Ask the Experts: Top 6 Freight Shipping Tips

March 5, 2020 at 12:30 PMJen Deming
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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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Logistics and Legal Rights: Where Do Shippers Stand?

January 23, 2020 at 9:03 AMJen Deming
Shippers Rights Blog Post image

Every shipper will likely encounter loss or damage and seek reimbursement by filing a claim. In order to navigate this tricky scenario, smart shippers become their own advocates by taking a deep dive into the legal policies that affect shipper's rights and responsibilities. When going against powerhouse national carriers who have every resource in their corner, you can arm yourself with critical information that helps you get the best outcome possible for your business.

The Carmack Amendment Basics

First things first, the term "Carmack Amendment" is frequently thrown around in the industry, but what exactly is it and why should shippers care? Put simply, this law was set in place in 1935 to draw the line between carrier and shipper liability. Prior to that, with the Bill of Lading (BOL) serving as a legal contract of carriage, carriers were almost exclusively held responsible for damage or loss. With the passage of the amendment, it was determined that the carrier should be held responsible unless one of the outline exclusions is met. This change let to a positive impact on the industry, incentivizing both carriers to proactively prevent theft and shippers to more effectively prepare their freight. 

5 Carrier Exclusions to Responsibility

The Carmack Amendment clearly outlines five specific instances in which a carrier is not to be held liable for damage, delay, or loss to freight. These events are intended to protect the carrier from circumstances outside of their control. The five are:

  1. Acts of God: A carrier cannot be held liable for instances of natural disasters or other uncontrollable phenomenon such as severe weather, medical emergencies involving a driver, etc. In order to act under this defense, the event must be notably unanticipated and unable to be avoided.

  2. Public Enemy: Carriers are exempt from damage liability if the incident was caused during a defensive call to action by the government, or "military force". While there has been relative peacetime on American soil for quite some time, the "public enemy" defense has also applied to acts of domestic terrorism in some recent court cases. It does not include events caused by hijackers, cargo theft, organized crime, or other criminal acts.

  3. Default of Shipper: This is the most notable exclusion for shippers to be mindful of and indicates any event that the carrier can prove damage was caused by the shipper. This can include a defense of negligence, poor packaging, improper labeling and other mistakes made during preparation. The majority of carriers will try to prove these circumstances if there is any doubt a shipper could have made a mistake. Shippers must properly offset this risk with secure packaging, correct labeling, and maintaining communication with your customer for delivery.

  4. Public Authority: If the government takes action that results in damage or delay, the carrier is not liable. Government policy cannot be controlled, so road closures, trade embargoes, recalls, and quarantines all exempt a carrier.

  5. Inherent Vice/Nature of Goods: Some commodities are naturally subject to deterioration over time, and as long as the defect was not caused or sped up by the carrier negligence, they are safe from liability. A common example of high-risk commodities include produce, live plants, and medical supplies. If you are shipping temperature controlled or time sensitive products, be sure that you are taking every precaution to ensure security and viability.

Burden of Proof for Shippers

Just as there are five distinct factors that exclude carriers from responsibility, there are three factors the shipper must prove in order to start a damage claim. To begin, it must be demonstrated that the shipment was picked up in "good" condition. This protects the carrier should the shipment have been damaged to begin with. In order to defend yourself, take pictures of your freight before it is picked up proving all is well. Collect invoices, product descriptions, and item counts so that you have a leg to stand on in the case of any loss or shortage. 

Secondly, the shipper must prove that the load was delivered in damaged condition. Complete a thorough inspection before you sign and again, take pictures of everything for proof. Concealed damage, hidden and only discovered after the carrier has left, is a tricky area for claims. Open and dismantle your packaging at delivery to check for issues, and don't feel bad for delaying a driver. If there is any doubt at all, make a note on the delivery receipt. If you are not present for delivery, make sure clear expectations are established with the receiver or customer so that everyone is on the same page.

Lastly, the shipper has to prove that the freight damage resulted in a specific amount of loss. It won't work to throw an arbitrary number in a freight claim, so collect itemized receipts and quotes or bills for replacement or repair costs. Be reasonable and accurate in your request.

Fair Compensation Rights for Shippers

Even if the shipper does everything right, claim payouts are rare what would would expect. Carriers do everything in their power to minimize financial losses, so they will look at every loophole possible. So how does a carrier determine a claim payout?

The amount is typically determine by a set dollar amount per pound based on the commodity. It's important to review carrier tariffs and agreement limits before you ship your product. Some carriers will pay nothing on a used item, so be sure to review the fine print. It's also critical to have an accurate BOL. If there are incorrect details, you're likely to see that reflected in your payout. It's also important to note that a carrier claims department will examine the damage, and limit a payout if they feel the product can be salvaged or repaired at a lesser amount than what is requested.

Since carrier liability is limited, a smart shipper will obtain supplementary freight insurance. It's a super smart option for anyone shipping fragile goods or a high value commodity. While most carrier liability only pays out a certain dollar amount per pound of freight, freight insurance can be purchased in the value of coverage you need, and you are not required to prove the carrier is at fault.

It's important to note carrier compensation timelines for payouts. A carrier should acknowledge receipt of the claim within 30 days, with a ruling completed within 120 days. In the event of a denied claim ruling, the shipper has a right to file a lawsuit. Most need to be filed within 2 years and one day, but there are exceptions so it's best to work quickly.

Shipper's Requirements for Proper Claim Filing

It's up to the shipper to follow a precise protocol in filing a claim to increase their chances of a suitable resolution. Collecting as much hard evidence as possible will help your case. Seeking written statements by warehouse receivers and testimonies of loading procedures, as well as video evidence can assist your cause. Being thorough is crucial but working quickly is just as important, so be mindful of deadlines. You have nine months from the delivery date to file, but for those concealed damage cases, you have five daysso get on it. 

Documentation you may need to file:

  • Proof of delivery
  • Original BOL
  • Freight bill
  • Merchandise invoice
  • Replacement invoice or repair bill
  • Pictures of damaged freight

A special note for shippers: under the Carmack Amendment, damaged freight is not a valid reason for withholding payment to the carrier. Doing so will breach a shipper/carrier agreement, so bite bullet and pay that bill: seek compensation afterwards.

Knowing the basics of the Carmack Amendment and how they relate to shipper's rights helps protect your business in the event of damaged or lost freight. the best part is, you don't have to go through the claims process alone. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have an informed ally looking out for your best interests and your company's bottom line. For a thorough rundown on freight claims, download our free white paper.

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All Wrapped Up in Holiday Cheer!

December 19, 2019 at 2:18 PMJen Deming

Yearly traditions are a huge part of the way we celebrate the holiday season, from family cookie swaps to white elephant gift exchanges. At PartnerShip, we like to participate in holiday office traditions with our very own work family. One extra special tradition that we look forward to each and every year is our PartnerShip Giving Tree. 

Giving Tree

The holidays can be festive and fun, but for those children currently waiting to be placed in a forever family or loving foster home, holiday spirit and joy can be hard to find. That's why every year, we like to work alongside Caring For Kids Adoption and Foster Agency based in Cuyahoga Falls, hoping to guarantee a little seasonal magic. Caring For Kids, Inc and the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program provides PartnerShip with the opportunity to host several kiddos and grant their wish lists, ensuring they have happy holiday memories and experience the joy every kid should this time of year.

On our giving tree hangs gift tags with a child's name, picture, and wish list - everything from clothing items to Cavs tickets. Members of our PartnerShip staff can select a tag and purchase the wish list gift, playing Secret Santa to those who need it most.Caring for Kids Later, Senior Program Manager Harry, "Centa" Claus, delivers the wrapped gifts (Santa suit optional) to Caring For Kids to be distributed by the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program. This year, we are hosting six remarkable kids, and have plans to cross every wish off their list. 

It's easy to get swept up year round, focusing on business goals, tackling initiatives, and even getting wrapped up in end of year responsibilities and our own "to do" lists. It's important to step back, slow down, and remember the true spirit of the season. Working with Caring For Kids reminds us to do just that, and allows us to spread some holiday cheer along the way. 

Happy Holidays!

Employee Spotlight: the Hardman Blanket Drive

December 18, 2019 at 8:44 AMJen Deming
Employee Spotlight: The Hardmans

It's the season of giving, and this time of year we like to celebrate those who go above and beyond to help those in need. At PartnerShip, we have two employees we'd like to spotlight for their commitment to spreading the spirit of the season, as well as touch on their own personal experience with an extra special cause.

Lucas Hardman

In spring of 2011, Brian and Nicole Hardman welcomed their first child, Lucas, into the world. Lucas was soon diagnosed with a severe form of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare and painful genetic disease that affects the connective skin tissue, resulting in extremely fragile skin that can blister or tear at the slightest touch. There is no cure for EB, and often the disease is debilitating or in the worst cases, lethal. Wound care, pain management, and preventative bandaging are currently the only options for those afflicted.

Unfortunately, Lucas passed away about a month after his birth. Nicole and Brian are dedicated to raising awareness about "the worst disease you've never heard of" and participate in fundraisers and other benefits working with debra of America, the only U.S. nonprofit providing support to the EB community through funding research and providing free resources. 

Every holiday season, Nicole and Brian organize a baby blanket drive in memory of Lucas, for those babies currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. In a time of great fear and uncertainty, the baby blankets provided by the hospital offered comfort and joy to the Hardmans while Lucas was admitted. So, in his honor, the Hardmans collect monetary or blanket donations from those who would like to support families in need. 

ALT Baby Blankets

The hospital is grateful for any blanket donation, as long as it's new and still within it's original packaging. This is the ninth year that the Hardmans will be hosting the drive, with the total baby blankets collected running over a thousand. Each and every year Nicole and Brian are moved by the generosity and love shown by those willing to donate to a cause that is so very close to their hearts. 

"The blanket drive has become such a special holiday tradition for our family. The kindness and generosity that these blankets represent help keep our son's memory alive during a time of year when we miss him so much. We know in our hearts that helping other babies and families is the best Christmas present we can give to Lucas. While a blanket may not seem like much, we know first-hand how much comfort it can bring, even if only for a brief moment. We are deeply grateful to everyone who has donated in our baby boy's memory." -Nicole Hardman, December 2019

To learn more about EB and how you can help, visit the Love for Lucas Facebook Page.

2019 Holiday Shipping Schedule

November 22, 2019 at 10:13 AMJen Deming
Holiday Shipping Schedule

It might be the most wonderful time of the year but getting your shipping in order during the holiday crunch can cause more headaches than too much eggnog. Most carriers adjust their holiday shipping schedules to include back-out dates and cut-off times on certain days of the year. Whether you are moving a truckload of trees or simply delivering to a customer's doorstep, it's important to take note of key dates to keep your holiday shipping running smoothly.

Holiday schedules for LTL freight carriers

You can't get your shipment moving if there's no trucks on the road. In LTL freight shipping, it's critical to check which dates your chosen carrier will be closed. Below, we've noted the most common freight carriers and their holiday shipping schedules for 2019:

  • YRC Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and December 31-January 1.
  • XPO Logistics will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Old Dominion will be closed November 28, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on November 29 and December 31.
  • New Penn will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on December 31.
  • Pitt Ohio will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Reddaway will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Dayton Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • R&L Carriers will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Estes will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Central Transport will be closed November 28, December 25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on November 28 and December 24.
  • Roadrunner will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • FedEx Freight will be closed November 28-30, December 21-22, 24-25, 28-29, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on December 23 and December 31.
  • Holland will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on December 31.
  • New England Motor Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • AAA Cooper will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • ArcBest will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • UPS Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on December 1.

When it comes to your smaller, ground shipments, it's important to keep on top of peak surcharges during the holiday season. While both FedEx and UPS have announced that they will not implement additional fees on residential shipments, those that are over-sized or require additional handling will. UPS will apply surcharges to larger packages from October 1-January 4. Charges will be applied for those packages requiring additional handling from November 24-January 4. FedEx will charge extra for larger packages from October 21-January 5. The carrier will apply peak surcharges for those that require additional handling from November 18-January 5.

Deadlines and closures for small package shipments

For your small package shipments being moved by FedEx, make sure to check out the last days to ship and reference the 2019 holiday schedule so you can adjust your own holiday shipping schedule. 

FedEx holiday schedule graphic

PartnerShip office schedule

If your holiday shipping has you frazzled, PartnerShip can help you get sorted this season. Just a reminder, our office will be closed so we can enjoy time with our families November 28-29, December 25, and January 1. Happy Holidays!

Parcel vs Freight: What Works Best for You?

October 22, 2019 at 11:33 AMJen Deming
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The differences between parcel shipping and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping can be difficult to identify, at least on the surface. If you're not using either service regularly, it can be challenging to know which shipping option you really need. But, there are some definite factors that make a difference to a shipper's experience, like transit times, pricing structure, and security risk. Knowing more about the key differences of parcel vs freight shipping can help determine which makes the most sense for your shipment.

Risk and security

Packaging and handling practices can vary between parcel vs freight shipping, affecting your freight's risk of damage. Typically, parcel shipments are smaller, individually boxed shipments that move separately within the carrier system. Most are under 70 lbs., but they are accepted up to 150 lbs. Freight loads are larger and most often consist of multiple boxes or items collected onto a pallet, or within strapped-together crates, and ship together as a group. Both types of shipments have packaging requirements that include protective material inside the container to help prevent damage. Because freight shipments often use shrink wrap or other binding material to keep boxes together, loss is minimized. 

Because of their smaller size, parcel shipments can be easily handled and are generally auto-sorted through the carrier conveyor system. They are then taken to a regional location and transferred through multiple stops and service terminals until final delivery. Because of all the handling, combined with the smaller size of loose parcels, there is an increased risk for lost or misrouted boxes. Freight shipping also includes loading and transfer at multiple stops, but it's less frequent than parcel services. Fewer stops means less loading, but because the pallets may need to be moved with a forklift, there is a risk of damage associated with handling that shippers must keep in mind.

Driver service level

A key point to keep in mind when considering parcel vs freight shipping is the truck driver's level of involvement when it comes to handling the shipment. Parcel shipments moved by common carriers such as FedEx or UPS are loaded, unloaded, and delivered by hand. A shipper is responsible for proper packaging and labeling, and a receiver must check the shipment carton count and for damages. But generally, a driver will take care of handling, including front door pick-up or inside delivery. 

Freight shipping is an entirely different story. The driver only moves your freight from pick-up to destination; it is up to the shipper and consignee to have a team ready for the loading and unloading of the freight. This means the driver will not assist. Driver assistance can be requested, but because it is considered a special service, expect to pay extra. Additionally, accessorials such as inside delivery or limited access locations may incur other fees on top of regular shipping charges. 

Pricing and cost efficiency

One of the most significant differences in parcel vs freight shipping relates to how pricing is calculated. Freight pricing is determined by several variables, including distance traveled, fuel cost, weight, additional services, and the classification of the shipment. Lane pricing is set by carriers and certain routes across the country can be more competitively priced than others depending on the volume of industry or location type. For example, shipping off-mainland or to a densely congested city's downtown area can be pricey. Depending on your product type, or the density of your shipment, the freight class can either increase or decrease. Lastly, carriers tend to have different levels of liability coverage, depending on freight class, in the event of damage claims on a shipment. Freight class is an extremely important factor for freight shippers as it pertains to cost.

Parcel pricing can also be complicated. The shape, weight, and size of a package all affect the cost, in addition to the type of service requested. Shorter, expedited transit times cost more than standard ground shipping options. Additionally, dimensional (DIM) weight pricing has become popular with common carriers. Dimensional weight bases price on the package volume in relation to its actual weight. The practice was implemented in an effort to minimize awkwardly-sized shipments that waste space in a carrier's truck. It's important to properly calculate your dimensional weight so that you can accurately predict the cost of your shipment.

Knowing the differences of parcel vs freight shipping can help you make the right choice in service and save you in shipping costs. If you're shipping larger, heavier items, or can combine multiple shipments into a single load, using an LTL freight service is right for you. If you're shipping smaller, single boxes and want faster door to door service, parcel shipping is the better option.

Understanding how pricing is calculated for both, and what you can expect your shipment to encounter during transit, will help you ship smarter. If you're still unsure which would make the most sense for your business, call 800-599-2902 or contact us today.

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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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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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3 Times You Should Consider Regional Freight Carriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cross-Border Freight Shipping FAQs

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

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

What is PARS?

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

What is a PARS number?          

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

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

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

What is PAPS?

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

Where will my shipment cross the border?

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

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

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

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

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

What is ACI?

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

What is ACE?

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

What is a FAST certification?

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

How much do I pay shipping cross-border?

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

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

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

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

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