Machinery Transportation: How to Get the Best Rate

August 8, 2019 at 10:30 AMJen Deming
Machinery Transportation: How to Get the Best RateMachinery transportation is a tricky endeavor that often presents shippers with a unique set of challenges outside of what is “normal” for a standard freight haul. Because larger, heavy machinery may need specific requirements in order to ensure safe transit, it’s important for shippers to be able to determine the proper equipment for the task. Being able to sort out which equipment type works best for your load can also keep costs where they need to be, so that you’re not overspending on a specialized piece of equipment you don’t really need.

Why trucking equipment matters for your machinery transportation

The variety of heavy hauling equipment used in machinery transportation can vary greatly depending on size, maximum weight capacity, structural components, and materials. Certain types of heavy haul equipment work exclusively with pickup and delivery locations that have docks. Others are built to be flexible in order to fit a variety of different loading and unloading needs for places with limited options like construction sites. It’s important for shippers to keep in mind that the more specialized the piece of equipment, the more time needs to be built into quoting and finding an available truck. It’s also likely that the haul may be more costly. Determining certain factors about the machinery you are planning to ship can help you choose which piece of specialized equipment may make sense the most sense for your load.

Types of equipment to consider for your machinery transportation:

  1. Best for the budget-minded but flexible: Flatbeds/extendable flatbeds
    Flatbeds are some of the most common types of trailers used in truckload shipping and are extremely versatile for a wide variety of haul types, especially for machinery transport. They have a maximum weight limit of 48,000 lbs. Dimensionally, the maximum width and height for legal operation is 8.5 feet. A shipment can be wider, or stacked higher, but over dimensional rules and restrictions will apply. 

    A major drawback to the standard flatbed is that it is typically raised 60 inches off the ground. This means that either a forklift or a crane will need to be used to load and unload freight. So, if your equipment can be broken down and disassembled for transport, this is your least expensive and most readily-available option. 

    It’s important to keep in mind that flatbeds are open air trailers. This means your load will be exposed to the elements. Depending on the type of machinery you are moving, tarps and straps may be needed for protection. Most flatbed drivers do have these items available, but it’s critical to note that at the time of your request. 

    Another type of flatbed option is an extendable deck. This type of equipment is essentially a flatbed trailer that can be expanded to carry longer shipments. The most common size is a 48 foot flatbed that is expandable to 60 feet. If you are shipping a piece of machinery that is extra-long or in multiple pieces, this would be a great option for your load.


  2. Best for extra tall loads: Step deck
    A step deck trailer is very similar to a standard flatbed, but the addition of a tiered upper and lower deck creates two levels in order to accommodate for taller cargo. The shorter upper deck is typically 11 feet in length and can fit 8.5 feet in height. The longer lower deck is 37 feet in length and can accommodate up to 10 feet in height. It’s important to note width requirements are the same as a standard flatbed. If you are shipping a piece of equipment over 9 feet in height, it would make sense to look at a step deck trailer option. These types of trailers often have ramps for unloading, and may be safer for forklift pickup since they are closer to the ground.

  3. Best for loads that need security and versatility: Conestoga
    This trailer option combines the security benefits of a standard three-sided dry van trailer with the versatility of a flatbed trailer’s loading and unloading options. Drivers can side load with cranes or forklifts the same way they would with a flatbed, but don’t need to struggle with tarps and straps for protection from the weather and elements during transit. Another added benefit to the Conestoga retractable tarp system is individual access to any part of a load during transit, making multiple drops easier should your shipment need delivery at multiple locations. These trailers also come in a step deck version which are useful for especially tall pieces of equipment. Conestoga trailers aren’t necessarily a standard part of every fleet, so they can be difficult to find and the price may reflect that depending on spot rate trends.

  4. Best for extra tall, over dimensional loads: Lowboy/Double drop trailer
    As one of the most common trailer types for construction equipment loads, lowboy trailers are especially suited for machinery transport. They can haul from 40,000 to 80,000 lbs. depending on the amount of axles on the trailer. These trailers have a maximum 12 foot freight height and overall load height of 14 feet, making them particularly useful for very large equipment. If the load is over dimensional, it’s important to note that they may require additional permits depending on sizes of the load and state regulations within the transit.

  5. Best for very large, drive-on equipment: RGN (Removable Gooseneck Trailer)
    A removable gooseneck trailer is the most convenient option for machinery transportation, especially for the large pieces of equipment such as cranes, excavators, or other large pieces of construction equipment. The front of the trailer detaches, allowing it to be lowered to ground level to create a ramp. This means loads can be driven onto the trailer, either by operating the machinery itself or via forklifts moving smaller pieces of equipment. Maximum freight weight is 42,000 lbs. but can be up to 80,000 lbs. depending on the number of additional axles. Maximum freight height is 11.6 feet and width is the standard 8.5 feet, but there are “stretch” options too for longer loads. If either the pickup or delivery location need to drive equipment on, this is the option for you. But, because this is the ultimate specialized piece of equipment that offers the greatest flexibility, it’s most likely to be the least cost-effective option.

Machinery transportation can be a complicated process, so it’s very important for shippers to be informed in order to get the best rate. Variables such as height, width, and length of your load all impact what trailer type you need. Available options to the loading and unloading team, such as loading dock height and forklift assistance, all impact whether you need a simple flatbed, or a more sophisticated piece of equipment such as an RGN. If you have a truckload shipment and need assistance to find a reliable carrier with a specialty trailer, contact PartnerShip or get a free quote!

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Vendor Prepaid versus Inbound Collect Shipping

July 24, 2019 at 8:16 AMLeah Palnik

One of the simplest and easiest ways to immediately cut your inbound freight costs is to change your shipping terms from "prepaid and add" to "collect." Having your vendor or supplier ship collect on your recommended carrier eliminates any handling charges, thus saving you money.

When you gain more control over your inbound shipping, you can save on small package and freight shipments coming into your business every day. As the buyer and receiver of the goods, you can and should designate the carrier and arrange for shipping charges to be billed directly to you at your discounted rate. This is called routing shipments inbound "collect." Collect is a billing option, in which you are invoiced by the carrier. It does not mean paying the driver at the time of delivery.

In general, there are many benefits to having your inbound shipments routed collect. First, it usually saves a lot of money. But even if you don't have as aggressive freight deals as your vendor, their handling markup could be a lot higher than your freight deal.

Shipping inbound collect also reduces the number of carriers from different suppliers arriving at your receiving dock every day. When you control the routings, you control how many trucks deliver to your door. That also makes it easier to maximize your staff's efforts.

There may be some cases where your supplier's prepaid freight can actually benefit you. First, some suppliers do not add any fees for handling, and freight is just a pass-through. In this instance, you may want to continue having your supplier pay the freight to save some time and money. But if you are trying to consolidate the number of trucks at your dock, and increase the control you have over inbound shipping, it might still be worth routing by your carrier, even if it will cost you more.

Another example of where inbound prepaid may continue to make sense is if your supplier has poor packaging. If you have a supplier that ships a high-value product with suspect packaging, you may want them to prepay and add the freight. Even if they are charging a premium for freight, you do not want to deal with the hassle if that shows up at your door damaged. You will be much better off refusing it and letting your supplier deal with the claims process if there are any damage issues.

Conclusion

Taking control of your inbound shipping may take a little work, but the final payoff is reducing your overall inbound freight spend. If you're ready to take control of your inbound shipping and you're not sure where to start, PartnerShip has the process, tools, and experience to help.

  • We can provide a complete, inbound freight analysis to help you determine where you can save additional money on your inbound shipping
  • We provide simple inbound supplier/vendor management forms making it easy to choose which vendors you use most frequently
  • We create updated routing requests and shipping instructions and then we contact your vendors on your behalf
  • We maintain great relationships with the common suppliers in the industry to gain routing compliance
  • We can provide inbound shipment visibility reports so you know exactly what was shipped to you and by whom
  • We consolidate and audit all of your inbound freight bills so you can enjoy the simplicity of a single invoice 

Contact PartnerShip today and take control of your inbound shipping!


How to Accept Freight and Handle Claims

Why Shippers Should Care About the CVSA Roadcheck

June 3, 2019 at 8:48 AMLeah Palnik
Why shippers should care about the CVSA roadcheck

Coming to a highway near you, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck will take place June 4-6. On average, 17 trucks will be inspected every minute in Canada, the United States, and Mexico during the 72-hour period. The CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection and could render trucks out of service or place drivers out of service for violations. In fact, nearly 12,000 trucks and buses were placed out of service last year.

Both the drivers and their vehicles are put through a 37-step inspection which includes checking items such as the braking system, securement of cargo, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, lights, tires, wheels and rims, and other critical components. Each year, the CVSA places special emphasis on a specific category of violations. This year’s focus will be on steering and suspension systems due to their importance to highway safety.

Drivers and their trucks are subject to these same inspections year-round, but the International Roadcheck event brings a significant increase in inspections that has a notable ripple effect.

What can shippers expect?

  • Capacity will tighten which will likely increase freight rates. Many smaller carriers and owner operators will take the days off to avoid the potential hassle. This can make it more difficult for shippers to find trucks during this time – driving up the load-to-truck ratio and therefore driving up rates.
  • Delivery times will be affected. Not only do all of these inspections take time, but some loads may be delayed if drivers are pulled out of service due to violations. Even something as simple as a cracked windshield could cause a vehicle to be pulled out of service. In general, it’s a good idea to allow for some extra time just to be on the safe side.

Finding a truck during Roadcheck week is easier when you’re working with a quality freight broker like PartnerShip. We’ll help you find the best option and let you know what you can expect. Get a free quote today!

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3 Times You Should Consider Regional Freight Carriers

May 14, 2019 at 11:00 AMJen Deming
3 Times You Should Consider a Regional Carrier

Most shippers are familiar with the large network of national freight carriers commonly seen on the road, but regional freight carriers tend to be a little less recognizable. While larger freight carrier organizations have many benefits, including a sizable service area and the resources to have a large pool of available trucks, many shippers are not aware of the lesser-known benefits associated with using smaller local or regional carriers. In order to make smart shipping decisions, it's important for shippers to weigh the advantages of working with different types of carriers. Consider whether they may make sense for you, so that you're getting a service that best accommodates your business. 

When using a regional freight carrier makes sense: if you don't need to ship far to reach your customers

In terms of size, regional freight carriers operate in a smaller, more concentrated geographic territory than national carriers. Typically, the trucks are traveling 500 miles or less, though there are several companies that service larger areas or specific lanes. These carriers territories tend to fall into one of two categories: multi-state lanes or local transportation that operates within a certain city lines or borders. Examples of regional freight carriers include PITT OHIO, Dayton Freight, and AAA Cooper

If your business is shipping mostly to local customers that are located within state, or even in the same general geographic area of the U.S. (Southwest, Great Lakes, Northeast, etc.), you may want to consider using a regional carrier. Because these carriers aren't servicing larger cross-country lanes, they tend to have shorter hauls since they are delivering locally. This may limit where you can ship to, but keep in mind that there are still larger, national carriers at your disposal. There are many benefits to shorter hauls, as well. Typically, these hauls do not undergo as much loading and unloading at carrier terminals like longer hauls do. This can mean less damage and more on-time deliveries for your freight, ultimately getting you happy customers and better business. Smaller companies can sometimes spend more time focusing on continuing safety and service training. For example, Dayton Freight, a top regional freight carrier, dedicates time and energy pursuing the continued education of its team. In-house programs like "Dayton Freight Academy" to focus on improving and supplementing the skills of drivers and other employees when it comes to safety, truck maintenance, and freight handling. This intentional focus on service at the employee level helps regional freight carriers like Dayton improve the customer experience. 

Also because regional freight carriers specialize in a smaller geographic area, drivers may have greater familiarity with the region in general. They may be much more knowledgeable about things only locals drivers may know, like which complicated delivery addresses are located where, whether they are likely to be classified as a business or residential location, what time of day traffic is most congested, or other route obstacles to avoid. This can help avoid potential pick up and delivery challenges or other issues that may delay a shipment.

When using a regional freight carrier makes sense: if service level is of utmost importance

There are many service benefits in working with regional freight carriers. Due to their smaller size, they can often offer a more personalized class of service that puts a greater emphasis on the customer experience. Because these carriers are working with a smaller customer pool, they often can offer better flexibility and responsiveness when issues come up with a shipment. Many regional freight carriers have smaller corporate offices in local areas which may mean live, reachable customer service teams versus automated service lines. That way, shippers can have more direct contact with local terminals rather than being given the run around by calling a general customer help line. All in all, this may lead to better management of a shipment from pick up to delivery for some shippers who value a high level of customer service. 

When using a regional freight carrier makes sense: if you need to be particularly mindful of your freight spend

Using a regional freight carrier can lower your freight costs, especially if your business needs specialized services, such as liftgates or other accessorials. It's relatively common that regional carriers do not have to pay delivery area surcharges and have fewer accessorial costs and lower minimums than national freight carriers, which means they can pass on these savings through lower prices to shippers. Another benefit associated with working a smaller service area? Next-day or expedited delivery is more reasonable. For example, PITT OHIO, a regional carrier based in the Midwest, offers some of the most expanded next-day lanes in the nation. A small service area means a shorter haul, quicker transit time, and less work overall for the carrier to hasten delivery. Because of that, these expedited shipping costs can be lower than with national carriers.

Finally, because regional freight carriers are also typically smaller organizations, shippers may have more negotiating power when it comes to discounted rates or lowered accessorial fees. Regional carriers are likely to be more flexible in order to compete with the huge volume of business that national carriers naturally pull from the market. 

For some shippers' needs, bigger isn't always better. There are very specific instances when a business may benefit from utilizing a smaller regional or local carrier network over a national carrier company. The first thing to consider is whether your customer base is located in a targeted geographic area. If you're doing business with local customers, and factors like price, service level, and timeliness are important, a regional freight carrier may streamline your shipping procedures. To learn more about the benefits of using a regional carrier, and whether they are right for you, call 800-599-2902 or get a free quote today.  

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Cross-Border Freight Shipping FAQs

April 16, 2019 at 9:42 AMJen Deming
Cross Border Shipping Blog

Shipping to and from Canada can be intimidating for even the most experienced shippers. The good news is that cross-border shipping isn't as hard as you may think it is. Below are some frequently asked questions that we've compiled for your reference when you're gearing up to ship freight cross-border.

What is PARS?

The vast majority of LTL freight and truckload shipments to Canada clear at the border under a process referred to as the Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS). PARS allows review with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in advance of the freight's arrival. The PARS process speeds up customs clearance and alleviates congestion at the border, but in order for this system to work, every party involved (customs broker, importer, and carrier) need to play their part. 

What is a PARS number?          

The PARS number is commonly referenced when setting up PARS clearance and is also commonly referred to as the Cargo Control Number (CCN). The PARS number for all shipments will be the tracking number preceded by the carrier's four digit carrier code. In order to avoid being delayed at the border, a carrier must inform the customs broker of the port of crossing, the ETA, and carrier contact information. 

Can my shipment be PARS accepted and still be bonded or inspected at the border?

Yes. Even though the shipment information has been sent via PARS and accepted by CBSA, Canada customs agents have the right to inspect a shipment.

What is PAPS?

The Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) is the United States equivalent of PARS. PAPS allows customs paperwork for individual shipments to be processed before southbound freight reaches the Canada/U.S. border - facilitating the freight's entry into the U.S.

Where will my shipment cross the border?

Different carriers use different Canada/U.S. Custom gateway locations. Where your specific shipment crosses will depend on its origin and destination. Generally, carriers will list their gateway locations on their website and PartnerShip will use the most direct route for your shipment to meet your delivery expectations.

How long can I expect the transit time to be on cross-border shipments?

While there are occasional delays at the border, mostly caused by volume of traffic, transit times are rarely affected due to border crossings. So, based on the mileage, you can generally expect similar transit times as you would in the U.S. (i.e., <500 miles = 1-2 days, >500 miles = 2-3 days, >1,000 miles = 3-4 days, etc.)

What forms and documentation will I need for my cross-border shipment?

Getting your shipment across the border requires a bit more paperwork than what's required for standard domestic shipping. Luckily, PartnerShip has compiled a list of documents you'll need when shipping from the U.S. to Canada. Those forms can be accessed on PartnerShip.com by logging in and visiting PartnerShip.com/ShippingForms.

What is ACI?

Advance Commercial Information (ACI) is a project of the CBSA. ACI requires that all commercial cargo entering Canada be electronically registered with the Agency prior to arrival at the border. The project's aim is to improve Canada border security and efficiency.

What is ACE?

ACE is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that gives CBP and other participating government agencies the ability to access data throughout the international supply chain to anticipate, identify, track and intercept high-risk shipments at borders and ports. With ACE, carriers are able to file electronic manifests in advance of freight arrival at the customs check point for faster entry into the commerce of the U.S.

What is a FAST certification?

A Free and Secure Trade (FAST) certification is an expedited clearance program between the U.S. and Canada for commercial vehicles. It's intended to ensure safety and security for commercial carriers who meet eligibility criteria and have passed background checks. Benefits of the program include dedicated lanes for quicker border clearance, as well as simplified clearance procedures. Certified carriers can travel through checkpoints as required documents are verified, but trade-related verification can be completed later. 

How much do I pay shipping cross-border?

As with shipping in the U.S., your actual freight charges will depend on many different variables, such as: commodity, weight, fuel, etc.

The importer of record is normally billed by his/her broker for duties and taxes. The customs broker determines duty (if applicable) along with the appropriate taxes and reports those taxes to Customs on the client's behalf.

Where can I get help to work out the details when shipping between the United States and Canada?

The shipping experts at PartnerShip are familiar with the ins-and-outs of cross-border shipping and can help manage the details that leave you bewildered. From paperwork to policies, we make sure you are feeling confident about your cross-border moves so that you can rest easy that your shipment is traveling securely. To learn more about cross-border shipping, call 800-599-2902 or get a quote today.

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

April 3, 2019 at 10:16 AMLeah Palnik
Asset Based vs. Non-Asset Based 3PL: the Major Distinctions

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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6 Considerations for Choosing an LTL Freight Carrier

March 13, 2019 at 8:32 AMLeah Palnik
6 Considerations for Choosing an LTL Carrier

The 25 largest U.S. less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers collectively brought in $34 billion in revenue in 2017. That is a staggering number and a 7.8% increase over the previous year. When the numbers are in for 2018, don’t be surprised to see another healthy rise. As the largest LTL carriers continue to command more of the overall marketplace, shippers must be resourceful when looking to source LTL freight services so as to not get squeezed on price due to the number of market players. Shippers should take the following six factors into consideration when finding the most efficient LTL freight services.

  1. Transit Times - How fast do you need to get your shipment to your customer, or to receive your shipment from your vendor? Long-haul carriers tend to have slower transit times in regional lanes, while regional and multi-regional carriers are much faster in these lanes, but may not provide service in longer haul lanes.
  2. Geographic Coverage - Once you get beyond the top 10 LTL carriers, most of the remaining players provide only regionalized direct pickup and delivery services. Understanding carrier coverage areas helps you optimize which carriers are best suited for the service.
  3. Service Performance - On time pickup and delivery performance is not always the same. Often this depends on where your business is located relative to the nearest freight terminals. Long-haul carriers traditionally have been known to provide lower delivery reliability, while regional carriers tend to provide reliability in a higher range. Almost all of the LTL carriers will guarantee delivery or provide deliveries that are "faster than standard" for additional fees.
  4. Liability Coverage - The amount of liability coverage you receive can vary and is set by the carrier. It’s not uncommon to see liability restricted to $0.25 per lb. or less, which means shippers need to be diligent about understanding their options. Especially if the liability coverage doesn’t meet the actual value of the freight.  
  5. Financial Stability - Most of the remaining LTL carriers in the industry are pretty stable from a financial standpoint. However, there are a few carriers that continue to struggle with profitability and debt issues. Anyone who may recall when industry behemoth Consolidated Freightways closed its doors in 2002 will understand the importance of not having your freight in the hands of a financially unstable carrier. 
  6. Pricing Factors - Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for many small business, is price. When working with an LTL freight carrier, there are many factors that will determine your true cost of transportation. These include:
    • Discounts, base rates, and net price 
      Most LTL carriers provide pricing in the form of discounts off of base rates, which will vary by carrier. So, a 68% discount from one carrier might actually be less expensive than a 70% discount from another. The main point to consider when comparing LTL carriers is not what the discount or the base rates are, but rather what is the final net price to you.

    • Minimum charge  
      Generally a flat fee under which the carrier will not discount its price. Some carriers offer big discounts, but set the minimum charge high which may result in less of a discount on smaller weighted shipments than you anticipated.

    • Freight classification 
      There are 18 different freight classes ranging from 50 to 500. These classes are based on the density of your product and will definitely impact your overall price.

    • FAK provisions 
      If negotiated, "freight-all-kinds" provisions may allow you to ship products with different classes under a single class from a pricing standpoint. 

    • Weight 
      How much your shipment weighs will play a significant role in how your rate is calculated. Keep in mind that carriers will use hundredweight pricing, which means that the more your shipment weighs, the less you'll pay per hundred pounds.

    • Accessorial fees 
      Extra services performed by the carrier generally add additional fees to your overall freight bill. The fees that carriers charge for these services can often be radically different so it's important to educate yourself. 

There are other factors not mentioned above that need to be considered when choosing an LTL freight carrier as well, such as equipment specifications (e.g., liftgate, trailer size, etc.), scheduling flexibility, and tracking capabilities, to name a few. It's easy to see why, what may seem like a simple service of picking up a shipment and delivering it, is often more complex than meets the eye.

Generally speaking, there is almost never just one LTL freight carrier that fits every need you may have. Unless you have spare time on your hands, your best bet is to work with an established freight broker like PartnerShip that can do the heavy lifting for you so that you can stay focused on running your business.

Need some help evaluating your freight shipping? Need help finding the right LTL freight carriers? Let PartnerShip provide you with a free, no-obligation quote to get you started.

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Truck Driving Trailblazers: Women in Shipping

March 8, 2019 at 7:30 PMJen Deming
Women In TruckingMany of us are familiar with the impact truck shipping has on our day-to-day lives, but few of us are familiar with the women truck drivers who contribute so significantly to the transportation industry. March is Women's History Month and PartnerShip would like to take the opportunity to look at how women have played a part in trucking's past and are currently shaping the future. From the first women who sat behind the wheel, to the movers and shakers changing the shipping industry today, we take a look at the women who help get our stuff where it needs to go.

Riding West with Annie Neal

Stagecoach and horse-drawn freight wagons, often hauling bullion and other high-value supplies heading west from the east, were a very early predecessor to the modern trucking industry. A notable husband-wife team, Annie Neal and her husband William often ran routes together, taking turns driving the teams of horses or acting as load security. Annie is often credited with being one of the earliest female "freight haulers" and helped pave the way for women drivers of the future.

A Shift in Responsibility

Horse-drawn modes of transportation were being retired through the beginning of the 20th century, and engine-powered trucks evolved as a reliable, efficient mode preferred by most freight carriers. As World War I broke, the first utility trucks were being used to haul medical equipment as well as injured soldiers to and from the battlefront, oftentimes being driven and loaded by women medical attendants and nurses. The onset of the first World War set the tone for a female-dominated industry while men were otherwise occupied and away fighting.

Luella Bates - Mechanic, Operator, Spokesperson

The early 1900's also saw the need for women to fill long-haul freight positions left by men who reported for duty. Luella Bates was one of about 150 women hired as test drivers for new truck prototypes by Four Wheel Drive Auto Company. These women tested safety, security, and overall mechanical soundness of these vehicles, logging many hours under various weather conditions and road types. When the men returned, Luella stayed on, acting as a demonstrator, mechanic, and driver, often touring across the United States for truck model launches and safety demos. She was often used in advertisements and as a consultant for dealerships throughout the remainder of her career, and used her public platform to generate excitement and interest among fellow female truck drivers.

Lillie Drennan - the First Licensed Truck Driver

Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan was another huge force in the history of women truck drivers. After starting a trucking company with her husband William Drennan in 1917, Lillie played a huge part in the training and recruiting of additional drivers. After divorcing in 1929, Lillie took control as sole owner of the trucking company, and also began driving trucks in order to expand and grow the business herself. After an initial denial to receive her own commercial driver's license (CDL), presumably due to a hearing impairment she'd had since she was a child, she successfully won a lawsuit and received the license in 1929. Following that, she continued expanding her successful truck business as a well-known regional owner-operator in East Texas. Lillie became a strong advocate for women's rights and a hero to those living with disabilities. She continued to push for equal opportunities for women in the workplace and helped successfully recruit female drivers during World War II.

Driving the War Effort

During World War II, Rusty Dow was a truck driver for the U.S. Army Engineers/Alaska Defense Command. In 1944, she became the first woman to drive a fully loaded truck the entire length of the Alaska Highway, completing the 1,560-mile trip in 11 days. During the same period, Mazie Lanham became the first woman driver for UPS in 1943 due to a workforce shortage during the war. Many other women came to follow in her footsteps, earning the nickname "Brown Betties."

Starting a Revolution

In the 1970's, Adriesue "Bitzy" Gomez was a truck driver and a champion of women in the trucking industry. During this formative period in the Women's Movement, she founded the Coalition of Women Truckers, an organization that worked to level the playing field in such a male-dominated industry. Through her efforts, and those of the other 150 members she recruited, Bitzy pushed forward a campaign to hire more female drivers and machinists, fighting for equal opportunity and safety from harassment within the workplace. 

Where are we now?

The truck shipping industry has changed a lot over time, and women are entering the field of transportation more readily than before. But, there's still a lot of catch up to do to even out female representation within this male-dominated industry. The Women in Trucking Association is an organization created with the intention to increase the number of women working in trucking transportation. The WIT has partnered with the National Transportation Institute in order to accurately report the number of women in trucking. While women represent the minority group within the industry, and women only comprise 7% of the available pool of drivers, women are working in over 24% of the management and training roles. 

Where are we headed?

Women drivers are more in demand than ever, especially with the ongoing driver shortage that continues to affect the available pool of carriers. To recruit and entice qualified truckers, male or female, carriers are optimizing current work conditions by upgrading tech, creating new dedicated rest areas, updating equipment to include more comfortable living accommodations for long hauls, and an increase in base pay. Drivers earn pay based on experience and miles, offering a more level compensation playing field than in many other industries and available career opportunities. While women continue to encounter many of the challenges presented since first breaking into the trucking industry, carriers are making it clear that they're wanted - and needed, not only as drivers, but as trainers, recruiters, brand advocates, mechanics, and business owners.

Women have been involved in the transportation industry since wheels first hit the road. As time has passed, the role of these women has evolved, and that role continues to change as needs of the industry adjust to meet the needs of consumers. Throughout the transformation, one thing is for certain - women in trucking continue to play an indispensable and revolutionary part in the future of transportation. If you're a driver, we want you to play that part with us - join our network of partner carriers!


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Freight Class Explained: FAK FAQs

February 27, 2019 at 12:00 PMJen Deming
Freight Class 3 Image

There seems to be an endless number of factors that can affect freight class, and in our last two blog posts, we covered the most significant, including product category, materials, packaging, and density. When we talk freight class with our customers, many shippers ask about a potential or existing FAK (Freight All Kinds) rating, and whether it's getting them the best pricing possible. yes, we're throwing another shipping acronym in the mix. We'll take a look at what it is, which shippers quality, and whether or not it really is right for your business. 

What is an FAK?

An FAK is a class agreement that is established between a carrier and a shipper, allowing the shipper to move multiple products of different classes at one standardized freight class. Essentially, an average class of all the commodities being shipped is determined, and the shipment gets rated at the same class regardless of the product type, making the price fair for both the carrier and the shipper.

How does this differ from a class exception?

A class exception agreement utilizes an umbrella system that may rate a range of actual class items at a lower class. For example,  a business that may ship items classed at 70-200 may be rated at a class 150. Anything above class 200 would ship actual class. A true FAK is extremely rare for a shipper to negotiate with a carrier, as it requires extremely high volume for carriers to determine it worth their while.

How does a carrier determine whether an FAK is possible?

As mentioned above, freight carriers really have a lot of the control and are calling the shots in many parts of the freight industry. A shipper must really be moving a high volume of loads in relatively even amounts in order for lower-classed items to offset higher-classed items, making the compromise worthwhile to the carrier. Originally, when FAK classification agreements were first implemented, they were beneficial to both parties. However, many shippers learned how to manipulate the agreement, shipping risky freight loads at a lower cost, and putting carriers in the hot seat. To combat the misuse of the system, carriers have held back in entering these agreements more now than they used to. 

If you are a rockstar at optimizing the packaging and maneuverability of your high-class freight, taking into consideration density, fragility, and stowability, you have a better shot at obtaining an FAK. Basically, if you can get your freight to operate like a lower class, you may be rewarded with a lower class.

What's the catch?

If anything proves true in freight shipping, it's that nothing is as simple as it seems. An FAK can seem like an awesome idea with a few drawbacks, but even if a shipper does manage to acquire an FAK with a carrier, it doesn't mean it's exclusively beneficial. Keep in mind that carriers are in charge and the parameters in place are pretty much at their discretion. If you are not shipping lots of mixed pallet freight, it just doesn't make sense. Small to medium-sized businesses that have one or two major commodity types won't see the same benefits of an FAK as facilities that are mass producing many types of products would.

If you are typically shipping lower-classed items, keep in mind that your "average" class could potentially be higher than your actual class, because you are essentially increasing your minimum charge. It may save you on the one-off shipment, but it's hurting you in the long run. The same goes for a class exception strategy. Carriers are not likely to be open to lumping any of your shipments of a higher class into this tier, no matter how infrequent they are. Because of this, your tired structure will likely reflect a higher average class, which is essentially over-classing your shipments. 

Another notable consequence of FAK implementation is that carriers will often limit liability on these shipments. In many carrier tariffs, verbiage is in place that the carrier is responsible for the price per pound on the freight class being paid. This is very different from actual class. If you are shipping a high value load at a very low class, even if the damage claim is won, the payout would be minimal compared to the value of the shipment. 

What's my class?

Now that we've gone over how an FAK can affect freight class, let's take a look at an example shipment that would create a difference for shippers with and without an FAK. We can use a hypothetical where we are a shipper with an FAK agreement in place. If the actual freight class of our shipment falls within 70-200, we are rated at 150.

In this example we will be looking at a pallet of popped popcorn, in boxes, measuring 40 x 48 x 52 and weighing 315 lbs. This is a common shipment that would typically be rated as density-based, and would have a high class due to the fact its density is low. We will use ClassIT in order to determine the actual class and compare it versus the FAK. 

With the search tool, we use the keyword "popped popcorn." It's important to note the distinction between popped popcorn and popcorn kernels because popped popcorn is much less dense, and a higher-classed shipment than raw kernels. Our shipment best falls into the Foodstuffs Group, which is a general group of foods, beverages, and other types of non-perishable items that are broken down into many articles usually determined by density:

Popcorn Blog Image 1

In this case, we will use the Snack Foods group, which is broken down into many different subgroups:

Popcorn Blog Image 2

Once more, we have to figure out density. In this example, our shipment density is 5.75 lbs. per cubic foot. It fits under Sub 4, or class 175. This is a pretty high shipment class, and would result in a high freight rate. In our hypothetical example, our FAK would get this actual class 175 shipment rated at a class 150. Dropping to 150 isn't a huge difference for a final freight rate, but should anything happen to the shipment in transit, it could potentially pay out much less than what the actual class would.

FAK is just another added layer to the very complicated topic of freight classes. While they may sound like a great alternative to paying actual class, it's pretty clear that with the current state of the freight shipping industry, carriers are dictating the terms for shippers. FAK agreements are rare, and it's likely they aren't the best option available to lower freight cost anyway. The most important thing for shippers to consider isn't an FAK or even a discount percentage - it's what you are paying for your freight. A qualified freight broker can help alleviate the stress of shopping rates, and make sure you are paying for freight at the class that's right for you.

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Freight Class Explained: Demystifying Density

February 20, 2019 at 8:41 AMJen Deming
Freight Class Density Blog Image So, you've been brushing up on freight class and you're starting to get a hang of how it's determined. In the first part of our freight class series, we learned that packaging, commodity type, and dimensional features all influence the final code that ultimately affects your shipping price. Just when you thought you had a handle on the basics, we're going to throw you a little curveball. Some commodities have an added layer of mystery (and math) when it comes to their class: the density of the overall shipment. Let's sharpen some pencils and get down with density-based freight classifications.

What is density?
First thing's first, density is a method of measurement that relates the weight of your shipment to its dimensions, or pound per cubic foot. Typically, the higher the density, the lower the classification and vice versa. A good example of a high density shipment would be a pallet of bricks. Lower density shipments, or those that take up lots of space but are lightweight, are items such as ping-pong balls. 

Why are some shipments density-based and what are they?
Commodities that are solid, heavy, and take up minimal space are very desirable to pretty much any freight carrier. Using density as a factor in determining freight class and pricing is becoming the new standard, especially as freight demand increases and capacity decreases. Thanks to variables such as a shortage of drivers and strict trucking legislation, carriers are trying to weed out difficult or unprofitable shipments in order to make space for more standardized loads. Time and effort are money in this industry, and carriers are taking control of who they want to ship for

How do you calculate the density of a shipment?
Density is calculated by measuring the height, width, and the depth of the shipment, including skids and packaging. This is multiplied to determine cubic inches. If you have multiple pieces, multiply for each piece and add them together. Then, divide the total cubic inches by 1,728, or the total cubic inches in a foot. The result is the total cubic feet of the shipment's pieces. Divide the weight (in lbs.) of the shipment by the total cubic feet. The result is pounds per cubic foot, or density. 

What is my freight class?
To help you better understand density-based shipments, we will look at a shipment of steel machinery parts, in a crate measuring 42 x 46 x 42 inches and weighing 500 lbs. By using the search function in ClassIT for "machinery parts", we can see a broad grouping for 114000, or the Machinery Group: 

machinery ClassIT Example 1

Through this group, we are directed through sub-articles, where we can find the 133300 group "Machinery or Machines, NOI, or Machinery or Machine Parts, NOI". From there, we can view associated subgroups that refer to density and packaging:

Machinery ClassIT 2 
You may also notice the "NOI" designation for this particular breakdown. "NOI" refers to "not otherwise indicated" and was implemented by the NMFTA for commodities that do not easily fit into existing classifications. Using NOI can be risky, since most products do have a specific freight class. Since "NOI" designations tend to draw attention from carrier inspection teams, it's critical that they are used properly, and that means density must be calculated to determine the subgroup.

In this example, and using the formula listed above, we can determine density using its dimensions and weight.

  1. Multiply the length, width, and height (42 x 46 x42) to get the total cubic inches (81,444).
  2. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 to get the total cubic feet (47).
  3. Divide the weight of the shipment (500 lbs.) by the total cubic feet (47). This will give you a density of 10.65.

Looking at the chart, we see that because of our crated packaging type, the top 4 subgroups are applicable. 10.65 falls under the subgroup 3, or class 92.5. In this class example, it is important that dimensions and weight are accurately measured in order to calculate the true density (and appropriate class) for the shipment. It's also crucial to note once more that packaging makes a huge impact. See how high the classes jump if the product is palletized or in packages other than secure crates or boxes.

LTL services are in higher demand than ever before. National freight carriers are in the driver's seat, and doing what they can to limit troublesome shipments - including those with a low density and high freight class. Once you've optimized your shipments for carriers, many shippers wonder about whether a Freight All Kinds (FAK) agreement may be a worthwhile perk. Next, we'll take a look at what goes into that FAK and if it's right for your business.  The freight specialists at PartnerShip can guide the way so you aren't stuck staring at your calculator, and a high freight bill. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a representative, or get a quote today.

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