Do I Need a Liftgate for My Freight?

May 13, 2021 at 10:04 AMJen Deming

Liftgate services are a leading request made by freight shippers. Depending on your shipping location and the loading equipment you have, a liftgate can literally make or break your freight loads. But, it's important to know that this top accessorial comes at a cost. Learning what this common service is and when it's going to be used can help you plan for additional costs and keep your budget in line.



6 Surefire Ways You Can Overcome Freight Capacity Challenges

May 4, 2021 at 9:08 AMJen Deming
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Sometimes, it’s just hard to find a truck. With a capacity crunch that’s been ongoing for as long as we can remember, the struggle to get your LTL loads covered is old news. But, it’s still relevant news. In fact, it seems like things are projected to get even tougher as more freight enters the network. So, while the capacity challenges continue, how can you get your loads covered without breaking the bank?

Why are there capacity challenges?

First, it’s important to understand why capacity is so tight in the first place. It all boils down to an oversaturated freight network – there’s simply not enough trucks on the road available to move every existing freight load. More money is being spent on goods than services, we’re looking at a 6% year over year growth in demand, and this shift in consumer spending is really tightening things up. While the trend has existed for years, the effects of COVID further propelled a push in consumer spending. Due to a diminished staff, freight is being held up within transit at distribution centers and terminals. All of these factors create the perfect storm that make it harder to find trucks for your freight

Why should you care?

While the effects of a capacity crunch can seem pretty obvious, there may be more challenges than you expect. The immediate issue is getting your freight shipment covered at all. LTL freight carriers are becoming more particular about the loads they want to move and locations they want to visit. Pick-ups may be infrequent, and if your shipment is particularly challenging, like oversized, for example, it may be refused. 

Transit times are becoming longer, with 87.9% of shippers reporting a delay in deliveries. Some carriers are also suspending or amending time-critical and guaranteed options. Base rates are higher than ever before, and LTL carriers are now charging detention fees in some cases when loading is delayed. This accessorial fee is typically just associated with truckload shipping, but with a driver’s time being a vital commodity, carriers are pushing back and using it for LTL shipments as well.

What Can You Do to Overcome Capacity Challenges?

  1. Expand your current network

    One of the first things you should do to increase the odds that your freight will get covered, is taking a hard look at your current carrier options to see where you can improve or expand. Conducting a freight audit can help determine if your business needs are truly being met. Look for reoccurring challenges like missed pick-ups or high accessorial fees. Some carriers may visit locations where demand isn’t as high only one or two times a week, which can create a big issue with your shipping schedule. Accessorials like limited access can vary by carrier and it’s possible the one you are currently using may be charging more than a competitor carrier would. Exploring alternative carriers to review service levels and pricing is a great place to start. If you are finding several carriers that may fit your needs, keep them on file so you can rate shop between them and choose accordingly as back-ups.

  2. Build in extra time for everything
  3. Time is the name of the game in shipping. One of the smartest things that you can do to combat freight capacity challenges is building in extra time at every step of the shipping process. When you get an idea of a project or order you will be working on, start quoting as soon as you know details. If you have reoccurring orders for an established customer, approach carriers with the opportunity to explore contract pricing and get commitments for the length of the project. Carriers are looking for reliable, predictable loads that are going to guarantee business while creating minimal headaches. If you can prove your business can meet these expectations, they are going to be even more willing to commit for the long-haul. An added bonus - they are likely to negotiate terms and better pricing for your business as well. Packing and staging your shipments early so that they are ready for pick-up and will be loaded smoothly is going to go a long way in the eyes of the arriving carrier.

  4. Review alternative services for applicable shipments
  5. While choosing alternative freight services for your loads won’t always work to combat freight capacity issues, it’s a valid option for certain shipments. If you have a large LTL shipment that could benefit from truckload services, this could be a great back up choice. Using a dedicated truck can increase security, minimize damage, and expedite your transit. 

    While truckload moves typically consist of 8-10 pallets or more, some truckload carriers will offer a partial option where your load will share space with another shipper’s freight. This can add some perks of truckload shipping like added security, while benefitting from a more competitive price than paying for the entire truck. It’s important to note, however, that in partial truckload shipping, it’s possible your shipment may encounter delays due to the other customer on board. Depending on the order of delivery, you may end up waiting on the first delivery location if they don’t have everything in order. Building in extra time is still a good tactic to take here, but knowing you have alternative freight service options for your larger shipments is good to know if you are in a crunch.

  6. Consolidate your shipments
  7. The less often you ship, the less you risk not finding a truck for your loads. By consolidating your freight shipments, you create an efficient way of both lowering costs and ensuring you have LTL truck coverage. It may take a bit of communication and working with your customers, but reworking replenishment schedules so that you’re shipping larger, less frequent loads can be a smart long-term strategy. Moving your shipping to off-peak periods, if possible, also takes extra stress off of a carrier network that is already stretched thin. This not only allows for increased truck availably, but it also helps you avoid seasonal closures that will affect your shipments.

    When receiving inbound orders, collaborative distribution is also an option. Collaborative distribution combines vendor orders from different shippers at one common distribution center and channels them into a single-truck delivery. This option is a type of consolidation, but happens much earlier in the supply chain. Finding the balance between identifying which shipments can be consolidated over a more flexible length of time while meeting delivery deadlines and customer expectations is key.

  8. Utilize regional carrier options
  9. Most shippers are familiar with the large, recognizable national freight carriers, but regional freight carriers can also be a great option for coverage. Regional carriers specialize in concentrated geographic areas, usually within state-lines or city locales. In addition to adding them as options within your existing freight network, there are important advantages to working with regional carriers. Regional carriers have in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience navigating these areas on a daily basis and can speak to potential challenges like traffic trends or limited access issues. While a national carrier may be unfamiliar with these hang-ups, a regional driver’s knowledge of the area means increased transparency with the shipper regarding these obstacles, so precautions can be taken. 

    Oftentimes, regional carriers charge less for the same services that national carriers do. Regional carriers don’t have delivery area surcharges and costs for liftgates and accessorial fees are lower. Because regional carriers travel shorter distances, expedited or guaranteed services are generally less expensive, as well. 

    Finally, because these are smaller companies, they tend to offer more personalized solutions that emphasize customer experience. Relationships with these carriers tend to be less transactional, and place importance on problem resolution and service. Adding a regional carrier to the pool is an underutilized and potentially game-changing way to ensure your LTL loads are getting covered.

  10. Become a shipper of choice

    Want to know a surefire way to combat freight capacity issues? Become a shipper of choice. This means to do everything possible to leverage your relationships with carriers to make your shipments as desirable as possible. The freight load itself, your location, and your business practices combined should create an easy, efficient, and positive experience for the carrier.

    A good way to start is making sure your shipping location is set up for easy navigation. Signs and directional assistance, communication, and a safe, clear dock location are all things drivers look out for. Flexible delivery times and plentiful parking options help eliminate some extra stress for the driver, as well. Above all else, doing what you can to eliminate potential detention time is critical. Staged shipments that are primed and waiting with a well-trained and ready-to-go loading team help ensure the truck will be loaded within the 2-hour limit. That way, the driver can get back on the road to the next location with minimal delay. Nurturing these carrier relationships by improving the experience for the driver is important, and it matters. When there’s lots of freight waiting to be picked up nationwide, be the one that the carrier wants most.

Final thoughts

Freight capacity is a challenge, and it’s not changing any time soon. The best thing that you can do is create a plan of action that tackles these challenges before you have freight waiting on the dock. Working with a 3PL like PartnerShip can help audit your current shipping procedures and identify areas of improvement that go beyond getting your loads covered. Contact our freight experts to help get your freight where it needs to go.

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10 Essential Freight FAQs for Smart Shipping

April 7, 2021 at 9:26 AMJen Deming
ALT 10 Essential Freight FAQs

No matter what you're moving, there are a few freight shipping fundamentals that you need to know in order to transport your load successfully. While the process seems straightforward, there are some challenges that can be anticipated by answering a few basic questions beforehand. We've compiled the essential questions that you need to be able to answer before you start shipping freight successfully.

What is the difference between freight and small package shipping?

While freight and small package shipping have some similarities, there are some major distinctions to keep in mind. Shipment size is the first recognizable difference between the two, with small package shipments being smaller, typically less than 150 lbs. Freight shipments consist of larger loads, often palletized, that range from one or two pieces to a dedicated truck. Differences in transit time, pricing structure, and driver service level are other major variables between the two transportation options. Knowing the details and requirements of your load can help determine which service makes the most sense for you.

What kind of packaging is best for my freight shipments?

Proper packaging is key in protecting the security of your shipments. Using the correct materials for the commodity you are moving can help deter damages and loss. When packing items into multiple boxes, avoid any excess space to limit shifting. Packaging materials like bubble wrap, foam cushioning, and packing peanuts can all help cushion your commodities. Freight shipments do best when boxes are palletized or packed securely into customized wooden crates. If you are shipping multiple items on a pallet, it’s important to shrink wrap them together in a uniform, structured stack to avoid damage or separation of items. Clear and correct labeling is important to get your shipments where they need to go accurately and in an efficient time frame.

When does it make sense to use LTL vs truckload?

Choosing to use either an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight or truckload service is often situational and can depend on the specific requirements of a shipment. LTL shipments are moved by carriers who group your loads together with other customers for delivery. Your shipment will be sharing space with other freight and will be handled at multiple terminals. Truckload shipments typically use a dedicated truck for your move, so you are paying for the entire space for the full length of the transit. LTL freight is a more cost-efficient option, and great for regular freight loads of a few pallets or more, with no hard deadlines. Truckload shipping gives you greater security and a faster transit, making it more ideal for large, high-value or fragile loads.

Do I need a guaranteed delivery date?

Getting your freight load delivery date guaranteed can be a tough endeavor, so arrival dates given at the time of booking your load are always estimated. Factors like weather, warehouse delays, traffic, and other variables make it difficult for a carrier to promise delivery on a certain date with standard freight services. Time-critical or expedited services are a viable option for shipments that must arrive quickly by a certain time of day, day of the week, or other specific delivery window. It’s important to note, however, that even when electing to use these premium services, situations may arise that can cause a delay where a carrier will not be liable.

What is an accessorial fee?

Freight carriers use additional charges to compensate for any extra time and effort it takes to move a shipment, called accessorial fees. Any challenges with loading and moving your freight such as an oversized shipment, limited access at the point of delivery, or specialized equipment needs can drive up your freight bill. It’s important to note that every carrier charges different amounts for these fees, so knowing what services your shipment requires before pickup will help avoid any surprises.

What do I do if my freight is damaged?

As frustrating as the experience can be, freight damage or loss is almost inevitable if you ship regularly. The cost of repairs and replacements can be compensated by the carrier in these circumstances, but there are very specific steps smart shippers must take to ensure approval and payouts. Damage prevention is always the smartest tactic, so proper packaging is a great place to start. Making sure your paperwork is in order, checking for hidden damages, and filing your claim in a timely manner are all important steps to ensure your claim is resolved in your favor. 

What is a freight class?

Many factors go into determining a rate for a freight shipment, and freight class is one of the most important. Every type of commodity that moves through the freight network is assigned a universal classification code by the NMFTA. These numbers are determined by four main factors: density, stowability, handling, and liability. Generally, the more difficult or challenging a commodity is to move, the higher the freight class. These qualities, combined with the length of haul, fuel costs, and extra services, determine your final freight rate. Classification can be confusing to get right, but freight experts can help decide which works is most accurate for your load.

What is density-based freight? 

As more freight enters the network, and capacity continues to be limited, carriers struggle to keep up with available loads. Ideal freight shipments are solid, heavy, and take up minimal space within the truck, allowing more room for additional loads. Lightweight, awkwardly-shaped loads that don’t allow for an efficient use of space are subject to density-based rates. The shipment density, combined with freight class, will give you your total freight rate, which tends to be higher than low-density, easy-to-move shipments. 

How can I lower my shipping costs?

A smart start for lowering operating costs is by taking a good look at your shipping practices. While there are some uncontrollable variables that factor into shipping costs, there are a few places you can better optimize your strategy for more savings. Improving your packaging, cultivating a strong relationship with your carriers, and maintaining reliable communication with your customers create great opportunities to lower your costs. Working with a quality 3PL can also help identify key areas where you may be able to save money with less effort on your end.

How can a 3PL help my shipping operations?

Working with a 3PL is a great way to gain  resources and improve efficiency. Working with freight experts who are also familiar with the unique needs of your business can decrease the amount of time you spend on finding ways to cut costs. A 3PL like PartnerShip can also expand your network of carriers, ensuring your freight moves are covered quickly with reliable carriers, often with competitive rates that aren’t available to most businesses on their own.  

While these are some of the most common questions we receive at PartnerShip, they aren’t the only ones we hear from our customers. If you have a freight dilemma that you’re not sure how to resolve, contact the experts at PartnerShip and we will find the best answers for your business.

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5 Painless Ways to Save on Freight

March 12, 2021 at 11:55 AMJen Deming

Everybody wants to lower their business operating costs, but nobody wants to spend a lot of time doing it. Decreasing your shipping spend is a good place to start, and there are five painless ways shippers can keep their freight costs low. From auditing your current carriers to tightening up your packaging practices, we break down simple ways to spend less on freight using minimal effort while gaining maximum payoff.



Common Accessorial Fees Explained

February 24, 2021 at 11:31 AMLeah Palnik

No one likes surprise fees. Unfortunately, there are quite a few extra costs that are likely to pop up with LTL freight. Known as accessorial fees, these charges cover a wide variety of extra services and can add up fast.

What are accessorial fees?
An accessorial fee is a charge for services performed by the carrier that are considered to be beyond the standard pickup and delivery. These fees make up just one part of your freight rate, but can be challenging to manage. Understanding which accessorial charges you can plan for and which ones you can avoid is necessary if you want to keep your freight costs in check.

What are some common LTL accessorial charges?
You might be wondering what is considered an extra service, and you’re not alone. We’ve compiled some common LTL accessorial fees so you know what to look out for.

  • Lift Gate Service
    When the shipping or receiving address does not have a loading dock, manual loading or unloading is necessary. A lift gate is a platform at the back of certain trucks that can raise and lower a shipment from the ground to the truck. Having this feature on trucks requires additional investment by an LTL carrier, hence the additional fee.

  • Inside Pick Up/Inside Delivery
    If the driver is required to go inside (beyond the front door or loading dock) to pick up or deliver your shipment, instead of remaining at the dock or truck, additional fees will be charged because of the additional driver time needed for this service.

  • Residential Service
    Carriers define a business zone as a location that opens and closes to the public at set times every day. If you are a business located in a residential zone (among personal homes or dwellings), or are shipping to or from a residence, the carrier may charge an additional residential fee due to complexity in navigating these non-business areas.

  • Collect On Delivery (COD)
    A shipment for which the transportation provider is responsible for collecting the sale price of the goods shipped before delivery. The additional administration required for this type of shipment necessitates an additional fee to cover the carrier's cost.

  • Oversized Freight
    Shipments containing articles greater than or equal to twelve feet in length. Since these shipments take up more floor space on the trailer, additional fees often apply.

  • Fuel Surcharge
    An extra charge imposed by the carriers due to the excessive costs for diesel gas. The charge is a percentage that is normally based upon the Diesel Fuel Index by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

  • Advance Notification
    This fee is charged when the carrier is required to notify the consignee before making a delivery.

  • Limited Access Pickup or Delivery
    This fee covers the additional costs required to make pickups or deliveries at locations with limited access such as schools, military bases, prisons, or government buildings.

  • Reweigh and Reclassification
    Since weight and freight class determine shipment base rates, carriers want to make sure the information on the BOL is accurate. If the carrier inspects a shipment and it does not match what was listed, they will charge this fee along with the difference.

Navigating the many nuances of LTL freight accessorial fees to determine which services you need and which you can avoid will help ensure the most cost effective price. Carriers generally publish a document called the "Rules Tariff 100" which provides a list of current accessorial services and fees. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are well versed in these documents and are happy to help with any questions you may have. 

Want a more in-depth look into freight accessorial fees and how to avoid or offset the added costs? Check out our free white paper

The Complete Guide to Freight Accessorials

5 Frustrating Reasons Your Freight Claim Was Denied

February 19, 2021 at 4:23 PMJen Deming
5 Frustrating Reasons Your Claim Was Denied

While we’d like to think that freight loss and damage can be avoided, realistically it’s something every shipper will face. That means that at some point you will likely need to file the dreaded freight claim. Unfortunately, when it comes to the final say in payouts, carriers are in the driver’s seat. The good news is, most denied claims or insufficient payouts are caused by five common oversights. If you can avoid these issues, you are more likely to win your claim and recoup your losses.

  1. It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment

    The Carmack Amendment was passed in 1935 in order to protect carriers from exclusive responsibility for any damage or loss occurring during transit. It sets up five scenarios that legally exclude the carrier from liability. If damage or loss occurs due to one of these instances, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect for the damages.

    Act of God – Unavoidable events such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, medical emergencies, etc. that may befall the driver during transit fall into this category. These events have to be determined as unforeseeable and inevitable in order for the carrier to remain free from responsibility.

    Public Enemy – If the damage-causing incident occurred during a defensive call to action by the government or “military force”, the carrier is not responsible for damages. While rare during peacetime, this scenario has also been applied to acts of domestic terrorism, but does not refer to hijackers, cargo theft, etc.

    Default of Shipper – This scenario is the most common exclusion and places full responsibility for damages squarely on the shipper. If damage is caused by negligence of the shipper, due to poor packaging, improper labeling, rough handling during loading, and other factors, the carrier is exempt from liability.

    Public Authority – An incident that results in damage or delay due to government intervention like road closures, quarantines, trade embargoes, etc. are unavoidable and exempt carriers from responsibility.

    Inherent Vice – Some high-risk commodities deteriorate naturally over time, such as live plants, food, medical supplies, etc. As long as that deterioration is not being sped up by the carrier through negligence, they are safe from liability.

  2. You are missing key documentation

    When you are submitting a claim, it is important that you have every piece of paperwork filled out correctly and in proper order for the carrier to review. The more documentation you can provide about specifics relating to your load, the better chance you have at winning a claim. It’s important for you to prove that the shipment was in good condition and securely packaged at the time of pick-up. Taking pictures of the product before, during, and after packaging is completed is a smart move.

    You should also make sure that the bill-of-lading (BOL) is filled out correctly with precise weight measurements, commodity descriptions, classifications, and piece counts. The BOL serves as a legal contract between the carrier and shipper – errors on this document will have far-reaching consequences. If your weight is off or the commodity/classification is incorrect, liability payouts may be less than you expect.

    An invoice determining the actual value of your product is key in determining a payout, as well as packing slips that help back up your piece counts. Other supporting documents like the paid freight bill, inspection reports, weight certificates, replacement and repair invoices, etc., are all great things to keep on hand in the event of a claim.

    In addition to obtaining as many pieces of documentation as possible to support your claim, it’s key to present everything to the carrier in a timely manner. You have up to nine months from the delivery date to submit a damage claim. For lost shipments, you have up to 9 months to file from the date it was estimated to arrive. Concealed damage claims are much more urgent – a claim must be filed within five days. So after receiving your delivery, be sure to unpack your shipments and check for hidden damage as soon as possible.

  3. You didn't attempt to mitigate the damages

    Even if the carrier takes responsibility for the damages caused to your freight, they are going to fight to pay the least amount possible. It is important to show that you have attempted to mitigate and lessen the effect of these damages as much as possible. Carriers are likely to want to know whether you attempted to salvage the shipment. Were you able to have the broken or missing items repaired or sold at a discount, if possible? It’s important that the proper commodity, nature of the damage, replacement costs, and potential loss of business are accurately represented to determine the full extent of loss.

    The carrier has the right to inspect the damaged shipment as part of the freight claims process. So, it is very important not to dispose of damaged freight, unless storing it poses a threat to safety or health, such as with hazardous materials or spoiled food items. If this is the case, the carrier must be notified as soon as possible so they can act on inspecting the freight if need be. Preventing them from the opportunity to do so can result in an immediate denied claim.

  4. You haven't paid your freight bill

    The last thing you might want to do is to pay a carrier for a shipment that they damaged during transit. However, it is important to be current on your invoices if you are submitting a freight claim. If you owe the carrier in freight charges, either for past due invoices or for the damaged load, you’re likely to get denied for a payout. Even if you do get approved, the reimbursement process may be drawn out or even amended to a much lower amount due to the total charges you owe the shipper.

    The most important thing to note is that accidents and damages happen, despite the best of intentions. Paying your freight bill on time, even if a damage claim will be submitted, is a sign of good faith and can help maintain a working business relationship with a carrier who otherwise serves your business well.

  5. You've signed for a clear proof of delivery

    If you take one point away from this list of tips, let this be the one: remember to inspect your shipment before signing the proof of delivery (POD). This document acknowledges the arrival of the load to the point of delivery. By simply signing this document and allowing the driver to continue on his way, you are stating that it has delivered free and clear without any loss or damages.

    Smart shippers note: this is your opportunity to review and inspect your shipments carefully and note any discrepancies on the POD. Open boxes and check for concealed damages or loss. This is especially important if you have multiple pallets, crates, or shrink-wrapped items. Make sure what you have matches the BOL. If your BOL shows two shrink-wrapped pallets of stacked boxes, but the total piece count is off, make sure you note those missing items. Otherwise, a carrier can claim they delivered “two pallets” as stated on the BOL.

    If you are the shipper, make sure your delivery location knows the importance of these procedures. It is on them to take pictures, note discrepancies, and challenge the carrier accordingly at the point of delivery.

    If you’re not prepared, it’s much more likely that your freight claim will get denied. Use the checklist below to make sure you’re in a position to get the payout you deserve.

Claims Checklist

The bottom line

Freight damage is frustrating, time-intensive, and expensive. While it’s reassuring that you can submit a claim with the carrier in order to recoup your losses, it’s important that you are thorough in the information you provide. The more you know about freight claims, the better prepared you are when going to bat against the carriers. Check out our free comprehensive guide to freight claims so you can save yourself some time and spare yourself the headache.

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Asset vs. Non-Asset Based 3PLs: The Major Distinctions

January 21, 2021 at 10:16 AMLeah Palnik

There are two main types of third-party logistics (3PL) providers and they’re not exactly created equal. Asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs each have their place in the market. However, they have a few key differences that can impact how your freight is handled and how much it will cost you.

What are asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs?
Asset based logistics providers own some or all of the parts of the supply chain. This can include carriers, trucks, warehouses, or distribution centers. Conversely, non-asset based 3PLs don’t own these parts of the supply chain. Instead they are relationship-based and develop a network of partners to help move your freight.

The major differences between asset based and non-asset based logistics
Besides how they operate, there are some distinctions that are important for shippers to take note of.

  1. Flexibility and ability to offer custom solutions
    Since asset based 3PLs have their own carriers, those are the carriers they will rely on to move your freight. Their carriers likely specialize in specific lanes or services or may only have a presence in one part of the country. If those specializations match up with your specific needs, it could be a great partnership. However, if they don’t or if your needs vary, you likely won’t be receiving the most efficient or cost-effective service.

    On the other hand, non-asset based logistics providers have a wider network. They have access to multiple carriers which allows them to source the one that most closely aligns with your needs. That flexibility allows them to offer more customized solutions for your freight.

  2. Level of control over the supply chain
    Asset based 3PLs have more control over the supply chain because they own the assets that comprise it. What that results in is the ability to set their own pricing more easily because they don’t have to negotiate with an outside party. Asset based 3PLs also have more direct control over carrier issues and errors. They can implement changes with their carriers that non-asset based 3PLs simply can’t.

    Non-asset based 3PLs have less control, especially when it comes to what the carrier does. That’s because there are more hands involved with moving your freight. However, a quality broker will know what to look for to prevent issues and will have high standards for the carriers it keeps in its network.

  3. The underlying interests of the 3PL 
    It’s hard to argue that asset based 3PLs aren’t inherently biased. They own their own warehouses and trucks, so it’s obviously in their best interest to have shippers use them over others.

    The interests of a non-asset based 3PL are more in line with the shipper than the carrier. The best brokers will work on your behalf to find discrepancies in your invoices, provide claims assistance, and use their expertise to help you ship more efficiently.

How to decide between an asset based 3PL and a non-asset based 3PL
The type of 3PL that is best for you will largely depend on your specific needs. In general, you want to make sure you are working with a broker that can get you access to capacity when you need it most. From there, you should evaluate the typical characteristics of your freight so you can find a 3PL that is closely aligned.

No matter the situation, you need to work with a quality broker that is dedicated to finding you the freight solutions you need. PartnerShip is a non-asset based 3PL with an extensive network of alliances designed to help you ship smarter. Contact us to learn how you can save on your freight and improve your operations.

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Why It's Never a Good Idea to Fudge Your Freight Dimensions

January 12, 2021 at 1:40 AMJen Deming
Fudging Freight Dimensions Blog Image

While constancy isn’t something you can always expect in the freight industry, there are a few steady trends we’ve seen in recent years: less truck availability, an oversaturated network, and rate increases. Both sides are using tactics to offset these variables. Carriers increase fees, and in response, shippers explore means to cut costs. A trend we’ve seen among novice and experienced shippers alike is either estimating or downright falsifying the freight dimensions and weight of their LTL shipments. But, we’re here to tell you that going either route is a risky maneuver that can have major fallout.

Incorrect dimensions can delay your shipment

Carriers have an entire arsenal of tools at their disposal that check for discrepancies in weight and freight dimensions. Once LTL shipments are picked up and the BOL (bill-of-lading) is tendered to the carrier, that paperwork serves as a legal document — a contract between the shipper and carrier. Because LTL shipments stop at multiple terminals while in transit, there is plenty of opportunity to get “caught” if your weight or freight dimensions stated on this document are incorrect. If a carrier suspects misrepresentation on a BOL, intentional or not, your shipment will be flagged for an audit and an inspection. This process takes some time and your shipment will be detained. Depending on the volume going through that particular terminal, it’s tough to say how long that could be. Your shipment delivery will likely be delayed or missed, which can be a disaster if it was a time-sensitive shipment or if it holds up other operations for you or your customer. It’s just not a good look.

You could be subject to reweigh, reclass, and over-dimensional fees

As outlined specifically in each carrier’s rules tariff, freight rates are determined on a variety of variables. When it comes to weight, cost is often calculated on a per pound basis and a maximum “standard” shipment length. Intentionally underestimating weight and size in order to save money can be tempting. However, if the actual weight and length is determined to be more than stated on the provided BOL, the final cost will be adjusted to reflect that. But, how much can that really be, right? If you’re still thinking about estimating your freight dimensions, think again: fees associated with these inaccuracies can affect your bill twofold. 

Firstly, the audit and subsequent reweigh or measurement will incur an inspection fee. The standard inspection itself can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 for weight changes. According to their rules tariff, UPS Freight charges $25 for a reweigh. As for restricted lengths, the fee can vary greatly by carrier and is often calculated on a cost per foot basis. For example, UPS Freight charges $90 for “extreme length” LTL shipments that fall within 8-12 feet. Larger than that, but under 20 feet can cost you $125. Of course, it increases incrementally from there.

Secondly, changes to your shipment details may affect your freight class, another important component of your freight rate. Some types of products are classed based on density breakdowns; a dimensionally-large but lightweight shipment can be expensive. If your weight is incorrect, your density and class may change significantly, which will affect the overall cost of your shipment. Combined with the initial fee, these two factors can ultimately tack on hundreds of dollars in unexpected fees alone — in fact, they may add up to more than the original cost of your load.

False freight dimensions can lead to disappointing claim payouts

So let’s talk about another worst-case scenario: your freight shipment is damaged or lost while in transit. It’s a daunting prospect, but unfortunately, a pretty common occurrence, especially as more freight enters the network. Most shippers know that in order to recoup losses, you can always file a claim with the carrier. But payouts can be complicated, and what many shippers don’t know is that a final claim payout can be majorly affected if the provided shipment details are inaccurate. 

Most carriers determine claim payouts on a dollar per pound basis, with heavier shipments receiving higher payouts. Even if your dimensional fudging makes it past the carrier unnoticed, a payout based on these inaccurate details may be much less than what you were hoping for. To make things even more complicated, certain classes of products aren’t covered at all. If the carrier does find out you inaccurately disclosed weight, dimensions, or other details, the claim can be completely denied. 

How to ensure you have accurate dimensions for your freight

While it’s clearly not a great idea to guess or fabricate your freight dimensions, mistakes can also be made when you have the best intentions of providing the correct measurements. There are a few tips you should follow to ensure the details of your shipments are as accurate as possible.
 
  • Invest in quality scales and other tools used within warehouses
  • Audit and calibrate your measurement tools regularly
  • If you aren’t able to acquire the proper equipment, use the manufacturer’s specs
  • Don’t forget to add in weight and size measurements from packaging such as pallets, cartons, etc.
  • Always calculate proper freight density 
  • If you are receiving the freight shipment but are responsible for the shipping costs, make sure those details are being calculated accurately

Shippers are always going to be looking for ways to cut transportation expenses in order to improve their bottom line. While shipping costs may be a flexible area for that opportunity, fudging your freight dimensions to get there is both unethical and extremely risky. If you’re stuck on how to save, PartnerShip can help.

Inaccurate freight dimensions is just one of the common slip-ups shippers make that have costly consequences. Check out our free guide on the top 5 most common mistakes to avoid so you can ship smarter. 

5 common freight mistakes white paper

5 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Reduce Your Shipping Costs

December 21, 2020 at 11:23 AMJen Deming

In a time where managing business operating expenses is extra important, one of the first places you should look is reducing shipping costs. But analyzing your small package shipping for areas of improvement can be a time-intensive, detail-oriented process. Not everyone has the time to audit invoices and compare rates. For those who want to get the job done quickly and easily, you’re in luck: there are five quick small pack hacks that smart shippers can easily implement to help reduce costs. 

  1. Obtain discounts with carriers
    Lots of shippers don’t realize that the pricing structure you are currently using with your carrier may be negotiable, and there are different types of discounts that your account may receive. FedEx and UPS often offer discounts for new accounts when created online, but shippers beware: these discounts are usually temporary, and your pricing may fluctuate based on terms and conditions. You may lose the discounts entirely if you aren’t meeting shipping minimums and your pricing is subject to change at any time. 

    The more you ship, the better the discounts you’re likely to receive directly from FedEx or UPS. However, even if you have a lower shipping volume, there are still ways for you to obtain discounts. If your business belongs to a trade association or a local chamber, you may have access to discounted rates through your membership. PartnerShip manages over 130 association shipping programs that offer FedEx discounts. If you’re a member of an industry group, look into your member benefits or reach out to our team to find out if you’re eligible.

  2. Take advantage of free packaging

    The packaging and supplies you need to properly contain your shipments are important, but can be costly. However that doesn’t mean you should skimp on new materials or reuse old packaging – doing so can compromise the integrity of your shipment and increase the risk of damage. The good news is, some carriers offer free shipping supplies to help ensure your package is secure. Both UPS and FedEx offer free packaging supplies for customers that you can order online and have delivered, free of charge. With free envelopes, packing tubes, boxes, and poly bags, you can be sure your small package shipment will travel safely to its final destination, all while creating some space in your shipping budget.

  3. Make the most of Multiweight and Hundredweight options

    From insurance plans to your cable bill, everyone knows you can save money from bundling. That same principal can also apply to your shipping. Both FedEx and UPS offer options for customers who are shipping multiple packages to the same location that can help you save money versus the rates you would pay if they’re considered individual packages. For businesses shipping frequently to the same locations, FedEx multiweight pricing is an efficient and cost-effective service option. UPS has a similar program called UPS Hundredweight

    There is a catch for shippers interested in these options — it isn’t available to just any business. FedEx Multiweight and UPS Hundredweight must be negotiated into your contract, or offered as a part of comprehensive shipping program, like the association programs managed by PartnerShip.

  4. Avoid dimensional weight pricing

    To combat the increase in bulky packages entering their systems, FedEx and UPS have implemented dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. With DIM weight pricing, cost is calculated based on package volume, rather than weight. The higher the volume, the more space it takes up in delivery vehicles, which means there is less room for other packages. If a package isn’t particularly heavy but is taking up a lot of space, that’s costly for the carriers. 

    After calculating your DIM weight, measure the result against your package’s actual weight; the greater of the two will become your billable weight. The best way that you can offset volume-based pricing is to take a hard look at your current packaging procedures. Unused space is a cost-conscious shipper’s worst enemy, so don’t use a package that’s oversized for the product inside and consolidate your orders when possible to ensure you’re not wasting space.

  5. Take control of inbound shipping

    Another way to save on small package shipping is by taking control of your inbound shipping procedures. It’s common practice for many businesses to allow their inbound small package orders to be arranged by the vendor. But often times that leads to higher order costs for you. By instructing your vendor to ship through your account, you can reduce your costs through a few simple steps:

    • Review your vendor invoices to determine whether you have access to better pricing through your FedEx/UPS account vs. your vendor’s account.
    • Create routing instructions that include clear directions on which carrier, account, and service to use for your shipments. 
    • Ensure vendor compliance by providing your routing instructions to your vendors and regularly reviewing your invoices for accurate pricing.

Working with a third-party logistics provider can help make this process even easier. At PartnerShip, we can assist with pricing negotiations, create and send vendor routing instructions, and review billing for vendor compliance.

While taking an in-depth look at how to minimize operating expenses can be time-consuming, these small package hacks give you a few quick ways to ship smarter. For more ways to save, PartnerShip can help.

It’s even more important to cut costs where you can, as FedEx and UPS rates are on the rise. Our free guide will help you easily identify the highest rate increases so you can more easily manage your budget.  


2021 Rate Increase White Paper

The Essential Guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

December 8, 2020 at 10:52 AMLeah Palnik
The Essential Guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

It’s been a wild and unpredictable year, but there’s one thing you can count on as we head into 2021 – the annual FedEx and UPS rate increases. For the fourth year in a row, both carriers announced an average increase of 4.9% for air and ground parcel services. The new rates for UPS will go into effect on December 27, while the new rates for FedEx will go into effect a week later on January 4.

How to budget your parcel costs for 2021
While it may be tempting to budget for a 4.9% increase, you have to dig a little deeper to uncover how much your costs will actually go up in 2021. The actual rate increases vary quite a bit depending on the service you use and your package characteristics.

Both carriers have made the new rates for 2021 available:

You will also need to account for updates to FedEx and UPS surcharges. Common surcharges like Residential Delivery and Address Correction will be more expensive in the new year. But on top of that, FedEx and UPS have both made changes that could cause a package to incur a fee that it wouldn’t have in the past. For example, they both broadened the qualifications for their Additional Handling fee and have updated the list of zip codes for Delivery Area surcharges.

You can view a complete list of the changes that the carriers have each posted:

How to analyze the 2021 FedEx and UPS rate increases
While it’s imperative for you to be aware of the changes coming ahead in the new year, combing through every detail of the new rate charts is challenging and time-consuming. A good place to start is to identify the changes that will have the most significant impact on your budget. First, take a look at your shipments from the last year and identify trends for the services you typically use, your package characteristics, and zip codes. From there you can use the new report from PartnerShip, which highlights the areas with the highest increases and outlines the important changes.

The state of the parcel industry
Aside from the general rate increases, it’s important to understand what’s happening within the parcel industry. Within the past several months, the coronavirus pandemic has brought on a great deal of logistical challenges. Carrier networks have been strained as they struggle to keep up with demand and deal with restrictions. As a result, both FedEx and UPS have instituted peak surcharges.

Most notably, since the beginning of the pandemic FedEx and UPS have been applying peak surcharges to international shipments. Air cargo capacity has been limited which has disrupted the global supply chain and driven costs up.

Additionally, residential deliveries have increased substantially as more people are relying on online shopping. High-volume B2C shippers specifically have been ramping up their business. FedEx and UPS have responded to this increased demand by instituting peak surcharges. Instead of simply applying a surcharge on all residential shipments during the holiday season like they’ve done in the past, UPS and FedEx are applying it to those shippers with a large volume of packages or those who are experiencing a significant increase. That’s good news for many small businesses, but tough on those larger ecommerce retailers.

Even if these peak surcharges don’t apply to your business right now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll forever be immune. There are still a lot of unknowns related to the coronavirus pandemic and how it will continue to impact the supply chain. You will need to stay vigilant and keep up to date on announcements from FedEx and UPS.

What you can do to combat rising shipping costs
With everything the industry is experiencing right now, shippers don’t exactly hold the power. Add the general rate increases on top of that, and you may feel helpless against rising costs. However, there are things you can do to mitigate the damages. Download our guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS rate increases to help identify the problem areas. Then contact PartnerShip to find out if you qualify for one of our discount shipping programs, and we'll help you ship smarter.

Download the essential guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases