Freight Class Explained: Bring on the Basics

February 13, 2019 at 8:27 AMJen Deming
Freight Class Blog Image 1

Freight class is a critical component of shipping your LTL loads. But it's confusing and making a guesstimate is risky business. Your shipment's freight class plays a huge part in from everything from your initial freight rate estimate to your payout for any potential damage claims. How can a little number mean so much?

What is a freight class?

Prior to understanding class number, shippers need to grasp the importance of the NMFC, or National Motor Freight Classification. Every type of product or commodity has a numeric code assigned to identify it within a categorical system, similar to a UPC used within a grocery store. The code also breaks down these products into over-arching groups, which then tell you how to class your product. There are 18 freight classes that range from 50 to 500. Your freight class helps the carrier determine how much to charge for your shipment, along with other factors such as weight and distance traveled, as well as any additional requested services. Typically, the higher the class, the more expensive the subsequent freight rate.  

What factors determine a freight class?

There are four factors that influence the classification of different commodities; each affects the difficulty in transporting the freight and increases the freight class. 

  • Density - The space an item takes up as it relates to weight. The higher the density, the lower the classification. Low density shipments take up a lot of space but weigh less, making the shipment unprofitable to carriers. More classifications are becoming density-based as capacity becomes crunched and larger, less standard types of freight are entering the network to be shipped.
  • Storage/Stowability - This refers to how easily freight can be stored and stacked on the truck, and how much space it takes up. Similar to density, if a shipment is large, oddly-shaped, or difficult to fit in the truck, the load becomes undesirable. .A higher freight class is assigned in order to reflect the added work to fit in the load.
  • Handling - Similar to storage and stowability, the more difficult it is to load and unload a shipment affects freight class. A shipment that requires more creativity and flexibility to load and unload will increase the class.
  • Liability - Carriers assign higher freight classes to "high risk" shipments in order to limit their accountability for those shipments that are more likely to be damaged in transit or have an increased risk for freight theft. If you have high value or fragile products, it will be reflected in a higher freight class to offset that risk.
What is my freight class?

To better understand the differences in freight classes, and how they are determined, looking at a few types of our most commonly shipped commodities can be insightful. As an example, we'll take a look at stone materials. While many shipments of stone are transported via truckload carrier, and don't need a classification listed on the shipping paperwork, there are still many instances where quarries, fabricators, and other stone suppliers need to move smaller loads for shorter distances. 

ClassIT Slate Image 1
In order to help shippers determine freight class, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association has created an online reference tool, ClassIT. The resource is available to shippers with a membership, and it's the primary tool used by PartnerShip shipping specialists. The index can be searched by using a brief description of the commodity. Being too specific, or too vague, can create issues in your search results. Note you can search by including "any word" or "every word" to adjust your results.

Let's say we have a shipment of slate blocks which are in 3 creates that are 4 ft. by 4 ft. and 515 lbs. each. We see two groupings that actually fall into the same Item or NMFC number, which is 90280. This is considered the "Gravel or Stone Group; consisting of gravel, sand, slag, slate, or stone, as described in items subject to this grouping." If we select "Slate Blocks, Pieces or Slabs, NOI" we are brought to the following breakdown of articles. You can see how specific it gets regarding packaging, usage, and dimensions. 

By looking at our shipment of crated slate blocks, we can see that our sample shipment falls under the 90280 Slate Blocks Pieces or Slabs group:

ClassIT Slate Image 2

It goes even further than that, breaking down into subgroups which determine freight class depending on packaging and size. This is why it is imperative to know the precise weight and dimensions of your shipment. In our example, our slate blocks are in crates 48 in. long, which falls under the subgroup 4 - class 65. Compare that to crated slate blocks longer than 96 in., which would be class 85. This is an increase, but shouldn't affect pricing drastically. When packaging type is adjusted, however, the class is increased significantly. By palletizing the slate blocks (subgroup 1), freight class jumps to 250. At this weight, the final freight rate can be raised by hundreds of dollars.

In the Slate Blocks, Pieces or Slabs group, you can also reference three separate notes that are relevant to the details of the shipment:

ClassIT Slate Image 3

These details are notable, because it gives further direction on how best to package your freight for both safety and security. In 90282, the note states that "pieces or slabs 2 in. or less in thickness" must be boxed or crated and marked "fragile." We see more packaging direction in 90283 regarding exposed surfaces and edges and requirement for wrapping and other protection. This is to hopefully limit damage, but shippers must also be mindful that if freight falls within this category, and it is not packaged as directed, a damage claim will likely be denied by the carrier. 

Freight class, in addition to weight and distance traveled, is critical in determining a shipment rate. Specific details relating to product and packaging can greatly affect the NMFC code and final freight class. A shipment of slate blocks may sound simple enough, but things can get a bit more complicated once you start looking at different commodities. Density-based shipments can further befuddle shippers, and understanding these types of classifications is the next type of class breakdown we will tackle. The experts at PartnerShip can lend expertise so you can stop scratching your head. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a representative, or find your freight class online.

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The Best Ways to Become a Shipper of Choice and Why it Matters

February 6, 2019 at 9:20 AMLeah Palnik
The best ways to become a shipper of choice and why it matters

Carriers have more power than ever, which means it’s increasingly important that shippers find ways to make their load more appealing than the next guy’s. Becoming a “shipper of choice” is a great way to get a leg up and ultimately get better access to capacity and reasonable freight rates.

How did we get here? The tight capacity freight market
It's basic economics – the demand for freight services is higher than the current supply of tractor-trailers and drivers. This has been the trend over the past several years, due to a number of factors. For starters, there is a driver shortage. According to ATA’s 2017 Truck Driver Shortage Analysis, the trucking industry was short roughly 36,500 drivers in 2016. The appeal of the open road isn’t what it once was, and not enough qualified drivers are entering the workforce to make up for those who have left or retired.

On top of that, there has been an increase in regulations that have put some constraints on carriers. Hours of services (HOS) rules dictate that truckers can’t drive more than 11 hours a day in a 14 hour period, and thanks to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, enforcement of that rule is harder to get around. As a result there are less trucks available to move your freight. Carriers hold the cards and can be picky about the loads they want and what shippers they’ll work with.

What is a shipper of choice?
Becoming a shipper of choice means that your load, your location, and your business practices are in line with what carriers consider desirable. They want to make sure that they’re protecting their bottom line and not losing precious time. This is a status that is achieved by showing carriers respect and committing to a long term strategy that enables best practices.

Why you should care about becoming a shipper of choice
Being a shipper of choice will help you secure a truck at a competitive rate when you need it most. It used to be true that having a large volume of freight is what makes a shipper desirable to carriers. While that often doesn’t hurt, it’s not enough anymore. If you have a great deal of freight but constantly create headaches for your drivers, they will likely turn elsewhere for business or charge you more.

Carriers are becoming savvier when evaluating whether they should work with a shipper or not. Think about how you use apps like Yelp. It’s now incredibly easy to see if a restaurant has bad service or isn’t worth the cost. Truckers have apps like Dock411 that help them easily communicate and access information about load/unload time, parking, security, dock conditions, and more.

How to become a shipper of choice
Reaching shipper of choice status is not something that you can do overnight. You need to commit to making long term changes that are advantageous to both you and your carriers. Here are a few ways you can achieve this:

  1. Avoid detention time at all costs.
    The last thing you want is to get a reputation for holding up drivers. To them, time is money and it’s important to show that you respect that. HOS rules and the way drivers’ time is strictly tracked through ELDs means that every minute they’re waiting at your dock is taking away from the time they could be earning on the road.

    According to a survey conducted by DAT, most carriers consider detention a serious problem and the majority of them rank it in the top five challenges facing their business. Making sure you’re able to load or unload within the 2 hour window is a good way to keep your driver happy and be a shipper of choice.

  2. Be flexible with pick-ups and deliveries.
    When you require a strict appointment time, truckers can’t maximize their time on the road. Also, limiting your hours to weekdays forces drivers to travel during the most heavily trafficked times. By opening up options for your carrier, you increase the chances of your load being covered. And when you make this the rule, rather than the exception, you’re more likely to become a shipper of choice.

    In lieu of strict appointments times, you could request pick-up or delivery by a particular day and allow for early arrival. If that doesn’t work for you, you might consider moving from appointment times to a window of time. Being open on off-peak hours and during the weekend also will open up your access to capacity.

  3. Provide parking options.
    Thanks to the HOS rules and ELD mandate, drivers have to be efficient at managing their time. However, as you know, there are a number of factors that can cause them to be tied up including traffic, roadside inspections, and maintenance. If they hit their hours while at your dock, it can be a major risk for them to drive to the next available rest stop.

    Allowing drivers to park at your location or having an option nearby can be a major plus. It also shows that you care about the challenges they’re up against. While this may fall more in the “nice to have” category, having parking available could make the difference when carriers evaluate if they want to cover your load over another shipper’s load.

  4. Make sure your location is safe and easy to access.
    One major component that carriers take into account is ease of access. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a location that doesn’t have sufficient space for a truck to maneuver easily or has hazards that make it difficult to navigate.

    You might not be able to change where you’re located, but shippers of choice will make it a point to eliminate any potential obstacles they can. It’s also important that you provide clear signage that can help direct the driver appropriately when he/she arrives.

  5. Treat your drivers the way you would want to be treated.
    Truck drivers don’t have an easy job, and they spend a tiring amount of time on the road. If you deny them basic amenities like access to a bathroom and a place to stretch their legs while they wait, that is not something they’re likely to forget.

    Showing respect and being kind goes a long way. Greet your drivers and provide an area where they can relax and refresh while being loaded or unloaded. Some shippers are even providing full lounges designed to make drivers as comfortable as possible, with wifi, refreshments, and showers. You can’t be a shipper of choice if you aren’t willing to show a little bit of empathy for your drivers.

Next steps
Now that you know what it means to be a shipper of choice, why it matters, and how you can achieve it, the next step is create a plan. Carrier relationships are incredibly important in today’s freight market, and when you make them a priority, you’ll benefit your business in the long run.

PartnerShip maintains strong alliances with the best carriers in the industry. Our shipping experts can help you find ways to become a shipper of choice, gain access to capacity, and save on your freight rates. Contact us today to find out how you can ship smarter.

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ArcBest: Delivering New Shipping Solutions to PartnerShip

January 23, 2019 at 11:12 AMJen Deming
ArcBest Solutions Blog

PartnerShip® is always working to expand our available carrier network in order to meet every customer's shipping needs, every time. For those customers who value premium service and an unmatched experience, we are pleased to announce the addition of the ArcBest® network to our comprehensive group of partner carriers. With an extensive transportation solution network, ArcBest offers superior less-than-truckload (LTL) service through ABF Freight® as well as specialized time-sensitive alternatives through Panther Premium Logistics®. These additions help elevate available logistics options for PartnerShip customers. 

ArcBest offers a variety of stand-out services that benefit customers with specialized or unique needs. In addition to a full-service network of transportation options such as intermodal, supply chain services, international shipping, warehousing, and distribution services, ArcBest also provides premium time-critical and event shipping solutions. In addition to these options, the ArcBest company umbrella of carriers brings even more unique benefits for shippers.

Shorter, Pup-trailer Options

A standard 53-foot enclosed trailer, or dry van, is the most common truck type used to move freight. The height of the trailer is 8.5 to 9.5 feet. There isn't much differentiation between trucks aside from the door type, which can either swing open or roll up. This is a sizable truck, and not every pick-up or delivery location is equipped for proper vehicle maneuverability. This presents challenges for loading and unloading. ABF Freight, a premier ArcBest freight carrier, commonly utilizes shorter pup-trailers, not 53' vans. A pup-trailer measures between 26 and 29 feet in length. Due to this smaller size, congested access points such as a busy side street or challenging dock configuration, like a school, can be more easily navigated.

Unique Freight Capabilities 

Most common carriers are very specific about what they will move for shippers, and what they will refuse. Odd, over-sized items and easily-breakable commodities are determined risky for freight carriers, and shippers are usually refused pick-up, often at the discretion of the local terminal. Carrier Rules Tariffs are frequently being updated as capacity continues to crunch, allowing common carriers to become more selective about what types of products they choose to move. Items such as flag poles, furniture, and other challenging density-based commodities are accepted by ArcBest carriers, making them an excellent option for shippers who may have a challenging freight move.

Terminal Direct Scheduling and Contact Info

Another special service that ArcBest offers for shippers is terminal-direct scheduling and available contact information. If you've ever had to schedule your own pick-up, or tried to contact specific terminals to check on freight, you know that carrier websites are almost never transparent. Most often, you will need to go through an automated number and exhausting phone tree in order to access a service representative. Some carriers don't allow shippers to connect to specific terminals at all. This can be frustrating when time is compromised and your shipment is being delayed. Speaking to a particular terminal allows for better tracking, accountability, and clarification for customers. ArcBest, in particular ABF Freight, makes this a critical option for shippers.

Expediting in Transit

The added ability to expedite ground LTL shipments while already in transit is a service now available to PartnerShip customers through Panther Premium Logistics. Panther, an expedited carrier option under the ArcBest umbrella, is a convenient choice for customer's time-critical shipments. With a variety of truck equipment options, from sprinter vans to flatbeds, Panther offers premium logistics solutions for those who may have unique shipping requirements. If the deadline for your shipment delivery is sooner than you anticipated, Panther has the ability to bump up your service from standard ground LTL to expedited delivery while in transit.

Added Benefits

In addition to these distinct solutions offered by the ArcBest umbrella of carriers, there are a few other notable benefits suited for shippers who value quality and exceptional experience: 

  • The carrier network extends nationwide, providing reliable transportation that fit both regional and long-haul markets.
  • In line with providing premium shipping and handling services, ABF Freight also boasts one of the lowest LTL claims rates in the industry.
  • ABF Freight prioritizes meeting customer pick-ups, making sure your shipment gets moving when it needs to so you meet your deadlines.

We know that every shipper has individual needs for their business and their shipping. By adding another carrier we are able to extend available service options for customers - helping to broaden our network and meet those needs. If you'd like to learn more about ArcBest shipping options, contact us and we'll help determine which solutions are right for you.

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How to Calculate Freight Density for Shipping

January 11, 2019 at 8:39 AMLeah Palnik
How to calculate freight density

Density is a major factor in determining your freight class and your total shipment cost. In fact, many LTL carriers are relying more and more on freight density over actual weight to determine your rate. That's why it's important that you understand what freight density is and how to calculate it.

Freight density defined
Freight density measures how heavy a shipment is relative to the size of the shipment. The higher the density, the lower the classification and vice versa. A shipment with a high freight density weighs a lot relative to its size, such as densely packed books. A package with a low freight density weighs little relative to its size, such as a box filled with Styrofoam.

How to calculate freight density
Step 1. Measure the height, width, and depth of the shipment in inches. Measure to the farthest points, including skids or other packaging. On shipments with multiple pieces, repeat Step 1 for each piece.

Step 2. Multiply the three measurements (height x width x depth). The result is the total cubic inches of the shipment. If you have multiple pieces, multiply the height x width x depth for each piece. Take the results for each piece and add them together to get the total cubic inches

Step 3. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot). The result is the cubic feet of the shipment.

Step 4. Divide the weight (in pounds) of the shipment by the total cubic feet. The result is the pounds per cubic foot, i.e., density.

  • For multiple pieces, add the weight of each piece together before dividing by the total cubic feet of the shipment.
  • Round fractions to the nearest full cubic foot number.

Calculating freight density will also provide you with a recommended class for your shipment. The freight class chart below is an abbreviated scale you can use to help estimate the freight classification for your shipments.

Freight Density Chart

Helpful tools
There are many factors that determine your freight class, aside from density, so these are estimates only. If you're looking for help to find your freight class, our team is standing by. For a quick and easy way to figure out your shipment density, check out our freight density calculator.

Your Guide to the 2019 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

December 17, 2018 at 3:46 PMLeah Palnik
your guide to the 2019 FedEx and UPS rate increases

FedEx and UPS rates will be going up in 2019, and it’s more important than ever that shippers know how to mitigate the impact to their business. In November, FedEx announced that its small package rates will increase an average of 4.9% as of January 7, 2019. In December, only a few weeks before the change is set to take place on the 26th, UPS announced the same average increase.

If you’re thinking that means you can budget your costs to go up by 4.9%, you are sorely mistaken. There is a lot to unpack with these rate increases. For starters, some services are increasing at a higher rate than others – meaning that depending on the services you commonly use, your costs could go up significantly more than the announced average.

Other factors determine how much more you will pay for your FedEx and UPS shipments in 2019. You will need to look at the new rates based on your package characteristics, as well as how far your shipments are being sent. Here are the released rates for 2019:

FedEx and UPS surcharges
The announced average increase only covers the base rates. You’ll also need to consider what fees and surcharges apply to your shipments. Many of these surcharges are increasing quite a bit. Here are the announced changes:

One surcharge to take note of is the Third-Party Billing fee. A couple years ago, UPS introduced this in response to the growing popularity of drop shipping. Right now if you use third-party billing, you will incur a charge of 2.5% of total cost. Beginning December 26, UPS will be increasing that charge to 4.5%. FedEx is leaving its Third-Party Billing charge unchanged at 2.5% for 2019. This is just one example of why it’s important to evaluate the changes that come out each year from UPS and FedEx. One small difference can have a huge impact on your costs.

The most costly surcharges continue to be those that apply to shipments that qualify as “Unauthorized” or “Over Maximum Limits.” If you send a package with UPS that weighs more than 150 lbs., exceeds 108 inches in length, or exceeds a total of 165 inches in length and girth combined, you’ll be looking at a $850 charge on top of your base rate. That same package will incur a $675 charge if you ship it with FedEx. Either way, you’ll be paying a huge premium to ship larger, bulkier packages.

Peak season strategies
It’s also important to note that ahead of the 2019 general rate increase (GRI), FedEx and UPS both announced peak season surcharges. For those larger packages, the carriers applied additional surcharges during the busiest time of year. A huge difference between the two, however, was an additional charge on residential shipments. UPS applied a $0.28 peak surcharge on residential ground shipments, while FedEx decided that for the second year in a row, it wouldn’t follow suit. If you’re a retailer that delivers a large amount of customer orders over the holidays, that charge can add up fast.

Trends in the small package industry
If you zoom out on all of these changes from FedEx and UPS, there are a few insights to glean.

  1. FedEx and UPS tend to institute similar pricing strategies. The carriers have a habit of matching each other when announcing average increases, and when one introduces a new charge or a different way to account for something, the other tends to do the same down the road. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter which carrier you use. Instead, it’s important to stay on top of the changes and evaluate your options on a regular basis so you’re always using the service that works best for your budget.
  2. Many of the changes over the years have been put in place as a result of the ecommerce boom. With more shipments coming from online orders, comes more trends that strain the carriers’ networks. For example, ecommerce has led to more residential deliveries and more deliveries of oversized packages. That’s why you’ll see the carriers making changes that help them to recoup some of the costs associated with these trends.
  3. Both carriers have been making changes throughout the year, instead of just during the GRI. For example, FedEx and UPS both increased their Additional Handling surcharges ahead of the new year – in September and July respectively. When UPS first introduced peak surcharges for residential ground shipments, that was also done outside of the annual announcement. This just highlights how important it is for shippers to stay aware throughout the year.

We know you don’t want to comb through every tedious page of the 2019 FedEx and UPS service guides and compare them to your current rates. That’s why we did the leg work for you. In our free white paper, we break down where you’ll find the highest increases and explain some of the complicated changes you need to be aware of. If you’re looking for ways to offset the rate increases, we can also help with that. If you’re a member of one of the many associations we work with, you can get access to exclusive discounts. Contact us and we’ll find a way to help you save.

Your Guide to the 2019 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

It's a Throwback PartnerShip Holiday!

December 17, 2018 at 2:25 PMJen Deming

It's the time of year for good cheer, gift giving, and family get-togethers. One of the best parts about bringing everyone together for the holidays is flipping through old albums and boxes of family photos to relive memories from holidays gone by. We wanted to share some of our team's favorite throwback holiday photos with you, and wish everyone the happiest of holidays from our family to yours!

Barbara with guitar
Barbara Teleha, Graphic Designer
Before flexing her creative muscle as the PartnerShip resident designer, Barbara was striking chords in checkered onesies and turtlenecks

Jennifer Hammersmith
Jennifer Hammersmith, Customer Service Manager
'Tis the season to be "married" and bright for Jennifer and her husband, Dave!

Jerry Spelic
Jerry Spelic, Marketing Director
Jerry celebrates with a themed tree every year: Meet Spencer Tree-cy

Christine Manda
Christine Manda, Freight Brokerage Sales Manager
Christine and sister get festive while rocking around the Christmas Tree

Holiday Hardmans
Brian Hardman, Senior Account Representative and Nicole Hardman, Senior Carrier Procurement Representative
The Hardman husband/wife team toast their first Christmas together

Leah Palnik
Leah Palnik, Marketing Manager
Leah celebrates the holidays with her childhood furry friend, Figgie

Shaunta Dennis
Shaunta Dennis, Customer Service Representative
Shaunta patiently awaits the arrival of her gifts - as an adult she makes sure PartnerShip customers get their packages on time

Keith Korhely
Keith Korhely, Senior Program Manager
Keith's buddy Gigi thinks she's all the gift that anyone needs

Jimmy Josh
Josh Arnold, Programmer Analyst
Josh offers an interesting take on Santa Claus at a past PartnerShip Christmas party

Bill
Bill Parhamovich, Account Representative
Bill recites his Christmas list to Santa, it may or may not include a Red Ryder BB Gun

Jen Deming
Jen Deming, Marketing Associate
Jen and brother Matt decide all they want for Christmas is EVERYTHING

Making merry memories is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season, and we look forward to what this year will bring! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

6 Surprising Advantages of Rail Transport Over Road Transport

December 13, 2018 at 9:16 AMLeah Palnik
6 surprising advantages of rail

Road transport is a very popular mode for freight, but for certain loads, the advantages of railways are too great to ignore. If your shipment is moving over 1,000 miles and isn’t time sensitive, rail transport can be a very efficient solution for your supply chain.

Here are some advantages of rail transport over road transport to consider:

  1. Rail transport can be cost effective. Shippers who convert long-haul freight from road to rail, can save 10-40%. Rail has lower fuel costs compared to road transport, especially when shipping a high volume of freight. Rail also has less costs associated with drivers and typically has better costs for drop trailer programs.
  2. Shipping via train is more environmentally friendly. Trains burn less fuel per ton mile than trucks. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), freight railroads can move one ton of freight an average of 479 miles on a single gallon of fuel. On top of that, using rail transport over road transport can lower greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.
  3. Trains are capable of hauling large loads. Trains can handle high volumes of freight. In fact, one double-stacked train can hold approximately the same amount as 280 trucks. This can be very beneficial for shippers with large loads.
  4. Railways are reliable. Railways have standardized transit schedules and don’t share their tracks with the public like trucks do with the road. For that reason, trains aren’t hindered by traffic and weather the same way trucks are.
  5. Rail freight can be efficient. For many types of loads, the average transit time is comparable to that of road transport. While rail shouldn’t be used for time-sensitive shipments, it can provide very similar transit times for longer hauls.
  6. Rail options provide you with access to capacity. OTR capacity is tight. The driver shortage, HOS restrictions, and current market demand can make it hard for shippers to find a truck when they need it without paying an arm and a leg. Since rail transport can be more efficient and doesn’t have the same kind of limitations, this is a great way for shippers to find capacity.

Rail as part of an intermodal strategy
Using rail transport as part of an intermodal strategy can have significant benefits. Intermodal is the use of two or more modes for transporting freight. When combining road and rail, trains are used for the long-haul portion of the shipment. Trucks are used to bring freight from the origin to the terminal and then from the terminal to the destination, which is referred to as drayage. Commodities that are typically moved via intermodal rail include electronics, clothes, machinery, plastics, and lumber.

Limitations of rail
While rail transport can be a great solution for many shippers, it isn’t for every load. There are some limitations to consider. First, the shipper and the consignee should be no more than 100-200 miles from a major metro area that has a terminal. Also, there aren’t guaranteed transit times, so it’s not recommended for time-sensitive loads.

You also want to make sure that you aren’t trying to ship prohibited or restricted articles. Prohibited articles include commodities that are dangerous or could damage equipment, like carbon black, raw animal hides, and used auto parts that leak. Restricted commodities require permission ahead of time and may be constrained to certain lanes or subject to different pricing.

In addition, it’s incredibly important that you are using the proper block and brace techniques. Intermodal containers experience a great deal of movement during transit that could cause damages. If you haven’t blocked and braced your freight by rail standards you run the risk of a denied claim.

Is rail transport right for your freight?
If you think intermodal transportation may be a good fit for your freight, the team at PartnerShip is ready to help. We'll find the solution that best fit your needs, so you can ship smarter. Contact us today to find out what your options are and see how much you could save.

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6 Sneaky (But Avoidable) Tradeshow Logistics Costs

December 4, 2018 at 9:32 AMJen Deming
Tradeshow Shipping Blog Image

Anyone who has ever shipped to an event is probably familiar with the special level of stress and frustration involved in coordinating show shipments. Tradeshow logistics is tricky business - not only are you juggling crunched timelines leading up to  the show, but shippers also have to be aware of the many potential hidden costs involved throughout the process. Any misstep can end up costing shippers in surprise freight fees. The good news is that most of these costs are avoidable, as long as you know what to look out for. We've compiled a list of the things you need to keep an eye on to protect your special event freight spend. 

  1. The cost of shipping to advance warehouse vs. show site 

    You have the choice to ship directly to the tradeshow floor or to an advance warehouse where your show materials are held leading up to the actual show start date. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and as an informed shipper you need to weigh what makes the most sense for you. Shipping to an advance warehouse will give you more time to be flexible should anything go wrong or be delayed. Though material handling fees may be slightly higher, it doesn't cost more to ship to the advance warehouse. An added benefit is less worry about whether your shipment will arrive on time, and you get a leg up on the shipments arriving to the show site. Your shipment materials will be ready and waiting for you at your booth space when you arrive the day of set-up. 

    Shipping directly to site can be tempting to avoid these initial material handling costs, but keep in mind that hundreds of other event shipments will be arriving at the same time as yours. If you've never seen a show-site marshaling yard, think of a rush-hour traffic jam during the last weekend of holiday shopping season. It's not pretty, and hold-ups cost lots of money in detention fees. If your shipment arrives late, the team waiting to build your booth will pass on overtime charges. If you're running extra-late, springing for expedited transportation charges will cost you even more. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: plan ahead, and build in extra time. Make your decisions based on what realistically makes the most sense for your business.

  2. Delivering or picking up your shipment in overtime

    The exact time your tradeshow shipment is loaded or unloaded is critical, and meeting your target time will save you significantly. In addition to open dates for both the advance warehouse and show site, there is a window of hours called straight time. These are the hours, and days, your shipment needs to arrive for the show in order not to be hit with overtime fees. This window is usually restricted to typical work hours, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, for most shows, Monday through Friday. Anything that arrives after those hours, or on the weekends, will be considered overtime and incur extra charges. It is critical to check in your exhibitor packet exactly what hours and dates are safe for your shipment to arrive prior to the show.

    You also need to make sure your specific check-in time is noted on the material handling form, especially if your carrier arrives early. Often, a truck will arrive the night before, ahead of schedule. If there's no time noted, the driver may check in and get loaded on overtime, and this will increase your bill significantly. A great best practice to stick to is writing "load only during straight hours" in order to diminish the likelihood it will be loaded outside of that time, as well as act as documentation to help your case should your freight be loaded during overtime and you want to dispute the extra charge.

  3. The price of damages and how freight insurance can help

    Shipment damage or loss can occur at any time. While carriers do everything they can to keep them from happening, it's just an unfortunate part of freight shipping. With your load moving in and out of several different terminals (especially if your freight is traveling a greater distance), your shipment may encounter a renegade forklift or a heavy-handed loader. That's why it is key to package appropriately and securely. Custom crates are a great idea, especially for furniture and other fragile booth materials. Imagine arriving to a show and your seating is damaged and unusable. Sure, you have the option to rent a couch but it's going to cost you thousands for rental in addition to any repairs you will have to spring for to get things in working order for the next show.

    Because carrier liability is limited, it's always a good idea to look into additional freight insurance as a secondary option. Tradeshow shipment yards, docks, storage rooms, and show floors are all very congested places. Accidents happen, and should they happen to your show materials, at least you know your freight's full value is covered. Just keep in mind that every third-party insurance provider has different terms, so read carefully and make sure you fully understand the coverage you are getting.

  4. Using the wrong NMFC and the risk of re-class

    Did you know that materials being shipped to events have their very own class code? Don't worry, unless you are shipping to tradeshows regularly, most shippers don't either. Instead of calculating your shipment based on commodity type (furniture, signage, etc), any item either coming to or departing from a tradeshow should be rated Class 125. This can very well mean that the class is different than what you may be using on other shipments, and as a result, the price could be different than what you are used to seeing. It is important to get this quoted correctly, so if you are tempted to use a lower code because it's what you are used to, beware the risk of re-class. You don't want to receive surprise charges/fees when the carrier catches on and your shipment is rated higher than you wanted. The good news is that many booth material items such as chairs or desks tend to ship at a class higher than 125 anyway, so using a preset tradeshow-specific class code may save you. 

  5. Material handling and drayage fees

    Material handling and drayage are common fees incurred by event shippers, and often the least anticipated. This type of handling refers specifically to transportation services from your carrier's delivery vehicle, at the dock, to your booth space. These services include unloading at the dock, moving your materials, as well as storing your empty containers for the duration of the show. Once the show is over, gathering the empty containers from storage as well as transferring the freight back to the loading dock will also incur fees. A top recommendation for tradeshow shippers is to crate your loads, rather than sending loose boxes. Some show decorators charge drayage based on how the shipment is packaged. Crating is the least expensive option and also adds protection against damage and loss by keeping your materials together. 

    Completing a material handling form is crucial to setting up your outbound shipment accurately. Shippers know to have an accurate BOL prepared, but a material handling form is what the decorator looks at. The carrier name for pick-up must be noted, otherwise you will fall victim to "forced freight." This means the shipment will be sent with the decorator's carrier of choice, and that can be pricey. If it's a carrier your 3PL works with (for PartnerShip, UPSFreight or YRC Freight) an LOA can be submitted so you will be billed at your discounted pricing. If not, then you will need to pay the bill direct to the carrier. 

    The tough part about drayage fees is that these services will be performed by a specific decorator that is under contract with the show. That leaves no room for shippers to negotiate with other options the way you might with transportation to and from the event location. However, there are ways that event shippers can try to keep these costs down as low as possible, particularly regarding packaging. The biggest factors determining drayage fees are weight and piece count. Each piece may be assessed a minimum charge, so make good use of palletizing or crating those loads! They are easier to transport to and from the showroom. Go lightweight for additional savings. Heavy building materials for your booth items will quickly increase your drayage bill, so stick to lighter more transportable building options for your booth tables and seating.  

  6. Shipping there and back for separate shows

    It pays to put the time in to accurately plan how much product, booth materials, marketing collateral, giveaways, and anything else you may need. Successful event shippers create a strategy for what needs to be done before, after, and during the show. Check into any information regarding the tradeshow traffic from past years. Talk to the event coordinators and point people to gauge what you think you will need. Anticipate and plan for a little extra, but don't over do it. If you are going to be shipping to another show, look into whether it is more cost efficient to move directly to the next event rather than scheduling a return shipment back home. Very often, the storage fees at the next show location's warehouse may be cheaper than it would be to ship home then ship back out. You will have added peace of mind, again, that your shipment will arrive with enough time before the show so that you can concentrate on and prepare for the next show rather than worrying whether it will arrive on time.

Managing tradeshow logistics can wear on the patience of even the most seasoned of shippers. Meeting deadlines and managing the details can be tough, and it can be tempting to step away and just hope everything goes smoothly. But, it pays to be diligent and well-informed, because that's the best way you can protect your bottom line from hidden tradeshow costs. If you're still feeling a little overwhelmed this tradeshow season, don't worry - the experts at PartnerShip can help. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a tradeshow shipping specialist, or download our free white paper for more information about tradeshow shipping.

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The PartnerShip Carrier of the Month for October Is…

November 16, 2018 at 9:08 AMJerry Spelic
PartnerShip Loves Our Carriers! Here is Our October 2018 Carrier of the Month

The mission of PartnerShip is to help our customers ship smarter and stay competitive. The only way we can do that is to partner with great carriers and we love recognizing our awesome partners!

Our October Carrier of the Month is Doug Davidson Trucking LLC of Salem, OH. With 27 years of trucking experience, they specialize in oversize and overweight loads and operates a fleet of 11. They are fully committed to on-time pickup and delivery with safety as their number one goal.

The reason PartnerShip has a Carrier of the Month program is to recognize carriers that do an exceptional job helping customers ship and receive their freight. PartnerShip team members nominate carriers that provide outstanding communication, reliability, and on-time performance.

As our October Carrier of the Month, Doug Davidson Trucking gets lunch for their team and an official framed certificate to proudly hang on their wall.

Consider becoming a PartnerShip carrier because we try very hard to match our freight carriers’ needs with our available customer loads because we understand that your success depends on your truck being full. If you’re looking for a backhaul load or shipments to fill daily or weekly runs, let us know where your trucks are and we’ll match you with our shippers’ loads. If your wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning.

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Shipping a Piece of History: American Freedom Distillery

November 12, 2018 at 12:29 PMJen Deming

At PartnerShip, we've pretty much seen it all. Our freight specialists have helped shippers transport everything from specialty candy to baseball jerseys, DJ equipment to used tractor engines. Every once in a while, we have the opportunity to work on a load that is unlike anything we've shipped before. September brought us something extra special - a section of steel thought to be one of the few remaining pieces left of the World Trade Center.

American Distillery 4

The steel beam belongs to the remarkable group of men behind American Freedom Distillery in St Petersburg, FL. They are a veteran Special Operations Unit and were the first force to engage in Afghanistan during the aftermath of 9/11. The beam was gifted to the team and they thought it best not to be held in a private collection, but rather displayed for the benefit of the public as the nation continues to heal. The steel piece is being utilized in a brand new memorial titled "Rise St Pete" honoring those affected by the events of 9/11. Located in the Warehouse Arts District near the planned American Freedom Distillery location, the groundbreaking ceremony took place this past weekend, keeping a special connection to Veterans Day. The monument will spotlight the steel beam as its main point of focus. It will also feature an interactive fountain and copper recovered during the recent Statue of Liberty renovation.

American Distillery 5

The retired Green Berets have set up shop in St. Pete, which serves as a close-knit hub for many of the military community including retired vets and their families. After years spent serving together in the military, they've settled down with families and are tackling civilian life. However, they often talked about a lingering need - a common goal or objective that would keep them united even after their time in the military. That dream was prompted during a group trip to Yosemite where they visited a small craft brewery. While there, the men fell hard for the science, art, and discipline of creating small-batch craft spirits. The life-long friends had found a way to stay connected through a shared purpose, a method to ease into life as civilians, and a push to live the American dream that they had so vigilantly defended.

After several years learning techniques from experts in whiskey hot spots such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Ireland, and Scotland, American Freedom Distillery has mastered their signature spirit - Horse Soldier Wheated Bourbon Whiskey. The liquor is named after the elite group of horseback-mounted special ops teams leading the charge in Northern Afghanistan after the 9/11 tragedy. The bottle label features an image of the America's Response Monument, a memorial dedicated to the Special Forces heroes, and a special run of the whiskey will feature bottles formed in molds made of steel salvaged from the Twin Towers. The distillery and adjoining restaurant, America Neat Grill and Whiskey House, is anticipated to open early in the new year.

At PartnerShip, we are dedicated to moving each and every shipment safely and securely. But, sometimes there are very special cases that really stand out above the rest. It's not every day that you ship a piece of history. Want to stay connected so you can keep on top of what we are working on at PartnerShip? Follow us on Facebook!

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