Machinery Transportation: How to Get the Best Rate

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

Why trucking equipment matters for your machinery transportation

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

Types of equipment to consider for your machinery transportation:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Get a free quote!

3 Times You Should Consider Regional Freight Carriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get a free quote

Cross-Border Freight Shipping FAQs

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

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

What is PARS?

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

What is a PARS number?          

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

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

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

What is PAPS?

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

Where will my shipment cross the border?

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

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

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

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

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

What is ACI?

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

What is ACE?

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

What is a FAST certification?

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

How much do I pay shipping cross-border?

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

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

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

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

Get a free quote!

Truck Driving Trailblazers: Women in Shipping

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

Riding West with Annie Neal

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

A Shift in Responsibility

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

Luella Bates - Mechanic, Operator, Spokesperson

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

Lillie Drennan - the First Licensed Truck Driver

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

Driving the War Effort

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

Starting a Revolution

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

Where are we now?

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

Where are we headed?

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

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


Become a PartnerShip Carrier CTA Button

Freight Class Explained: FAK FAQs

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

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

What is an FAK?

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

How does this differ from a class exception?

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

How does a carrier determine whether an FAK is possible?

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

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

What's the catch?

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

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

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

What's my class?

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

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

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

Popcorn Blog Image 1

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

Popcorn Blog Image 2

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

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

Contact Us Today

Freight Class Explained: Demystifying Density

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

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

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

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

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

machinery ClassIT Example 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Quote button

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.

Find your freight class button

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.

Get a Free Quote

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.

contact us today!

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.

Become a PartnerShip Carrier