• 4 Freight Challenges That Will Actually Better Your Business

    03/27/2018 — Jen Deming

    4 Freight ChallengesThere are many stressful parts of freight shipping, and for businesses shipping regularly, it can seem the challenges are never-ending. From shipment delays to damaged freight, it can seem there is a definite lack of control once your pallet leaves your dock or doorstep. Informed shippers can turn these frustrating obstacles into positive opportunities to take back control of your shipping processes, and better your business in the long run.

    -Late freight is a very common issue for shippers, and one that can often affect the relationship between your business and your customer. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to avoid, and it all boils down to transparent communication between you and your chosen carrier. It may appear that you are at the mercy of your vendors with regard to your inbound shipping orders for supplies and raw materials, but you don't have to be. Setting up routing instructions with specific requirements and chosen carrier preferences is something you can and SHOULD discuss with your vendors, that way your needs are met and you can rest easy. Most carriers offer online tracking services through their company websites, and you can always stay informed by setting up alerts and notifications by either text or email, so you can stay informed about the transit status of your freight. Selecting the appropriate service type is another way to avoid late freight. Different service levels are often determined by transit timelines. Time-critical and expedited shipping options can help get your shipment where it needs to, at an accelerated rate. Another way to avoid delivery delays is to be sure you are familiar with your shipping locations. If there a short window for dock hours, or pick-up/delivery appointments are required, and you don't make the carrier aware when scheduling the shipment, you can bet on a missed or delayed delivery.

    -Damaged or lost freight is every freight shipper's worst nightmare. Accidents happen, and every freight shipper will most likely experience damage to their product, especially as volume and frequency increases. If you are seeing repeated incidents, or a frequent occurrence, it's possible that there may be an underlying issue--improper packaging. Even minor adjustments can make all the difference in a long transit where shipments are being loaded and unloaded at several terminals and different trucks.

    -In the unfortunate event that your shipment is damaged, the last thing you want to worry about is compensation for that loss in order to repair or send a replacement product. In order to receive compensation from a carrier, it is necessary to prove that they were at fault or negligent. It's crucial to take as many pictures as possible to prove the product was in good condition prior to pick-up. Even if you are able to win the claim after filing, oftentimes the payout leaves a little to be desired. The amount of coverage is often paid out at a fixed dollar amount determined by commodity and class, and there are endless rules and exceptions. The headache can be avoided if the shipper is proactive and obtains supplemental cargo insurance to cover the cost of the load. Many providers do not require the carrier is proven negligent and shippers can avoid carrier tariff loopholes such as restricted freight classes.

    -It's a tough time for shippers. With the ELD mandate deadline behind us, many carriers still do not meet minimum requirements, thereby restricting the number of available carriers on the road. With truck drivers unwilling to risk the run as law enforcement officials crack down on non-compliant carriers, an already limited truck capacity is tightened further. Carriers that DO happen to have available trucks are asking a premium, and with options limited, they will get it. Shippers need to take control and shop rates among carriers, but that takes time, patience, and industry knowledge--and that's where working with a 3PL can come in handy.

    There seems to be no end when it comes to obstacles that shippers encounter. Getting your shipments delivered on time, safely, and smoothly seems like a no-brainer, but once that pallet has left your dock, control is pretty much out of your hands. But it doesn't have to be. A quality 3PL provider can serve as an extra set (or two!) to make sure you are shipping smart and staying competitive. The team of experts at PartnerShip have taken a look at the most common problems shippers experience and how they can actually BETTER your business. Download our free white paper today!


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  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With These Eco-Friendly Shipping Tips

    03/16/2018 — Leah Palnik

    Tips for Eco-Friendly Shipping

    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 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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