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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PartnerShip Appreciates America's Truck Drivers!

September 9, 2019 at 9:02 AMJerry Spelic
2019 Truck Driver Driver Appreciation Week

This week has been designated National Truck Driver Appreciation Week and PartnerShip says “thank you” to all of the men and women who keep America moving forward by transporting freight safely, reliably and efficiently. 

“Every September, trucking comes together to recognize what we consider the most important profession in the country: truck drivers.” said American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear. ATA Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Elisabeth Barna added, “It’s a chance for the industry to work with the general public, policymakers and members of the media to acknowledge truck drivers for their dedication to safety and professionalism.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week happens September 9 - 15 to honor all 3.5 million professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment. PartnerShip is saying “thank you” with a Dunkin' Donuts gift card for drivers that move a load for us during the week. It’s our small way of thanking drivers that help our customers ship smarter.

To learn more about National Truck Driver Appreciation Week and the American Trucking Associations, visit the ATA website. To become a partner carrier, contact one of our Carrier Procurement Representatives for a setup packet at carriers@PartnerShip.com or visit our Becoming a PartnerShip Carrier webpage. Then check the PartnerShip Load Board and get started!

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Machinery Transportation: How to Get the Best Rate

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

Why trucking equipment matters for your machinery transportation

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

Types of equipment to consider for your machinery transportation:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Why Shippers Should Care About the CVSA Roadcheck

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

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

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

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

What can shippers expect?

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

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

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Truck Driving Trailblazers: Women in Shipping

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

Riding West with Annie Neal

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

A Shift in Responsibility

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

Luella Bates - Mechanic, Operator, Spokesperson

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

Lillie Drennan - the First Licensed Truck Driver

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

Driving the War Effort

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

Starting a Revolution

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

Where are we now?

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

Where are we headed?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The PartnerShip Carrier of the Month for October Is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picking Your Pallet Type: How to Best to Support Your Freight

October 25, 2018 at 11:55 AMJen Deming
Picking Your Pallet Blog Post

Not all pallet types are created equal. While it's always smart to properly palletize your freight shipments, construction style and material can vary more than you'd expect. Some structures are better suited for certain types of loads. Before you can understand the best way to organize and stack your freight on a pallet, it's helpful to know the advantages and disadvantages of each type, so that you can better secure your freight and protect yourself against potential damage and loss.

Pallet Structure Types: Stringer vs Block
A stringer pallet is a pallet structure that uses "stringers" (2x4 or 3x4 pieces of board) sandwiched between the top and bottom decks to help support the weight of the load. Sometimes, stringer pallets are notched along the bottom deckboard to allow for partial fork lift entry on all sides. Otherwise, typical construction can limit mobility via forklift.

A block pallet uses around 4-12 blocks of solid wood or plastic to support the weight of the shipment resting on the top deckboard. Because the pallet construction uses multiple pieces with open spaces at the bottom, there is better allowance for forklift entry on all four sides, allowing for easier lift and mobility.

Now that we've covered the two basic pallet structures, shippers need to understand the differences in construction components  so your valuable freight doesn't get damaged. Different industries and commodities require different specifications based on the load. There are 4 primary material groups when it comes to pallet types: wood, plastic, metal, and corrugated paper. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages regarding cost, durability, availability, and sustainability.

Wood Pallets
Wooden or plywood pallets are the most recognizable and commonly used pallet type for a wide variety of industries.

  • Advantages: These pallets are the cheapest and also easiest to customize for a commodity's specific needs. They are typically reusable and can hold up in multiple transits. If they are damaged in transit, wooden pallets are very easy to repair.  They are easy to stack, and the used wooden materials are popular to re-purpose for mulch, paper, and other project construction.
  • Disadvantages: Wooden pallets become fragile after carrying heavier loads and are at risk to weathering, splitting, and splintering. This pallet type can be heavy and therefore more costly to ship. Wood is difficult to clean and porous, growing both bacteria and mold, so food, beverages, and chemicals aren't ideal commodities to ship using this type of pallet.

Plastic Pallets
Notably more expensive than wood, plastic pallets are a great all-around option for those shippers willing to shell out a bit more.

  • Advantages: While being the most lightweight of available pallet material options, plastic is still super durable and ideal for heavy loads. The material is easy to clean (safe for transport of food products) and are generally stress, heat, and weather resistant. Plastic pallets are easily recyclable and can be quickly ground down and turned into new pallets. Since they are often made of a single piece with no screws or other hardware, they can be safer to handle than standard wooden pallets.
  • Disadvantages: Plastic pallets are pretty inflexible. If they break or crack, it isn't cost efficient to fix, and they have to be melted down and remolded entirely. Because of this, and the effort that goes into making them, they are at a distinctly higher price point than some other pallet types.

Metal Pallets
Strong and resilient, this premium option is one the the least common pallet types, but a very sturdy alternative for certain industries.

  • Advantages: Metal (often aluminum) pallets are a great option used for transporting heavy goods because they are the sturdiest and most secure alternative. They are also excellent for businesses moving foodstuffs because of sanitation and safety. They do not break down or rot easily, and are not susceptible to warping or splintering like wood. They are less easily recyclable, but can still be melted down and reused.
  • Disadvantages: Up-front initial costs for the purchase of metal pallets is very high. While very durable, these pallets are also extremely heavy, so keep in mind the actual transportation cost may be higher as well.

Corrugated Paper Pallets
As the newest pallet type on the block, this environmentally friendly option is becoming more popular across a variety of industries.

  • Advantages: Corrugated paper pallets are lightweight but still strong enough for moderate shipments and typically less expensive than more commonly found wooden pallets. They are completely recyclable and transportation costs are typically lower due to their weight. Because they are intended to be "single use" by nature, they are more sanitary than wooden and plastic pallets.
  • Disadvantages: Paper pallets cannot withstand extreme weather conditions, and they are more easily damaged by forklifts and during loading/unloading. Because they are not very reusable, while they are cheap, replacement costs can get pretty high if you are shipping frequently.

While it's pretty common knowledge that you can better protect your freight by palletizing your shipments, it may come as a surprise to many shippers that there are so many different pallet types. Advances in the construction of the basic pallet have greatly improved both durability and cost. Pallet building materials and the engineering of the structure can literally make or break your load. If you would like to learn more about how to best package and palletize your freight, download our free white paper below!

Ultimate Guide to Packaging White Paper CTA

The Impact of Natural Disasters on Freight Shipping

October 15, 2018 at 8:40 AMJerry Spelic
The Impact of Natural Disasters on Freight Shipping

Our economy relies on the reliable transportation of goods and materials to link suppliers with manufacturers, manufacturers with retailers, and retailers with consumers. When natural disasters happen, they can negatively impact your carriers, your lanes, your supply chain, and your cost of moving freight.

The natural disasters that have the most profound impact on the movement of freight are floods, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, and ice storms. Each of these natural calamities produces dangerous road conditions that make driving hazardous, and in extreme cases, can wash away roads or make them completely impassable.

Here are 6 ways that natural disasters can impact your freight shipping operations.

Rates. Obviously, your freight shipping rates will increase in a natural catastrophe. If roads become impassable, alternate routes will need to be taken, increasing fuel consumption and lengthening driver on-duty time, both of which are costs that will be passed along to you. Your freight rates will also increase due to tighter capacity with demand outstripping equipment or carriers refusing to travel to areas with impending, or predicted, severe weather. If you do find a driver and / or equipment willing to take the risk, you will pay for it.

Capacity. After a natural disaster, there is substantial competition for limited transportation resources and equipment. This limited capacity will naturally push costs up, but even if you can afford it, the capacity might be impossible to find.

Transit time. If your regular Atlanta to New Jersey lane is two days, it may stretch to three, four, five or more if a hurricane is bearing down on the east coast. The driver may need to wait it out inland until roads are passable, until the warehouse or factory is open again for business, or may just be caught in traffic. This will increase your transit time.

Fuel. Diesel prices always rise in the wake of a natural disaster, especially hurricanes, because refineries are frequently located near where hurricanes make landfall. This can close a refinery or damage it, making fuel more expensive. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey shut down about 17% of US oil refining capacity in Corpus Christi, Port Arthur, Lake Charles and Houston, TX. The disruption to oil refining drives up fuel prices and the fuel surcharges carriers charge you for every load.

Refused loads. Many times carriers will refuse to pick up or deliver freight in the event of a natural disaster. If your carriers refuse your loads, your supply chain will suffer. Your plants can go idle, waiting for materials or components; your customers’ plants can go idle, waiting for you; retailers can run out of inventory; all of which result in opportunity and revenue lost.

Inbound delays. Your flight from Dallas to Los Angeles will be delayed if the inbound flight from Chicago is late due to weather. Inbound freight can be impacted in the same way. Even though your area might not be facing weather issues or a natural catastrophe, if your inbound freight is delayed due to facility shutdowns or power outages caused by severe weather, you will be affected.

Here are some suggestions to deal with the effects of natural disasters on your shipping:

  • Two tactics to manage unexpected increases in your freight rates are 1), accrue for contingencies in your annual freight budget and 2), shop around. Working with a broker that has access to thousands of carriers can help you move a load when your regular carriers cannot.
  • To alleviate difficulties due to a lack of capacity, think through different transportation options before disaster strikes, such as lining up backup carriers for different regions of the country or shipping lanes, and working with your existing carriers to map out alternate routes.
  • Build slack into your supply chain. Just-in-time inventory control is easier when you manage the assets moving your freight but is much more difficult to control when you are relying on carriers which can be delayed to natural disasters.
  • Leverage your freight spend. Giving more freight to fewer carriers can help you negotiate lower fuel surcharges.
  • Plan your transportation to optimize transportation modes. For example, it might be less expensive to ship your freight as multiple LTL loads rather than full truckload. Or moving everything in one truck might be the better alternative.  
Working with a freight broker can help you mitigate the service interruptions, capacity issues and increased costs associated with natural disasters and severe weather. Contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or request a quote to see how we can help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.

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