Missed LTL Pick-Ups: Key Ways to Get Your Freight on the Road

September 15, 2021 at 10:30 AMJen Deming
Missed LTL Pick-Up Blog Image

Question: what’s worse than your LTL shipment running late for delivery? Answer: How about when your shipment isn’t picked up to begin with? Missed LTL pick-ups are a unique shipping challenge because the trouble occurs before the shipment even hits the road. Regardless whether you’re the shipper or the receiver, freight that’s left on the dock can mean delivery delays, playing phone-tag with the carrier, and a few other headaches. 

Missed pick-ups are very common in LTL freight shipping, even more so as demand increases and capacity shrinks. They usually occur when errors are made scheduling a shipment, or if a pick-up location is unprepared or inflexible regarding the carrier’s arrival. Sometimes, it’s due to a carrier running late because other shippers ran overtime. The good news is that many missed pick-ups are avoidable and there are steps you can take to ensure your freight gets loaded. We’ve broken down key ways to get your freight moving so missed freight pick-ups aren’t as common.

Understand your carrier’s pick-up schedule

The first step to avoiding missed LTL pick-ups is understanding how a carrier operates. Carriers typically complete deliveries in the morning, and only after those are completed are new loads picked up throughout the afternoon. Carriers create a plan of action early when scheduling pick-ups and deliveries. Missed pick-ups commonly occur when a shipper tries to squeeze it in too late in the day as an attempt to get a jump on transit. In most cases, it’s extremely difficult to get an LTL shipment picked up the same day. If your warehouse has early close times, this makes pick-ups even more difficult, and you’ll likely see a “freight not ready” designation when tracking your freight status.

To ensure your shipment gets moving, be realistic in your timelines and give the carrier 24 hours’ notice. Respect how a freight carrier must operate to complete their schedule. The more you accommodate the carrier, the more likely they are to be flexible with you, as well. 

Request special services at the time of scheduling

Special services that are necessary to complete a pick-up are often missed when scheduling with the carrier. For example, if you don’t have a dock or proper loading equipment, you’ll need a liftgate. They are often available, but they are not standard on every freight truck. The carrier must be notified when scheduling so the proper truck is dispatched. The same goes for businesses with tricky locations categorized as "limited access". Should you need a pup or box truck, this must be mentioned to the carrier, because smaller, more maneuverable trucks are harder to find. 

If you’re arranging the shipment, but aren’t the pick-up location, make sure you find out from your shipper whether or not they will need these special services. Mention and confirm these requests when scheduling with the carrier. If this is missed, another pick-up is not likely to be attempted the same day. Instead your carrier will return the next business day.

Get a confirmation number and ETA 

When you complete a scheduled pick-up successfully, either by phone or online, you will always be given a confirmation number. This number is a simple way to ensure everything was scheduled correctly and you’re “on the board”, a carrier term for scheduled and set to dispatch. The confirmation number contains a code that is unique to certain carriers. At the time of scheduling, you may receive an ETA from the driver. The ETA can help the shipper prepare for arrival, so a pick-up runs smoothly.

When scheduling your pick-up, be sure to note the confirmation code and double-check that it’s accurately representing your chosen carrier. Share this number with whomever will be a part of the pick-up process, so that if there are any delays, you can confirm that it was scheduled correctly.

Create flexibility in your warehouse operating hours

As a general rule of thumb, the more open you are, the better for the carrier. And we mean that literally. Truck drivers are constantly combating delays during transit, whether due to traffic, weather, or even being held up at another location. Time is money, especially in trucking. A simple delay can interrupt a day’s worth of pick-ups, and trouble can snowball quickly. 

By extending hours through weekends, or adding as-needed late or early shifts to your warehouse, the carrier will have an easier time completing your pick-up. Keep in mind that the driver wants to check off all of their scheduled stops, so they don’t carry over into the next day. By expanding your dock hours when needed, they will complete their workload and you can rest easy knowing your freight’s moving. 

Prepare paperwork and prep the load before pick-up 

As we’ve mentioned, to keep on track, carriers must spend the least amount of time possible at each location. Common reasons a driver may be delayed are because the BOL and paperwork aren’t prepared, or the load isn’t packed and prepped in time. As the capacity crunch tightens, carriers are even less flexible than they have been in the past. If your location isn’t prepared, you can bet the driver will leave if you’re running too deep into detention time. 

Make sure that if you’re the shipper, you have all paperwork ready. If you are shipping special loads such as hazmat or cross-border freight, those required documents must be in order, as well. Also important, be sure that your freight is properly packaged and staged for easy loading. If you have especially fragile loads, and your packaging isn’t up to par, the driver may choose to leave the shipment due to the added risk.

Check specs to ensure available space on truck

An important point to note is that pallet count, weights, and dimensions aren’t just for calculating your shipping costs. In LTL shipping, you share the truck space with other customers’ loads. The specifications you provide determine rates, but also help the driver plan for what will fit on the truck. Proper measurements reveal how much space is left in the trailer for other shipments. Incorrect specs can throw off a driver’s schedule, preventing other customers from loading after you.

If a carrier decides your shipment’s specs are just too different from what was planned, you guessed it, they’ll leave it on the dock. Keep this in mind if you consider estimating freight dimensions or sneaking on any extra pallets that you have ready. Make sure your measurements and weight match what’s on your BOL. Surprises are great, but not for your arriving truck driver.

Concluding points

It’s important to remember that missed pick-ups are common and sometimes unavoidable. The silver lining, however, is that some are within your control. If you want smooth sailing for your LTL freight, review these best practices to start your shipment’s journey off right. 

As more warehouse teams have increasing responsibilities, tracking and managing pick-ups can take up tons of time. 3PLs like PartnerShip can help proactively check on your loads and find out why there may be any holdups – freeing up your time and to-do list.


Contact us button image

The Current State of Freight: What You Can Expect

August 31, 2021 at 10:05 AMLeah Palnik

To say the freight market is strained right now might be an understatement. If you’ve experienced significantly higher rates and less reliability from your carriers, you’re not alone. As someone who is shipping freight, it’s critical to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market in order to navigate the challenges that are coming with it. Let’s break down the factors that have led us here and what we can expect moving forward.

Key factors that have led to challenges in the transportation industry
Like so many other industries, freight transportation has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the cultural shifts that have come along with it. The pandemic not only created new challenges, but also exasperated existing pain points in the market – leading to the perfect storm. It all boils down to a case of supply vs. demand.

  • Consumer buying is strong and is driving up demand. While the world was locked down, we weren’t spending money on vacations or going out to eat. In many cases those spending dollars went towards buying goods instead. Retailers are doing what they can to keep up with demand and as a result, have an increased need for trucks to deliver their much needed inventory.
  • There is a truck driver shortage. The driver shortage is old news, but it is still very relevant now. Sometimes there just simply aren’t enough drivers available to take on new loads. For years, there have been more drivers retiring and leaving the profession than there have been new drivers entering the market. Unfortunately, the open road hasn’t been as attractive to this generation of the workforce as it once was.
  • Building new tractors are constrained by parts availability. Not only is it hard to move freight with less available drivers, but now we are also seeing a limit on new trucks on the road. Supply chains for many goods have been seriously disrupted thanks to the pandemic, and parts that are needed to build new tractors are no exception.

How LTL carriers are responding
With such volatile market conditions, LTL carriers are forced to respond. As no surprise, a major course of action they’ve taken is to increase rates. Simple economics tells us that an increased demand means they can charge more for their services.

Not only are they increasing rates, but they’re also looking to shed less desirable freight from their networks. Loads deemed less profitable, or more trouble than they’re worth, are harder to get covered because carriers want to prioritize loads that allow them to work efficiently and profitably.

Missed pickups, declined freight, and temporary terminal embargos have now become common place and plague freight carriers across the country, regardless of the company name and logo on the side of the truck.

LTL freight observations from the front lines
Many of our customers are exhausted dealing with carrier issues. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents cited rising shipping costs as a challenge they were currently facing. Along with that, 47% noted they were experiencing longer transit times and 36% were dealing with poor carrier performance.

Freight shipping challenges

Our team has also noticed several concerning trends pop up with freight carriers. As if raising base rates wasn’t enough, we’ve seen them put in extra effort to collect on everything they can. Accessorial fees that you may not have seen on your bill in the past are now showing up for services you’ve always received. The carriers just aren’t as lax as they may have been in the past for charging for these extra services.

Because freight networks are so strained, we’re also seeing an uptick in missing shipments. If this has happened to you, you know how stressful it can be. The carriers are also doing everything in their power to deny claims for both missing and damaged shipments. They’re wanting to see them filed sooner than ever before and are requiring a great deal of evidence.

Estimated transit times for LTL freight has never been guaranteed, but now more than ever, we’re seeing shipments miss that predicted window. Unfortunately, longer transit times and missed pick-ups are becoming extremely prevalent, again due to how ill equipped carriers are to meet the current freight demand.

The quickly recovering economy is creating a new environment, in which all industries are competing for freight capacity and causing a new set of standards. Some shippers may be shocked by new carrier practices - from new fees to increased pickup and delivery times.

What can you do?
You may want to live by the old adage about how you can’t change others, only yourself. It’s not within your power to control carrier performance or consumer demand, but you can educate yourself and act accordingly.

  • Use a quality broker, like PartnerShip. While brokers have no control over what a carrier ultimately does with a shipment, a quality freight broker will provide the communication and creative solutions you need when caught up in an issue.
  • Follow the tried-and-true best practices for overcoming capacity challenges. Expand your current carrier network, build in extra time at every step of the shipping process, consolidate your shipments, and consider alternative services. While it’s not always possible to implement these strategies, following them any time the market is experiencing tight capacity can be very advantageous to your operations.
  • Become a shipper of choice. This means making your freight desirable to carriers. You probably aren’t able to change what you’re shipping, but there are some factors you can control. Being flexible with pick-up and delivery times, ensuring ease of access for the truck, and avoiding long detention times are all things carriers ultimately appreciate.

The widely reported driver shortage is very real, but it is only part of the challenge. Capacity is increasing, but not as quickly as the demand grows. Organizations that can adjust and plan accordingly will do a great deal to minimize disruptions in their supply chain.

Moving forward
Back to school season is upon us and the holidays are right around the corner. In short, demand is not expected to drop anytime soon. Will the supply side be able to catch up? Not likely. Recruiting and retaining the needed labor force will continue to be one of the biggest challenges in the industry. And as we enter hurricane season and another COVID-19 surge, we could see even more network disruptions.

At this point, it’s important to manage expectations. You’ll want to budget for higher freight costs and be mindful of potential delays, so you’re not caught off guard. For everything in-between, our team has the expertise to help you navigate these challenges. Contact PartnerShip today and lean on us when you need it most.

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class

August 24, 2021 at 7:56 PMJen Deming

Freight classification is a type of product categorization unique to freight shipping. It relies on four factors that help determine cost: density, stowability, liability, and handling. Once you have a general understanding of these variables, you can better calculate how your class (and cost) will be determined. 

4 Key Factors That Affect Your Freight Class Infographic

Freight Quote vs. Invoice: Why Don’t They Match?

August 13, 2021 at 9:25 AMJen Deming
ALT TEXT FOR IMAGE

One of the most common questions we get is from customers wondering why the heck their final freight invoice doesn’t match the rate they were originally quoted. It’s a valid concern because once you have that bill, it’s next to impossible to get more money from your customer and you’re going to be eating that cost. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to blame the carrier, but the real reason they are different may sting a bit – it’s usually a shipper error. Before you start pointing fingers, review these common reasons your bill doesn’t match that original quote.

Reason 1: Your product is classed incorrectly 

One of the most common reasons a quote differs from a final bill is because your product is classed incorrectly.  With classification being a huge factor affecting your freight quote, even a small error can impact your price. If you guess or miscalculate, your class may be way off. 

The issue may be that sometimes your product is difficult to fit in a particular NMFC category. Take glass jars for example. This type of product falls under NMFC code 87700. It’s not as simple as that, however. Because glass jars are typically fragile, they are broken down by volume, and depending on that calculation, the class can be anywhere from class 65 to 400. In an average freight shipment, that’s a difference of hundreds of dollars. Make sure you are utilizing ClassIT, and consulting freight experts if you have any questions on class, or how to properly calculate density.

Reason 2: A liftgate service inflated your bill

When checking your freight quote vs. invoice, unexpected extra services are the second most common reason for a mismatch. One example we see time after time is for liftgate service. If you didn’t specify you would need a liftgate when you got your quote, but then your carrier provides the service at pick-up, it will cost you. Additionally, if your customer doesn’t communicate they need one for delivery, that can be added on without your approval or knowledge, surprising you once you get the bill. 

Communication between both parties and ensuring you have the proper equipment can avoid this completely. Make sure you both understand that the added cost of an accessorial may raise your rate, but will help your shipment get where it needs to. Understanding that these types of special trucks equipped with liftgates are not as common, both parties will know they need to be requested on the front-side.

Reason 3: Too much time has passed

First and foremost, it’s important to know that a freight quote is an estimate to begin with.

So many factors can change - for example, fuel costs fluctuate frequently. Additionally, depending on when you are scheduling your shipment, peak periods can cause capacity issues, and this generally results in higher charges.

As a general rule, we like to inform our customers that quotes for standard LTL service are valid for about a week. That window is even tighter when you’re using time-critical services. If you’re wanting an estimate so you know what to bill a customer, build in some room for your final cost, or requote as close to the actual shipment pick-up date as possible.

Reason 4: Your delivery location has changed 

While not quite as common, sometimes a change in delivery address can affect the final cost of your freight. Changes may occur after a load is quoted or may have to be made while the shipment is already in transit. Reasons for this might include a location being closed, or a consignee that isn’t ready to receive the shipment.

LTL freight shipments can be rerouted, but that adjustment will definitely incur costs: distance and fuel will increase if the location is further out. On top of that, special service fees such as a redelivery charge or even location-specific fees like limited access could also be applied. Do your best to requote if any details of your delivery location change. If the change is made at the request of your customer, be sure to communicate that fees will apply. If you want to absorb those charges as a courtesy, be sure to build some room in your customer cost to begin with. Otherwise, make it clear who is responsible for those fees.

Reason 5: The wrong carrier picked up your shipment  

You’d be surprised, but the wrong freight carrier picking up an LTL load happens much more often than you’d think. We’ve seen customers quote a general rate with one carrier and then hand it off to whatever carrier arrives that day just to get it on the road and off the dock.  Your shipping department is likely very busy, but this sort of simple mistake can cost you so much time and money in the long run.

Not every LTL carrier has the same base pricing, and even accessorial costs fluctuate between carriers.

If you quote with one carrier, and hand it off to another, you could be paying much more if that carrier charges more for their services. Even worse, if you have negotiated pricing with one carrier, the incorrect one won’t know to bill using your discounts. Worst case scenario, you may be billed at full-cost. Make sure your warehouse team is aware of what carriers are to move which loads. Creating color coded carrier labels and marking your shipments can help ensure a quick once-over to avoid this drama completely.

Reason 6: You have a paperwork error that affects billing 

When comparing your freight quote to your invoice, also take a look at your paperwork and shipping documents. Billing errors and missing information can create an expensive and exhausting headache.

If you are arranging a shipment, and have special pricing or are using a third-party, make sure an accurate BOL states the correct carrier and “bill-to” party. If you are receiving the load, but responsible for the shipping arrangements, don’t leave it to the shipper to create the BOL. In doing so, you run the risk of an incorrect billing party or other inaccuracies that mean your discounts won’t be applied. Even after the fact, a letter of authorization (LOA) can sometimes fix this by informing a carrier of the correct billing party, but it’s not guaranteed and it definitely delays the process.

Final thoughts 

Don’t freak out if you’re seeing some discrepancies between your freight quote vs. your invoice. While they can be unexpected and troublesome, educating yourself and your customer about what can change your rate can help you make better decisions when planning your LTL load. Strong communication and a plan of action can help mitigate expensive invoice issues. If you have concerns about your freight quote vs. your invoice, PartnerShip can help dodge the guessing, help choose the correct services based on your shipping needs, and side-step costly errors.

Get a free quote button

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

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


Carrier Liability

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

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

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

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

Freight Insurance

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

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

Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance in the Claims Process

If your freight is only covered by carrier liability coverage:

·         Your claim must be filed within 9 months of delivery

·         The delivery receipt must include notice of damage

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

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

·         Carrier negligence must be proven

If your shipment is covered by freight insurance:

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

·         Claims are typically paid within 30 days

·         You are not required to prove carrier negligence

Deciding which option is best for your shipment

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

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

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

Claims White Paper

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

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


The Top 4 Reasons Your Freight Is Late

June 22, 2021 at 4:19 PMJen Deming

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

Freight Delay Infographic

How a 3PL Can Help You Dodge Food Distribution Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 3PL can help sort out carrier preferences

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

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

3PLs will set up any appointment requirements

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

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

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

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

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

PartnerShip can help

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

Advantages of a 3PL White Paper CTA

Do I Need a Liftgate for My Freight?

May 13, 2021 at 10:04 AMJen Deming

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



6 Surefire Ways You Can Overcome Freight Capacity Challenges

May 4, 2021 at 9:08 AMJen Deming
ALT TEXT FOR IMAGE

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

Why are there capacity challenges?

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

Why should you care?

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

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

What Can You Do to Overcome Capacity Challenges?

  1. Expand your current network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Become a shipper of choice

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

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

Final thoughts

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

Contact Us Button