10 Essential Freight FAQs for Smart Shipping

April 7, 2021 at 9:26 AMJen Deming
ALT 10 Essential Freight FAQs

No matter what you're moving, there are a few freight shipping fundamentals that you need to know in order to transport your load successfully. While the process seems straightforward, there are some challenges that can be anticipated by answering a few basic questions beforehand. We've compiled the essential questions that you need to be able to answer before you start shipping freight successfully.

What is the difference between freight and small package shipping?

While freight and small package shipping have some similarities, there are some major distinctions to keep in mind. Shipment size is the first recognizable difference between the two, with small package shipments being smaller, typically less than 150 lbs. Freight shipments consist of larger loads, often palletized, that range from one or two pieces to a dedicated truck. Differences in transit time, pricing structure, and driver service level are other major variables between the two transportation options. Knowing the details and requirements of your load can help determine which service makes the most sense for you.

What kind of packaging is best for my freight shipments?

Proper packaging is key in protecting the security of your shipments. Using the correct materials for the commodity you are moving can help deter damages and loss. When packing items into multiple boxes, avoid any excess space to limit shifting. Packaging materials like bubble wrap, foam cushioning, and packing peanuts can all help cushion your commodities. Freight shipments do best when boxes are palletized or packed securely into customized wooden crates. If you are shipping multiple items on a pallet, it’s important to shrink wrap them together in a uniform, structured stack to avoid damage or separation of items. Clear and correct labeling is important to get your shipments where they need to go accurately and in an efficient time frame.

When does it make sense to use LTL vs truckload?

Choosing to use either an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight or truckload service is often situational and can depend on the specific requirements of a shipment. LTL shipments are moved by carriers who group your loads together with other customers for delivery. Your shipment will be sharing space with other freight and will be handled at multiple terminals. Truckload shipments typically use a dedicated truck for your move, so you are paying for the entire space for the full length of the transit. LTL freight is a more cost-efficient option, and great for regular freight loads of a few pallets or more, with no hard deadlines. Truckload shipping gives you greater security and a faster transit, making it more ideal for large, high-value or fragile loads.

Do I need a guaranteed delivery date?

Getting your freight load delivery date guaranteed can be a tough endeavor, so arrival dates given at the time of booking your load are always estimated. Factors like weather, warehouse delays, traffic, and other variables make it difficult for a carrier to promise delivery on a certain date with standard freight services. Time-critical or expedited services are a viable option for shipments that must arrive quickly by a certain time of day, day of the week, or other specific delivery window. It’s important to note, however, that even when electing to use these premium services, situations may arise that can cause a delay where a carrier will not be liable.

What is an accessorial fee?

Freight carriers use additional charges to compensate for any extra time and effort it takes to move a shipment, called accessorial fees. Any challenges with loading and moving your freight such as an oversized shipment, limited access at the point of delivery, or specialized equipment needs can drive up your freight bill. It’s important to note that every carrier charges different amounts for these fees, so knowing what services your shipment requires before pickup will help avoid any surprises.

What do I do if my freight is damaged?

As frustrating as the experience can be, freight damage or loss is almost inevitable if you ship regularly. The cost of repairs and replacements can be compensated by the carrier in these circumstances, but there are very specific steps smart shippers must take to ensure approval and payouts. Damage prevention is always the smartest tactic, so proper packaging is a great place to start. Making sure your paperwork is in order, checking for hidden damages, and filing your claim in a timely manner are all important steps to ensure your claim is resolved in your favor. 

What is a freight class?

Many factors go into determining a rate for a freight shipment, and freight class is one of the most important. Every type of commodity that moves through the freight network is assigned a universal classification code by the NMFTA. These numbers are determined by four main factors: density, stowability, handling, and liability. Generally, the more difficult or challenging a commodity is to move, the higher the freight class. These qualities, combined with the length of haul, fuel costs, and extra services, determine your final freight rate. Classification can be confusing to get right, but freight experts can help decide which works is most accurate for your load.

What is density-based freight? 

As more freight enters the network, and capacity continues to be limited, carriers struggle to keep up with available loads. Ideal freight shipments are solid, heavy, and take up minimal space within the truck, allowing more room for additional loads. Lightweight, awkwardly-shaped loads that don’t allow for an efficient use of space are subject to density-based rates. The shipment density, combined with freight class, will give you your total freight rate, which tends to be higher than low-density, easy-to-move shipments. 

How can I lower my shipping costs?

A smart start for lowering operating costs is by taking a good look at your shipping practices. While there are some uncontrollable variables that factor into shipping costs, there are a few places you can better optimize your strategy for more savings. Improving your packaging, cultivating a strong relationship with your carriers, and maintaining reliable communication with your customers create great opportunities to lower your costs. Working with a quality 3PL can also help identify key areas where you may be able to save money with less effort on your end.

How can a 3PL help my shipping operations?

Working with a 3PL is a great way to gain  resources and improve efficiency. Working with freight experts who are also familiar with the unique needs of your business can decrease the amount of time you spend on finding ways to cut costs. A 3PL like PartnerShip can also expand your network of carriers, ensuring your freight moves are covered quickly with reliable carriers, often with competitive rates that aren’t available to most businesses on their own.  

While these are some of the most common questions we receive at PartnerShip, they aren’t the only ones we hear from our customers. If you have a freight dilemma that you’re not sure how to resolve, contact the experts at PartnerShip and we will find the best answers for your business.

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5 Painless Ways to Save on Freight

March 12, 2021 at 11:55 AMJen Deming

Everybody wants to lower their business operating costs, but nobody wants to spend a lot of time doing it. Decreasing your shipping spend is a good place to start, and there are five painless ways shippers can keep their freight costs low. From auditing your current carriers to tightening up your packaging practices, we break down simple ways to spend less on freight using minimal effort while gaining maximum payoff.



The Truth About Limited Access Delivery Fees

June 22, 2020 at 9:34 AMJen Deming
Limited Access Blog Post

No one likes an expensive freight bill. With so many types of unexpected costs and hidden fees, shippers frequently end up with an invoice higher than they budgeted for. Limited access delivery fees are one of the most common billing discrepancies surprising both new and veteran shippers alike. So, why do carriers charge this fee and what can you do about it?

What is a limited access fee?

Simply put, a limited access fee is an extra charge passed on by the carrier for any shipment that, due to location, will take extra effort or time to navigate. This includes places that are difficult to get to, congested areas, or destinations that have strict security requirements. Limited access fees can vary by carrier and often show up as a flat rate or a per-hundredweight charge. Minimally, this charge will cost you at least $100 but could cost you upwards of $300.

What factors determine if a location is considered limited access?

One of the most frustrating things about a limited access delivery charge is that not every carrier defines the same locations as limited access. You may hire different carriers for the exact same load to the exact same delivery location and end up with two very different bills. To anticipate whether a location may incur this fee, a good rule of thumb is to always consider the driver's time and effort. If the area is going to delay the carrier or require extra effort, it's safe to say you'll get the charge. So, what variables influence an area's "limited access" status?

Physical Characteristics 

Not every delivery is going to be at a warehouse with an expansive lot and a spacious loading dock. Some locations are especially are especially difficult to access due to their physical layout. Many urban storefront locations, schools, or businesses are only accessible via narrow streets and alleyways, and this makes maneuverability extra difficult. Loading and staging requires space, and without a dock or even a back lot, this can be especially challenging. This extra effort and delay is going to result in a limited access fee.

Navigational difficulties

Some locations are simply a pain for drivers to get to, so they are going to charge you for that hassle. Businesses located in congested areas like downtown in a city, fairs and carnivals, boardwalks and beaches, campsites, island resorts, or worksites like mining quarries and construction zones are going to incur charges. These types of places are challenging to maneuver a large truck through, so the carrier will have to find a specialized vehicle like a pup truck to make it through. In cities where traffic is unpredictable at best, one delivery can take up a large portion of the day. This delays business and prevents carriers from making additional deliveries. This wasted time and extra effort will cost you.

Disruption to business

Another type of limited access charge is one that has challenges related to business hours or the private nature of the location. These places may be easier to get to, but issues arise due to hours of service restrictions and operating staff. Typically, these are businesses that would be disrupted during regular operating hours, such as schools and universities, places of worship such as churches and temples, doctor's offices, assisted-living and retirement facilities, hotels, piers, farms, and ranches. These places must have a loading team ready, and if it's harder for a driver to get the load off of a truck because the staff are busy during regular business hours, you're going to see that extra charge.

Security locations

Some places are a challenge to get to because of the extra effort and security required to make a delivery. Prisons, government facilities, and military bases all have proper procedures and protocols in place for incoming and outgoing deliveries for the sake of safety. This often means inspection check points, proof of identification, appointment for delivery, and more. Going through all of these hurdles is going to delay the driver, potentially holding up other deliveries that are left waiting on the truck. The inefficiency of extra effort and lost time requires carriers to implement limited access fees to recoup the cost of lost productivity.

How to avoid breaking the bank over limited access delivery fees

We've outlined some of the most common types of limited access delivery points, but it's extremely important to understand these aren't the only ones. The best line of defense to combat limited access delivery fees is to do some groundwork and research before shipping to any type of unfamiliar facility. That way, you can better prepare for those charges and build that into your freight quote if need be. To ensure the best possible outcome for your freight invoice:

  • Communicate with your consignee (delivery location) in order to learn from their past experiences. Find out whether they have a dock, a team, shipping/receiving hours, and any limited access fees they may have been targeted with in the past.

  • Do your own research to validate that information. Google Maps is a useful tool that many freight professionals use to glean information. It can't tell you everything, but it can shed light on general terrain and many of the logistical challenges drivers will be dealing with.

  • Gain insight into what the security processes of every delivery location may look like. It's not just military locations or prisons that require identification or load inspections. The more you know on the front-side of a delivery, the less you will be surprised by delays and charges.

  • Call the carrier you plan on using and learn from them directly what locations will incur extra charges. National freight carriers like UPS Freight and YRC Freight list their rules tariffs on websites, so be sure to research these for precise calculations of charges and fees.

  • When in doubt, work with a knowledgeable freight partner who can answer your questions and do the legwork for you and offset any surprises. A freight broker can help determine alternate carrier options with reliable service and lower limited access fees to better meet your budget.

The bottom line 
Limited access delivery fees are an unwelcome surprise that no one wants to see on their final freight bill. Brushing up on what may trip you up is the first step in knowing how to offset this common accessorial. Building an expert shipping team is your next move. PartnerShip can help you navigate hidden charges and can provide you with options to help you save on limited access delivery fees.
 
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Top 5 Freight Invoice Mistakes That Are Costing You Big

May 12, 2020 at 8:25 AMJen Deming
Freight Invoice Blog Post

After a shipment has been picked up and delivered, you may sigh with relief, happy to know your freight made it safe and sound. However, your shipment’s story isn’t quite over. After receiving a freight invoice, whether it’s coming from a third-party or directly from a carrier, you should review all details and charges for accuracy. Typically, you want the details of your shipment to match up with what was used on the BOL (bill-of-lading),  however there are some scenarios where you will see adjustments and extra charges. Because an estimated 5-6% of all carrier invoices are calculated incorrectly, reviewing your invoice against details provided on the BOL is a good place to identify overcharges. To help you recognize these costly errors, we’ve outlined the five most common freight invoice mistakes to look out for.

  1. Incorrect carrier name and number
    It may seem obvious, but one of the first things a shipper should check for on their invoice is carrier name and number. When freight is tendered to a carrier, it can be easy to pass a shipment onto the wrong truck. This happens much more often than you’d think, especially if the warehouse has a busy dock and the location is receiving multiple trucks moving in and out for pick-ups throughout the day. 

    While an incorrect carrier picking up your shipment might not impede delivery, it may result in being overcharged. If you have pricing arranged with a particular carrier, and it’s not the one who picked up your load, you will likely see a higher bill than you were expecting.

    To offset this risk, the warehouse staging team needs to be diligent about reviewing the BOL, making sure pallet and carton counts are accurate and the correct load is confirmed.  When labeling the outgoing shipment, it’s important the correct BOL is with the right load and that the shipment is labeled properly.

  2. Incorrect contact info

    Another common invoicing mistake is incorrect contact information. This may mean that either the address at pick-up or delivery is listed incorrectly, or the “bill-to” portion of the invoice is inaccurate. 

    Not only will incorrect addresses most likely result in a delay through a missed delivery, but it can also result in various types of extra fees. If your carrier shows up at a delivery location and the shipment is refused due to address inaccuracies, many freight companies will bill you for the mistake. If the actual location requires an appointment for delivery, that’s an additional cost as well. 

    On top of that, if a pick-up or delivery location isn’t classified correctly, you may see a higher freight bill. For example, if the delivery location is assumed to be a commercial location, but later found out to be a residence (for example, a business run from home), the invoice will include fees for residential or even limited access. It’s important to note that not all carriers classify locations the same. What may be considered limited access for one carrier may not be for another.

  3. Incorrect discount rates
    As we mentioned earlier in this post, many shippers have special rates negotiated with either a 3PL or directly with a carrier. This can include a percent discount, lowered or waived accessorial charges, or even FAK agreements that have been arranged. 

    When negotiating discounts with a carrier, it’s important to keep any agreements on file, and to audit invoices to make sure those rates are reflected in the charges. Because the discount may not be on the overall cost, go line by line and check fuel surcharges, mileage, and other factors. 

    When working with a 3PL, it’s important for the billing party (whether that’s the shipper or receiver) to make sure the correct “bill-to” is being used on the BOL. If this goes unnoticed and you are invoiced directly from the carrier without the appropriate discounts listed, it may seem like you’re out of luck. However, your 3PL can help out with a letter of authorization (LOA) submission to the carrier for a re-bill. It’s very important to do this before paying the invoice and as quickly as possible before the bill is past-due.

  4. Wrong calculations of weight, dimensions, pallet count, and NMFC
    Most shippers have dealt with receiving a freight bill riddled with unwarranted charges thanks to inaccurate item details. It’s the most common reason a freight invoice is disputed, and it’s an understatement to say that adjustments made to things like weight, freight class, dimensions, and more can greatly affect a shipment’s final cost. 

    A good place to start when looking at item details on an invoice is to review the product description and its related freight class or NMFC. With thousands of types of products entering the freight system every day, each type of product is assigned a numeric code to help classify and rate your shipment. A general rule is that the more difficult a product is to move, the higher the freight class will be, and more expensive to boot. It is important for shippers to thoroughly research what freight class is most accurate for their shipment before it is picked up, to avoid reclassing on an invoice. Reclassing can result in a higher base charge and also have fees associated with the adjustment itself.

    It’s also important to make sure the specifications and weight of your shipment are correct, because more and more carriers are moving towards dimensional or density-based pricing. If your product takes up space but doesn’t weigh very much, this low-density shipment will likely cost you. Make sure you are calculating density correctly, so that you don’t see surprises or adjustments on your invoice, including reweigh charges.

  5. Accessorial requests and fees
    Accessorial fees are charges for extra services that are requested by the shipper or receiver, but often show up unexpectedly on a freight invoice. They can be planned and requested on the BOL or come up out of need at the time of pick-up or delivery and billed after the fact. They include services such as lift-gate, inside delivery, or driver assist.

    The best way to avoid these types of freight invoice mistakes is to have clear communication between the shipper and receiver. Get information on the type of destination location, whether there is a dock and team available for delivery, and what type of truck will likely be needed to make a delivery. Accessorials are a difficult type of charge to contest, as the carrier holds the cards and will have noted the request for any special services. It’s up to the shipper and receiver to know which services come with a charge, and whether you can avoid needing these special services in the first place.

It’s important to note that mistakes can happen, and as we determined, adjusted invoices are common. If you’ve reviewed the facts, checked your BOL against your invoice and worked through details between the shipper and receiver, but still find inaccuracies, what do you do next? If you believe you’ve been overcharged and have documentation to prove it, you have a case for a claim against a carrier. It may seem like a daunting task, but you’re not alone. Working with the experts at PartnerShip can help offer claims assistance and get you started. Contact us to learn more.


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Ask the Experts: Top 6 Freight Shipping Tips

March 5, 2020 at 12:30 PMJen Deming
Ask the Experts blog image

Every day at PartnerShip, we field tons of questions from both new and experienced shippers looking for freight shipping tips related to product classification, density calculation, carrier tariffs, and more. As your shipping partner and expert resource, we've seen it all, but some key takeaways stand out above the rest. We asked two of our most knowledgeable freight veterans, Polly and Trevor, what they thought were the most important, can't-live-without freight shipping tips for businesses today. That way, you can anticipate challenges before they start and prioritize what common obstacles shippers face today.

Shipping Tip #1 - Freight transit time is an estimate

When a shipper wants to schedule a freight move, one of the first things that comes to mind is "when will it deliver?" It's an understandable question that needs to be answered so that the shipper can communicate with the delivery location. When quoting a shipment, the carrier often provides a transit and delivery estimate based on the shipment date. But, there are many things that the truck may encounter while in route that can cause a delay. Our Truckload Brokerage Manger, Polly, helps arrange hundreds of shipments a month and warns shippers that traffic and inclement weather can both affect pick-up dates and transit times. Additionally, standard freight services operate during business days and don't travel over the weekend, so this has to be considered when estimating arrival.

When you are using LTL or partial truckload services, be aware that your shipment will be sharing space with other loads on the truck. If for any reason loading is held up at any locations before yours, you may experience a delay or a missed pick-up as a result. If timely delivery is imperative, there are just-in-time and expedited options to consider. We want shippers to understand that they must be informed on potential delays on either end of the shipment and to build in extra time to ensure delivery success.

Shipping Tip #2 - Anything "above and beyond" costs money

Freight shipping is a complicated business. However, one fact is fairly straightforward: the carrier's responsibility to your freight is to pick it up and get it to where it needs to go. As our Revenue Services Manager, Trevor, can attest to, the more complicated the shipment and the more extra services you need, the higher your bill is going to be. Specialty equipment such as flatbeds or refrigerated vans are going to cost more than a standard dry van, just because they are less common and they do require more work from the driver. Accessorials such as driver assist in loading and unloading, limited access locations, and residential delivery fees cost extra because these require more flexibility, maneuverability, and effort than a typical dock pick-up.

Predictably, guaranteed delivery or expedited services will cost more. Working through weekends or holidays will always be a bit more expensive because it extends the hours of service. With ELD enforcement in full effect, drivers must be more careful about the restrictions on the hours they work. Often because of this, a team of drivers may be required to fulfill the delivery requirements, and that is very likely to cost more.

Finally, it's important to know that last minute requests will likely affect your costs in procuring a truck. Depending on availability, if it's tough-going trying to find the truck you need (especially if it's something more specialized than a dry van), the request is likely to work out in the carrier's favor. Working with carriers directly, Polly often sees drivers charging premiums for available trucks knowing a customer needs coverage immediately.

Shipping Tip #3 - Damage will happen, it's just a matter of time

Damage is a dirty word in the freight business, but it doesn't take very long for most shippers to realize it's almost unavoidable. The very nature of freight shipping is risky. Often, loads are moved to and from terminals and are loaded on multiple trucks. More hands on your freight means more risk of damage, so it's important to offset as much of this risk as possible by properly packaging and setting up claim filing success.

If your business is shipping especially fragile items such as built furniture, machinery, or electronics, start with crating as much of the load as possible. While custom crating may be costly, limiting damage will be worthwhile in the long run. If your shipment consists of multiple crates or pallets, be sure to label your paperwork and the pieces accordingly so they are kept together at each terminal. In the case that you are especially worried about the security of your freight, it may be worthwhile to look into more secure services like partial options or a dedicated truck.

Lastly, shippers must be aware that shipping personal items is rarely accepted by a freight carrier - especially since it's nearly impossible to designate liability. If your shipment experiences damage, you're not likely to get a satisfying payout. If you want to move personal effects, research local white glove delivery or moving services who specialize in these types of moves rather than a standard freight carrier.

Shipping Tip #4 - It's a carrier's market, make them want to work with you

With more and more freight entering a network with limited carrier capacity, available trucks are harder to find. Those who are able to move your shipment are going to have the upper hand and can pick and choose who they want to work with depending on a variety of factors. It's up to shippers to make themselves desirable to the carrier

Because the ELD mandate has tightened the hours that drivers are able to work, shippers who are extra considerate of their time are going to be appreciated the most. Detention is frustrating for the driver, and expensive for a shipper. If a business can streamline their loading/unloading process to avoid that risk, a driver will note the efficiency of that location. Remember that the reverse is also true. If a driver is consistently delayed because your team is unprepared, or the driver has to help with loading to keep to a tight timeline, the extra effort will cost you. 

On a related note, if the shipper or receiver is willing to extend warehouse hours to accommodate driver delays or early arrivals, carriers are more likely to take on the load. It's hard to accurately predict an exact transit or arrival time due to factors like weather or traffic. If a driver is less stressed to make a delivery window or is allowed to unload early so they can get back on the road, all the better.

A few additional things that will help increase your chances of becoming a preferred shipper? Working with truckload carriers daily, Polly says that a friendly warehouse team, prepared storage space, and a comfortable waiting area all help. Throw in perks like free Wi-Fi and access to coffee, and you're golden. Feeling appreciated goes a long way.

Shipping Tip #5 - Documentation is everything

In freight shipping, documentation can serve legal purposes, direct carriers to delivery, and exist as product invoices for receivers. Making sure you have accurate information on every piece of shipment documentation is important, from address labels to unit count. The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important shipping documents because it serves all three purposes listed above and then some. The BOL also helps determine the cost of your shipment based on class and commodity as well as additional services listed. In navigating claims and billing adjustments daily, Trevor stresses that making sure this important piece of paper is accurate is the first step in preventing bumps in any part of the shipment process.

Your freight invoice is also a very important piece of paperwork. Checking your final freight bill or invoice from the carrier is key in auditing your pricing, classification, extra fees, etc. It's a valuable resource to review where you can improve freight operations, check for errors, or minimize extra freight costs.

Proof of delivery receipts and inspection reports are also very valuable carrier-provided documents to review, especially should you need to submit a claim. Photos taken at pick-up and delivery are necessary as well for building your case against a carrier should your shipment become damaged. Every piece of documentation that is required throughout the freight shipping process can make or break a shipper should problems arise. Trevor insists that if you're looking for the most streamlined experience, ensuring every document is filled out correctly with accurate information must be a top priority.

Shipping Tip #6 - Freight quote vs freight rate

The last distinction we would like to make for shippers is understanding the differences between a freight quote and a freight rate. Trevor prepares invoices daily and stresses that a quote is an estimate and is only as good as the details provided.

A final bill is invoiced after the carrier charges the broker, or the shipment has been moved, and it can differ from the original quote due to discrepancies in the provided details. Even minor adjustments in weight or class can greatly affect a final invoice. If the weight was estimated, or a class number isn't researched properly, you may see a huge change in your final bill. 

Additional services like liftgate, driver assist, residential delivery, and more can all show up after the fact because shipment locations weren't researched properly. Additionally, if services were requested by either party after the quote was made, you'll see that adjustment in the final rate as well. Understanding that a freight quote can be flexible based on the many variables that affect a final freight rate can prepare shippers for any discrepancies. 

While there's so much that we want our shippers to know when arranging their freight transportation, these key items are the most important. Staying informed and keeping these freight shipping tips in mind better prepares you for potential challenges while keeping your costs low. If you have questions along the way, you have a knowledgeable resource in PartnerShip. With an expert team including Polly and Trevor available to answer your most complicated freight questions, we can steer you in the right direction. Call 800-599-2902 or contact us today for more information.

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Freight Shipping Documents 101

October 9, 2019 at 8:40 AMLeah Palnik

If you're new to freight shipping, there are a few documents you will come across frequently that you may be wondering what they are, why they are used, and what the differences of each are. For instance, what's the difference between a freight bill and a bill of lading; what do BOL and POD stand for; and what is a weighing-and-inspection report? Knowing these documents and their purpose can help avoid misunderstandings that might undermine an otherwise mutually beneficial business relationship between you and your third party logistics provider, carriers, suppliers, or even customers.

What is a Bill of Lading?

The bill of lading, or BOL as it is often called, is a required document to move a freight shipment. The BOL works as a receipt of freight services, a contract between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title. The bill of lading is a legally binding document providing the driver and the carrier all the details needed to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly. The BOL also serves as a receipt for the goods shipped. Without a copy signed by the carrier, the shipper would have little or no proof of carrier liability in the event the shipment was lost or destroyed.

When you schedule a shipment through PartnerShip, the BOL is automatically generated based on the shipment details entered during the quoting and shipment creations process. You are welcome to use our BOL or you can use your own if your order system already generates one. Either way, the BOL should be provided to the carrier on pickup and will be delivered to the consignee on delivery.

When composing a BOL, it is important to provide weight, value, and description of every item to be shipped. The BOL spells out where the freight will be collected, where it will be transported, and any special instructions on when and how the freight should arrive. Traditionally, the BOL also serves as title to the goods thus described; in other words, it can serve as an official description of loan collateral.

What is a Freight Bill?                                        

Freight bills, or freight invoices, are different from bills of lading in that they do not serve as a key piece of evidence in any dispute. The freight bill is the invoice for all freight charges associated with a shipment. While freight bills should match up closely to their BOL counterparts, they can also include additional charges (such as accessorials), information, or stipulations that serve to clarify the information on the BOL. When you are looking for an invoice to examine as part of a shipping analysis, you will generally use the freight bill rather than the original BOL since it will have the freight cost information on it.

In effect, freight bills are similar to other invoices for professional services your business might collect. Although they may seem less important during the freight shipping process, they should be retained long term. Because PartnerShip both automatically audits every one of our customers' freight bills, we have been able to avoid many cases where human error or carrier mistakes would have led to erroneous charges on your freight bill. PartnerShip customers can easily access copies of their freight invoices online at PartnerShip.com.

What is a Proof-of-Delivery?

A proof of delivery, or POD, is a document that is used when a shipment is delivered. The consignee signs this document to confirm delivery. Some carriers will have the consignee sign the BOL as confirmation of delivery. In other cases, carriers will use their own delivery receipt (DR), or even a copy of the freight bill. The consignee, when accepting delivery of the goods, should note any visible loss or damage on the delivery receipt (or whatever is used as the POD). It is your right as the freight shipper to request a copy of the POD at any time.  

What is a Weighing and Inspection Report?

A weighing and inspection report, or W&I report, is a document you may encounter less frequently. The W&I report comes into play as part of a carrier's process to inspect the freight characteristics of a shipment to determine that it accurately matches the description that is on the BOL. If the actual shipment weight is different than the weight that is shown on the BOL, then a W&I report is completed noting the change.

When a customer receives a freight bill with charges greater than what was originally quoted, often times this is due to this sort of weight discrepancy.  The customer has the right to request a copy of the W&I report from the carrier if needed to confirm the reweigh was performed and is valid. 

What is a Cargo Claims Form?

A cargo claims form, or simply claims form, is a document that carriers will require a customer to complete if there is any sort of shortage, loss, or damage "claim" with a shipment. A claim is a demand in writing for a specific amount of money that contains sufficient information to identify the shipment received by the originating carrier, delivering carrier, or carrier in which the alleged loss, damage, or delay occurred within the time limits specified in the BOL.

Claims should be filed promptly once loss or damage is discovered. Time limit for filing a claim is 9 months from date of delivery, or in the event of non-delivery, 9 months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed. If a claim is not received by the carrier within this time, payment is barred by law. A claim may be filed by the shipper, consignee, or the owner of the goods. Be certain to clearly show the name and complete address of the claimant. If you need help filing a claim with a carrier, feel free to contact PartnerShip and we'll help you through the process to ensure your best interests are protected. Claims forms are available online at PartnerShip.com for most of our freight carriers.

PartnerShip is here to help

As always, your friends at PartnerShip stand ready to help our customers every step of the way through the shipping process. We know you have a business to run – that's why you can count on PartnerShip to help you get the best shipping rates, the best carriers, and the best service for your LTL freight and truckload shipping needs. If you need access to any blank forms or documents for shipping, such as a bill of lading, cross-border documents, or carrier claims forms, be sure to check out our shipping forms on PartnerShip.com

Want to become a pro at filling out your BOL so you don't encounter any costly errors? We have just the thing you need. Download our free guide!

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The 8 Best Ways to Avoid Freight Detention Charges

September 30, 2019 at 12:51 PMJen Deming
The 8 Best Ways to Avoid Freight Detention Fees Blog Post

Detention charges are the single most common accessorial fee that shippers see when they receive a final bill following a truckload haul. The typical industry standard for unloading/loading times is two hours, and anything after that will incur a fee. Two hours can seem like plenty of time, but the truth is that time can slip by much too quickly if you, your shipment, and your loading team aren't completely prepared. The end result often includes costly fees and a higher freight bill. The good news is that with the right plan in place, detention charges can be avoidable. These eight simple tips help to proactively offset going over that time and help keep your budget in check.

Have an experienced team ready

First and foremost, in order to avoid detention charges, it's important for shippers to have an experienced team ready and familiar with the process of loading and unloading a truck. Have a detailed plan in place, make sure the product is ready and packed the way you need, and stage the shipment in the order which you want to load. If you have a multi-drop load, be sure the items you need to be delivered first are loaded closest to the doors. If you happen to be the customer, or delivery location, make sure your dock space is cleared out, and the unloading team is prepped and waiting at the time delivery is anticipated.

Extend warehouse/dock hours

One of the toughest parts of freight transit that a truck driver struggles to anticipate is unforeseen hold-ups, including pick-up delays, traffic, or weather conditions. Many times, simply being stuck in rush hour can make a driver late, and while it's not the shipper's responsibility to accommodate the delay, there may be benefits in doing so. By extending your warehouse hours beyond what is typical, it gives an already pressured driver more flexibility. By doing that, you ensure a full team is at the ready while also strengthening your carrier relationships.

Open a back-up dock

Once a driver arrives for the load, assuming it is within the negotiated window, the countdown begins. It doesn't matter if the warehouse lot is congested, the dock you need is being held up, or the team is busy with another shipment. Once the driver has parked his truck, your two hours are dwindling away and you're inching closer to detention fees. It's important to keep a back-up plan ready, a second dock location, and a few extra hands at the ready, so that if any unexpected delays occur, you can get going at your regularly planned start time. 

Aim to be a "shipper of choice"

In the current freight market, it's no secret that the carrier holds the cards, so smart shippers should do everything they can to be desirable to available drivers. Factors like warehouse hours, streamlined loading and unloading, prepared paperwork, and available parking space all help the driver, especially in an industry where wasted time means wasted money. By being flexible and making the pick-up and delivery process as easy as possible for the truckload carrier, shippers can reap the benefits of a strong relationship. A driver may be more willing to look past minimal amounts of detention time if your business is easy to work with and keeps operations flowing smoothly.

Negotiate extra time beforehand

Some shipments may be extra difficult to handle and therefore take extra time to load. Good examples of these types of shipments include over-sized or wide-loads or those delivering to limited access areas. Though industry standard is typically two hours, if you have a strong relationship with a regular carrier, and you anticipate needing extra time, it doesn't hurt to approach the possibility of free, or discounted, extra load time when negotiating the initial rate with the carrier. A truck driver is much more likely to be flexible if they anticipate being held up, rather being delayed the day of and likely set back in their transit time.

Check your loading equipment

You'd be surprised how many times a shipment is held up at a location just because the proper loading equipment is not available or in working order upon carrier arrival. Because it's rare for a truckload carrier to have a liftgate, it's important for both shipping locations to have proper loading equipment on hand such as a forklift.  If you are moving a larger piece of freight, such as a machinery load, and need cranes or other nonstandard pieces of equipment to load, these must be accessible and operable by certified team members. Additionally, all parties involved have to do their homework and be familiar with circumstances at either location. If a shipper arranges a delivery to a customer without a dock, you can bet that team will be scrambling to unload on time if they aren't prepared. That means detention charges are likely. 

Get your paperwork in place

Every shipper knows that freight shipping involves a lot of paperwork. Minimally, a shipper needs to have a bill-of-lading prepared at pick-up, and additional documents can include product invoices, customs paperwork, insurance certificates, hazmat documents, among many others. If you are moving freight across the border, there are a myriad of other pieces of information a carrier and border officials will need as well. Having these items prepared for the driver upon arrival will help get your shipment loaded, and the driver back on the road, within the allotted loading time.

Consider drop-trailer programs

For shippers who are moving freight regularly to and from consistent locations, a drop-trailer program is an efficient and expedient option. In this type of freight haul, a carrier brings a loaded trailer to a location, unhooks and "drops" the trailer, and picks up a pre-loaded trailer that's been packed with freight. This cuts down on time waiting for loading and unloading, and gets the driver back on the road at a much faster rate. Drop-trailer programs are becoming increasingly popular, especially with new hours of service rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association that affect the amount of time a truck driver can be on duty. Using a drop-trailer program not only guarantees better efficiency and convenience for the driver, it also streamlines a shipper's supply chain operations.

Unexpected fees tacked on to a freight bill are never a welcome surprise. While detention charges are very common, truckload shippers have options to avoid detention and spending more money than anticipated. Simple measures during preparation and packaging and being extra flexible with your truck driver can help offset any potential hold-ups while also strengthening your working relationships with regular carriers. The truckload shipping experts at PartnerShip can help simplify your shipping procedures with reliable carriers and customized service options. Call 800-599-2902 to learn more or contact us today.

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UPS and FedEx Peak Surcharges Announced for 2019

September 24, 2019 at 8:23 AMJerry Spelic
2019 UPS and FedEx Peak Surcharges

UPS and FedEx have both announced that they will not apply peak season surcharges on residential deliveries this holiday shipping season. However, both companies will continue peak surcharges on large shipments and those requiring additional handling during the holidays.

During the 2018 holiday season, UPS applied a per package residential peak delivery surcharge of $0.28 for ground and $0.99 for air shipments. This year, the company is leveraging its expanded air and ground capacity, and automated sorting hubs and processing facilities, to pass cost savings on to customers in the form of no residential delivery peak surcharge. More than 75% of UPS's small package volume will pass through these automated facilities in peak 2019.

“We delivered a record-setting 2018 peak season in terms of both on-time delivery performance and operations execution,” said David Abney, UPS Chairman and CEO. “We will build on the lessons learned last year and leverage our new efficient air and ground capacity to make the 2019 peak season another success for customers, investors and other stakeholders.”

This is the third holiday season FedEx has not added additional peak surcharges on residential deliveries. With UPS and FedEx both not applying a residential delivery surcharge this year, it is great news for e-commerce retailers and online shoppers. Online sales are expected to grow 14% to 18% this holiday season, and in the past, these residential delivery surcharges were passed along to shoppers in the form of higher shipping costs.

It’s important to remember that both UPS and FedEx are implementing peak surcharges this holiday season on larger packages and those that require additional handling.

UPS peak surcharges will apply to larger packages from October 1 through January 4:

  • $31.45 per package for shipments that qualify as large (a 20% increase from 2018)
  • $250.00 per package for shipments that qualify as over maximum limits (a 51.5% increase)

UPS will apply peak surcharges for additional handling from November 24 through January 4:

  • $3.60 per package for shipments that require additional handling (a 14% increase)
FedEx peak surcharges will apply to larger packages from October 21 through January 5:

  • $37.60 per package for shipments that qualify as oversize (a 36.7% increase from 2018)
  • $435.00 per package for shipments that qualify as unauthorized (a 190% increase)
FedEx will apply peak surcharges for larger packages from November 18 through January 5:

  • $4.10 per package for shipments that requires additional handling (a 13.8% increase)

The growth of e-commerce and online shopping for large and awkwardly shaped products such as mattresses and furniture has necessitated these surcharges because heavy and bulky packages can’t move through the automated systems in which UPS and FedEx have heavily invested. Through these surcharges, shippers are paying the price for the loss of efficiency these packages represent.

If you’re a retailer, you should pay close attention to this year’s UPS and FedEx peak season surcharges so you can make any needed changes now to help ensure you remain profitable during the busy holiday shipping (and shopping) season. A good first step would be to look at the large packages you ship and determine which will be impacted by the peak surcharges.

The UPS and FedEx additional handling peak surcharge will be triggered by packages that:
  • Weigh more than 70 pounds
  • Measure more than 48 inches along its longest side and more than 30 inches along its second-longest side
  • Are not enclosed in traditional corrugated cardboard packaging

UPS Large Package and FedEx Oversize Package surcharges will be triggered by any package that exceeds 96 inches in length or 130 inches in length and girth.

UPS Over Maximum Limit and FedEx Unauthorized Package surcharges will be triggered by any package that exceeds 150 lbs., 165 inches in length and girth combined, or longer than 108 inches.

Surcharges for these packages are already high; additional UPS and FedEx peak surcharges represent an added dent to your bottom line. When deciding how to ship your small package shipments, or if you should use LTL to ship your oversized or heavy packages, you need an expert on your side. PartnerShip manages shipping programs for over 140 associations, providing exclusive discounts on small package shipments to their members. To find out if you qualify or to learn how you can ship smarter, contact us today.

FedEx and UPS rates will be going up after the holiday season! Make sure you know what to expect so you can mitigate the impact to your bottom line. Our free white paper breaks down where you'll find the highest increases and explains some of the complicated changes you need to be aware of.

Download the free white paper: Your Guide to the 2020 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

6 Considerations for Choosing an LTL Freight Carrier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Freight Class Explained: Demystifying Density

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

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

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

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

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

machinery ClassIT Example 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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