• ELD Enforcement: Are We There Yet?

    05/07/2018 — Jen Deming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ELD Updates: From Exemptions to Enforcement

    03/12/2018 — Jen Deming

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

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

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

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

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


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

    01/22/2018 — Leah Palnik

    High Freight Rates: What You Can Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • The 2018 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases: A Closer Look

    11/20/2017 — Leah Palnik

    FedEx and UPS Rate Increases for 2018

    With the New Year approaching, it’s time to look at the UPS and FedEx rate increases for 2018 and how they will affect your costs. In September, FedEx announced an average increase of 4.9% on Express and Ground services. UPS joined the party in October, announcing that they will also be increasing their rates by an average of 4.9%. The new 2018 UPS rates will take effect on December 24, 2017, while FedEx will be instating them a week later on January 1, 2018.

    The averages might be the same, but the rates vary. With higher increases for some services and lower increases for others, you can’t budget based on your costs increasing 4.9%. It’s important to look at what services you use, your package characteristics, and the locations you’re shipping to, and then evaluate the new rate charts to find your biggest cost offenders from the 2018 FedEx and UPS rate increases.

    On top of the FedEx and UPS rate increases for 2018, there are additional updates that are likely to affect your shipping costs. First, UPS is lowering its dimensional (DIM) weight divisor from 166 to 139 for domestic packages less than or equal to one cubic foot (1,728 inches) in size. With this change, UPS and FedEx are back in line with each other on how they calculate dimensional weight. Both carriers will now use 139 for all domestic and international packages.

    It’s been a wild ride the past few years with multiple changes to which packages DIM weight pricing applies to and how it’s calculated, so this is a welcome stabilization. However, a lower divisor means a higher chance that your package will get billed at your DIM weight, rather than your actual weight. If you ship packages one cubic foot or under with UPS, it’s important to take note and make changes to eliminate any unused space in your packaging or consolidate orders when possible.

    Surcharges are also increasing, with some at alarming rates. Most notably, in 2018 FedEx and UPS are coming after larger, oversized packages. Not only are they increasing at a higher rate than most surcharges, they are by far the most costly. For example, the FedEx Unauthorized Packages fee is increasing from $115 to $300 and the UPS Over Maximum Limits charge is increasing from $150 to $500. The shipping trends that have resulted from the rise of e-commerce has taken its toll on the carriers and they’re having to move more and more oversized packages that can’t go through their automated systems. Time is money, so they’re tacking on hefty fees to make up for it.

    Ahead of the new FedEx and UPS rate increases for 2018, new holiday peak season charges will also apply. UPS is adding peak surcharges on domestic residential packages during the busiest shipping days of the year – from November 19 to December 2 and from December 17 to December 23. These fees will add up quick when you have an increased amount of orders over the holidays. 

    In a notable departure from UPS, FedEx decided not to add a peak season surcharge this season. Instead they opted to increase surcharges for packages that are big or bulky enough to require special handling. UPS is also increasing the cost of larger packages by adding additional peak season surcharges on top of the already existing surcharges. The 2018 UPS rate announcement included increases for these surcharges for the next holiday season, so you can expect this trend to continue.

    The 2018 FedEx and UPS rate increases are proof that the carriers are getting smarter, hitting shippers where it hurts most. Luckily, you don’t have to navigate the changes alone. The shipping experts at PartnerShip have evaluated the new rate charts and we have completed a detailed analysis, so it’s easier for you to assess the impact on your shipping costs. Download our free white paper today!

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  • FedEx Announces General Rate Increases for 2018

    10/05/2017 — Leah Palnik

    FedEx Announces Rate Increases for 2018

    You may have heard that FedEx announced its General Rate Increases (GRI) for 2018. In the past few years, UPS has been the first of the two major small package carriers to make an announcement for the coming year, but this time FedEx is taking the lead.

    Here are the announced average increases that will take effect January 1, 2018:

    • 4.9% for FedEx Express domestic and international services
    • 3.5% for FedEx One Rate
    • 4.9% for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
    • 4.9% for FedEx Freight

    As it’s important to remember every year, these averages don’t paint a complete picture. The zones you typically ship to and the services you typically use could dramatically affect the actual increase you’ll see on your invoices. Some are much higher than the average, while others are much lower or remain the same. UPS is likely to make its announcement for 2018 rates soon and if history is any indication, the averages will be similar to its competitor. 

    FedEx and UPS traditionally have similar average rate increases, but in the last few years their base rates have diverged a bit. Ground base rates used to be nearly identical, but in 2017 the two carriers took different increases in different zones, making it harder to compare apples-to-apples. On top of that, they also implemented slightly different approaches to dimensional (DIM) weight pricing, by using different DIM factors. As a result, looking at what would be most cost effective for you and how your rates will change has become more complicated.

    Another trend that we’ve seen from UPS and FedEx is the announcements of additional changes throughout the year, separate from the GRIs. The announced averages have gone down in recent years, but these mid-year adjustments can sometimes have a larger impact.

    One example of this is the new peak season surcharges that UPS is implementing for the holidays this year. UPS recently announced that it will apply a 27-cent charge on all ground residential packages during its busiest weeks in November and December. FedEx is taking a notably different approach and forgoing any additional holiday residential surcharges except for  packages that are big or bulky enough to require special handling.

    Both UPS and FedEx attribute charges like this to the rise of e-commerce, which has brought a sharp increase in residential shipments, particularly oversized items like furniture and exercise equipment. These kind of parcel shipments put a strain on their networks and their sorting machinery, and they've been finding ways to make up for these costs.

    FedEx is also making a couple of additional moves to address the changing nature of parcel shipments in 2018. It will now apply a surcharge for shipments with third-party billing – mimicking a move that UPS made at the beginning of 2016. FedEx will also begin applying a DIM factor of 139 to all SmartPost parcels, effective January 22. UPS already applies DIM weight pricing to SurePost packages, but uses a higher DIM factor for packages 1,728 cubic inches and under.

    Every year, when the new rates for UPS and FedEx are out, PartnerShip does a complete analysis so you can determine what effect it will have on your business. Subscribe to the PartnerShip Connection blog to be alerted when it’s out so you can start planning for the new year and learn how to mitigate the rising costs of small package shipping. 

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  • The Aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey on Shipping – What to Expect

    09/01/2017 — Jerry Spelic

    One of the most devastating storms of the past century, Hurricane Harvey, has left its destructive mark on Houston, Texas, and its impact will create a ripple effect on shipping that will be felt for months, if not years.

    The entire PartnerShip team holds everyone impacted by Harvey in our thoughts, and we'd like to thank everyone that has assisted in the relief efforts.

    Even if you do not have facilities or do business in Texas, Harvey will affect your business because freight and transportation networks nationwide will need to adjust, and the country’s entire supply chain will need to compensate. Houston is one of the country’s most important and busy freight hubs. It is one of the top inbound and outbound freight hubs and is a main transfer point for freight coming from Mexico and it also is a busy and large sea port.

    Because it is such an important part of our transportation system, the damage caused by Harvey will stress already tight trucking capacity, according to supply chain experts at freight loadboard and data firm DAT Solutions. With the additional influx of inbound relief from FEMA and other organizations, additional stress will be put on capacity, which will likely push rates up in the coming weeks and months.

    According to DAT, inbound and outbound freight volume for Houston was down 10 - 15%, and its analysts expect that number to hit 75 or 80 as storm clean-up begins.

    Logistics research firm FTR predicts similar countrywide supply chain effects and increases in rates. “Look for spot prices to jump over the next several weeks with very strong effects in Texas and the South Central region,” according to FTR economist Noël Perry. FTR noted that rates gained 7 percentage points in the five months after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and spot market rates jumped 22% in the weeks following massive snowstorms in 2014.

    FTR states that the most immediate effect on capacity is caused by trucks waiting for the area to become passable so they can resume operation. Longer-term effects to capacity will include the relief shipments, additional construction supplies as the area rebuilds, reduced productivity due to freight lane shifts and rerouting, and increased congestion at loading docks caused by these supply chain disruptions.

    Other considerations for shippers:

    • Harvey has shut show about 20% of US oil refining capacity in Corpus Christi, Port Arthur, Lake Charles and Houston. The disruption will drive up fuel prices and the fuel surcharges carriers charge for every load.
    • As noted, carrier capacity is going to get tighter. FEMA and other agencies are putting pressure on the market to move equipment and supplies to the area. This capacity tightening should first affect flatbeds to move heavy equipment, then reefers to move food, then dry trailers for dry goods and other supplies.
    • It is likely carriers may struggle keeping their commitments to you in the short-term as FEMA and other agencies will pay a premium to move needed equipment and supplies. You may need to shift your carriers around in order to secure the capacity you need.
    • Your transportation costs will increase. Be prepared to pay 5 - 22% more in the short term.
    • Your customer demand will change. Your customers or suppliers may cancel shipments, or add shipments, or reroute shipments. Until operations in the Houston area resume and get back to normal, there will be interruptions in every industry’s supply chain.

    Working with a freight broker can help you mitigate the service interruptions, capacity issues and rising costs associated with Hurricane Harvey. Contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or use our contact us form to see how we can help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.

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  • What You Need to Know About Freight Class Changes

    08/10/2017 — Jen Deming