What is a Bill of Lading?

July 6, 2016 at 2:45 PMJerry Spelic

The Bill of Lading, or BOL, is one of the most important freight shipping documents because it fulfills three purposes: 1) it acts as evidence of a contract between the shipper and the carrier; 2) it serves as a receipt of freight services and goods; and 3) it is a document of title, or ownership, of goods.

Let’s examine the roles the Bill of Lading plays, one by one.

Evidence of contract between shipper and carrier. The Bill of Lading is a document that provides the driver and carrier details of your freight shipment, including what goods you are shipping, where the shipment is coming from, and where it’s going. It acts only as evidence of a contract between the shipper and the carrier, since the contract is agreed upon before a Bill of Lading is issued. The BOL must be provided to the carrier when a shipment is picked up, and will be delivered to the consignee upon delivery.

Receipt of freight services and goods. The Bill of Lading is issued by the carrier or its agent and provided to the shipper in exchange for receipt of the freight. The BOL is proof that the carrier has received the freight in good condition, as provided by the shipper. The shipper should keep a signed copy of the BOL as proof of carrier liability in the event the shipment is lost, damaged or destroyed.

Document of title, or ownership, of goods. The Bill of Lading means that the goods may be transferred to the holder of the BOL (the carrier) to be transferred to someone else (the consignee). The most common type of BOL is the "Straight Bill of Lading." This is typically used to ship freight to a customer that has already paid for it.

Information contained on the Bill of Lading includes: shipper and consignee names, name of the carrier, an itemized list of goods being transported, number of packages and kind of packaging, weight and/or volume of the cargo, each package’s freight class, terms of payment, special handling instructions, and freight rate and amount.

A Bill of Lading is required for all claims for compensation due to damage or loss, and for any disputes regarding ownership of the freight. Without a correctly completed BOL you could be faced with a major headache to be compensated for your freight loss or damage.

In addition, carriers have the right to inspect, reweigh and reclassify your freight so be sure all weight and shipping class information is accurate. Errors can result in additional charges and delayed delivery of your freight.

As you can see, the Bill of Lading is a very important document and needs to be filled out completely and accurately.

The shipping experts at PartnerShip are here to help you focus on your business by managing the complicated parts of shipping. To stay competitive, ship smarter with PartnerShip! Contact us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now!

An Introduction to Freight Classes

June 27, 2016 at 12:32 PMJerry Spelic

The first time I was introduced to the concept of a freight class was an eye-opener.  At the time, I was responsible for getting all trade show materials to the show site, including product samples, marketing collateral, and trade show booth. The company where I worked had a 100,000 sf warehouse, trucks inbound and outbound all week long, and a guy who managed the warehouse. He was the one that shipped our trade show materials.

When we outgrew our booth and needed a new one, we worked with a local trade show exhibit company and had them ship our materials to the show. When our freight invoice arrived after the show, I was floored! It was considerably more than I was used to paying. That was when I learned about freight classes. The warehouse guy always shipped our trade show exhibit Class 50, which is not the correct freight class. It should have been shipped Class 125, which the trade show company did, resulting in higher shipping charges. My lesson: freight class impacts cost.

Freight class refers to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and is the category of your freight as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). Your shipment’s freight class determines the carrier’s shipping charges and refers to the size, value and difficulty of transporting your freight.

Freight classes are designed to standardize pricing, regardless of what carriers, warehouses and brokers with which you work and is determined by weight, length and height, density, stowability, ease of handling, value and liability. There are 18 classes into which a shipment may fall; the lower the product class, the lower the rate per pound. Class 50 rates are the least expensive and Class 500 rates are the most expensive.   

There is a lot of math that goes into freight class calculations (which we will not cover in depth) but here are some considerations that go into determining your shipment’s class:

  1. Density: The more compact a product is, based on weight, the less space it will take up in a truck. Bricks are much more dense than ping pong balls, so they take up significantly less room per pound and result in a lower freight classification.
  2. Stowability: Most freight stows well, but some items cannot be loaded together, like food and chemicals. Hazardous materials and oversize items also impact stowability.
  3. Handling: Freight is usually loaded with mechanical equipment and creates no handling issues, but weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties do require special handling.
  4. Liability: Liability is determined by the probability of theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Dynamite has a high amount of liability while books do not.

Here are some examples of products by freight class:

It is very important to understand freight classes and ship your materials correctly. Incorrectly classifying your freight can results in additional costs, as freight carriers have the right to inspect and reclassify your shipment. If that happens, guess who pays? You do. It can also slow delivery of your freight and will cause unneeded headaches.

The bottom line: always correctly identify and classify your freight.

Freight classes can be complex and confusing. For expert assistance on determining your shipment’s freight class, contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or find your freight class online. The freight experts at PartnerShip are here to help!

Nothing is Given. Everything is Earned.

June 20, 2016 at 7:18 AMJerry Spelic

We're proud to call "The Land" home. And we are proud of the Cleveland Cavaliers. You earned it.

The Early History of Semi-Trucks

June 15, 2016 at 8:16 AMJerry Spelic

We see hundreds of trucks on the road every single day. They not only help us live our modern life, but have contributed to the economic prosperity of the country, so we wanted to take a short look back at the very important history of trucks.

People have used truck-like vehicles to transport goods and move materials for centuries, but before the invention of the mechanical engine, they were often drawn by pack animals. In fact, the definition of the word “truck” has evolved from “a cart for carrying heavy loads” to the more modern “motor vehicle for carrying heavy loads.”

Before motor trucks, most goods were transported by railroads, with local transportation needs met by “trucks” drawn by pack animals, which had no rival until self-propelled steam-powered vehicles began emerging in the late eighteenth century. The motor truck concept languished until the invention of the internal combustion engine in the middle of the nineteenth century boosted its potential.

Cleveland horseless carriage maker Alexander Winton is widely credited with inventing the semi-truck in 1898, and sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. When Winton sold its first cars in 1898, it created the need for the cars to be delivered to their buyers, which led to the concept of the semi-truck to deliver his manufactured vehicles.

In 1904, only about 700 large trucks rumbled on the roads in the United States but that number skyrocketed to nearly 25,000 in 1914. Motor trucks at the time were not built for comfort but for utility. They rode on solid rubber wheels with mechanical brake systems, and could only travel short distances at low speeds, often over rough and bumpy unpaved roads. The invention of pneumatic tires and hydraulic brakes helped make early trucks a more useful vehicle.

The semi-truck population exploded in 1917 thanks to improved roads and the Federal Highway Act, which created a 3.2-million-mile national road system. In 1924, the number of trucks on the road would be 416,569; a 1,560% increase from just ten years earlier.

The 1940s and 1950s saw the rise of the automobile and America’s population shift from the city to the suburb. The “Federal-Aid Highway Act” of 1956 authorized the construction of a 41,000-mile network of interstate highways. These two changes cemented the semi-truck as a part of daily life because more goods had to be shipped longer distances, which was made easy by the new system of interstate highways.

Some key dates in the evolution of the semi-truck:

1898 - Alexander Winton invents the semi-truck

1914 - A semi-trailer used to transport boats created; used for other cargo as well

1916 – Mack introduces the AC, signaling the end of open cab trucks

1934 - Navistar builds the first tandem axle, six-wheel truck

1942 - Freightliner introduces the first all-aluminum cab

1953 - Freightliner creates the first overhead sleeper cab

1959 – The first cab-over-engine truck is introduced

As the truck has evolved, so has its engine. The first trucks (carts, really) were powered by horses or human. Then came steam-powered trucks. Electric trucks were popular in the late-19th and early 20th century, until the internal combustion engine and cheap gasoline led to a decline in their use. Direct-injection turbo-charged diesel engines became standard during the 1950s as trucks began the conversion from standard gasoline engines.

What will the semi-truck of the future be like? Check out this post!

PartnerShip is proud to be based in the birthplace of the semi-truck, Cleveland, OH! Next time you need a semi-truck to move your finished goods or inbound raw materials, give us a call at 800-599-2902 or request a quote. The freight shipping experts at PartnerShip are here to lend a helping hand!

Tradeshow Shipping: Advance Warehouse or Show Site?

May 26, 2016 at 2:53 PMJerry Spelic

It’s a questions we get asked a lot: “Should I ship to the advance warehouse or direct to the tradeshow site?” The answer really depends on your tradeshow schedule and / or the size of your booth.

When you exhibit at a tradeshow, you have to ship your booth, booth furnishings, marketing collateral and handouts, and product to the show site in order to have a successful show. Your shipping choices are to ship direct to the tradeshow floor to arrive when your booth staff does, or you can ship days or even weeks earlier to the advance warehouse. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Shipping Direct to Show Site - Advantages

  • You can wait until the last minute to get everything ready to ship, such as booth graphics, product prototypes or mock-ups, and marketing collateral
  • Your material handling charges will be a bit lower**
  • You can ship small packages directly to the show floor

Shipping Direct to Show Site - Disadvantages

  • Your shipment may be one of hundreds arriving at the same time, so even though it may arrive early in the day, it might not reach your booth until much later
  • The I & D (Install and Dismantle) team waiting to build your booth may have to wait for your shipment, causing you to incur overtime charges
  •  If your shipment arrives earlier or later than your move-in time, you will incur additional charges
  •  If you have a targeted move-in time assigned by the show, you may have to pay higher shipping charges for guaranteed delivery during your assigned move-in window
  • You may have to pay overtime charges, especially if your shipment has to arrive on a weekend or after hours

Advance Warehouse - Advantages

  • Each show has a dedicated warehouse for delivery and storage of all shipments. Your materials are kept dry and secure until show time
  • On the first day of move-in your freight will be waiting for you at your booth
  • You can confirm your shipment has arrived and that everything is intact. In the event damage does occur, you have time to react and adapt
  • The weather! Tradeshows often take place in months when severe weather can delay your shipment
  • Your shipment can typically arrive up to 30 days prior to move-in, meaning delivery dates and times are more flexible so you can lower your shipping costs by using a non-priority service

Advance Warehouse - Disadvantages

  • If your freight arrives after the deadline, it will still be received, but additional charges will apply
  • The warehouse will only accept crates‚ palletized items, trunks/cases and carpets. Loose or small packages must be sent directly to the show site
  • Slightly higher drayage (material handling) fees**

** A word about material handling / drayage fees: Material handling fees are charges based on various operational activities, such as storage of your freight, labor and equipment to unload inbound shipments, delivery to your booth, delivery of empty containers to and from storage, and moving materials from your booth to the outbound carrier. Material handling fees are unavoidable; you pay them whether you ship to the advance warehouse or the show site. Typically, advance warehouse material handling fees are only about 10% higher than show site material handling fees.

Our suggestion: if you are not constrained by a tradeshow schedule that forces you to ship your booth from one show to the next, the advance warehouse is your best shipping option. It might be a bit more expensive, but the time, stress and anxiety savings will more than make up for it.

If you have a small tabletop or pop-up booth that can be assembled quickly with no help needed, and you are not anticipating any potential weather delays, shipping direct to the show site is an acceptable option.

We’ve helped thousands of companies ship their tradeshow materials and we’ve accumulated a great deal of knowledge, tips, and tricks to make your tradeshow experience a smooth one. Email us at sales@PartnerShip.com for more information or with any tradeshow question! 

New Food Safety Rule Will Impact Shippers

May 18, 2016 at 2:50 PMLeah Hyland