multiple, smaller palletized loads into one larger freight shipment can really pay off in the long run. From saving on costs to increasing fulfillment efficiency, both your business and your customer relationships will benefit from well-planned freight consolidation.
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4 Freight Mistakes You're Making This Summer and How to Keep Your Cool
07/07/2022 — Jen Deming
Your LTL freight shipments have an arduous journey and can encounter any number of obstacles while traveling the long, winding road to their destination. Certain seasons of the year can lead to increased risk, and shipping in the summer is no exception. In addition to temperature sensitivity, there’s a variety of other factors that can make summer shipping extra prone to issues. We’ve boiled down the major summer freight shipping mistakes that you should avoid, to keep your costs and blood pressure low in the summer heat.
Mistake 1: Neglecting the boom in summer shipping volume
Summer is a busy time for many industries, from retailers who are busy boosting inventory to farms and growers sending produce loads to grocery distributors. We see a huge increase of freight shipments hitting the road in the summer months. This can affect carrier capacity and make it even more difficult to find available trucks. Time-sensitive loads will be more difficult to cover, too, since last-minute truck booking will be harder to accomplish. It’s nearly impossible to understate how much this boost in volume affects the market.
Solution: Make your loads desirable to the carrier
To claim first dibs on your favorite carriers, you need to make sure that your loads are as appealing as possible. Stay in good standing with the driver – have a clear loading dock, organized loading process, and make sure your packaging is ideal and easy to transport. The main goal for a driver during these busy seasons is to get in, get out, and get on the road. The more time wasted on navigating your parking lot, loading your shipment, or collecting paperwork is going to set them back for the day. Making life easy for your carriers might be the boost you need to get your loads covered quickly in the summer.
Mistake 2: Assuming rates will be the same year-round
Freight rates are directly related to capacity, and in seasons when it’s extra crunched, you’ll see them go up. Other variables like fuel costs can fluctuate unexpectedly as well, so keep these factors in mind when you are building shipping costs into your customer orders. Always keep in mind that a freight quote you received months ago in preparation for a load will no longer be accurate. And if the freight rate is more costly in the present, you can’t exactly go back and ask for more money to cover the difference.
Solution: Check spot rates regularly and build in extra cost
Your best tactic for getting an accurate estimate on freight costs is to run sample quotes periodically, through every season. Gather several from a variety of carriers, being mindful of accessorial costs and other extras. Take an average and use this rate to build in the cost of shipping in your customer orders. It’s always a great idea to cut costs as much as possible in less busy months, as well, to offset the increase during the summer. Creating a nice buffer for your budget can go a long way.
Mistake 3: Taking risks with temperature sensitive loads
It goes without saying that summer’s soaring temperatures can cause extra risk to your loads. Creating a protective environment for your product is key to limiting damages during transit. Frozen goods and fresh produce are commonly known risky loads, but items like pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemical agents, and more all need some extra love during the summer. Now is not the time to risk an “economy” or budget carrier for the sake of saving a few bucks.
Solution: Research and use quality specialty carriers
Just as in any industry, freight carriers can leverage expertise and specialize, as needed. Make sure you are looking at carrier companies that are experts in temperature-controlled services and employ refrigerated vans. Understand that these types of specialized equipment are in high demand, and will be more expensive and harder to find. When reviewing reefer carrier options, ask questions on how the equipment is maintained, how loads are stored and separated, and what they do to address potential delays while in transit. Even if you have a product that may walk the line between needing a reefer or regular dry van, taking the chance during extreme heat isn’t going to work in your favor.Mistake 4: Miscalculating summer freight transit times
If you haven’t figured it out already, shipping freight in the summertime can create a two-fold risk for your shipment. Warmer weather can cause product to deteriorate quickly, and capacity issues may lead to more delays than during slower times of the year. Combined with extreme weather, you have a recipe for disaster, namely damaged freight. Also, keep in mind that while many areas of the U.S. will welcome temperate weather in the summer months, other areas can experience heavy rains, impact from hurricanes and tornados, and severe drought or wildfires – all events that affect transit times.
Solution: Be extra mindful when scheduling long-haul shipments
Planning and being proactive about any potential delays is your best bet for success. Try to avoid shipping over weekends and holidays – most carriers will stay off the road and your freight will be left waiting. By avoiding those blackout dates, you can help protect your freight and also keep your costs low – rates skyrocket for carriers willing to move loads. If your load is liable to deteriorate due to temperature or transit-time related risk, you should always opt for services that can offset those factors.
Keep your cool this summer
Shipping freight in the summer doesn’t need to cause extra headaches and stress – it just requires better planning and a thorough knowledge of your product needs. By selecting the right carrier and equipment, planning for efficiency, and being proactive about truck capacity, you can minimize risk and ensure you’re shipping safely. The freight experts and PartnerShip can help answer any questions about your temperature-controlled loads and help navigate your summer freight successfully.
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3 Smart, Stress-Free Ways You Can Ship Freight to Rural Areas
06/29/2022 — Jen Deming
Transporting LTL freight through rural areas is inefficient for the carrier, and can be challenging for you. When you're juggling long transit times, limited service schedules, and tricky accessorials, it can become overwhelming very quickly. Luckily, we've put together some best practices that can help you ship to rural locations, stress-free.
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3 Smart Ways to Ship Freight in the City
05/24/2022 — Jen Deming
Too much traffic, too few parking options, and an overabundance of air pollution are all obstacles that shippers will encounter when shipping city freight. Before you jump in headfirst, make sure you are brushing up on these key strategies that can help avoid urban shipping headaches.
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5 Freight Broker Benefits You Can’t Afford to Pass Up
03/23/2022 — Jen Deming
If you’re shipping freight, then it’s likely you’ve heard the term ‘freight broker’. But maybe you’ve wondered what they actually do or why you should bother using them. A freight broker acts as an intermediary between a shipper and a carrier - they help shippers find quality transportation providers for their loads. Brokers, also known as 3PLs, can manage every step of the shipping process and help alleviate some work, especially if you’re low on time and manpower. Whether or not you consider yourself a seasoned freight shipper, here are five freight broker benefits that will help level-up your shipping procedures.
Benefit #1 – Freight brokers offer guidance if you’re just getting started
If your business needs have shifted recently, and you need to start using services for larger loads, your shipping department may be a little stuck getting past the basics. Stepping up from shipping small packages to shipping freight is an entirely different ball game. Packaging and pricing strategies differ, as well as the amount of work your team needs to put in during loading. Now is the time to look for assistance from experts, because by going in blindly, you may encounter a variety of pitfalls that result in damaged shipments or expensive bills.
Freight brokers can help get you started off on the right foot by getting to know your business and what you need to ship. They can assist by researching freight classes and determining any special equipment or packaging needs. A great broker can also help with quoting and booking procedures, by scheduling pick-ups and getting all parties any necessary paperwork. After pick-up, they will proactively track your shipment and provide updates, so you can stay on top of your freight’s progress.
New freight shippers can be surprised how many checkpoints a load will encounter throughout transit. And with that, how many chances something may go wrong. For issues along the way, such as transit delays, inspections, or missed deliveries, freight brokers can troubleshoot quickly. Fixing these obstacles can take a lot time, a bit of run-around, and quite a few phone calls, so working with a broker can help shippers avoid that stress entirely. Many freight challenges stem from a lack of communication between shippers, consignees, and carriers, so brokers can act as conduit between the three and clear up matters quickly.
Benefit #2 – Brokers are your inside access to better freight rates
If you could save money on your freight shipping, you’d do it right? Better prices sound appealing, but it can be hard for small and medium-sized businesses to have enough clout with a carrier to get great discounts. 3PLs have strong shipping volumes, and working alongside one can be that extra boost you need to access better pricing. Freight brokers can both leverage carrier relationships for discounts (passing them on to you), and may have a broader pool of carriers that offer budget-friendly options.
To really evaluate where you are at with your freight spend, brokers can also conduct audits on your current procedures. By looking at your past invoices, brokers can identify any areas that you may be spending more than average and check for opportunities to cut costs or increase efficiency. For example, by reviewing accessorial charges like recurring liftgate fees that are being implemented by the carrier, a quality 3PL can help identify potential solutions to eliminate or offset those costs. This may mean suggesting equipment solutions at your warehouse, or looking into alternate carriers who charge less for extra services. There are many ways you can manage your freight budget, but without expert assistance, you may be stuck wasting money while trying to find solutions.
Benefit #3 – Brokers are your advocates in the case of freight claims
Freight claims are a dirty word in this business, and a top stressor for any shipper. Should you find yourself in that predicament, however, working with a freight broker can give you a leg up during the claims process. Freight carriers can be difficult to work with – their primary goal is to limit payouts whenever possible. Because there are so many steps and policies you have to follow, it’s best to have an expert on your side who’s done this a few times before.
A broker can often help set you up for success by making sure you have as many pieces of documentation backing up your claim as possible. They can educate you on the process and make sure you’re submitting the proper paperwork and adhering to any necessary deadlines. A qualified broker can help you understand the differences between carrier liability and freight insurance, and be your advocate during any negotiations and follow-up.
Benefit #4 – Freight brokers give you access to more quality carriers
Freight brokers work with many different carriers, and by using a broker, your pool of shipping options broadens greatly. This is a great benefit on a variety of levels. For example, if you’re experiencing consistent issues like damages, timeliness, and reliability with one of your carriers, having access to some new options could be just what you need to eliminate the problem.
With the worldwide freight crisis hanging overhead, it’s also a smart move to have as many carrier options available as possible. Many shippers have found it challenging to secure a quality carrier that meets their needs and budget. The more options you have, the more likely your freight is going to be picked-up and delivered on time.
Benefit #5 – If you’re stumped on a load, they’ve got options
Freight brokers are experts at putting out fires - they’ve seen it all. If you have a shipment that needed to be delivered yesterday, brokers can help navigate expedited options that balance service level and budget needs. Or maybe your load needs a specialized piece of equipment like a box truck or flatbed. A freight broker will be able to quickly access a large pool of carriers to ensure you have the coverage you need. For any kind of tricky freight loads, a quality broker can help guide you through the process.
The case for using a freight broker
Gaining the benefits associated with working alongside a freight broker can be a game-changer for your business. The ins-and-outs of freight shipping can be complicated, and while you can try to navigate them on your own, it’s always better to have an expert on your side. PartnerShip can help guide your team and help answer any questions you may have on whether working with a broker is right for your business.
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Record High Diesel Prices Will Affect Your Freight Costs
03/09/2022 — Leah Palnik
It’s been hard to miss the high gas prices at the pump and the headlines about the rising cost of crude oil. Not only does this affect the average American driver, but this also has a large impact on the drivers moving our freight. In fact, the national average for on-highway diesel fuel has shot up to the highest it’s ever been since the U.S. Energy Information Administration started tracking the prices in 1994.
The cost of doing business just got a lot more expensive for trucking companies, and that will be reflected in your freight rates. We’re currently seeing fuel surcharges as high as 42% with some of our carriers. While it’s a hard pill to swallow, this is something to keep in mind and budget for.
As for how long you can expect fuel surcharges to be high, that’s hard to say. Many experts note that even when oil prices start to go back down, gas and diesel prices aren’t likely to fall as quickly as they’ve risen.
It’s more important than ever to work with a freight broker. Our team is available to help you find the best rate for your freight and help you navigate through logistics challenges. Contact us to consult with one of our shipping experts.
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Why Carriers Hate Difficult Freight and How to Fix It
02/18/2022 — Jen Deming
Have you ever thought about whether your LTL freight loads are worthwhile for the carrier? Your freight shipments must be worth the amount of effort that’s invested in moving them. If the payoff isn’t there, your loads will be regarded as “difficult freight”. This can lead to declined loads, infrequent pick-ups, or a tense relationship with your carrier. To get your freight prioritized, the first step is determining whether you have difficult freight, then taking the steps needed to become a shipper of choice.
Reason 1: Your pick-up or delivery location is tough to access
One way to determine whether your freight is cringeworthy can be as simple as walking through the door of your business and scanning the surrounding lot. Ask yourself, are my freight pick-ups a pain to complete? Maybe you don’t even have a lot, but your business is located on a side street or an alley in the city. A standard LTL dry van being dispatched by the carrier is 52 feet long, which definitely takes skill to maneuver safely. If your business location is in a challenging place, such as a cramped area that restricts maneuverability or doesn’t have a dock, pick-up is tough for the driver to complete.
On the other hand, maybe you have the space to maneuver, but it’s such a rural location that the carrier only services the area infrequently. If you’re in an isolated region that doesn’t have many other local businesses moving freight, the work to payoff ratio is pretty unbalanced. Either way, carriers have a term for these hard-to-reach locations. High-traffic metropolitan areas, remote construction zones, and extremely rural regions all fall within the definition of limited access.
The best thing you can do to avoid this particular pitfall is to create as much flexibility as possible for the carrier. You might not be able to move your business, but if the physical location of your pick-up has some structural challenges, you need to communicate that to the carrier beforehand. Informing the carrier allows them to plan for the proper equipment, such as dispatching a smaller box truck for arrival. If you can swing it with your warehouse team, consider shipping to or from a freight terminal, rather than your business. Busy freight terminals are located in desirable geographic areas that you know the carrier will visit regularly. This helps ensure your shipment gets moving and will spare you extra limited access fees.
Reason 2: Your freight is a prohibited commodity
Want to know another reason that your shipment may be marked as “difficult freight”? The commodity you are shipping may be prohibited by the carrier. This is usually due to liability, governmental regulations, or company policy. The act of prohibiting certain items exists for two main reasons:
High risk/high value - These types of products can be difficult to put an exact value on, or may be easily damaged or stolen. Commodities include bank bills, credit cards, gold or precious stones, currency, original artwork, furs, or other high-value items. Your chosen carrier may be willing to accept certain items, but you must prove you have the appropriate insurance coverage.
Regulated – These shipments may be excluded due to government regulation or may be hazardous in nature. This may also include perishable items that require controlled storage requirements. Items in this category include aerosols, chemicals, assembled guns, alcohol, combustible materials, hazardous materials, and live plants and animals.
So, since this type of “difficult freight” can include so many different commodities, what can you do? Your first goal should be to learn just how your carrier views these products. Evaluate your carrier’s terms and conditions before you even start planning your pick-up. Restricted or prohibited items will be listed there, as well as any liability and claims information. Inspections regularly occur during transit, so if you aren’t sure if you’re safe, call the carrier and find out their policy.
If you are consistently moving these types of risky shipments, make sure that you are working with carriers that are properly certified. Many carriers specialize in these types of loads, so you can ensure your shipments are moving safely and legally. For some types of cargo there may be state-mandated regulations, as in the case of transporting alcohol. Be sure to have the proper permits and to adhere to the necessary policies. Any type of shipment that has restrictions will likely have very specific packaging requirements and requisite paperwork.
Reason 3: Your warehouse hours don’t mesh with the carrier
Maybe the location of your business isn’t the thing preventing a carrier’s arrival, but your facility’s operating hours are what create further problems. Due to the nature of certain establishments, arrival times may be heavily policed or limited. Places like schools, prisons, or storage facilities often have restricted hours for arrival and loading – and sometimes they’re after a carrier’s business hours.
All a driver wants to do is arrive onsite, get loaded quickly, and then to get back on the road. Having to work around odd hours can complicate the daily schedule. To make matters worse, some locations may require an appointment for arrival. If you have a small loading window that requires the driver to stick to a very fixed schedule, this is going to present some issues. Traffic issues or detours can throw off an entire day’s work. If a driver arrives just short of the appointment time, the shipment may need to be put back on the board for the next day.
Create flexibility in your loading hours whenever possible. If you must require delivery appointments, make sure your loading team is efficient and organized so that you don’t run over. Allowing weekend arrivals, extended hours for pick-ups, and having a team “on call” can greatly reduce the stress a driver will experience and boost the chances the carrier will work with you again.
Reason 4: Your reputation proceeds you
When you are auditing carriers, and measuring up how well they’re working out for you, realize that carriers are doing the same thing. With capacity as limited as it is, freight carriers want to work with customers who have their shipping processes down pat and are pleasant to do business with. If you are anything but that, they will take their business elsewhere.
One major disruption for carriers is the subject of detention. Carriers usually allot two hours for loading, and any time it takes over that is considered detention. Detention holds up drivers, wasting time and preventing them from moving on to the next load. It’s pricey too, as most carriers will pass on a detention fee to offenders. Keep in mind, drivers are not going to help you load your cargo. Some may assist, but be warned, that will rack up some hefty fees too.
In order to avoid these fees and stay in good graces with the carrier, you need to have a well-trained and efficient warehouse team that also has the proper loading equipment. If you don’t have a dock for loading, that’s okay, but you should have a forklift or another alternative ready and working at pick-up.
Be helpful and accommodating to the driver. Amenities like accessible parking options, a comfortable resting area, and food and coffee will be greatly appreciated by the driver. Keep in mind, when it comes to difficult freight, your reputation is the one factor you can truly control. Becoming a shipper of choice takes planning and a little bit of thoughtfulness, but it goes a long way in helping the carrier look forward to your loads.
Reason 5: Your business has above average claim submissions
It probably seems pretty obvious, but if you’re submitting a lot of claims, the carrier is going to be wary of your cargo. Freight claims cause headaches for everyone involved. While the burden of proof is on the shipper to prove carrier negligence, claims submissions take a lot of time, research, and possibly loss of revenue for the carrier. Whether you win the claim or not, damage and loss claims mean the carrier will think twice about moving your shipments.
If your company has a history of damages, your freight carrier is going to evaluate a few risk factors. It may be possible that you are shipping extraordinarily fragile, or perishable, commodities that create a lot of risk. For example, a landscaping business shipping live plants may want to use LTL services for smaller freight loads. While possible, doing so is hazardous. Any delays in shipments or extra handling may cause an above-average risk to the integrity of the product.
The other issue may be with your packaging. A business that is shipping built furniture may experience increased risk of damage to their product. Custom crating your product can help avoid some damages, but the risk may still be too high, and standard carriers may decline to move your loads at all.
If you are shipping any sort of fragile or high-risk shipment, your first step should be to perfect your packaging procedures. It may be costly to invest in custom packaging, but using standard pallets and shrink wrap is not going to be enough to protect your freight. It’s more important to consider whether specialty shipping services may be the right option for your cargo. White glove shipping services can be pricey, but they prioritize safe handling and security. Refrigerated options or even using dedicated truckload services will limit the handling of your product, and may speed up transit as an added benefit.
Reason 6: Seasonality is shifting carrier priorities
During certain times of the year, there are huge spikes in available freight shipments for carriers to move. Depending on the industry, these periods vary by region and season, and sometimes there may be some cross-over. Some examples include produce season in places like Florida, the Midwest, and California, construction season in the spring, or nationwide during the winter holiday season. Because there are so many available loads to choose from, carriers will prioritize the loads that, you guessed it, have the highest payoff for minimal effort.
If you’re shipping during these busy seasons, you need to be flexible. LTL rates will go up and transit times will increase. You should always be practical about your budget, but consider the long-term goal. It’s not the time to tighten the belt on your budget during busy seasons - aim to lower costs year-round so that you have room when you need it. Since transit times will be longer, consolidating loads whenever possible will decrease your overall risk for late deliveries. Expanding your pool of carriers by working with a freight broker will increase the likelihood your shipment gets moved. As always, make your freight as appealing as possible so that when carriers are frazzled by the seasonal onslaught, they can count on your shipments to be fast and easy.
Make difficult freight a thing of the past
Nobody wants to be seen as a “problem shipper”, but the good news is that with time, and a little foresight, you can turn the situation around. It all starts with putting yourself in the carrier’s shoes. Would you want to work with your business? It’s your responsibility to make your cargo desirable, and encourage a strong relationship with your carrier. PartnerShip can help, by guiding your business to make the right choices for your loads, and connecting you with the right carriers who want to move your freight.
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6 Surefire Ways You Can Overcome Freight Capacity Challenges
01/18/2022 — Jen Deming
Sometimes, it’s just hard to find a truck. With a capacity crunch that’s been ongoing for as long as we can remember, the struggle to get your LTL loads covered is old news. But, it’s still relevant news. In fact, it seems like things are projected to get even tougher as more freight enters the network. So, while the capacity challenges continue, how can you get your loads covered without breaking the bank?
Why are there capacity challenges?
First, it’s important to understand why capacity is so tight in the first place. It all boils down to an oversaturated freight network – there’s simply not enough trucks on the road available to move every existing freight load. More money is being spent on goods than services, we’re looking at a 6% year over year growth in demand, and this shift in consumer spending is really tightening things up. While the trend has existed for years, the effects of COVID further propelled a push in consumer spending. Due to a diminished staff, freight is being held up within transit at distribution centers and terminals. All of these factors create the perfect storm that make it harder to find trucks for your freight.
Why should you care?
While the effects of a capacity crunch can seem pretty obvious, there may be more challenges than you expect. The immediate issue is getting your freight shipment covered at all. LTL freight carriers are becoming more particular about the loads they want to move and locations they want to visit. Pick-ups may be infrequent, and if your shipment is particularly challenging, like oversized, for example, it may be refused.
Transit times are becoming longer, with 87.9% of shippers reporting a delay in deliveries. Some carriers are also suspending or amending time-critical and guaranteed options. Base rates are higher than ever before, and LTL carriers are now charging detention fees in some cases when loading is delayed. This accessorial fee is typically just associated with truckload shipping, but with a driver’s time being a vital commodity, carriers are pushing back and using it for LTL shipments as well.
What Can You Do to Overcome Capacity Challenges?
- Expand your current network
One of the first things you should do to increase the odds that your freight will get covered, is taking a hard look at your current carrier options to see where you can improve or expand. Conducting a freight audit can help determine if your business needs are truly being met. Look for reoccurring challenges like missed pick-ups or high accessorial fees. Some carriers may visit locations where demand isn’t as high only one or two times a week, which can create a big issue with your shipping schedule. Accessorials like limited access can vary by carrier and it’s possible the one you are currently using may be charging more than a competitor carrier would. Exploring alternative carriers to review service levels and pricing is a great place to start. If you are finding several carriers that may fit your needs, keep them on file so you can rate shop between them and choose accordingly as back-ups.
- Build in extra time for everything
- Review alternative services for applicable shipments
- Consolidate your shipments
- Utilize regional carrier options
- Become a shipper of choice
Want to know a surefire way to combat freight capacity issues? Become a shipper of choice. This means to do everything possible to leverage your relationships with carriers to make your shipments as desirable as possible. The freight load itself, your location, and your business practices combined should create an easy, efficient, and positive experience for the carrier.
A good way to start is making sure your shipping location is set up for easy navigation. Signs and directional assistance, communication, and a safe, clear dock location are all things drivers look out for. Flexible delivery times and plentiful parking options help eliminate some extra stress for the driver, as well. Above all else, doing what you can to eliminate potential detention time is critical. Staged shipments that are primed and waiting with a well-trained and ready-to-go loading team help ensure the truck will be loaded within the 2-hour limit. That way, the driver can get back on the road to the next location with minimal delay. Nurturing these carrier relationships by improving the experience for the driver is important, and it matters. When there’s lots of freight waiting to be picked up nationwide, be the one that the carrier wants most.
Time is the name of the game in shipping. One of the smartest things that you can do to combat freight capacity challenges is building in extra time at every step of the shipping process. When you get an idea of a project or order you will be working on, start quoting as soon as you know details. If you have reoccurring orders for an established customer, approach carriers with the opportunity to explore contract pricing and get commitments for the length of the project. Carriers are looking for reliable, predictable loads that are going to guarantee business while creating minimal headaches. If you can prove your business can meet these expectations, they are going to be even more willing to commit for the long-haul. An added bonus - they are likely to negotiate terms and better pricing for your business as well. Packing and staging your shipments early so that they are ready for pick-up and will be loaded smoothly is going to go a long way in the eyes of the arriving carrier.
While choosing alternative freight services for your loads won’t always work to combat freight capacity issues, it’s a valid option for certain shipments. If you have a large LTL shipment that could benefit from truckload services, this could be a great back up choice. Using a dedicated truck can increase security, minimize damage, and expedite your transit.
While truckload moves typically consist of 8-10 pallets or more, some truckload carriers will offer a partial option where your load will share space with another shipper’s freight. This can add some perks of truckload shipping like added security, while benefitting from a more competitive price than paying for the entire truck. It’s important to note, however, that in partial truckload shipping, it’s possible your shipment may encounter delays due to the other customer on board. Depending on the order of delivery, you may end up waiting on the first delivery location if they don’t have everything in order. Building in extra time is still a good tactic to take here, but knowing you have alternative freight service options for your larger shipments is good to know if you are in a crunch.
The less often you ship, the less you risk not finding a truck for your loads. By consolidating your freight shipments, you create an efficient way of both lowering costs and ensuring you have LTL truck coverage. It may take a bit of communication and working with your customers, but reworking replenishment schedules so that you’re shipping larger, less frequent loads can be a smart long-term strategy. Moving your shipping to off-peak periods, if possible, also takes extra stress off of a carrier network that is already stretched thin. This not only allows for increased truck availably, but it also helps you avoid seasonal closures that will affect your shipments.
When receiving inbound orders, collaborative distribution is also an option. Collaborative distribution combines vendor orders from different shippers at one common distribution center and channels them into a single-truck delivery. This option is a type of consolidation, but happens much earlier in the supply chain. Finding the balance between identifying which shipments can be consolidated over a more flexible length of time while meeting delivery deadlines and customer expectations is key.
Most shippers are familiar with the large, recognizable national freight carriers, but regional freight carriers can also be a great option for coverage. Regional carriers specialize in concentrated geographic areas, usually within state-lines or city locales. In addition to adding them as options within your existing freight network, there are important advantages to working with regional carriers. Regional carriers have in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience navigating these areas on a daily basis and can speak to potential challenges like traffic trends or limited access issues. While a national carrier may be unfamiliar with these hang-ups, a regional driver’s knowledge of the area means increased transparency with the shipper regarding these obstacles, so precautions can be taken.
Oftentimes, regional carriers charge less for the same services that national carriers do. Regional carriers don’t have delivery area surcharges and costs for liftgates and accessorial fees are lower. Because regional carriers travel shorter distances, expedited or guaranteed services are generally less expensive, as well.
Finally, because these are smaller companies, they tend to offer more personalized solutions that emphasize customer experience. Relationships with these carriers tend to be less transactional, and place importance on problem resolution and service. Adding a regional carrier to the pool is an underutilized and potentially game-changing way to ensure your LTL loads are getting covered.
Freight capacity is a challenge, and it’s not changing any time soon. The best thing that you can do is create a plan of action that tackles these challenges before you have freight waiting on the dock. Working with a 3PL like PartnerShip can help audit your current shipping procedures and identify areas of improvement that go beyond getting your loads covered. Contact our freight experts to help get your freight where it needs to go.
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- Expand your current network
5 Foolproof Ways to Take on Manufacturing Shipping Challenges
01/11/2022 — Jen Deming
The manufacturing industry is vital to our economy, but producing components and materials is just the first step in the fulfillment process. Manufacturers have to make sure products are shipped efficiently, arrive on time, and don’t experience damage. In addition to rising costs and other issues we’ve seen across all industries, manufacturers face a unique set of logistics obstacles. You may be shipping large, fragile shipments that are expensive and hard to handle. Services and equipment needs can vary day-to-day, so it’s important to find the right shipping solutions that meet your specific needs. Read on to learn five foolproof ways to take on manufacturing shipping challenges.
- Prioritize the safety of your loads
Manufacturers ship a wide variety of commodities, from small parts and components, to fully-assembled heavy machinery. For any-sized load, you need to take the safety and security of your shipments into consideration in order to limit damage and other issues. Start with regularly auditing your parcel and freight carriers to ensure their service levels meet your business expectations. Spec out your shipping safety “need to haves,” such as security during transit, carrier reputation, and damage statistics. Keep track of what’s working, as well as any issues you are experiencing with current carriers. If they aren’t making the cut, do some research. Who do your customers and colleagues prefer working with and why? Try out new carrier options and look into alternate service levels that may better offset your shipping challenges. Most importantly, ensure that your preferred carriers are communicated to your shipping department and warehouse team as well as any outside parties such as suppliers who may be arranging your shipping.
Because security is of the utmost importance, ensure that your packaging is perfected, whether you are shipping small parts via parcel services or large freight orders. You should use quality materials and keep some basics in mind:
- Don’t reuse packaging to ensure structural integrity
- Limit extra space to avoid shifting and breakage during transit
- Use pallet wrap to keep loose components together
- When shipping assembled machinery, consider using custom crates rather than pallets
- Double-down on service options that encourage timely delivery
Manufacturing any type of product typically involves several different parties who tackle specific steps during fabrication, from start to finished product. If anything goes wrong logistically during that process, it can disrupt the entire supply chain and lead to more shipping challenges. It’s crucial that your business is utilizing shipping providers and services that prioritize timely, expedient delivery.
Both FedEx and UPS offer different service levels depending on the urgency of your parcel shipment. If you’re in a crunch, FedEx can help make a speedy delivery with options like FedEx Priority Overnight® or FedEx 2Day A.M®. UPS also offers expedited services, such as UPS Express Critical® and UPS Next Day Air®.
If you have a true freight emergency, take a look at estimated transit times between carriers and their services. It’s probably not the time to use low-cost or asset-light carriers, as they typically have longer transit times. Many LTL freight carriers offer time critical, expedited, and guaranteed options. Just-in-time delivery options can also ensure your shipments are delivered as soon as possible. Because these services often use dedicated trucks or air/ground solutions to maximize efficiency, they can be pricey. Be mindful of your budget, and stay on top of any emergencies when you can. If expedited services are necessary, make sure you quote with several carriers and explore all options in order to keep costs low.
Confirm your freight class before you ship
Manufacturing businesses ship diverse products or commodities to any number of delivery locations. Whether your business is in the field of precision medical equipment, mold builders, automotive engineering, or any other specialty field, a major manufacturing shipping challenge is being an expert on your products’ specific freight class and NMFC codes.
The challenge with not knowing these codes can affect everything from your total freight cost to the result of any claims filed. A common mistake many shippers make is using an outdated or blanket NMFC or class code. For example, the ‘machinery’ group NMFC code is 11400. There are over fifty major categories that specify exactly what type of machinery, and they range anywhere from class 55 to 500. That’s hundreds of dollars difference in a final bill. The class for your specific shipment is determined not only by the product itself, but also density, dimensions and weight, packaging type, whether it’s assembled or in parts, and other factors. On top of that, these designations and codes are updated regularly. If you haven’t shipped this product very recently, you need to check it again, especially if any packaging specs have changed.
In the event that you enter the incorrect class code on your BOL, your freight will likely be flagged by the carrier. This will lead to an inspection, and some additional fees that are going to both inflate your bill and delay your delivery. Because freight class can be complicated, especially for manufacturers, it’s important to have more than a basic understanding of how LTL freight rates are determined. If you have any trouble finding the most accurate class code for your shipment, and you probably will, don’t hesitate to call the carrier or work with a freight broker who can help you.
- Make sure the value of your load is covered
Damage is a huge concern, especially based on the types of products being shipped. Freight shipping involves tons of handling and frequent stops at terminals. As a result, it’s probably not a matter of if, but when, you’ll get hit with damages. We don’t want to jinx your shipment, but let’s explore the event that your load encounters some damages or loss while on the road.
Freight damage is frustrating from the start because it’s expensive, can hold up the fulfillment of an order, and potentially complicate relationships with your customers. Because many manufacturers’ shipments are extra fragile, hard to maneuver, and worth a lot of money, the problem can be compounded. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to prove the carrier is at fault if damage occurs, and frankly, a freight carrier will do everything they can to avoid responsibility. Even if you do win a claim and receive reimbursement, there are limits to carrier liability coverage and payouts. They may not meet the entire value of your load.
To avoid extra headaches, make sure that you have your own freight insurance that will fully cover the value of your load. It also does not require that you prove the carrier is at fault for damage or loss, just that the damage occurred. While there is an extra charge for the insurance, it’s usually based on the declared value of your freight, and it is extremely worthwhile should damage occur.
Use a freight provider that offers custom shipping solutions
There’s not always enough time in the day or people in your shipping department to stay on top of the many manufacturing shipping challenges. Let’s face it, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for an industry that has to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to consumer needs, tech advancements, and other changes. A third-party freight provider can help identify the unique needs of your business, without cutting any corners.
Cutting costs is always at the top of the priorities list, and taking a fresh look at your shipping procedures can be a fruitful place to start. A 3PL can help leverage carrier relationships and buying power to acquire better shipping discounts for your business. PartnerShip is connected to many manufacturing and industrial trade associations, like NTMA and PMPA. As a benefit provider to members, PartnerShip helps manufacturing businesses save on shipping costs with competitive rates with carriers who prioritize safety and better shipment handling.
Working with a freight provider can take on several of your shipping challenges at once.
- Conducting carrier audits for better pricing and service.
- Managing claims and acting as your advocate, by touching base with carriers and making sure proper documentation is in order.
- Determining if and when you may need to use expedited freight services, and helping to quote and schedule your day-to-day shipments.
- Finding special equipment options that will balance cost and safety if you have an extra special load.
There are a lot of shipping obstacles to keep track of, and they can be a burden to navigate. Depending on your business size, your budget, and the time you have available, it’s not always possible to become an expert on your own. PartnerShip has the experience and proficiency to help take on your greatest shipping challenges, so you can get back to business. Download our all-encompassing guide to freight claims to learn more about how you can effectively resolve a top shipping obstacle for manufacturers.
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- Prioritize the safety of your loads
Freight Carrier Closures for the 2021 Holiday Season
11/03/2021 — Jen Deming
2021 has been another challenging year. The freight market continues to be oversaturated with available loads while simultaneously suffering from a capacity crisis. Transit times are delayed, so to ensure timely delivery (you can't count on eight tiny reindeer), you must plan ahead and create a flexible shipping schedule. You'll also need to be mindful of carrier closure dates. We've compiled a list to keep on hand when you're executing your holiday shipping strategy.
Freight carrier closures
- Saia LTL Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
- YRC Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
- XPO Logistics – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
- ArcBest – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
- R+L Carriers – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
- Estes – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
- Dayton Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
- PittOhio – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
- AAA Cooper – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
- TForce Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
Santa has his elves, you have a team at PartnerShip
With extra challenges facing your business this year, keep in mind that the freight experts at PartnerShip can help you successfully manage your holiday shipping. Our office will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31 so that we can spend time with our families. Happy Holidays!
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Missed LTL Pick-Ups: Key Ways to Get Your Freight on the Road
09/15/2021 — Jen Deming
Question: what’s worse than your LTL shipment running late for delivery? Answer: How about when your shipment isn’t picked up to begin with? Missed LTL pick-ups are a unique shipping challenge because the trouble occurs before the shipment even hits the road. Regardless whether you’re the shipper or the receiver, freight that’s left on the dock can mean delivery delays, playing phone-tag with the carrier, and a few other headaches.
Missed pick-ups are very common in LTL freight shipping, even more so as demand increases and capacity shrinks. They usually occur when errors are made scheduling a shipment, or if a pick-up location is unprepared or inflexible regarding the carrier’s arrival. Sometimes, it’s due to a carrier running late because other shippers ran overtime. The good news is that many missed pick-ups are avoidable and there are steps you can take to ensure your freight gets loaded. We’ve broken down key ways to get your freight moving so missed freight pick-ups aren’t as common.
Understand your carrier’s pick-up schedule
The first step to avoiding missed LTL pick-ups is understanding how a carrier operates. Carriers typically complete deliveries in the morning, and only after those are completed are new loads picked up throughout the afternoon. Carriers create a plan of action early when scheduling pick-ups and deliveries. Missed pick-ups commonly occur when a shipper tries to squeeze it in too late in the day as an attempt to get a jump on transit. In most cases, it’s extremely difficult to get an LTL shipment picked up the same day. If your warehouse has early close times, this makes pick-ups even more difficult, and you’ll likely see a “freight not ready” designation when tracking your freight status.
To ensure your shipment gets moving, be realistic in your timelines and give the carrier 24 hours’ notice. Respect how a freight carrier must operate to complete their schedule. The more you accommodate the carrier, the more likely they are to be flexible with you, as well.
Request special services at the time of scheduling
Special services that are necessary to complete a pick-up are often missed when scheduling with the carrier. For example, if you don’t have a dock or proper loading equipment, you’ll need a liftgate. They are often available, but they are not standard on every freight truck. The carrier must be notified when scheduling so the proper truck is dispatched. The same goes for businesses with tricky locations categorized as "limited access". Should you need a pup or box truck, this must be mentioned to the carrier, because smaller, more maneuverable trucks are harder to find.
If you’re arranging the shipment, but aren’t the pick-up location, make sure you find out from your shipper whether or not they will need these special services. Mention and confirm these requests when scheduling with the carrier. If this is missed, another pick-up is not likely to be attempted the same day. Instead your carrier will return the next business day.
Get a confirmation number and ETA
When you complete a scheduled pick-up successfully, either by phone or online, you will always be given a confirmation number. This number is a simple way to ensure everything was scheduled correctly and you’re “on the board”, a carrier term for scheduled and set to dispatch. The confirmation number contains a code that is unique to certain carriers. At the time of scheduling, you may receive an ETA from the driver. The ETA can help the shipper prepare for arrival, so a pick-up runs smoothly.
When scheduling your pick-up, be sure to note the confirmation code and double-check that it’s accurately representing your chosen carrier. Share this number with whomever will be a part of the pick-up process, so that if there are any delays, you can confirm that it was scheduled correctly.
Create flexibility in your warehouse operating hours
As a general rule of thumb, the more open you are, the better for the carrier. And we mean that literally. Truck drivers are constantly combating delays during transit, whether due to traffic, weather, or even being held up at another location. Time is money, especially in trucking. A simple delay can interrupt a day’s worth of pick-ups, and trouble can snowball quickly.
By extending hours through weekends, or adding as-needed late or early shifts to your warehouse, the carrier will have an easier time completing your pick-up. Keep in mind that the driver wants to check off all of their scheduled stops, so they don’t carry over into the next day. By expanding your dock hours when needed, they will complete their workload and you can rest easy knowing your freight’s moving.
Prepare paperwork and prep the load before pick-up
As we’ve mentioned, to keep on track, carriers must spend the least amount of time possible at each location. Common reasons a driver may be delayed are because the BOL and paperwork aren’t prepared, or the load isn’t packed and prepped in time. As the capacity crunch tightens, carriers are even less flexible than they have been in the past. If your location isn’t prepared, you can bet the driver will leave if you’re running too deep into detention time.
Make sure that if you’re the shipper, you have all paperwork ready. If you are shipping special loads such as hazmat or cross-border freight, those required documents must be in order, as well. Also important, be sure that your freight is properly packaged and staged for easy loading. If you have especially fragile loads, and your packaging isn’t up to par, the driver may choose to leave the shipment due to the added risk.
Check specs to ensure available space on truck
An important point to note is that pallet count, weights, and dimensions aren’t just for calculating your shipping costs. In LTL shipping, you share the truck space with other customers’ loads. The specifications you provide determine rates, but also help the driver plan for what will fit on the truck. Proper measurements reveal how much space is left in the trailer for other shipments. Incorrect specs can throw off a driver’s schedule, preventing other customers from loading after you.
If a carrier decides your shipment’s specs are just too different from what was planned, you guessed it, they’ll leave it on the dock. Keep this in mind if you consider estimating freight dimensions or sneaking on any extra pallets that you have ready. Make sure your measurements and weight match what’s on your BOL. Surprises are great, but not for your arriving truck driver.
It’s important to remember that missed pick-ups are common and sometimes unavoidable. The silver lining, however, is that some are within your control. If you want smooth sailing for your LTL freight, review these best practices to start your shipment’s journey off right.
As more warehouse teams have increasing responsibilities, tracking and managing pick-ups can take up tons of time. 3PLs like PartnerShip can help proactively check on your loads and find out why there may be any holdups – freeing up your time and to-do list.
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The Current State of Freight: What You Can Expect
08/31/2021 — Leah Palnik
To say the freight market is strained right now might be an understatement. If you’ve experienced significantly higher rates and less reliability from your carriers, you’re not alone. As someone who is shipping freight, it’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market in order to navigate the challenges that are coming with it. Let’s break down the factors that have led us here and what we can expect moving forward.
Key factors that have led to challenges in the transportation industry
Like so many other industries, freight transportation has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the cultural shifts that have come along with it. The pandemic not only created new challenges, but also exasperated existing pain points in the market – leading to the perfect storm. It all boils down to a case of supply vs. demand.
- Consumer buying is strong and is driving up demand. While the world was locked down, we weren’t spending money on vacations or going out to eat. In many cases those spending dollars went towards buying goods instead. Retailers are doing what they can to keep up with demand and as a result, have an increased need for trucks to deliver their much needed inventory.
- There is a truck driver shortage. The driver shortage is old news, but it is still very relevant now. Sometimes there just simply aren’t enough drivers available to take on new loads. For years, there have been more drivers retiring and leaving the profession than there have been new drivers entering the market. Unfortunately, the open road hasn’t been as attractive to this generation of the workforce as it once was.
- Building new tractors are constrained by parts availability. Not only is it hard to move freight with less available drivers, but now we are also seeing a limit on new trucks on the road. Supply chains for many goods have been seriously disrupted thanks to the pandemic, and parts that are needed to build new tractors are no exception.
How LTL carriers are responding
With such volatile market conditions, LTL carriers are forced to respond. As no surprise, a major course of action they’ve taken is to increase rates. Simple economics tells us that an increased demand means they can charge more for their services.
Not only are they increasing rates, but they’re also looking to shed less desirable freight from their networks. Loads deemed less profitable, or more trouble than they’re worth, are harder to get covered because carriers want to prioritize loads that allow them to work efficiently and profitably.
LTL freight observations from the front lines
Many of our customers are exhausted dealing with carrier issues. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents cited rising shipping costs as a challenge they were currently facing. Along with that, 47% noted they were experiencing longer transit times and 36% were dealing with poor carrier performance.
Our team has also noticed several concerning trends pop up with freight carriers. As if raising base rates wasn’t enough, we’ve seen them put in extra effort to collect on everything they can. Accessorial fees that you may not have seen on your bill in the past are now showing up for services you’ve always received. The carriers just aren’t as lax as they may have been in the past for charging for these extra services.
Because freight networks are so strained, we’re also seeing an uptick in missing shipments. If this has happened to you, you know how stressful it can be. The carriers are also doing everything in their power to deny claims for both missing and damaged shipments. They’re wanting to see them filed sooner than ever before and are requiring a great deal of evidence.
Estimated transit times for LTL freight has never been guaranteed, but now more than ever, we’re seeing shipments miss that predicted window. Unfortunately, longer transit times and missed pick-ups are becoming extremely prevalent, again due to how ill equipped carriers are to meet the current freight demand.
What can you do?
You may want to live by the old adage about how you can’t change others, only yourself. It’s not within your power to control carrier performance or consumer demand, but you can educate yourself and act accordingly.
- Use a quality broker, like PartnerShip. While brokers have no control over what a carrier ultimately does with a shipment, a quality freight broker will provide the communication and creative solutions you need when caught up in an issue.
- Follow the tried-and-true best practices for overcoming capacity challenges. Expand your current carrier network, build in extra time at every step of the shipping process, consolidate your shipments, and consider alternative services. While it’s not always possible to implement these strategies, following them any time the market is experiencing tight capacity can be very advantageous to your operations.
- Become a shipper of choice. This means making your freight desirable to carriers. You probably aren’t able to change what you’re shipping, but there are some factors you can control. Being flexible with pick-up and delivery times, ensuring ease of access for the truck, and avoiding long detention times are all things carriers ultimately appreciate.
Back to school season is upon us and the holidays are right around the corner. In short, demand is not expected to drop anytime soon. Will the supply side be able to catch up? Not likely. Recruiting and retaining the needed labor force will continue to be one of the biggest challenges in the industry. And as we enter hurricane season and another COVID-19 surge, we could see even more network disruptions.
At this point, it’s important to manage expectations. You’ll want to budget for higher freight costs and be mindful of potential delays, so you’re not caught off guard. For everything in-between, our team has the expertise to help you navigate these challenges. Contact PartnerShip today and lean on us when you need it most.
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4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class
08/24/2021 — Jen Deming
Freight classification is a type of product categorization unique to freight shipping. It relies on four factors that help determine cost: density, stowability, liability, and handling. Once you have a general understanding of these variables, you can better calculate how your class (and cost) will be determined.
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Freight Quote vs. Invoice: Why Don’t They Match?
08/13/2021 — Jen Deming
One of the most common questions we get is from customers wondering why the heck their final freight invoice doesn’t match the rate they were originally quoted. It’s a valid concern because once you have that bill, it’s next to impossible to get more money from your customer and you’re going to be eating that cost. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to blame the carrier, but the real reason they are different may sting a bit – it’s usually a shipper error. Before you start pointing fingers, review these common reasons your bill doesn’t match that original quote.
Reason 1: Your product is classed incorrectly
One of the most common reasons a quote differs from a final bill is because your product is classed incorrectly. With classification being a huge factor affecting your freight quote, even a small error can impact your price. If you guess or miscalculate, your class may be way off.
The issue may be that sometimes your product is difficult to fit in a particular NMFC category. Take glass jars for example. This type of product falls under NMFC code 87700. It’s not as simple as that, however. Because glass jars are typically fragile, they are broken down by volume, and depending on that calculation, the class can be anywhere from class 65 to 400. In an average freight shipment, that’s a difference of hundreds of dollars. Make sure you are utilizing ClassIT, and consulting freight experts if you have any questions on class, or how to properly calculate density.
Reason 2: A liftgate service inflated your bill
When checking your freight quote vs. invoice, unexpected extra services are the second most common reason for a mismatch. One example we see time after time is for liftgate service. If you didn’t specify you would need a liftgate when you got your quote, but then your carrier provides the service at pick-up, it will cost you. Additionally, if your customer doesn’t communicate they need one for delivery, that can be added on without your approval or knowledge, surprising you once you get the bill.
Communication between both parties and ensuring you have the proper equipment can avoid this completely. Make sure you both understand that the added cost of an accessorial may raise your rate, but will help your shipment get where it needs to. Understanding that these types of special trucks equipped with liftgates are not as common, both parties will know they need to be requested on the front-side.
Reason 3: Too much time has passed
First and foremost, it’s important to know that a freight quote is an estimate to begin with.
So many factors can change - for example, fuel costs fluctuate frequently. Additionally, depending on when you are scheduling your shipment, peak periods can cause capacity issues, and this generally results in higher charges.
As a general rule, we like to inform our customers that quotes for standard LTL service are valid for about a week. That window is even tighter when you’re using time-critical services. If you’re wanting an estimate so you know what to bill a customer, build in some room for your final cost, or requote as close to the actual shipment pick-up date as possible.
Reason 4: Your delivery location has changed
While not quite as common, sometimes a change in delivery address can affect the final cost of your freight. Changes may occur after a load is quoted or may have to be made while the shipment is already in transit. Reasons for this might include a location being closed, or a consignee that isn’t ready to receive the shipment.
LTL freight shipments can be rerouted, but that adjustment will definitely incur costs: distance and fuel will increase if the location is further out. On top of that, special service fees such as a redelivery charge or even location-specific fees like limited access could also be applied. Do your best to requote if any details of your delivery location change. If the change is made at the request of your customer, be sure to communicate that fees will apply. If you want to absorb those charges as a courtesy, be sure to build some room in your customer cost to begin with. Otherwise, make it clear who is responsible for those fees.
Reason 5: The wrong carrier picked up your shipment
You’d be surprised, but the wrong freight carrier picking up an LTL load happens much more often than you’d think. We’ve seen customers quote a general rate with one carrier and then hand it off to whatever carrier arrives that day just to get it on the road and off the dock. Your shipping department is likely very busy, but this sort of simple mistake can cost you so much time and money in the long run.
Not every LTL carrier has the same base pricing, and even accessorial costs fluctuate between carriers.
If you quote with one carrier, and hand it off to another, you could be paying much more if that carrier charges more for their services. Even worse, if you have negotiated pricing with one carrier, the incorrect one won’t know to bill using your discounts. Worst case scenario, you may be billed at full-cost. Make sure your warehouse team is aware of what carriers are to move which loads. Creating color coded carrier labels and marking your shipments can help ensure a quick once-over to avoid this drama completely.
Reason 6: You have a paperwork error that affects billing
When comparing your freight quote to your invoice, also take a look at your paperwork and shipping documents. Billing errors and missing information can create an expensive and exhausting headache.
If you are arranging a shipment, and have special pricing or are using a third-party, make sure an accurate BOL states the correct carrier and “bill-to” party. If you are receiving the load, but responsible for the shipping arrangements, don’t leave it to the shipper to create the BOL. In doing so, you run the risk of an incorrect billing party or other inaccuracies that mean your discounts won’t be applied. Even after the fact, a letter of authorization (LOA) can sometimes fix this by informing a carrier of the correct billing party, but it’s not guaranteed and it definitely delays the process.
Don’t freak out if you’re seeing some discrepancies between your freight quote vs. your invoice. While they can be unexpected and troublesome, educating yourself and your customer about what can change your rate can help you make better decisions when planning your LTL load. Strong communication and a plan of action can help mitigate expensive invoice issues. If you have concerns about your freight quote vs. your invoice, PartnerShip can help dodge the guessing, help choose the correct services based on your shipping needs, and side-step costly errors.
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Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance. What’s the Difference?
07/15/2021 — PartnerShipFreight damage and loss is a reality of shipping. It’s not a matter of if it will happen to you; it’s a matter of when. When damage or loss occurs, your first thought is often, “how will I be compensated?” To answer the question, you need to understand the difference between carrier liability and freight insurance.
Every freight shipment is covered by some form of liability coverage, determined by the carrier. The amount of coverage is based on the commodity type or freight class of the goods being shipped and covers up to a certain dollar amount per pound of freight.
In some cases, the carrier liability coverage may be less than the actual value of the freight. It’s common to see liability restricted to $0.25 per lb. or less for LTL or $100,000 for a full truckload. Also, if your goods are used, the liability value per pound will be significantly less than the liability value per pound of new goods. Liability policies can vary, so it’s very important to know the carrier’s liability for freight loss and how much is covered before you arrange your freight shipment.
Freight damage and loss is a headache. In order to receive compensation, a shipper must file a claim proving the carrier is at fault for the damaged or lost freight. Carrier liability limitations include instances where damage is due to acts of God (weather related causes) or acts of the shipper (the freight was packaged or loaded improperly). In these cases, the carrier is not at fault. Additionally, if damage is not noted on the delivery receipt, carriers will attempt to deny liability.
If the carrier accepts the claim evidence provided by the shipping customer, then they will pay for the cost of repair (if applicable) or manufacturing cost, not the retail sell price. The carrier may also pay a partial claim with an explanation as to why they are not 100% liable. The carrier will try to decrease their cost for the claim as much as possible.
Freight insurance (sometimes called cargo insurance or goods in transit insurance) does not require you to prove that the carrier was at fault for damage or loss, just that damage or loss occurred. Freight insurance is a good way to protect your customers and your business from loss or damage to your freight while in transit. There is an extra charge of course, and it is typically based on the declared value of the goods being shipped. Most freight insurance plans are provided by third-party insurers.
As mentioned earlier, your freight might have a higher value than what is covered by carrier liability, such as shipping used goods. Another example is very heavy items. Carrier liability may only pay $0.25 per pound for textbooks that have a much higher value. This is a great example of when freight insurance is extremely helpful in the event of damage or loss.
Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance in the Claims Process
If your freight is only covered by carrier liability coverage:
· Your claim must be filed within 9 months of delivery
· The delivery receipt must include notice of damage
· Proof of value and proof of loss is required
· The carrier has 30 days to acknowledge your claim and must respond within 120 days
· Carrier negligence must be proven
If your shipment is covered by freight insurance:
· Proof of value and proof of loss is required
· Claims are typically paid within 30 days
· You are not required to prove carrier negligence
Deciding which option is best for your shipment
Anything that comes at an added cost needs to be evaluated critically and freight insurance is no different. There are a few things to consider as you weigh the potential cost and risk of damage and loss versus the cost and benefit of insurance. You'll need to think about the commodities you're shipping, how time critical your shipment is, and if you'd be able to weather the financial burden that comes with a denied or delayed claim payout.
Understanding your carrier's liability coverage and knowing the ins and outs of freight insurance can be tricky. If you have questions like “how much does freight insurance cost?” or “what does freight insurance cover?” the team at PartnerShip can help.
If you want to learn more about the freight claims process, check out our comprehensive guide.
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5 Times The Lowest Freight Quote Won't Work For You
07/08/2021 — Jen DemingIf you're keeping LTL costs low by shopping for great freight rates, you're doing a pretty good job of shipping smarter. But here's a curveball: there's a few specific scenarios where the lowest quote might do more harm than good for your load. Our newest video covers five key instances where you may want to rethink that cheap quote and pay just a bit more for better service.
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The Top 4 Reasons Your Freight Is Late
06/22/2021 — Jen Deming
Despite the very best of intentions, sometimes your freight delivery may be running a little behind. Though not every contributing factor is within your control, there are some tips you can take to lessen the impact of delay in these common scenarios.
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How a 3PL Can Help You Dodge Food Distribution Challenges
05/26/2021 — Jen Deming
Every industry has its own unique shipping challenges, and these issues aren’t always avoidable. We work with many food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, and constantly see a pattern of reoccurring obstacles within the industry. Working with food distribution centers can help gain brand exposure and increase reach of your product, but there are very specific transportation issues associated with these locations. Familiarizing yourself with what you can expect of distribution centers and how a 3PL like PartnerShip can help ease the process can help to lessen headaches and ensure your transportation goes smoothly.
If you’ve been in business for a while, names like UNFI, KEHE, Sysco, are probably all familiar to you as common food commodity distributors. Working with big name companies like these can help manage your supply chain efficiently, fulfill customer orders, and expand your product to a multitude of retail locations quickly. No matter the type of distribution center, all run a very tight ship that doesn’t allow much room for error. What you need to know is that while these places are convenient for exposure and expansion, they pose serious operational complications if you aren’t aware of challenges beforehand. Let’s take a look at how a 3PL can help with the major challenges in working with food distribution centers.
3PLs help navigate restricted hours of delivery and pick-up
Because food distribution centers are working with an innumerable amount of deliveries from various businesses, managing incoming shipments from manufacturers is very complex and requires a lot of communication. Most food distributors require a very small window for deliveries, including early morning or late evening receiving hours. This helps to manage congestion and traffic at receiving docks and expedites the process so trucks can unload and be on their way. If you’ve ever shipped to a tradeshow and experienced strict timelines for arrival, it works much in the same way with distribution centers. If your truck arrives at a distribution center outside the window of delivery, it is likely to be refused and will acquire detention or redelivery/late fees.
Because there is so much involved in communicating with the distribution center, knowing appropriate delivery hours, and tracking your shipment, working with a 3PL can help alleviate some of that responsibility. Freight experts at a quality 3PL know what to look out for, and can help verify hours and help coordinate with your carrier.A 3PL can help sort out carrier preferencesShipping food and beverage commodities is innately more challenging than other products because regulations, certifications, and other considerations are major factors influencing the process. Food-grade carriers undergo a rigorous vetting process with the FDA, and need to meet certain safety and security requirements in order to ship their product. Because of this, some food distribution centers require or prefer specific carriers for inbound and outbound shipments that they know meet these standards.Because these carrier preferences can change within a distributor’s network, and aren’t always disclosed prior to arranging a shipment, doing research beforehand is of utmost importance. Making sure the distribution center you are shipping to has a preferred carrier whose services align with your business needs is an important part of the supply chain relationship. Keeping track of this can be challenging, and working with a 3PL who is both familiar with the unique needs of your business and requirements of top distribution centers can help ease the process.3PLs will set up any appointment requirementsAnother major caveat to watch out for in working with big-name food distributors and warehouses is appointment requirements for delivery or pick-up. In addition to restricted operating hours, these locations will often require an appointment to be scheduled for the arrival of the freight carrier. This needs to be arranged prior to scheduling the pick-up from your shipper location, and the responsibility falls on the carrier or vendor.Often, these locations manage appointment scheduling via online portals, and require important information like a PO number, delivery location address, carrier name and number, and shipment descriptions like weight, size, and commodity. Having all of this information and documentation on-hand can help make the process much easier. If you’re managing several shipments at once, it can get complicated, and working with a 3PL can help make sure you have all the information you need, and ensure it’s accurate. Working with a final delivery location or customer is important as well, and communicating with all parties during the shipment process is crucial to avoid hang-ups, delays, or other issues. Juggling all these variables can be overwhelming, especially when managing other parts of your business. Collaborating with freight experts is a smart way to delegate some of that responsibility.Quality 3PLs will keep an eye out for sort and seg feesIn addition to the aforementioned challenges that come with shipping to and from a food distribution center, there’s an important accessorial fee associated with these locations. Sort and segregation fees are charges applied when the consignee, the food distributor, needs the driver to break down the pallets and divide up the product. The shipment is often separated based on SKU, commodity, weight break, delivery destination, or a variety of other factors. Because standard freight services do not include driver assist with loading or unloading deliveries, this extra step will result in higher charges on your invoice because it is labor-intensive and may result in delays for the driver.Consulting with a 3PL on shipments going to and from food distribution centers and warehouses is the best way to gather information on delivery requirements before you ship. Because these fees can accumulate rapidly and end up costly, working with brokers who have strong relationships with their freight carriers may help in reducing costs through discounted accessorials and special freight rates. Knowing if the distribution center has these requirements can help you prepare for higher fees and you can work that into your budget before you get hit with a bill that’s higher than you expected.PartnerShip can helpShipping to a food distribution center can result in many obstacles an everyday freight shipper has never seen before. Working with a quality 3PL, like PartnerShip, you gain an entire fleet of experts that know what issues to look out for before they become problems for your food and beverage shipments.
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Do I Need a Liftgate for My Freight?
05/13/2021 — Jen Deming
Liftgate services are a leading request made by freight shippers. Depending on your shipping location and the loading equipment you have, a liftgate can literally make or break your freight loads. But, it's important to know that this top accessorial comes at a cost. Learning what this common service is and when it's going to be used can help you plan for additional costs and keep your budget in line.
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10 Essential Freight FAQs for Smart Shipping
04/07/2021 — Jen Deming
No matter what you're moving, there are a few freight shipping fundamentals that you need to know in order to transport your load successfully. While the process seems straightforward, there are some challenges that can be anticipated by answering a few basic questions beforehand. We've compiled the essential questions that you need to be able to answer before you start shipping freight successfully.
What is the difference between freight and small package shipping?
While freight and small package shipping have some similarities, there are some major distinctions to keep in mind. Shipment size is the first recognizable difference between the two, with small package shipments being smaller, typically less than 150 lbs. Freight shipments consist of larger loads, often palletized, that range from one or two pieces to a dedicated truck. Differences in transit time, pricing structure, and driver service level are other major variables between the two transportation options. Knowing the details and requirements of your load can help determine which service makes the most sense for you.
What kind of packaging is best for my freight shipments?
Proper packaging is key in protecting the security of your shipments. Using the correct materials for the commodity you are moving can help deter damages and loss. When packing items into multiple boxes, avoid any excess space to limit shifting. Packaging materials like bubble wrap, foam cushioning, and packing peanuts can all help cushion your commodities. Freight shipments do best when boxes are palletized or packed securely into customized wooden crates. If you are shipping multiple items on a pallet, it’s important to shrink wrap them together in a uniform, structured stack to avoid damage or separation of items. Clear and correct labeling is important to get your shipments where they need to go accurately and in an efficient time frame.
When does it make sense to use LTL vs truckload?
Choosing to use either an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight or truckload service is often situational and can depend on the specific requirements of a shipment. LTL shipments are moved by carriers who group your loads together with other customers for delivery. Your shipment will be sharing space with other freight and will be handled at multiple terminals. Truckload shipments typically use a dedicated truck for your move, so you are paying for the entire space for the full length of the transit. LTL freight is a more cost-efficient option, and great for regular freight loads of a few pallets or more, with no hard deadlines. Truckload shipping gives you greater security and a faster transit, making it more ideal for large, high-value or fragile loads.
Do I need a guaranteed delivery date?
Getting your freight load delivery date guaranteed can be a tough endeavor, so arrival dates given at the time of booking your load are always estimated. Factors like weather, warehouse delays, traffic, and other variables make it difficult for a carrier to promise delivery on a certain date with standard freight services. Time-critical or expedited services are a viable option for shipments that must arrive quickly by a certain time of day, day of the week, or other specific delivery window. It’s important to note, however, that even when electing to use these premium services, situations may arise that can cause a delay where a carrier will not be liable.
What is an accessorial fee?
Freight carriers use additional charges to compensate for any extra time and effort it takes to move a shipment, called accessorial fees. Any challenges with loading and moving your freight such as an oversized shipment, limited access at the point of delivery, or specialized equipment needs can drive up your freight bill. It’s important to note that every carrier charges different amounts for these fees, so knowing what services your shipment requires before pickup will help avoid any surprises.
What do I do if my freight is damaged?
As frustrating as the experience can be, freight damage or loss is almost inevitable if you ship regularly. The cost of repairs and replacements can be compensated by the carrier in these circumstances, but there are very specific steps smart shippers must take to ensure approval and payouts. Damage prevention is always the smartest tactic, so proper packaging is a great place to start. Making sure your paperwork is in order, checking for hidden damages, and filing your claim in a timely manner are all important steps to ensure your claim is resolved in your favor.
What is a freight class?
Many factors go into determining a rate for a freight shipment, and freight class is one of the most important. Every type of commodity that moves through the freight network is assigned a universal classification code by the NMFTA. These numbers are determined by four main factors: density, stowability, handling, and liability. Generally, the more difficult or challenging a commodity is to move, the higher the freight class. These qualities, combined with the length of haul, fuel costs, and extra services, determine your final freight rate. Classification can be confusing to get right, but freight experts can help decide which works is most accurate for your load.
What is density-based freight?
As more freight enters the network, and capacity continues to be limited, carriers struggle to keep up with available loads. Ideal freight shipments are solid, heavy, and take up minimal space within the truck, allowing more room for additional loads. Lightweight, awkwardly-shaped loads that don’t allow for an efficient use of space are subject to density-based rates. The shipment density, combined with freight class, will give you your total freight rate, which tends to be higher than low-density, easy-to-move shipments.How can I lower my shipping costs?A smart start for lowering operating costs is by taking a good look at your shipping practices. While there are some uncontrollable variables that factor into shipping costs, there are a few places you can better optimize your strategy for more savings. Improving your packaging, cultivating a strong relationship with your carriers, and maintaining reliable communication with your customers create great opportunities to lower your costs. Working with a quality 3PL can also help identify key areas where you may be able to save money with less effort on your end.How can a 3PL help my shipping operations?Working with a 3PL is a great way to gain resources and improve efficiency. Working with freight experts who are also familiar with the unique needs of your business can decrease the amount of time you spend on finding ways to cut costs. A 3PL like PartnerShip can also expand your network of carriers, ensuring your freight moves are covered quickly with reliable carriers, often with competitive rates that aren’t available to most businesses on their own.While these are some of the most common questions we receive at PartnerShip, they aren’t the only ones we hear from our customers. If you have a freight dilemma that you’re not sure how to resolve, contact the experts at PartnerShip and we will find the best answers for your business.
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5 Frustrating Reasons Your Freight Claim Was Denied
02/19/2021 — Jen Deming
While we’d like to think that freight loss and damage can be avoided, realistically it’s something every shipper will face. That means that at some point you will likely need to file the dreaded freight claim. Unfortunately, when it comes to the final say in payouts, carriers are in the driver’s seat. The good news is, most denied claims or insufficient payouts are caused by five common oversights. If you can avoid these issues, you are more likely to win your claim and recoup your losses.
- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
The Carmack Amendment was passed in 1935 in order to protect carriers from exclusive responsibility for any damage or loss occurring during transit. It sets up five scenarios that legally exclude the carrier from liability. If damage or loss occurs due to one of these instances, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect for the damages.
Act of God – Unavoidable events such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, medical emergencies, etc. that may befall the driver during transit fall into this category. These events have to be determined as unforeseeable and inevitable in order for the carrier to remain free from responsibility.
Public Enemy – If the damage-causing incident occurred during a defensive call to action by the government or “military force”, the carrier is not responsible for damages. While rare during peacetime, this scenario has also been applied to acts of domestic terrorism, but does not refer to hijackers, cargo theft, etc.
Default of Shipper – This scenario is the most common exclusion and places full responsibility for damages squarely on the shipper. If damage is caused by negligence of the shipper, due to poor packaging, improper labeling, rough handling during loading, and other factors, the carrier is exempt from liability.
Public Authority – An incident that results in damage or delay due to government intervention like road closures, quarantines, trade embargoes, etc. are unavoidable and exempt carriers from responsibility.
Inherent Vice – Some high-risk commodities deteriorate naturally over time, such as live plants, food, medical supplies, etc. As long as that deterioration is not being sped up by the carrier through negligence, they are safe from liability.
- You are missing key documentation
When you are submitting a claim, it is important that you have every piece of paperwork filled out correctly and in proper order for the carrier to review. The more documentation you can provide about specifics relating to your load, the better chance you have at winning a claim. It’s important for you to prove that the shipment was in good condition and securely packaged at the time of pick-up. Taking pictures of the product before, during, and after packaging is completed is a smart move.
You should also make sure that the bill-of-lading (BOL) is filled out correctly with precise weight measurements, commodity descriptions, classifications, and piece counts. The BOL serves as a legal contract between the carrier and shipper – errors on this document will have far-reaching consequences. If your weight is off or the commodity/classification is incorrect, liability payouts may be less than you expect.
An invoice determining the actual value of your product is key in determining a payout, as well as packing slips that help back up your piece counts. Other supporting documents like the paid freight bill, inspection reports, weight certificates, replacement and repair invoices, etc., are all great things to keep on hand in the event of a claim.
In addition to obtaining as many pieces of documentation as possible to support your claim, it’s key to present everything to the carrier in a timely manner. You have up to nine months from the delivery date to submit a damage claim. For lost shipments, you have up to 9 months to file from the date it was estimated to arrive. Concealed damage claims are much more urgent – a claim must be filed within five days. So after receiving your delivery, be sure to unpack your shipments and check for hidden damage as soon as possible.
- You didn't attempt to mitigate the damages
Even if the carrier takes responsibility for the damages caused to your freight, they are going to fight to pay the least amount possible. It is important to show that you have attempted to mitigate and lessen the effect of these damages as much as possible. Carriers are likely to want to know whether you attempted to salvage the shipment. Were you able to have the broken or missing items repaired or sold at a discount, if possible? It’s important that the proper commodity, nature of the damage, replacement costs, and potential loss of business are accurately represented to determine the full extent of loss.
The carrier has the right to inspect the damaged shipment as part of the freight claims process. So, it is very important not to dispose of damaged freight, unless storing it poses a threat to safety or health, such as with hazardous materials or spoiled food items. If this is the case, the carrier must be notified as soon as possible so they can act on inspecting the freight if need be. Preventing them from the opportunity to do so can result in an immediate denied claim.
- You haven't paid your freight bill
The last thing you might want to do is to pay a carrier for a shipment that they damaged during transit. However, it is important to be current on your invoices if you are submitting a freight claim. If you owe the carrier in freight charges, either for past due invoices or for the damaged load, you’re likely to get denied for a payout. Even if you do get approved, the reimbursement process may be drawn out or even amended to a much lower amount due to the total charges you owe the shipper.
The most important thing to note is that accidents and damages happen, despite the best of intentions. Paying your freight bill on time, even if a damage claim will be submitted, is a sign of good faith and can help maintain a working business relationship with a carrier who otherwise serves your business well.
- You've signed for a clear proof of delivery
If you take one point away from this list of tips, let this be the one: remember to inspect your shipment before signing the proof of delivery (POD). This document acknowledges the arrival of the load to the point of delivery. By simply signing this document and allowing the driver to continue on his way, you are stating that it has delivered free and clear without any loss or damages.
Smart shippers note: this is your opportunity to review and inspect your shipments carefully and note any discrepancies on the POD. Open boxes and check for concealed damages or loss. This is especially important if you have multiple pallets, crates, or shrink-wrapped items. Make sure what you have matches the BOL. If your BOL shows two shrink-wrapped pallets of stacked boxes, but the total piece count is off, make sure you note those missing items. Otherwise, a carrier can claim they delivered “two pallets” as stated on the BOL.
If you are the shipper, make sure your delivery location knows the importance of these procedures. It is on them to take pictures, note discrepancies, and challenge the carrier accordingly at the point of delivery.
If you’re not prepared, it’s much more likely that your freight claim will get denied. Use the checklist below to make sure you’re in a position to get the payout you deserve.
The bottom line
Freight damage is frustrating, time-intensive, and expensive. While it’s reassuring that you can submit a claim with the carrier in order to recoup your losses, it’s important that you are thorough in the information you provide. The more you know about freight claims, the better prepared you are when going to bat against the carriers. Check out our free comprehensive guide to freight claims so you can save yourself some time and spare yourself the headache.
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- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
Why It's Never a Good Idea to Fudge Your Freight Dimensions
01/12/2021 — Jen Deming
While constancy isn’t something you can always expect in the freight industry, there are a few steady trends we’ve seen in recent years: less truck availability, an oversaturated network, and rate increases. Both sides are using tactics to offset these variables. Carriers increase fees, and in response, shippers explore means to cut costs. A trend we’ve seen among novice and experienced shippers alike is either estimating or downright falsifying the freight dimensions and weight of their LTL shipments. But, we’re here to tell you that going either route is a risky maneuver that can have major fallout.
Incorrect dimensions can delay your shipment
Carriers have an entire arsenal of tools at their disposal that check for discrepancies in weight and freight dimensions. Once LTL shipments are picked up and the BOL (bill-of-lading) is tendered to the carrier, that paperwork serves as a legal document — a contract between the shipper and carrier. Because LTL shipments stop at multiple terminals while in transit, there is plenty of opportunity to get “caught” if your weight or freight dimensions stated on this document are incorrect. If a carrier suspects misrepresentation on a BOL, intentional or not, your shipment will be flagged for an audit and an inspection. This process takes some time and your shipment will be detained. Depending on the volume going through that particular terminal, it’s tough to say how long that could be. Your shipment delivery will likely be delayed or missed, which can be a disaster if it was a time-sensitive shipment or if it holds up other operations for you or your customer. It’s just not a good look.You could be subject to reweigh, reclass, and over-dimensional feesAs outlined specifically in each carrier’s rules tariff, freight rates are determined on a variety of variables. When it comes to weight, cost is often calculated on a per pound basis and a maximum “standard” shipment length. Intentionally underestimating weight and size in order to save money can be tempting. However, if the actual weight and length is determined to be more than stated on the provided BOL, the final cost will be adjusted to reflect that. But, how much can that really be, right? If you’re still thinking about estimating your freight dimensions, think again: fees associated with these inaccuracies can affect your bill twofold.Firstly, the audit and subsequent reweigh or measurement will incur an inspection fee. The standard inspection itself can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 for weight changes. According to their rules tariff, UPS Freight charges $25 for a reweigh. As for restricted lengths, the fee can vary greatly by carrier and is often calculated on a cost per foot basis. For example, UPS Freight charges $90 for “extreme length” LTL shipments that fall within 8-12 feet. Larger than that, but under 20 feet can cost you $125. Of course, it increases incrementally from there.Secondly, changes to your shipment details may affect your freight class, another important component of your freight rate. Some types of products are classed based on density breakdowns; a dimensionally-large but lightweight shipment can be expensive. If your weight is incorrect, your density and class may change significantly, which will affect the overall cost of your shipment. Combined with the initial fee, these two factors can ultimately tack on hundreds of dollars in unexpected fees alone — in fact, they may add up to more than the original cost of your load.False freight dimensions can lead to disappointing claim payoutsSo let’s talk about another worst-case scenario: your freight shipment is damaged or lost while in transit. It’s a daunting prospect, but unfortunately, a pretty common occurrence, especially as more freight enters the network. Most shippers know that in order to recoup losses, you can always file a claim with the carrier. But payouts can be complicated, and what many shippers don’t know is that a final claim payout can be majorly affected if the provided shipment details are inaccurate.Most carriers determine claim payouts on a dollar per pound basis, with heavier shipments receiving higher payouts. Even if your dimensional fudging makes it past the carrier unnoticed, a payout based on these inaccurate details may be much less than what you were hoping for. To make things even more complicated, certain classes of products aren’t covered at all. If the carrier does find out you inaccurately disclosed weight, dimensions, or other details, the claim can be completely denied.How to ensure you have accurate dimensions for your freightWhile it’s clearly not a great idea to guess or fabricate your freight dimensions, mistakes can also be made when you have the best intentions of providing the correct measurements. There are a few tips you should follow to ensure the details of your shipments are as accurate as possible.
Shippers are always going to be looking for ways to cut transportation expenses in order to improve their bottom line. While shipping costs may be a flexible area for that opportunity, fudging your freight dimensions to get there is both unethical and extremely risky. If you’re stuck on how to save, PartnerShip can help.Inaccurate freight dimensions is just one of the common slip-ups shippers make that have costly consequences. Check out our free guide on the top 5 most common mistakes to avoid so you can ship smarter.
- Invest in quality scales and other tools used within warehouses
- Audit and calibrate your measurement tools regularly
- If you aren’t able to acquire the proper equipment, use the manufacturer’s specs
- Don’t forget to add in weight and size measurements from packaging such as pallets, cartons, etc.
- Always calculate proper freight density
- If you are receiving the freight shipment but are responsible for the shipping costs, make sure those details are being calculated accurately
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Eco-Friendly Shipping is Possible with a SmartWay Partner
10/16/2020 — Leah Palnik
If you are concerned with the environmental impact throughout your freight shipping supply chain, there are options for eco-friendly shipping.
The SmartWay Transport Partnership is a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry and is designed to improve and streamline shipping operations so they use less fuel and generate less pollution.
Launched in 2004, the SmartWay Partnership is a voluntary public-private program that:
· provides a system for tracking, documenting and sharing information about fuel use and freight emissions
· helps companies identify and select more efficient freight carriers and operational strategies to improve supply chain sustainability and lower costs from freight movement
· reduces freight transportation-related climate change and air pollutant emissions
In our ongoing effort to be an environmentally responsible freight shipping broker, PartnerShip is pleased to announce that it has once again been named a SmartWay Logistics Company Partner, for the fourth consecutive year. That means that we manage logistics in an environmentally responsible way and help reduce the environmental impact from freight transportation.
The EPA is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and there has been a lot of progress in the transportation industry. From NOx standards to fuel efficiency programs, these efforts have made a significant difference. Since its launch, the SmartWay program has helped partners avoid emitting 134 million tons of air pollution (NOx, PM, and CO2) and saved 280 million barrels of oil, which is the equivalent of eliminating annual electricity use in over 18 million homes.
More and more customers are making their shipping decisions based on responsible environmental performance, and being a SmartWay Partner means that we place a high value on sustainability and efficiency, just like they do. PartnerShip is proud to be an eco-friendly freight broker.
If you’ve been looking for an environmentally friendly shipping company, contact PartnerShip. We can provide you with eco-friendly shipping options. Contact us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now!
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4 Major Advantages to Ditching Your Digital Freight Broker
08/24/2020 — Jen Deming
The convenience and accessibility of managing your day-to-day tasks online is appealing for most people, and shippers are no different. The shift to using digital freight brokers has been a trend for years, with perks like fast quotes and less phone tag. It's important to know, however, that if you're using automated digital freight brokers, you may be compromising on key components that give you a competitive edge. Working with an efficient traditional freight broker takes the best of both worlds, and adds in four key benefits that smart shippers need to succeed.1. Customizable service options that maximize your budgetDigital freight brokers rely on doing what they do best – pulling shipment data and running a high volume of quotes quickly and efficiently. These fast quotes are nice to review pricing among a variety of carriers, but this is a transactional approach that specifically relies on the shipper to input the correct data. If you’re shipping the same loads consistently, and just want to get your loads rated, picked up, and delivered, this may work for you.But freight shipping isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. The bulk of most shippers’ loads consist of a standard pallet size and weight, with delivery to repeat customers and businesses. However, what happens when you have a priority load that needs expedited services or ship to a location with limited access? If this is outside your realm of expertise, you may be completely in the dark about which services or carriers are the best options for your freight. Working with a traditional freight broker doesn’t require you to be an expert – they can take on that role for you by identifying key areas you may be overspending and help guide your choices so that you don’t sacrifice service for a lower cost.2. Familiarity with your business needs for better efficiencyA digital freight broker’s main selling point is efficiency, speed, and convenience. Running quotes online and on demand without consulting a live agent may be an expedient way to get an idea of potential rate costs. But, it’s best to use this as a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay. Freight shipping is full of variables and unexpected costs run rampant with even minor changes to a shipment’s weight, class, dimensions, and services. It takes more than quick quotes to successfully manage your freight shipments.A quality traditional freight broker will assign someone to manage your account. Over time, your contact will get to know your freight profile, from service preference to budget requirements. A freight expert who is intimately familiar with your business can catch classification errors, give packaging advice, and review invoices to get a better grasp on how to manage your freight spend.3. Additional freight management services that cut costsA digital freight broker may offer additional assistance like booking loads or preparing the bill of lading. Once the shipment is booked, however, service pretty much stops there. A pick-up number will be generated, and tracking can be done through the carrier’s website, which is a similar process to one you’d use if you booked with a carrier on your own. If your shipment encounters any challenges en route, however, you’re left to manage the issue on your own.A traditional freight broker has basically seen it all, and knows how to navigate any obstacles your load experiences in transit. When you don’t have time to spend on the phone to find out why your pallet is being held at a delivery terminal, a traditional freight broker will do it for you. If you receive reclassification, reweighs, or additional accessorials that you did not request on your invoice, a traditional freight broker will lead inquiries into why those changes were made, and start disputes if need be.In the unfortunate case your shipment is lost or damaged, traditional freight brokerages often have dedicated claims departments with specialists trained to submit a claim on your behalf. Damage claims are tricky, involve strict timelines, and require specific documentation to be submitted successfully to give you the best chance at receiving reimbursement. Working with a full-service broker will help you navigate tricky areas where a digital freight broker may fall short.4. Pricing flexibility with carriers negotiated on your behalfQuoting shipments with a digital freight broker may be convenient, but after you input your shipment details and receive rates from carriers, that’s where negotiation stops. You can’t assume that the rate you are getting is entirely correct. While it’s obviously an unwelcome surprise to get a pricey bill that is higher than the quote you received, what happens when your online quote is too high in the first place? Rate quote sticker shock can be frustrating, and if you run a smaller business with zero leverage to negotiate with carriers, it can be tempting to cut costs by using a budget carrier.A reliable freight broker likely has years of experience and strong relationships with reputable carriers. Leveraging these relationships helps the broker by gaining additional business for the trucking company, and assists the customer with an opportunity for price negotiation. This mutually beneficial relationship provides incentive for some additional flexibility when it comes to rate, and in most cases, an agreement can be reached between all parties that ensures quality service and fair pricing.The bottom line about digital freight brokersWhile the convenience associated with digital freight brokers is certainly enticing for businesses who are already strapped for time, it’s key for shippers to remember that there’s more to freight shipping than running a quote and pushing it out your dock door. Cutting costs and maintaining a budget are more important than ever, and smart shippers know that working with a full-service traditional broker, like PartnerShip, offers both efficiency and cost-saving solutions for their businesses.
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The Life of Your LTL Shipment
08/13/2020 — Jen Deming
Are you familiar with the step-by-step process of an LTL freight shipment? There's much more involved than pick up and go. We broke down each checkpoint with important notes to remember, so you can keep tabs on the secret life of your load.
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Don't Fall for These Top 5 LTL Shipping Myths
07/29/2020 — Jen Deming
Whether you are an LTL newbie or seasoned pro, there's some common misconceptions about freight shipping that can impact your load, and most importantly, your costs. Don't take for granted that everything you know about LTL shipping is a fact. Learn more about the top five LTL shipping myths so you can ship smarter and dodge costly freight errors.
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The Truth About Limited Access Delivery Fees
06/22/2020 — Jen Deming
No one likes an expensive freight bill. With so many types of unexpected costs and hidden fees, shippers frequently end up with an invoice higher than they budgeted for. Limited access delivery fees are one of the most common billing discrepancies surprising both new and veteran shippers alike. So, why do carriers charge this fee and what can you do about it?
What is a limited access fee?
Simply put, a limited access fee is an extra charge passed on by the carrier for any shipment that, due to location, will take extra effort or time to navigate. This includes places that are difficult to get to, congested areas, or destinations that have strict security requirements. Limited access fees can vary by carrier and often show up as a flat rate or a per-hundredweight charge. Minimally, this charge will cost you at least $100 but could cost you upwards of $300.
What factors determine if a location is considered limited access?
One of the most frustrating things about a limited access delivery charge is that not every carrier defines the same locations as limited access. You may hire different carriers for the exact same load to the exact same delivery location and end up with two very different bills. To anticipate whether a location may incur this fee, a good rule of thumb is to always consider the driver's time and effort. If the area is going to delay the carrier or require extra effort, it's safe to say you'll get the charge. So, what variables influence an area's "limited access" status?
Not every delivery is going to be at a warehouse with an expansive lot and a spacious loading dock. Some locations are especially are especially difficult to access due to their physical layout. Many urban storefront locations, schools, or businesses are only accessible via narrow streets and alleyways, and this makes maneuverability extra difficult. Loading and staging requires space, and without a dock or even a back lot, this can be especially challenging. This extra effort and delay is going to result in a limited access fee.
Some locations are simply a pain for drivers to get to, so they are going to charge you for that hassle. Businesses located in congested areas like downtown in a city, fairs and carnivals, boardwalks and beaches, campsites, island resorts, or worksites like mining quarries and construction zones are going to incur charges. These types of places are challenging to maneuver a large truck through, so the carrier will have to find a specialized vehicle like a pup truck to make it through. In cities where traffic is unpredictable at best, one delivery can take up a large portion of the day. This delays business and prevents carriers from making additional deliveries. This wasted time and extra effort will cost you.
Disruption to business
Another type of limited access charge is one that has challenges related to business hours or the private nature of the location. These places may be easier to get to, but issues arise due to hours of service restrictions and operating staff. Typically, these are businesses that would be disrupted during regular operating hours, such as schools and universities, places of worship such as churches and temples, doctor's offices, assisted-living and retirement facilities, hotels, piers, farms, and ranches. These places must have a loading team ready, and if it's harder for a driver to get the load off of a truck because the staff are busy during regular business hours, you're going to see that extra charge.
Some places are a challenge to get to because of the extra effort and security required to make a delivery. Prisons, government facilities, and military bases all have proper procedures and protocols in place for incoming and outgoing deliveries for the sake of safety. This often means inspection check points, proof of identification, appointment for delivery, and more. Going through all of these hurdles is going to delay the driver, potentially holding up other deliveries that are left waiting on the truck. The inefficiency of extra effort and lost time requires carriers to implement limited access fees to recoup the cost of lost productivity.
How to avoid breaking the bank over limited access delivery fees
We've outlined some of the most common types of limited access delivery points, but it's extremely important to understand these aren't the only ones. The best line of defense to combat limited access delivery fees is to do some groundwork and research before shipping to any type of unfamiliar facility. That way, you can better prepare for those charges and build that into your freight quote if need be. To ensure the best possible outcome for your freight invoice:
Limited access delivery fees are an unwelcome surprise that no one wants to see on their final freight bill. Brushing up on what may trip you up is the first step in knowing how to offset this common accessorial. Building an expert shipping team is your next move. PartnerShip can help you navigate hidden charges and can provide you with options to help you save on limited access delivery fees.
- Communicate with your consignee (delivery location) in order to learn from their past experiences. Find out whether they have a dock, a team, shipping/receiving hours, and any limited access fees they may have been targeted with in the past.
- Do your own research to validate that information. Google Maps is a useful tool that many freight professionals use to glean information. It can't tell you everything, but it can shed light on general terrain and many of the logistical challenges drivers will be dealing with.
- Gain insight into what the security processes of every delivery location may look like. It's not just military locations or prisons that require identification or load inspections. The more you know on the front-side of a delivery, the less you will be surprised by delays and charges.
- Call the carrier you plan on using and learn from them directly what locations will incur extra charges. National freight carriers like UPS Freight and YRC Freight list their rules tariffs on websites, so be sure to research these for precise calculations of charges and fees.
- When in doubt, work with a knowledgeable freight partner who can answer your questions and do the legwork for you and offset any surprises. A freight broker can help determine alternate carrier options with reliable service and lower limited access fees to better meet your budget.
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Top 5 Freight Invoice Mistakes That Are Costing You Big
05/12/2020 — Jen Deming
After a shipment has been picked up and delivered, you may sigh with relief, happy to know your freight made it safe and sound. However, your shipment’s story isn’t quite over. After receiving a freight invoice, whether it’s coming from a third-party or directly from a carrier, you should review all details and charges for accuracy. Typically, you want the details of your shipment to match up with what was used on the BOL (bill-of-lading), however there are some scenarios where you will see adjustments and extra charges. Because an estimated 5-6% of all carrier invoices are calculated incorrectly, reviewing your invoice against details provided on the BOL is a good place to identify overcharges. To help you recognize these costly errors, we’ve outlined the five most common freight invoice mistakes to look out for.
- Incorrect carrier name and number
It may seem obvious, but one of the first things a shipper should check for on their invoice is carrier name and number. When freight is tendered to a carrier, it can be easy to pass a shipment onto the wrong truck. This happens much more often than you’d think, especially if the warehouse has a busy dock and the location is receiving multiple trucks moving in and out for pick-ups throughout the day.
While an incorrect carrier picking up your shipment might not impede delivery, it may result in being overcharged. If you have pricing arranged with a particular carrier, and it’s not the one who picked up your load, you will likely see a higher bill than you were expecting.
To offset this risk, the warehouse staging team needs to be diligent about reviewing the BOL, making sure pallet and carton counts are accurate and the correct load is confirmed. When labeling the outgoing shipment, it’s important the correct BOL is with the right load and that the shipment is labeled properly.
- Incorrect contact info
Another common invoicing mistake is incorrect contact information. This may mean that either the address at pick-up or delivery is listed incorrectly, or the “bill-to” portion of the invoice is inaccurate.
Not only will incorrect addresses most likely result in a delay through a missed delivery, but it can also result in various types of extra fees. If your carrier shows up at a delivery location and the shipment is refused due to address inaccuracies, many freight companies will bill you for the mistake. If the actual location requires an appointment for delivery, that’s an additional cost as well.
On top of that, if a pick-up or delivery location isn’t classified correctly, you may see a higher freight bill. For example, if the delivery location is assumed to be a commercial location, but later found out to be a residence (for example, a business run from home), the invoice will include fees for residential or even limited access. It’s important to note that not all carriers classify locations the same. What may be considered limited access for one carrier may not be for another.
Incorrect discount rates
As we mentioned earlier in this post, many shippers have special rates negotiated with either a 3PL or directly with a carrier. This can include a percent discount, lowered or waived accessorial charges, or even FAK agreements that have been arranged.
When negotiating discounts with a carrier, it’s important to keep any agreements on file, and to audit invoices to make sure those rates are reflected in the charges. Because the discount may not be on the overall cost, go line by line and check fuel surcharges, mileage, and other factors.
When working with a 3PL, it’s important for the billing party (whether that’s the shipper or receiver) to make sure the correct “bill-to” is being used on the BOL. If this goes unnoticed and you are invoiced directly from the carrier without the appropriate discounts listed, it may seem like you’re out of luck. However, your 3PL can help out with a letter of authorization (LOA) submission to the carrier for a re-bill. It’s very important to do this before paying the invoice and as quickly as possible before the bill is past-due.
Wrong calculations of weight, dimensions, pallet count, and NMFC
Most shippers have dealt with receiving a freight bill riddled with unwarranted charges thanks to inaccurate item details. It’s the most common reason a freight invoice is disputed, and it’s an understatement to say that adjustments made to things like weight, freight class, dimensions, and more can greatly affect a shipment’s final cost.
A good place to start when looking at item details on an invoice is to review the product description and its related freight class or NMFC. With thousands of types of products entering the freight system every day, each type of product is assigned a numeric code to help classify and rate your shipment. A general rule is that the more difficult a product is to move, the higher the freight class will be, and more expensive to boot. It is important for shippers to thoroughly research what freight class is most accurate for their shipment before it is picked up, to avoid reclassing on an invoice. Reclassing can result in a higher base charge and also have fees associated with the adjustment itself.
It’s also important to make sure the specifications and weight of your shipment are correct, because more and more carriers are moving towards dimensional or density-based pricing. If your product takes up space but doesn’t weigh very much, this low-density shipment will likely cost you. Make sure you are calculating density correctly, so that you don’t see surprises or adjustments on your invoice, including reweigh charges.
- Accessorial requests and fees
Accessorial fees are charges for extra services that are requested by the shipper or receiver, but often show up unexpectedly on a freight invoice. They can be planned and requested on the BOL or come up out of need at the time of pick-up or delivery and billed after the fact. They include services such as lift-gate, inside delivery, or driver assist.
The best way to avoid these types of freight invoice mistakes is to have clear communication between the shipper and receiver. Get information on the type of destination location, whether there is a dock and team available for delivery, and what type of truck will likely be needed to make a delivery. Accessorials are a difficult type of charge to contest, as the carrier holds the cards and will have noted the request for any special services. It’s up to the shipper and receiver to know which services come with a charge, and whether you can avoid needing these special services in the first place.
It’s important to note that mistakes can happen, and as we determined, adjusted invoices are common. If you’ve reviewed the facts, checked your BOL against your invoice and worked through details between the shipper and receiver, but still find inaccuracies, what do you do next? If you believe you’ve been overcharged and have documentation to prove it, you have a case for a claim against a carrier. It may seem like a daunting task, but you’re not alone. Working with the experts at PartnerShip can help offer claims assistance and get you started. Contact us to learn more.
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- Incorrect carrier name and number
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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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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What is the Difference Between Cross-Docking and Transloading?
01/14/2020 — PartnerShip
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 — PartnerShip
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.