6 Strategies to Side-Step Concealed Damage Claim Drama

July 27, 2021 at 11:55 AMJen Deming
Concealed Damage Claim Blog Image

“Freight claim” is a bad word that no one wants to hear in shipping. Submitting a freight claim and hoping that a carrier will fairly reimburse you for replacements and repairs often feels like a shot in the dark. Concealed damage claims, specifically, can escalate pain points because they’re even more challenging to navigate. Concealed claims include damages not immediately noticeable at delivery, such as loss related to temperature changes in the van or shifting of product in the packaging. The good news is that concealed damage claims don’t have to be a death sentence for your freight. There are six ways that you can set yourself up for a win with your concealed freight claim.

Strategy 1 - Do not turn away the driver

Right out of the gate, if you notice that your shipment is damaged at arrival, it can be tempting to turn away the driver and refuse the load. Many shippers erroneously think that by accepting the freight, you are giving the carrier the “all clear” and therefore responsible for any damages. This is not true — the first step in getting compensation is accepting the load. If you refuse the load, the carrier will have to take the shipment back to a terminal for storage. This is especially important in the case of concealed damages, as it increases risk for even more handling issues that aren’t immediately obvious, as well as potentially racking up some extra fees for storage.

Also important to note, many insurance policies state that the freight must be accepted in order to start the claims process. Accepting the freight ensures you are in control of the situation and the next steps for the shipment, not the carrier. Once the load is accepted, you can start reviewing the shipment for concealed damages and start the claims process.

Strategy 2 - Take your time inspecting the delivery

Freight delivery drivers have many stops to make throughout the day and try their best to adhere to a pretty tight delivery deadline. It’s in their best interest to move along quickly by limiting time spent at each stop. So it’s pretty common to feel a driver may be rushing the delivery process in order to get back on the road.

Even though you may feel hurried by the driver, know that as a consignee, you have the right to take adequate time to properly inspect your shipment. Your first step should be a cursory review of outer packaging such as crates, boxes, and binding materials like shrink wrap and packing tape. Confirm you have the correct load by reviewing address labels. Directive stickers like those indicating fragile shipments or temperature-controlled items should be present to help indicate that it was packaged properly in the first place. 

With the driver present, open palletized boxes and crates, starting with those that have any visible damage. Make sure anyone accepting the delivery knows what to look for on an initial inspection. Afterwards, conduct a secondary, more detailed inspection of all freight in order to find less obvious, concealed damages.

Strategy 3 - Be thorough on the delivery receipt

Upon delivery, a piece of documentation called the delivery receipt will be presented to the consignee to essentially sign off on the shipment. This serves as legal proof that the load arrived “free and clear”, indicating no damages or loss while moving under the responsibility of the carrier. When marking the delivery receipt, it’s critical to note anything that may seem off or potentially damaged in your shipment. Simply adding that the shipment is “pending further review” on the receipt will not protect you, so it’s especially important to act quickly and thoroughly check for damages at the time of delivery. While reviewing alongside the driver, indicate anything like item counts, broken crates, torn packaging, holes, or stains that may indicate mishandling or tampering.

Oftentimes, these notations will result in an exception. Exceptions are notes on a delivery receipt that indicate anything out of the ordinary, but may not lead to a claim. If packaging is damaged but the product inside is intact, you can rest easy knowing that you have your findings on file. That way, if concealed damages are found on secondary review, you have evidence that something was amiss with the delivery from the start. Finally, be sure when signing the delivery receipt that you have the driver confirm and sign as well.

Strategy 4 - Take plenty of pictures 

The first rule of damage claims is especially important for concealed damages — the more evidence you submit, the more you protect yourself against a denied freight claim. To supplement any documentation you may submit for the claim, it is in your best interest to take pictures or video of different points in the load’s progress, starting with the shipper’s packing procedures. That way, you have the proof that the load was handed off in perfect condition when it was tendered to the carrier. 

Photograph the initial inspection and secondary review. Snap pictures throughout the delivery inspection from start to finish, including unopened boxes, visible damage, as well as photos of packed product once opened. If you find damages, make sure you take photos or video of the found damages from every angle, with and without flash or in different lighting scenarios. Backing up documentation with supplemental pictures of the paperwork noting damages is also helpful to have.

Strategy 5 - Act quickly when filing

A common misconception is that carriers automatically start the claims process when notified of any damages. This is a fatal mistake for your concealed damage claim. In general, concealed damage claims typically need to be filed with the carrier within five days. If filed in that time, you have to prove that it didn’t happen at the destination.  

Knowing you have a very strict timeline when filing your freight claim can make an already tense situation harder to handle. If you work with a 3PL broker, you get some extra help in meeting deadlines for filing and setting up a inspection appointment with the carrier. You’ll also get advice on what documentation you need to be set up for success, as well as advice on other strategies you can use to ensure a full payout.

Strategy 6 - Consider freight insurance options

One of the most important concealed damage claim tips you can follow is to seriously consider outside freight insurance options. Carrier liability is limited, and they will do everything within their power to pay the least amount possible for damaged shipments. Payouts are usually determined by product type and class number, which means even if you follow filing procedures to the letter, you may still receive reimbursement that is nowhere near the complete value of your freight.

By using third-party freight insurance, you are covered for the full value of your load, regardless of the commodity or class. You  may have more flexibility on filing times and do not have to prove that the damage was caused by the carrier. If your shipment experiences concealed damages, third-party insurance can help alleviate the escalated stress associated with filing for damages found after delivery.

You should remember...

Concealed damage claims are extra tricky, and most carriers count on you making mistakes during inspections and filing so they can avoid pricey payouts. But, you can win concealed damage claims if you follow some key steps that are extra important in the case of hidden damages. PartnerShip experts have had success winning concealed damage claim payouts, and can help guide your filing process from start-to-finish, better ensuring you are compensated for your damaged freight.


Everything You Need to Know About Freight Claims

Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance. What’s the Difference?

July 15, 2021 at 7:42 AMPartnerShip
Liability vs. Freight Insurance Blog PostFreight damage and loss is a reality of shipping. It’s not a matter of if it will happen to you; it’s a matter of when. When damage or loss occurs, your first thought is often, “how will I be compensated?” To answer the question, you need to understand the difference between carrier liability and freight insurance.


Carrier Liability

Every freight shipment is covered by some form of liability coverage, determined by the carrier. The amount of coverage is based on the commodity type or freight class of the goods being shipped and covers up to a certain dollar amount per pound of freight. 

In some cases, the carrier liability coverage may be less than the actual value of the freight. It’s common to see liability restricted to $0.25 per lb. or less for LTL or $100,000 for a full truckload. Also, if your goods are used, the liability value per pound will be significantly less than the liability value per pound of new goods. Liability policies can vary, so it’s very important to know the carrier’s liability for freight loss and how much is covered before you arrange your freight shipment.

Freight damage and loss is a headache. In order to receive compensation, a shipper must file a claim proving the carrier is at fault for the damaged or lost freight. Carrier liability limitations include instances where damage is due to acts of God (weather related causes) or acts of the shipper (the freight was packaged or loaded improperly). In these cases, the carrier is not at fault. Additionally, if damage is not noted on the delivery receipt, carriers will attempt to deny liability. 

If the carrier accepts the claim evidence provided by the shipping customer, then they will pay for the cost of repair (if applicable) or manufacturing cost, not the retail sell price. The carrier may also pay a partial claim with an explanation as to why they are not 100% liable. The carrier will try to decrease their cost for the claim as much as possible.   

Freight Insurance

Freight insurance (sometimes called cargo insurance or goods in transit insurance) does not require you to prove that the carrier was at fault for damage or loss, just that damage or loss occurred. Freight insurance is a good way to protect your customers and your business from loss or damage to your freight while in transit. There is an extra charge of course, and it is typically based on the declared value of the goods being shipped. Most freight insurance plans are provided by third-party insurers.

As mentioned earlier, your freight might have a higher value than what is covered by carrier liability, such as shipping used goods. Another example is very heavy items. Carrier liability may only pay $0.25 per pound for textbooks that have a much higher value. This is a great example of when freight insurance is extremely helpful in the event of damage or loss.

Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance in the Claims Process

If your freight is only covered by carrier liability coverage:

·         Your claim must be filed within 9 months of delivery

·         The delivery receipt must include notice of damage

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

·         The carrier has 30 days to acknowledge your claim and must respond within 120 days

·         Carrier negligence must be proven

If your shipment is covered by freight insurance:

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

·         Claims are typically paid within 30 days

·         You are not required to prove carrier negligence

Deciding which option is best for your shipment

Anything that comes at an added cost needs to be evaluated critically and freight insurance is no different. There are a few things to consider as you weigh the potential cost and risk of damage and loss versus the cost and benefit of insurance. You'll need to think about the commodities you're shipping, how time critical your shipment is, and if you'd be able to weather the financial burden that comes with a denied or delayed claim payout. 

Understanding your carrier's liability coverage and knowing the ins and outs of freight insurance can be tricky. If you have questions like “how much does freight insurance cost?” or “what does freight insurance cover?” the team at PartnerShip can help

If you want to learn more about the freight claims process, check out our comprehensive guide.

Claims White Paper

5 Times The Lowest Freight Quote Won't Work For You

July 8, 2021 at 1:50 PMJen Deming
If you're keeping LTL costs low by shopping for great freight rates, you're doing a pretty good job of shipping smarter. But here's a curveball: there's a few specific scenarios where the lowest quote might do more harm than good for your load. Our newest video covers five key instances where you may want to rethink that cheap quote and pay just a bit more for better service. 


Your No-Nonsense Guide to Dimensional Weight Pricing

June 28, 2021 at 11:23 AMLeah Palnik

If you regularly ship with UPS or FedEx, you’ve likely encountered dimensional (DIM) weight pricing whether you realized it or not. Essentially it’s a way for the carriers to charge you more for larger, but lighter, packages. And if you’re not careful, it can drive up your costs significantly.

What is dimensional weight pricing?
Dimensional weight pricing is a way to rate your packages based on density in relation to weight. What that means is that instead of rating your package purely based on its actual weight, it also takes into account how much space your package takes up on the carriers’ delivery vehicles.

How do you calculate dimensional weight pricing?
Luckily for you, we have a DIM weight calculator you can use. But if you’re curious about the formula behind it, it’s fairly simple. Start by calculating the cubic size of your package – multiply length by width by height. Then take that total and divide it by 139, which is the dimensional divisor determined by FedEx and UPS. If the resulting DIM weight is higher than your actual weight, the DIM weight becomes the weight you’ll be rated on – otherwise known as your billable weight.

DIM Weight Calculation

Let’s look at a couple simple examples. If you have a 12x12x12 box, the dimensional weight will be 12 lbs. So if you’re shipping 15 lbs. of books, your package will be rated based on the actual weight of 15 lbs. But if you’re shipping 5 lbs. of ping pong balls, your package will be rated based on the DIM weight of 12 lbs. since it’s the higher weight.

Why is dimensional weight pricing used?
UPS and FedEx want to discourage shippers from using unnecessarily large packaging, and there is one main reason for this. The larger your package is, the more space it occupies on their planes and trucks. This in turn, leaves less room for other packages. UPS and FedEx make more money and work far more efficiently if they’re able to fill up their delivery vehicles with more packages.

The history of dimensional weight pricing
Once upon a time, not all shipments were subject to DIM weight pricing. The DIM factor that FedEx and UPS use has also changed over time – and not in a way that’s favorable to shippers. While the DIM weight formula and shipment qualifications have remained steady for a few years now, there’s no guarantee that it’ll stay that way. Let this be a lesson on how important it is to stay alert on any announced changes from both carriers.

How do you avoid overpaying due to dimensional weight pricing?
The most important thing you should be doing to avoid DIM weight pricing is right-sizing your packaging. You need to consider both the size of the item you’re shipping and also how fragile it is. Items that are at a greater risk of damage will need more cushioning, which will take up more space. Try to find packaging that allows enough room for the needed cushioning, but no more. The smaller you can make your package, while still keeping your item safe, the better.

There are a few resources available that you can use to find the right packaging for the items you’re shipping. UPS has a Packaging Advisor tool on their website that allows you to select your merchandise category and enter your dimensions to get customized packaging and cushioning guidelines.

FedEx also has a number of packaging guides based on the type of item you’re shipping. But beyond that, FedEx even has a Packaging Lab where you can send your packaging in for durability testing or request a design consultation to improve the efficiency of your packaging. Many of the services are free if you have an account.

Keeping your small package costs low
While ensuring you have efficient packaging to avoid DIM weight pricing is one way to help reduce your shipping costs, another is securing discounts with the carriers. That can be difficult for small and medium sized businesses to negotiate on their own. However, when you work with PartnerShip you can access savings that are typically reserved for high volume shippers. Contact our team to learn more.

DIM Weight Infographic

The Top 4 Reasons Your Freight Is Late

June 22, 2021 at 4:19 PMJen Deming

Despite the very best of intentions, sometimes your freight delivery may be running a little behind. Though not every contributing factor is within your control, there are some tips you can take to lessen the impact of delay in these common scenarios.

Freight Delay Infographic

Welcome to Our Newest Employees!

June 16, 2021 at 2:02 PMJen Deming
Here at PartnerShip, we truly value our team members and put a strong emphasis on connectivity between staff. During the past year, working remotely has made it more challenging to maintain our culture, but that hasn't changed our commitment to supporting each other. We recently brought on six new staff members and while we get to know them, we thought you'd also like to help us welcome them to the team! Learn more about these new faces of PartnerShip below. 

Bianca Pate

What do you like to do in your free time?

I collect tropical houseplants and have a vegetable garden. I also spend a lot of time making macrame art, sketching, reading and going hiking.

Do you have any nicknames?

All of my friends call me Bea.

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

Say It Ain't So - Weezer

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Every few months my partner and I drive to Asheville, NC to go hiking. It’s my favorite place, so it’s always the best to get away in the mountains.

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

My favorite coworker from one of my past jobs says I am great at talking to people and meeting them where they are at.


Mary Anne

What do you like to do in your free time?

Walk the park with my dog Bella and visit with my grandbabies.

Do you have any nicknames?

Yes, Grace.

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

Don't have one.

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Visiting my grandbabies in West Virginia.

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

My outgoing personality!


Rae Millican

What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend my free time having fun with my two daughters. I also enjoy collecting really old books and doing activities outside around the bay.

Do you have any nicknames?

Rae Rae

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

Alice in Chains – Man in the Box

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Best Scenery: Lake Louise (Banff National Park). Most Fun: Italy/New Orleans/Key West

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

My helpful attitude.


JT McDonald

What do you like to do in your free time?

I race Motocross, play guitar, play with my dogs Ryder & Sophie and try out new recipes

Do you have any nicknames?

JT is a nickname that was given to me when I was about a week old. My full name is John Thomas but my Dad’s name is also John. A week in my parents realized that calling me John would be confusing and John Thomas was too long so JT was what they settled on and I’ve gone by that since.

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

One Headlight - The Wallflowers

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Waikoloa Hawaii. Such a beautiful place with great beaches, volcanos to explore and amazing food.

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

My ability to wear many hats and take on any project.


Paris Thomas

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to catch up on my reading in my free time.

Do you have any nicknames?

No nicknames.

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

Return of the Mack - Mark Morrison

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Dominican Republic - when I was married.

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

I'm very aware of my surroundings and I'm always willing to learn.


Paris Thomas

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my children.

Do you have any nicknames?

No.

What is your favorite 90s Jam?

Wonderwall - Oasis

What's the best vacation you've been on?

Universal Studios.

What do your colleagues say is your best attribute?

Kindness.

Pallet Packing Mistakes to Avoid

June 10, 2021 at 10:21 AMLeah Palnik
Pallet Packing: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pallet packing isn’t something you can take lightly. One wrong move and the whole shipment could lose strength and stability – risking damage to your freight. Rather than conducting your own experiments, check out these common pallet packing mistakes so you know what to avoid.

Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong pallet
Pallet packing begins at the very foundation of your shipment – the pallet itself. It may be tempting to reuse old pallets for your shipments but if you’re not looking out for structural integrity, you could be in trouble. Avoid using pallets with broken boards or protruding nail heads.

Using an alternative material pallet can also cause some issues. Wooden pallets are the standard, but pallets made from metal, plastic, and corrugated materials have all entered the market. However, not all pallets are created equal. These pallets are good alternatives for certain specialized needs, but issues like weight, movement, and pallet strength make them not suitable for all types of freight. Before you consider swaying from wooden pallets, make sure to do your research.

Mistake #2: Not properly packing individual boxes
Before you can stack your pallet, you need to pack your individual boxes or cartons. Even if your boxes are secure on the pallet, the contents inside the cartons can shift. Leaving excess space and not providing proper impact protection is a common mistake that many shippers make. Start by right-sizing your boxes – leave just enough room for the product and the needed impact protection. Anything more is wasted space that you will need to fill with cushioning like paper pad or packing peanuts.

Mistake #3: Stacking inadequately
You may think that the way you stack your cartons is just about making it fit on your pallet. However, neglecting to follow certain best practices that increase strength can be a fatal mistake. During pallet packing, not evenly distributing weight and not placing the heaviest boxes at the bottom is a quick way to increase your risk of damage. Using pallets that are too small and thus leaving overhang is also a common mistake that will make your freight vulnerable.

The stacking patterns you use when packing your pallet are also extremely important. One of the biggest offenders is pyramid stacking. This kind of pallet packing pattern leaves the cartons at the top at greater risk of being damaged and makes the load less secure. When possible, an aligned column pattern is best. Stacking your pallet in a way that ensures it is level and flat will put you in the best position to avoid damage.

Mistake #4: Skimping on stretch wrap
If you don’t currently use a stretch wrap machine, you want to make sure your manual wrapping technique is up to par. There are a couple common mistakes to look out for. First, make sure you’re wrapping around the pallet enough. You should be making at least 5 wraps around the entire shipment. Second, twisting the wrap is something that is often overlooked. You should twist the wrap every other rotation to increase the durability.

Mistake #5: Not labeling correctly
After you go through all that work of ensuring you’ve packed your pallet in a way that reduces its risk of damage, you don’t want to run into issues just because you neglected to label your shipment properly. One label is not enough. You want to make sure the shipping label is on each side of your pallet, with the consignee information clearly visible.

Pallet packing may seem simple, but these missteps can create complicated issues. If you’ve discovered that you’ve made any of these common mistakes and want to learn more about packaging best practices, download our free white paper!

The Ultimate Guide to Packaging Your Shipments

How a 3PL Can Help You Dodge Food Distribution Challenges

May 26, 2021 at 10:06 AMJen Deming
Food Distribution Blog Post Image

Every industry has its own unique shipping challenges, and these issues aren’t always avoidable. We work with many food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, and constantly see a pattern of reoccurring obstacles within the industry. Working with food distribution centers can help gain brand exposure and increase reach of your product, but there are very specific transportation issues associated with these locations. Familiarizing yourself with what you can expect of distribution centers and how a 3PL like PartnerShip can help ease the process can help to lessen headaches and ensure your transportation goes smoothly.

If you’ve been in business for a while, names like UNFI, KEHE, Sysco, are probably all familiar to you as common food commodity distributors. Working with big name companies like these can help manage your supply chain efficiently, fulfill customer orders, and expand your product to a multitude of retail locations quickly. No matter the type of distribution center, all run a very tight ship that doesn’t allow much room for error. What you need to know is that while these places are convenient for exposure and expansion, they pose serious operational complications if you aren’t aware of challenges beforehand. Let’s take a look at how a 3PL can help with the major challenges in working with food distribution centers.

3PLs help navigate restricted hours of delivery and pick-up

Because food distribution centers are working with an innumerable amount of deliveries from various businesses, managing incoming shipments from manufacturers is very complex and requires a lot of communication. Most food distributors require a very small window for deliveries, including early morning or late evening receiving hours. This helps to manage congestion and traffic at receiving docks and expedites the process so trucks can unload and be on their way. If you’ve ever shipped to a tradeshow and experienced strict timelines for arrival, it works much in the same way with distribution centers. If your truck arrives at a distribution center outside the window of delivery, it is likely to be refused and will acquire detention or redelivery/late fees. 

Because there is so much involved in communicating with the distribution center, knowing appropriate delivery hours, and tracking your shipment, working with a 3PL can help alleviate some of that responsibility. Freight experts at a quality 3PL know what to look out for, and can help verify hours and help coordinate with your carrier.

A 3PL can help sort out carrier preferences

Shipping food and beverage commodities is innately more challenging than other products because regulations, certifications, and other considerations are major factors influencing the process. Food-grade carriers undergo a rigorous vetting process with the FDA, and need to meet certain safety and security requirements in order to ship their product. Because of this, some food distribution centers require or prefer specific carriers for inbound and outbound shipments that they know meet these standards.

Because these carrier preferences can change within a distributor’s network, and aren’t always disclosed prior to arranging a shipment, doing research beforehand is of utmost importance. Making sure the distribution center you are shipping to has a preferred carrier whose services align with your business needs is an important part of the supply chain relationship. Keeping track of this can be challenging, and working with a 3PL who is both familiar with the unique needs of your business and requirements of top distribution centers can help ease the process.

3PLs will set up any appointment requirements

Another major caveat to watch out for in working with big-name food distributors and warehouses is appointment requirements for delivery or pick-up. In addition to restricted operating hours, these locations will often require an appointment to be scheduled for the arrival of the freight carrier. This needs to be arranged prior to scheduling the pick-up from your shipper location, and the responsibility falls on the carrier or vendor. 

Often, these locations manage appointment scheduling via online portals, and require important information like a PO number, delivery location address, carrier name and number, and shipment descriptions like weight, size, and commodity. Having all of this information and documentation on-hand can help make the process much easier. If you’re managing several shipments at once, it can get complicated, and working with a 3PL can help make sure you have all the information you need, and ensure it’s accurate. Working with a final delivery location or customer is important as well, and communicating with all parties during the shipment process is crucial to avoid hang-ups, delays, or other issues. Juggling all these variables can be overwhelming, especially when managing other parts of your business. Collaborating with freight experts is a smart way to delegate some of that responsibility.

Quality 3PLs will keep an eye out for sort and seg fees 

In addition to the aforementioned challenges that come with shipping to and from a food distribution center, there’s an important accessorial fee associated with these locations. Sort and segregation fees are charges applied when the consignee, the food distributor, needs the driver to break down the pallets and divide up the product. The shipment is often separated based on SKU, commodity, weight break, delivery destination, or a variety of other factors. Because standard freight services do not include driver assist with loading or unloading deliveries, this extra step will result in higher charges on your invoice because it is labor-intensive and may result in delays for the driver. 

Consulting with a 3PL on shipments going to and from food distribution centers and warehouses is the best way to gather information on delivery requirements before you ship. Because these fees can accumulate rapidly and end up costly, working with brokers who have strong relationships with their freight carriers may help in reducing costs through discounted accessorials and special freight rates. Knowing if the distribution center has these requirements can help you prepare for higher fees and you can work that into your budget before you get hit with a bill that’s higher than you expected.

PartnerShip can help

Shipping to a food distribution center can result in many obstacles an everyday freight shipper has never seen before. Working with a quality 3PL, like PartnerShip, you gain an entire fleet of experts that know what issues to look out for before they become problems for your food and beverage shipments. 

Advantages of a 3PL White Paper CTA

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
ALT TEXT FOR IMAGE

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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