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

    01/22/2018 — Leah Hyland

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

    11/27/2017 — Jen Deming

    Holiday Time Critical Shipping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


       Expedited Freight Service


        Pick-Up and Delivery Timeline  


    Guaranteed Services


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


    Accelerated Services


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




         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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  • LTL vs. Truckload Freight. What’s the Difference?

    08/16/2017 — Jerry Spelic

    Less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload freight shipping may appear to be similar but they are two very different shipping services. Many shippers exclusively use one or the other, but they can be used together. To help you ship smarter, here are the four main differences between LTL and truckload shipping. A truck is driving along a mountain road.

    Transit time and handling

    LTL: LTL shipping combines shipments from multiple customers so your freight isn’t the only freight on the truck; it shares space (and cost) with other company’s freight and will make multiple stops at terminals between the shipper and consignee. For example, the freight you are shipping from Cleveland to Houston may make stops in Indianapolis, Nashville and Dallas before reaching its final destination. At each stop, your freight is unloaded and reloaded and must wait for the next truck, increasing transit time and handling, and the possibility of damage.

    Truckload: When you ship full truckload, your freight is the only thing on the truck. The carrier will make a pickup at the origin and drive straight to the destination. Aside from driver rest breaks, fuel and equipment issues, the truck doesn't stop, resulting in much faster transit times. In addition, your freight never leaves the truck, resulting in much less handling and fewer opportunities to be damaged.

    Weight and shipment size

    LTL: Less-than-truckload shipments are typically between one and six pallets and weight from 200 to 5,000 pounds. LTL freight usually takes up less then 12 linear feet of the trailer, and since the typical pallet measures 40” x 48”, 6 pallets arranged side-by-side would take up exactly 12’ of linear space on each side of the trailer.

    Truckload: A full truckload shipment can range from 24 to 30 pallets and up. With truckload freight, the space your shipment takes up in the trailer has more of an impact than weight, so truckload shipments commonly range from 5,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds and up.


    LTL: The most significant difference between LTL and truckload shipping is pricing. LTL freight pricing is regulated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) which is a nonprofit membership organization made up primarily of interstate motor carriers. It classifies all freight based on its commodity, density, and ease of transport. LTL carriers each have standard LTL rates which are determined by your origin and destination, your freight’s NMFC class, the amount of space it occupies on the truck, and any accessorials you require. All of these variables are factored into the LTL rate you pay.

    Truckload: Truckload freight pricing is completely dependent upon the market. With no pre-established rates, truckload freight negotiations happen as needed over the phone or through email. Truckload rates fluctuate, sometimes by the week, day or even by the hour. Factors that drive pricing include the origin and destination, weight of the shipment, seasons (such as harvest season or even back-to-school season), truck capacity and location, the shipping lane or route, and fuel and operating costs. Typically, there are no contracts with truckload carriers, which can vary from an owner/operator with one truck to huge truckload shipping companies with thousands of trucks in their fleet.

    Reefer availability

    LTL: Refrigerated LTL shipments are a bit more difficult to find and secure than dry van LTL shipments. Most reefer LTL carriers have schedules that are determined by lanes and temperatures. As an example, an LTL reefer carrier might pick up in southern California on Wednesday and may run at 45 degrees with a set delivery route and schedule. This can make finding an available reefer LTL carrier difficult, especially for one-off shipments or on short notice.

    Truckload: Reefer trailers are common and readily available. Reefer trailers can range from below zero to seventy degrees, and since only your freight is on the trailer, the shipment can move on whatever schedule and temperature you need it to. Aside from the temperature control and being a bit more expensive, refrigerated truckload shipments aren’t much different from dry truckload shipments.

    PartnerShip is an expert at providing you the best rates on both LTL and truckload freight shipping so you can stay competitive. Contact our shipping experts at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com whenever you need to ship smarter.
    Get a free quote on your next LTL freight shipment or truckload freight shipment!

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  • What You Need to Know About Freight Class Changes

    08/10/2017 — Jen Deming