the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With These Eco-Friendly Shipping Tips
03/16/2018 — Leah Hyland
With freight trucks being a top contributor to air pollution, eco-friendly shipping may seem like an oxymoron. However, there are some green shipping options that can help you reduce your carbon footprint.
According to SmartWay, an EPA program committed to advancing supply chain sustainability, the transportation sector is responsible for over 50% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, over 30% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions, and over 20% of particulate matter (PM) emissions in the U.S. All of these pollutants contribute to poor air quality and put the health of people and our environment at risk.
SmartWay also adds that by 2025, shipments of U.S. goods are predicted to grow another 23.5%, and a total of 45% by 2040. As this trend continues upward, it’s more important than ever to offset the harmful effects of transportation-related pollution and harm to the environment.
1. Choose partners committed to eco-friendly shipping
You have options when it comes to selecting brokers and carriers to work with. It’s imperative that if you’re interested in eco-friendly shipping, that those responsible for moving your freight make concerted efforts to reduce the environmental risks involved with that transportation.
Before choosing to work with a broker or carrier investigate what kind of green shipping options they offer. For example, FedEx provides EarthSmart solutions, which includes initiatives like environmentally friendly packaging, fuel efficiency management, and eco-friendly vehicles. UPS has options for sustainable packaging that include reusable envelopes and an eco responsible packaging program.
You can also look for brokers and carriers that are SmartWay certified. This EPA program helps to reduce fuel use and increase efficiency. To become a SmartWay partner, the broker or carrier need to meet strict criteria and accountability standards. SmartWay also provides performance metrics each year for increased transparency.
2. Go green with your packaging
Investing in eco-friendly shipping supplies is another way you can reduce your carbon footprint. For e-commerce shipments, use products that were made from recycled materials or regenerative natural resources. There are a number of companies that sell environmentally conscious supplies. For example, EcoEnclose sells packaging products that meet stringent sustainable packaging criteria. It takes into account the recycled materials a product is made of as well as the carbon footprint across the entire supply chain.
On top of using packaging that is environmentally friendly, right-sizing your boxes is another way you can go green. Not only will it eliminate extra materials, but eliminating the extra space will help protect against dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. When you use packaging that is larger than the contents inside, you run the risk of paying to ship unused space. Not sure if DIM weight pricing would apply to your package? Check out our helpful DIM calculator.
To right-size your packages, look into ordering boxes that are customized for your products. EcoEnclose products are fully customizable from the box style, to the size and strength, and can even add your branding. You can also use FedEx Packaging Services, which offers design assistance as well as package testing so you can be confident that your package will hold up in transit.
For larger shipments, there are green shipping options for your pallets. You can purchase recycled pallets or use a pallet recycling program, like Millwood offers. The Millwood pallet recovery and recycling program will repair damaged pallets or completely remanufacture them. They also offer a green disposal process for pallets that are no longer useable – repurposing pallets into yard mulch, animal bedding, and more.
3. Consolidate orders
If you’re in the e-commerce space and you want to do your part to reduce carbon emissions and implement an eco-friendly shipping strategy, think about consolidating orders. In the age of Amazon Prime, consumers are expecting quicker and quicker delivery, which can make consolidating difficult. However, you can offer customer incentives like credits or freebies for selecting slower delivery options. If your customers are environmentally conscious, developing and marketing a “green shipping option” they can select could even be incentive enough. Also consider setting an order minimum before providing free shipping. This could cause customers to order several items at a time instead of placing separate one-off orders.
Consolidating orders can not only reduce the amount of vehicles on the road and the resulting emissions, but it can also save you money. For example, in many cases the cost to ship three 10 lb. boxes is significantly more than the cost to ship one 30 lb. box. It’s a win-win.
4. Make donations to offset your impact
This is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to move towards more eco-friendly shipping. Making donations to environmental programs for your shipments is a great green shipping option, and Carbon Fund offers an interesting way to do so. Use their shipping calculator to determine the carbon footprint of your shipments, then select a carbon offset project to donate to. They offer projects in energy efficiency, reforestation, and renewable energy to choose from. There are a large variety of projects, from one that collects and destroys landfill gas, to one that reduces tailpipe emissions by providing truck drivers with heating, air conditioning, and appliance services without requiring to idle their engine.
Overall, you can decide to take big or small steps towards a more eco-friendly shipping strategy, and every little bit helps! As a SmartWay partner, PartnerShip is committed to helping reduce the environmental impact from freight transportation. Get a free quote on your next shipment and start shipping smarter!
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ELD Updates: From Exemptions to Enforcement
03/12/2018 — Jen DemingAs we enter mid-March, we approach the three-month mark since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate deadline passed in December 2017. While the mandate has been "softly enforced" since the deadline, full enforcement will kick in beginning April 1. A stricter enforcement will include steeper fines, CSA points and subsequent out-of-service citations. That all adds up to tighter capacity and limited available truck drivers. So what does that mean for both carriers and shippers and what's been going on in the meantime?
As a review, several industries and specific groups have extensions and exemptions that are currently in effect, or will be approaching an expiration date. Most carriers will be required to adhere to the mandate, unless qualified by a series of standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you are not currently required to keep a record of duty status, you do not need to equip your vehicle engine with electronic logging technology. Additionally, if you keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) less than 8 days in a 30 day period, you are exempt as well. If you are a "driveaway/towaway" driver, or your vehicle's engine (not body, cab, or chassis) was made prior to 2000, the new ELD mandate does not apply to you. Rental truck drivers and those covered under the 90- day agricultural extension also are exempt for now. Agriculture and livestock haulers will have to file again, or install approved ELD devices by March 18. If they do not, fines and citations can be issued, but drivers will not be put out-of-service until April 1.
Since the official implementation of the mandate in December, many additional groups have filed for further exemption requests. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been very transparent in its opposition of the mandate, and has asked for an oversight hearing in order to express its concerns over the mandate and it's implementation. The organization's main issue with the mandate concerns technical issues and malfunctioning, which is an ongoing concern with many of the approved devices. System failures and crashing, issues with GPS tracking and reporting, and mechanical difficulties linking to the truck engine are all cited challenges with the current ELD devices being used. On top of that, the current FMCSA list of approved ELD vendors includes many "self-certified" providers who are NOT actually compliant with requirements. It's a complicated vetting process that leaves many questions and lots of confusion for both truck drivers and law enforcement officials.
Enforcement of the mandate up until this point has been spotty as well, due to the technical issues with the devices and insufficient training of both drivers and enforcement personnel. In fact, 17 states have decided not to enforce at all until April 1, with the remaining states leaving it up to the individual officer's discretion. The FMCSA has given direction to use a specific code, 39522A, in order to report violations in order to track ELD compliance, but to this time, the code has not been showing up in reports. Namely, this is due to the complicated nature of the devices and the wide range of types being used. Put simply, both drivers and enforcement officers are finding it difficult to recognize whether a carrier's chosen ELD is truly compliant. As a result, drivers are required to carry cards indicating proof they are compliant, as well as instructions on how to operate their software, report device errors, and alternative options to record their hours of service.
With less than 3 weeks away to a more strict enforcement period, many carriers and truck drivers have yet to move ahead with becoming ELD compliant. Some are battling training issues or troubleshooting their current ELD technologies. Many small enterprises are simply waiting out the soft enforcement period and then find it easier to leave the industry entirely. Either way, it's safe to say that major changes will be occurring in the next few weeks and that the crunch in capacity will continue to affect shipping rates. PartnerShip can help make sure your shipments are covered at a competitive rate. Ship smarter with PartnerShip, get a quote today!
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High Freight Rates and Tight Capacity: What You Can Expect
01/22/2018 — Leah Hyland
If you’ve been experiencing sticker shock from unpredictable freight rates lately, you’re not alone. Shippers are seeing a lot of volatility in the truckload and LTL market, with no end in sight.
2017 ended with tightened capacity and record rates. By December, the average van rate was $2.11 per mile (DAT) – an all time high. The load-to-truck ratio was also breaking records at the end of the year, with 9 load postings for every truck posting in December.
Coming off of a record high December, capacity continues to be tight in January – particularly with reefers since they’re needed to keep freight from freezing in the coldest parts of the country. DAT reported that the national load-to-truck ratio at the beginning of the year was the highest ever recorded at 25.2 reefer loads per truck. During which, the reefer rate was at a high $2.71/mile. Van rates have also been breaking records. According to DAT, they were at $2.30/mile on January 6.
So what can shippers expect going forward? Let’s look at the trends. We saw a bit of a recession in 2015 and 2016 with rates and load-to-truck ratios declining, but that appears to be over. Rates climbed throughout 2017 and we can continue to expect increases in 2018.
Overall, the U.S. economy is healthy right now and is growing, increasing freight demand. In contrast, the trucking industry is dealing with the aftermath of the ELD (electronic logging devices) mandate. Not only do they need more drivers and more equipment on the road to handle the same amount of freight, but they are also contending with a long running driver shortage. All of this equals tightened capacity, which is becoming the new normal in the industry.
Recent weather events have been driving up rates as well. Areas of the U.S. that don’t typically experience extreme cold or snow have been hit by treacherous weather that has led to dangerous conditions including low visibility and icy roads. In a tight capacity market, these conditions drive up rates even more.
In February we can expect to see capacity loosen some (barring any winter storms or other troublesome events), as this is typically the slowest time of year for freight. However, you’re likely to see higher rates than you have in years past, because of the long-term trends.
In April, drivers not complying with the ELD mandate will be put out of service. Up until then, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel are simply documenting and issuing citations if a truck isn’t equipped with the required device. As a result, we may see some ripple effects. There could be fleets that have held out or hoped to fly under the radar until April. There could also be another wave of trucking companies exiting the market, which will leave a void in the already tight market.
Now it’s more important than ever to find ways to mitigate the impact of this tightened capacity. Plan ahead so you can be flexible. Providing more lead time and giving your carrier a longer pickup window rather than a specific time can lessen the strain on its network. Planning ahead can also help you shift to more committed freight and away from the spot market. The spot market is more sensitive to disruptions and subject to reactionary pricing spikes.
Luckily you don’t have to navigate the freight market alone. When you work with PartnerShip, you benefit from our large network of carrier partners and our shipping expertise. We help you ship smarter with competitive rates and reliable service. Get a quote today!
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2018: The Year of the Truck Driver
12/06/2017 — Jen Deming
Ringing in the New Year means starting fresh and anticipating big changes for future, and truck drivers may be looking forward to 2018 more than anyone. The ELD mandate, driver shortages, fuel costs, and e-commerce boom are all components that leverage trucking companies' ability to determine cost and coverage.
As we covered in our previous blog post, truckload rates are going up due to a number of different factors. That means that drivers and trucking companies are going to be behind the wheel when it comes to determining how much shipping lanes will be going for. Having this leverage pushes the shipper to the passenger seat, with the potential for less bargaining power and high shipping costs heading into the new year.
A significant factor contributing to the higher truckload rates is due to an overall shortage of willing and capable truck drivers. Trucking analyst John Larkin suggests that the slow but steady economic increase will result in stronger demand with tighter supply. "The primary driver of the supply/demand tightness is the economy-wide shortage of skilled, blue collar labor," he says. "While driver pay scales began to rise in the 2nd half of 2017, the starting point for wages was so low, that it may take multiple wage hikes before we see any alleviation of this chronic challenge." The ELD mandate, which will be fully implemented on Dec 18, 2017, may add increased tension to an already volatile scenario. Many drivers view the mandate as an invasion of privacy, and may push an already limited number of qualified and experienced drivers from the pool of available carriers.
The amount of freight being hauled by trucks is expected to increase more than 3% annually over the next five years, as reported by the American Trucking Association. The industry has already seen a 2.8% increase over the past year, and the ATA estimates it could accelerate as much as 3.4% before slowing down again slightly. A notable increase in shipping economy means that though the available trucker pool has dwindled, those who are qualified are more in demand than ever. In addition, because those drivers may have to travel outside their normal area of operations, they can charge a premium. The ATA also reports that trucking will continue to be the dominant freight mode, and in 2017 "approximately 15.18 billion tons of freight will be moved by all transportation modes." The growing economy will further push demand and stretch the pool of available carriers. The ATA estimates that the current 50,000 driver-deficit could expand to 174,000 by 2026.
With that economic push, and labor shortage, truck drivers will demand higher wages and shippers will have to pay. The third-quarter hurricanes are also said to have played a factor, with drivers understandably asking more for lanes they had run at lower rates previously. Additionally, Florida and Texas, the two states hit the hardest by the storms, are typically some of the most reliable recruiting markets for new drivers. Until the economy recovers in these states, the pool of new drivers will be limited, with many potential recruits choosing the recent wave of construction positions over trucking. A jump in driver pay may keep them interested. According to Bob Costello, the American Trucking Association's economist, observes, "We've already seen fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers." The driver pay structure is also evolving. Where once most carriers were being paid by load, many are now moving to an hourly pay model, specifically as the ELD mandate takes effect. Either way, with the anticipated changes for the new year, it's safe to say truck drivers and carriers are going to have a huge influence on shipping rates for the near future.
So, now that truck drivers have extra leverage, what can shippers do to help keep down their shipping costs in 2018? Working with a freight broker like PartnerShip can help add value and flexibility to your current shipping options. We shop rates and put in the legwork for you, negotiating on your behalf with carriers for both your LTL and your Truckload moves. If you have questions on how PartnerShip can help manage your shipping costs, call us at 800-599-2902 or get a free quote today!
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Need It Yesterday? A Guide to Time-Critical Shipping
11/27/2017 — Jen Deming
Holiday fulfillment and expedited freight deadlines are as much a part of the holiday season as cookies, cocoa, and hasty gift wrapping. Shipping managers are very much like the St. Nick of logistics, making sure every order is out—and delivered—on time and accurately to every customer. Between weather delays, unexpected inventory depletion, and rush order fulfillment, planning your winter shipping strategy is a crucial part of your holiday preparation. By being mindful of carrier schedules and deadlines, subsequent holiday surcharges, and familiarizing yourself with time-critical options, you will know which services best fit you and your customers’ needs.
Sometimes, despite how prepared we think we are, a deadline catches up to us and standard shipping services just are not going to cut it. It’s important to understand the differences between shipping services offered, so that you can make informed decisions that meet your needs while not stretching your budget. Let’s take a look at whether your organization may benefit from time-critical shipping services during a heavy shipping season, and which services may make the most sense for your business.
There are certain industries that may require expedited freight services more often, and on a more regular basis, not only during the holiday heavy season. Common industries using expedited services include medical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and particularly the automobile industry. It's crucial to understand that during the holiday season, there are going to be additional shippers using both standard and special expedited freight services due to time constraints, further congesting shipping lanes and significantly decreasing carrier capacity.
Most carriers offer tiered services based on window of delivery, transit time, and dedicated truck type. We will look at the 4 most common types of special services for your urgent holiday shipments: guaranteed, accelerated, time-critical (one-day, two-day), and dedicated truckload. Let's use a freight shipment example, a one-pallet 500 lb load moving from popular shipping hub, Chicago, IL (60638) to delivery in San Francisco, CA (94107). For the purpose of this example, we will assume standard 8am-5pm shipping hours, regular, non-oversized shipment dimensions, and non hazardous materials. Typical transit time for this standard LTL service with most carriers is 5 full business days.
Guaranteed LTL shipping services are great for those shippers who may not necessarily need to shave a day or two off of transit time, but definitely need a pre-determined delivery within a certain window during a standard service day. This fee-based service is available on direct-point shipments and can be tailored to either guaranteed morning (before 12pm) or "end of day" (typically 5pm) for delivery. The fee for guaranteed service is minimal and very commonly used, especially during holiday times for retailers
Accelerated LTL shipping services are suited for shippers who are looking for a faster standard shipping option. Accelerated shipping options fit between standard and time-critical premium services, typically cutting one or two days off of typical transit. The average price for the faster service is about 15% higher than standard LTL services, but differ based on the distance and type of shipments.
Time-critical and expedited freight options are premium services offered by national carriers, specifically created to meet stringent delivery deadlines as determined by the shipper. An expedited shipment typically travels directly from pick-up to delivery, with no loading or unloading at terminals and often with dedicated equipment. Teams of drivers often haul in shifts in order to decrease transit times. In especially urgent situations, multiple modes of transit may be used, such as a combination of truck and air freight. Common urgent delivery services include same day, next day, and cross-town deliveries and while there is no limit on distance, the more extreme the request, the higher the shipper will pay.
For a clearer picture of delivery timelines through various urgent services, we've created the table below:
Expedited Freight Service
Pick-Up and Delivery Timeline
Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery Fri, 12/8 by noon
Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery Thurs, 12/7
Pick-up Mon, 12/4 = Delivery by YOUR specified deadline
Though urgent services are often viewed as "problem-solving" freight solutions in emergency scenarios, more and more shippers are using planned time-critical options as part of their holiday shipping strategy. Just-in-time manufacturers also utilize these services in order to fulfill and meet demand. Though these expedited freight services may come with a higher price tag, oftentimes the cost is offset by reducing inventory costs. An extra benefit to using these services is the added safety and security of the shipment, due to decreased reloading and an escalated level of tracking.
Even despite solid holiday planning and logistic strategies, shippers may encounter scenarios that require guaranteed or urgent shipping services. If you're not sure which time-critical LTL shipping services are right for your shipment, our shipping experts can find solutions that make the most sense for your business and your wallet. Get a free expedited freight quote today!
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Winter Weather Tips for Shipping Managers
11/02/2017 — Leah Hyland
During this time of year, shipping managers need to be on their toes to stay ahead of winter weather delays. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past several months, it’s that Mother Nature shows no mercy. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey hit, and delivery networks suffered. As Ned Stark famously stated, winter is coming. And with it comes all the unrelenting ice and snow that can wreak havoc on your transit times. The more prepared you are when these storms hit, the better, so we’ve put together a few tips:
Build in extra days for time-sensitive shipments. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be challenging if you don’t plan ahead for it. Planning is especially important leading up to the winter months and during the holidays, so be kind to yourself and get started now. This will be essential for your supply chain if you’re shipping cross-country or to areas that are prone to winter storms.
Work with a broker to strengthen your carrier network. With winter storms causing service issues for carriers this time of year, you may need to think about expanding your network. Working with a broker is an easy way to gain instant access to additional resources. Brokers typically work with a vast amount of carriers and have the knowledge to match you with services that would be best for your lane and delivery needs.
Be flexible when possible. If you have some wiggle room with pickup and delivery dates, it’ll be easier to work out an economical solution with your carrier when weather delays strike. Also avoid setting up unnecessary appointment times that could restrict the driver. If the window of time is too short and the shipment gets held up due to weather, you could be delayed a whole day rather than a few hours.
Pay attention to service alerts from your carriers. Staying on top of weather issues can be difficult. Luckily many carriers have service alert pages on their websites and some will even send you notifications when they experience weather-related closures or limited operations. Here are a few service alert pages for common carriers:
Shipping to a tradeshow? Prepare for the worst. If you’re shipping your exhibit materials to a tradeshow, it’s a good idea to have it sent to the advanced warehouse so you don’t have to worry about it delivering on time. Otherwise, you’re shipping direct to the show site which leaves you vulnerable to devastating delays. If you’re not able to ship to the advanced warehouse, have a contingency plan in place so if you’re stuck at the show without your booth it’s not a total loss. Determine ways you could print materials on-demand ahead of time or bring a few merchandise samples with you.
Communicate clearly with customers. During the busiest time of year for retailers, how you deliver on customer expectations can make or break your business. Customers are ordering holiday gifts online and making sure they arrive in time is essential. Add some buffer days to your transit times and make shipping deadlines clear and visible throughout the entire ordering process.
Budget for increased rates. Going into this winter season, truckload capacity is already tight, which has driven rates up. Drivers will also need to comply with the new ELD mandate starting December 18, which puts an additional strain on carriers. Now more than ever, you’ll need to be savvy to navigate the season.
Being proactive is the first step towards smooth shipping in the winter months. Planning for the inevitable bad weather will help you to not miss a beat when you encounter a service disruption. When you work with PartnerShip, our shipping experts can find solutions that are right for you. Get a free analysis today!
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Truckload Rates Are Going Way Up. Are You Ready?
10/31/2017 — Jerry Spelic
Truckload shipping costs have been steadily climbing and are poised to go even higher because a perfect storm of events is pushing truckload rates to record highs: the looming Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate; the cleanup and aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; and an already significant driver shortage that has stressed truckload capacity.