• The Impact of Natural Disasters on Freight Shipping

    10/15/2018 — Jerry Spelic

    The Impact of Natural Disasters on Freight Shipping

    Our economy relies on the reliable transportation of goods and materials to link suppliers with manufacturers, manufacturers with retailers, and retailers with consumers. When natural disasters happen, they can negatively impact your carriers, your lanes, your supply chain, and your cost of moving freight.

    The natural disasters that have the most profound impact on the movement of freight are floods, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, and ice storms. Each of these natural calamities produces dangerous road conditions that make driving hazardous, and in extreme cases, can wash away roads or make them completely impassable.

    Here are 6 ways that natural disasters can impact your freight shipping operations.

    Rates. Obviously, your freight shipping rates will increase in a natural catastrophe. If roads become impassable, alternate routes will need to be taken, increasing fuel consumption and lengthening driver on-duty time, both of which are costs that will be passed along to you. Your freight rates will also increase due to tighter capacity with demand outstripping equipment or carriers refusing to travel to areas with impending, or predicted, severe weather. If you do find a driver and / or equipment willing to take the risk, you will pay for it.

    Capacity. After a natural disaster, there is substantial competition for limited transportation resources and equipment. This limited capacity will naturally push costs up, but even if you can afford it, the capacity might be impossible to find.

    Transit time. If your regular Atlanta to New Jersey lane is two days, it may stretch to three, four, five or more if a hurricane is bearing down on the east coast. The driver may need to wait it out inland until roads are passable, until the warehouse or factory is open again for business, or may just be caught in traffic. This will increase your transit time.

    Fuel. Diesel prices always rise in the wake of a natural disaster, especially hurricanes, because refineries are frequently located near where hurricanes make landfall. This can close a refinery or damage it, making fuel more expensive. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey shut down about 17% of US oil refining capacity in Corpus Christi, Port Arthur, Lake Charles and Houston, TX. The disruption to oil refining drives up fuel prices and the fuel surcharges carriers charge you for every load.

    Refused loads. Many times carriers will refuse to pick up or deliver freight in the event of a natural disaster. If your carriers refuse your loads, your supply chain will suffer. Your plants can go idle, waiting for materials or components; your customers’ plants can go idle, waiting for you; retailers can run out of inventory; all of which result in opportunity and revenue lost.

    Inbound delays. Your flight from Dallas to Los Angeles will be delayed if the inbound flight from Chicago is late due to weather. Inbound freight can be impacted in the same way. Even though your area might not be facing weather issues or a natural catastrophe, if your inbound freight is delayed due to facility shutdowns or power outages caused by severe weather, you will be affected.

    Here are some suggestions to deal with the effects of natural disasters on your shipping:

    • Two tactics to manage unexpected increases in your freight rates are 1), accrue for contingencies in your annual freight budget and 2), shop around. Working with a broker that has access to thousands of carriers can help you move a load when your regular carriers cannot.
    • To alleviate difficulties due to a lack of capacity, think through different transportation options before disaster strikes, such as lining up backup carriers for different regions of the country or shipping lanes, and working with your existing carriers to map out alternate routes.
    • Build slack into your supply chain. Just-in-time inventory control is easier when you manage the assets moving your freight but is much more difficult to control when you are relying on carriers which can be delayed to natural disasters.
    • Leverage your freight spend. Giving more freight to fewer carriers can help you negotiate lower fuel surcharges.
    • Plan your transportation to optimize transportation modes. For example, it might be less expensive to ship your freight as multiple LTL loads rather than full truckload. Or moving everything in one truck might be the better alternative.  
    Working with a freight broker can help you mitigate the service interruptions, capacity issues and increased costs associated with natural disasters and severe weather. Contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or request a quote to see how we can help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.

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  • The GROW AMERICA Act turns attention and funds to transportation

    04/22/2015 — Matt Nagel

    As always, there’s been a lot of talk in Washington about different bills and budgets. One conversation in particular caught our attention as it would have a direct effect on the transportation industry – The GROW AMERICA Act. Brought to the forefront by the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) (something they haven’t done in almost a decade), the GROW AMERICA Act is a $478 billion, six year transportation reauthorization proposal that provides increased funding for the nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems. We’ll leave it to the politicians to line up and take sides on the finer points of the Act, but below is a description of some of the overarching themes presented (from the U.S. DOT's fact sheet):

    Specifically, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide –

    • $317 billion to invest in our nation’s highway system and road safety. The proposal will increase the amount of highway funds by an average of about 29 percent above FY 2015 enacted levels, emphasizing “Fix-it-First” policies and reforms that prioritize investments for repairs and improvements to the safety of our roads and transit services, with particular attention to investments in rural and tribal areas. The proposal will also provide more than $10 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to improve safety for all users of our highways and roads, providing a benefit of $21 for every Federal dollar used for infrastructure-related safety investments.
    • $115 billion to invest in transit systems and expand transportation options. The proposal increases average transit spending by 76 percent above FY 2015 enacted levels, which will enable the expansion of new projects that improve connectivity (e.g., light rail, street cars, bus rapid transit, etc.) in suburbs, fast-growing cities, small towns, and rural communities, while still maintaining existing transit systems. The GROW AMERICA Act proposes a powerful, $5.1 billion increase in investments to address public transit’s maintenance backlog to reduce bus and rail system breakdowns; create more reliable service; and stop delays that make it harder for all commuters to get to work. The proposal also includes the innovative Rapid Growth Area Transit Program, which will provide $3.4 billion over six years to fast growing communities for bus rapid transit and other multimodal solutions to get ahead of the challenges caused by rapid growth.
    • Tools and resources to encourage regional coordination and local decision making. The proposal includes policy reforms to incentivize improved regional coordination by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which are local communities’ main voice in transportation planning. The GROW AMERICA Act also strengthens local decision making in allocating Federal funding so that local communities can better realize their vision for improved mobility. High-performing large MPOs will be granted control of a larger portion of funds under two federal transportation programs – the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) – and these MPOs will also receive funds through a set aside under the new Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) program.
    • Improved tools to protect the public from dangerous vehicle and tire defects. The GROW AMERICA Act will give NHTSA the authority to issue imminent hazard orders requiring vehicle manufacturers to immediately take action to alleviate harm in cases where there is an imminent risk of injury or death. Additionally, it will improve vehicle and tire recall efforts by taking steps to ensure the public is informed of recalls at franchise dealerships, independent tire stores and state departments of motor vehicles. The Act also provides consumers more time to get tire defects fixed for free.

    In short, the GROW AMERICA Act is a six-year bill that would increase investment in transportation by 45%. All sides in Washington see a need for fund allocation to transportation and infrastructure in the United States; the debate is currently circling around whether or not the GROW AMERICA Act is the right direction to take. Deadlines for a decision on plans for transportation funds have been bandied about, but nothing is set in stone. From our perspective, it’s good to know that there is a spotlight on transportation as the shipping industry would benefit from improvements to a major component in the shipping equation.

    Feel free to leaf through the entire 361 page GROW AMERICA Act at your leisure!

    The U.S. DOT is busy spreading the word and gaining support for the bill. Recently, they went on a bus tour to promote the Act and, earlier this month, released a video detailing the tour.

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  • How to get a quote on your LTL freight shipment

    02/24/2015 — Matt Nagel

    After your freight has been properly packaged and assembled, it's time to gather information about your shipment to ensure you are receiving an accurate freight rate and transit time. Correctly identifying your freight as less-than-truckload (LTL), tradeshow, or truckload is the first step to knowing what information you need to have ready before getting the quote. In this post we'll summarize the information needed for an LTL freight shipment, which refers to a shipment that does not completely fill a truck, is typically palletized, and weighs over 150 lbs. In order to obtain an accurate LTL freight quote and transit time, be sure to:

    • Establish when your shipment needs to be picked up and delivered. – This is basic information that needs to be determined before trying to obtain a quote. If your shipment has a delivery date that’s etched in stone, guaranteed options are available at a higher price. Either way, the more information you can provide about your shipment’s timeline up front, the more options you’ll have available to make an educated decision.
    • Know your ZIP Codes! – Origin and destination ZIP Codes are keys to an accurate LTL rate quote. Just as important are the origin and destination types or descriptions - whether your shipment is going to a business, a residential area, or a tradeshow will impact the overall cost and transit time. Getting the ZIP Codes and descriptions for the origin and destination right on the first pass will ensure a smooth transit.
    • Determine if any accessorials are needed. – Accessorials are any additional services required outside of the standard shipping procedure. Examples include lift gates, Collect on Delivery (COD), and inside pickup or delivery. Accessorials normally require additional fees from the carrier to insure your shipment has everything it needs to get on or off of the truck and to its destination safely.
    • Decide on the amount of insurance needed for your shipment. – Knowing the value of the shipment you are transporting and purchasing the proper amount of insurance is crucial in the case that something unexpected happens to your shipment while in transit. Having this information when obtaining the quote is crucial to an accurate price.
    • Calculate the exact weight of your shipment. – Providing an accurate weight is very important when obtaining a quote. Remember to include the pallet’s weight and have your scales tested and calibrated often to be as precise as possible.
    • Know your freight classes! – LTL Freight Class refers to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and determines the carrier's shipping charges for your LTL freight. Your freight class identifies the size, value and difficulty of transporting your LTL freight and is a must-have for quoting. 
    Remember to have these pieces of information ready when acquiring an LTL freight quote and you’ll enjoy accurate pricing as well as a smooth experience. If you have additional questions about obtaining an LTL freight quote, or would like to learn more about PartnerShip, contact us today at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com. Have a shipment you’re ready to quote today? Visit PartnerShip.com/Quote for an easy quoting process with accurate and timely results.

    Also, if you’re shipment is tipping the scales a little more than you expected and you decide to ship truckload/volume (over 5,000 lbs) check out our post on how to get a quote for your truckload shipment.

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  • 2014 PartnerShip Holiday Shipping Schedule

    11/25/2014 — Matt Nagel

    It's that time of year again! With Thanksgiving later this week, and the rest of the holidays not far behind, we've put together the holiday schedule for PartnerShip and all of our core carrier partners. From everyone here at PartnerShip - have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you for being our customer! 

    Click here to view our holiday schedule

    We've also provided the below infographic to ensure those Thanksgiving leftovers last!

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  • Getting a Quote on Your Next Truckload Shipment

    10/27/2014 — Matt Nagel