Freight Class Explained: FAK FAQs

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

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

What is an FAK?

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

How does this differ from a class exception?

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

How does a carrier determine whether an FAK is possible?

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

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

What's the catch?

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

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

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

What's my class?

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

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

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

Popcorn Blog Image 1

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

Popcorn Blog Image 2

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

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

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Freight Class Explained: Demystifying Density

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

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

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

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

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

machinery ClassIT Example 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Freight Class Explained: Bring on the Basics

February 13, 2019 at 8:27 AMJen Deming
Freight Class Blog Image 1

Freight class is a critical component of shipping your LTL loads. But it's confusing and making a guesstimate is risky business. Your shipment's freight class plays a huge part in from everything from your initial freight rate estimate to your payout for any potential damage claims. How can a little number mean so much?

What is a freight class?

Prior to understanding class number, shippers need to grasp the importance of the NMFC, or National Motor Freight Classification. Every type of product or commodity has a numeric code assigned to identify it within a categorical system, similar to a UPC used within a grocery store. The code also breaks down these products into over-arching groups, which then tell you how to class your product. There are 18 freight classes that range from 50 to 500. Your freight class helps the carrier determine how much to charge for your shipment, along with other factors such as weight and distance traveled, as well as any additional requested services. Typically, the higher the class, the more expensive the subsequent freight rate.  

What factors determine a freight class?

There are four factors that influence the classification of different commodities; each affects the difficulty in transporting the freight and increases the freight class. 

  • Density - The space an item takes up as it relates to weight. The higher the density, the lower the classification. Low density shipments take up a lot of space but weigh less, making the shipment unprofitable to carriers. More classifications are becoming density-based as capacity becomes crunched and larger, less standard types of freight are entering the network to be shipped.
  • Storage/Stowability - This refers to how easily freight can be stored and stacked on the truck, and how much space it takes up. Similar to density, if a shipment is large, oddly-shaped, or difficult to fit in the truck, the load becomes undesirable. .A higher freight class is assigned in order to reflect the added work to fit in the load.
  • Handling - Similar to storage and stowability, the more difficult it is to load and unload a shipment affects freight class. A shipment that requires more creativity and flexibility to load and unload will increase the class.
  • Liability - Carriers assign higher freight classes to "high risk" shipments in order to limit their accountability for those shipments that are more likely to be damaged in transit or have an increased risk for freight theft. If you have high value or fragile products, it will be reflected in a higher freight class to offset that risk.
What is my freight class?

To better understand the differences in freight classes, and how they are determined, looking at a few types of our most commonly shipped commodities can be insightful. As an example, we'll take a look at stone materials. While many shipments of stone are transported via truckload carrier, and don't need a classification listed on the shipping paperwork, there are still many instances where quarries, fabricators, and other stone suppliers need to move smaller loads for shorter distances. 

ClassIT Slate Image 1
In order to help shippers determine freight class, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association has created an online reference tool, ClassIT. The resource is available to shippers with a membership, and it's the primary tool used by PartnerShip shipping specialists. The index can be searched by using a brief description of the commodity. Being too specific, or too vague, can create issues in your search results. Note you can search by including "any word" or "every word" to adjust your results.

Let's say we have a shipment of slate blocks which are in 3 creates that are 4 ft. by 4 ft. and 515 lbs. each. We see two groupings that actually fall into the same Item or NMFC number, which is 90280. This is considered the "Gravel or Stone Group; consisting of gravel, sand, slag, slate, or stone, as described in items subject to this grouping." If we select "Slate Blocks, Pieces or Slabs, NOI" we are brought to the following breakdown of articles. You can see how specific it gets regarding packaging, usage, and dimensions. 

By looking at our shipment of crated slate blocks, we can see that our sample shipment falls under the 90280 Slate Blocks Pieces or Slabs group:

ClassIT Slate Image 2

It goes even further than that, breaking down into subgroups which determine freight class depending on packaging and size. This is why it is imperative to know the precise weight and dimensions of your shipment. In our example, our slate blocks are in crates 48 in. long, which falls under the subgroup 4 - class 65. Compare that to crated slate blocks longer than 96 in., which would be class 85. This is an increase, but shouldn't affect pricing drastically. When packaging type is adjusted, however, the class is increased significantly. By palletizing the slate blocks (subgroup 1), freight class jumps to 250. At this weight, the final freight rate can be raised by hundreds of dollars.

In the Slate Blocks, Pieces or Slabs group, you can also reference three separate notes that are relevant to the details of the shipment:

ClassIT Slate Image 3

These details are notable, because it gives further direction on how best to package your freight for both safety and security. In 90282, the note states that "pieces or slabs 2 in. or less in thickness" must be boxed or crated and marked "fragile." We see more packaging direction in 90283 regarding exposed surfaces and edges and requirement for wrapping and other protection. This is to hopefully limit damage, but shippers must also be mindful that if freight falls within this category, and it is not packaged as directed, a damage claim will likely be denied by the carrier. 

Freight class, in addition to weight and distance traveled, is critical in determining a shipment rate. Specific details relating to product and packaging can greatly affect the NMFC code and final freight class. A shipment of slate blocks may sound simple enough, but things can get a bit more complicated once you start looking at different commodities. Density-based shipments can further befuddle shippers, and understanding these types of classifications is the next type of class breakdown we will tackle. The experts at PartnerShip can lend expertise so you can stop scratching your head. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a representative, or find your freight class online.

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ArcBest: Delivering New Shipping Solutions to PartnerShip

January 23, 2019 at 11:12 AMJen Deming
ArcBest Solutions Blog

PartnerShip® is always working to expand our available carrier network in order to meet every customer's shipping needs, every time. For those customers who value premium service and an unmatched experience, we are pleased to announce the addition of the ArcBest® network to our comprehensive group of partner carriers. With an extensive transportation solution network, ArcBest offers superior less-than-truckload (LTL) service through ABF Freight® as well as specialized time-sensitive alternatives through Panther Premium Logistics®. These additions help elevate available logistics options for PartnerShip customers. 

ArcBest offers a variety of stand-out services that benefit customers with specialized or unique needs. In addition to a full-service network of transportation options such as intermodal, supply chain services, international shipping, warehousing, and distribution services, ArcBest also provides premium time-critical and event shipping solutions. In addition to these options, the ArcBest company umbrella of carriers brings even more unique benefits for shippers.

Shorter, Pup-trailer Options

A standard 53-foot enclosed trailer, or dry van, is the most common truck type used to move freight. The height of the trailer is 8.5 to 9.5 feet. There isn't much differentiation between trucks aside from the door type, which can either swing open or roll up. This is a sizable truck, and not every pick-up or delivery location is equipped for proper vehicle maneuverability. This presents challenges for loading and unloading. ABF Freight, a premier ArcBest freight carrier, commonly utilizes shorter pup-trailers, not 53' vans. A pup-trailer measures between 26 and 29 feet in length. Due to this smaller size, congested access points such as a busy side street or challenging dock configuration, like a school, can be more easily navigated.

Unique Freight Capabilities 

Most common carriers are very specific about what they will move for shippers, and what they will refuse. Odd, over-sized items and easily-breakable commodities are determined risky for freight carriers, and shippers are usually refused pick-up, often at the discretion of the local terminal. Carrier Rules Tariffs are frequently being updated as capacity continues to crunch, allowing common carriers to become more selective about what types of products they choose to move. Items such as flag poles, furniture, and other challenging density-based commodities are accepted by ArcBest carriers, making them an excellent option for shippers who may have a challenging freight move.

Terminal Direct Scheduling and Contact Info

Another special service that ArcBest offers for shippers is terminal-direct scheduling and available contact information. If you've ever had to schedule your own pick-up, or tried to contact specific terminals to check on freight, you know that carrier websites are almost never transparent. Most often, you will need to go through an automated number and exhausting phone tree in order to access a service representative. Some carriers don't allow shippers to connect to specific terminals at all. This can be frustrating when time is compromised and your shipment is being delayed. Speaking to a particular terminal allows for better tracking, accountability, and clarification for customers. ArcBest, in particular ABF Freight, makes this a critical option for shippers.

Expediting in Transit

The added ability to expedite ground LTL shipments while already in transit is a service now available to PartnerShip customers through Panther Premium Logistics. Panther, an expedited carrier option under the ArcBest umbrella, is a convenient choice for customer's time-critical shipments. With a variety of truck equipment options, from sprinter vans to flatbeds, Panther offers premium logistics solutions for those who may have unique shipping requirements. If the deadline for your shipment delivery is sooner than you anticipated, Panther has the ability to bump up your service from standard ground LTL to expedited delivery while in transit.

Added Benefits

In addition to these distinct solutions offered by the ArcBest umbrella of carriers, there are a few other notable benefits suited for shippers who value quality and exceptional experience: 

  • The carrier network extends nationwide, providing reliable transportation that fit both regional and long-haul markets.
  • In line with providing premium shipping and handling services, ABF Freight also boasts one of the lowest LTL claims rates in the industry.
  • ABF Freight prioritizes meeting customer pick-ups, making sure your shipment gets moving when it needs to so you meet your deadlines.

We know that every shipper has individual needs for their business and their shipping. By adding another carrier we are able to extend available service options for customers - helping to broaden our network and meet those needs. If you'd like to learn more about ArcBest shipping options, contact us and we'll help determine which solutions are right for you.

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It's a Throwback PartnerShip Holiday!

December 17, 2018 at 2:25 PMJen Deming

It's the time of year for good cheer, gift giving, and family get-togethers. One of the best parts about bringing everyone together for the holidays is flipping through old albums and boxes of family photos to relive memories from holidays gone by. We wanted to share some of our team's favorite throwback holiday photos with you, and wish everyone the happiest of holidays from our family to yours!

Barbara with guitar
Barbara Teleha, Graphic Designer
Before flexing her creative muscle as the PartnerShip resident designer, Barbara was striking chords in checkered onesies and turtlenecks

Jennifer Hammersmith
Jennifer Hammersmith, Customer Service Manager
'Tis the season to be "married" and bright for Jennifer and her husband, Dave!

Jerry Spelic
Jerry Spelic, Marketing Director
Jerry celebrates with a themed tree every year: Meet Spencer Tree-cy

Christine Manda
Christine Manda, Freight Brokerage Sales Manager
Christine and sister get festive while rocking around the Christmas Tree

Holiday Hardmans
Brian Hardman, Senior Account Representative and Nicole Hardman, Senior Carrier Procurement Representative
The Hardman husband/wife team toast their first Christmas together

Leah Palnik
Leah Palnik, Marketing Manager
Leah celebrates the holidays with her childhood furry friend, Figgie

Shaunta Dennis
Shaunta Dennis, Customer Service Representative
Shaunta patiently awaits the arrival of her gifts - as an adult she makes sure PartnerShip customers get their packages on time

Keith Korhely
Keith Korhely, Senior Program Manager
Keith's buddy Gigi thinks she's all the gift that anyone needs

Jimmy Josh
Josh Arnold, Programmer Analyst
Josh offers an interesting take on Santa Claus at a past PartnerShip Christmas party

Bill
Bill Parhamovich, Account Representative
Bill recites his Christmas list to Santa, it may or may not include a Red Ryder BB Gun

Jen Deming
Jen Deming, Marketing Associate
Jen and brother Matt decide all they want for Christmas is EVERYTHING

Making merry memories is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season, and we look forward to what this year will bring! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

6 Sneaky (But Avoidable) Tradeshow Logistics Costs

December 4, 2018 at 9:32 AMJen Deming
Tradeshow Shipping Blog Image

Anyone who has ever shipped to an event is probably familiar with the special level of stress and frustration involved in coordinating show shipments. Tradeshow logistics is tricky business - not only are you juggling crunched timelines leading up to  the show, but shippers also have to be aware of the many potential hidden costs involved throughout the process. Any misstep can end up costing shippers in surprise freight fees. The good news is that most of these costs are avoidable, as long as you know what to look out for. We've compiled a list of the things you need to keep an eye on to protect your special event freight spend. 

  1. The cost of shipping to advance warehouse vs. show site 

    You have the choice to ship directly to the tradeshow floor or to an advance warehouse where your show materials are held leading up to the actual show start date. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and as an informed shipper you need to weigh what makes the most sense for you. Shipping to an advance warehouse will give you more time to be flexible should anything go wrong or be delayed. Though material handling fees may be slightly higher, it doesn't cost more to ship to the advance warehouse. An added benefit is less worry about whether your shipment will arrive on time, and you get a leg up on the shipments arriving to the show site. Your shipment materials will be ready and waiting for you at your booth space when you arrive the day of set-up. 

    Shipping directly to site can be tempting to avoid these initial material handling costs, but keep in mind that hundreds of other event shipments will be arriving at the same time as yours. If you've never seen a show-site marshaling yard, think of a rush-hour traffic jam during the last weekend of holiday shopping season. It's not pretty, and hold-ups cost lots of money in detention fees. If your shipment arrives late, the team waiting to build your booth will pass on overtime charges. If you're running extra-late, springing for expedited transportation charges will cost you even more. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: plan ahead, and build in extra time. Make your decisions based on what realistically makes the most sense for your business.

  2. Delivering or picking up your shipment in overtime

    The exact time your tradeshow shipment is loaded or unloaded is critical, and meeting your target time will save you significantly. In addition to open dates for both the advance warehouse and show site, there is a window of hours called straight time. These are the hours, and days, your shipment needs to arrive for the show in order not to be hit with overtime fees. This window is usually restricted to typical work hours, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, for most shows, Monday through Friday. Anything that arrives after those hours, or on the weekends, will be considered overtime and incur extra charges. It is critical to check in your exhibitor packet exactly what hours and dates are safe for your shipment to arrive prior to the show.

    You also need to make sure your specific check-in time is noted on the material handling form, especially if your carrier arrives early. Often, a truck will arrive the night before, ahead of schedule. If there's no time noted, the driver may check in and get loaded on overtime, and this will increase your bill significantly. A great best practice to stick to is writing "load only during straight hours" in order to diminish the likelihood it will be loaded outside of that time, as well as act as documentation to help your case should your freight be loaded during overtime and you want to dispute the extra charge.

  3. The price of damages and how freight insurance can help

    Shipment damage or loss can occur at any time. While carriers do everything they can to keep them from happening, it's just an unfortunate part of freight shipping. With your load moving in and out of several different terminals (especially if your freight is traveling a greater distance), your shipment may encounter a renegade forklift or a heavy-handed loader. That's why it is key to package appropriately and securely. Custom crates are a great idea, especially for furniture and other fragile booth materials. Imagine arriving to a show and your seating is damaged and unusable. Sure, you have the option to rent a couch but it's going to cost you thousands for rental in addition to any repairs you will have to spring for to get things in working order for the next show.

    Because carrier liability is limited, it's always a good idea to look into additional freight insurance as a secondary option. Tradeshow shipment yards, docks, storage rooms, and show floors are all very congested places. Accidents happen, and should they happen to your show materials, at least you know your freight's full value is covered. Just keep in mind that every third-party insurance provider has different terms, so read carefully and make sure you fully understand the coverage you are getting.

  4. Using the wrong NMFC and the risk of re-class

    Did you know that materials being shipped to events have their very own class code? Don't worry, unless you are shipping to tradeshows regularly, most shippers don't either. Instead of calculating your shipment based on commodity type (furniture, signage, etc), any item either coming to or departing from a tradeshow should be rated Class 125. This can very well mean that the class is different than what you may be using on other shipments, and as a result, the price could be different than what you are used to seeing. It is important to get this quoted correctly, so if you are tempted to use a lower code because it's what you are used to, beware the risk of re-class. You don't want to receive surprise charges/fees when the carrier catches on and your shipment is rated higher than you wanted. The good news is that many booth material items such as chairs or desks tend to ship at a class higher than 125 anyway, so using a preset tradeshow-specific class code may save you. 

  5. Material handling and drayage fees

    Material handling and drayage are common fees incurred by event shippers, and often the least anticipated. This type of handling refers specifically to transportation services from your carrier's delivery vehicle, at the dock, to your booth space. These services include unloading at the dock, moving your materials, as well as storing your empty containers for the duration of the show. Once the show is over, gathering the empty containers from storage as well as transferring the freight back to the loading dock will also incur fees. A top recommendation for tradeshow shippers is to crate your loads, rather than sending loose boxes. Some show decorators charge drayage based on how the shipment is packaged. Crating is the least expensive option and also adds protection against damage and loss by keeping your materials together. 

    Completing a material handling form is crucial to setting up your outbound shipment accurately. Shippers know to have an accurate BOL prepared, but a material handling form is what the decorator looks at. The carrier name for pick-up must be noted, otherwise you will fall victim to "forced freight." This means the shipment will be sent with the decorator's carrier of choice, and that can be pricey. If it's a carrier your 3PL works with (for PartnerShip, UPSFreight or YRC Freight) an LOA can be submitted so you will be billed at your discounted pricing. If not, then you will need to pay the bill direct to the carrier. 

    The tough part about drayage fees is that these services will be performed by a specific decorator that is under contract with the show. That leaves no room for shippers to negotiate with other options the way you might with transportation to and from the event location. However, there are ways that event shippers can try to keep these costs down as low as possible, particularly regarding packaging. The biggest factors determining drayage fees are weight and piece count. Each piece may be assessed a minimum charge, so make good use of palletizing or crating those loads! They are easier to transport to and from the showroom. Go lightweight for additional savings. Heavy building materials for your booth items will quickly increase your drayage bill, so stick to lighter more transportable building options for your booth tables and seating.  

  6. Shipping there and back for separate shows

    It pays to put the time in to accurately plan how much product, booth materials, marketing collateral, giveaways, and anything else you may need. Successful event shippers create a strategy for what needs to be done before, after, and during the show. Check into any information regarding the tradeshow traffic from past years. Talk to the event coordinators and point people to gauge what you think you will need. Anticipate and plan for a little extra, but don't over do it. If you are going to be shipping to another show, look into whether it is more cost efficient to move directly to the next event rather than scheduling a return shipment back home. Very often, the storage fees at the next show location's warehouse may be cheaper than it would be to ship home then ship back out. You will have added peace of mind, again, that your shipment will arrive with enough time before the show so that you can concentrate on and prepare for the next show rather than worrying whether it will arrive on time.

Managing tradeshow logistics can wear on the patience of even the most seasoned of shippers. Meeting deadlines and managing the details can be tough, and it can be tempting to step away and just hope everything goes smoothly. But, it pays to be diligent and well-informed, because that's the best way you can protect your bottom line from hidden tradeshow costs. If you're still feeling a little overwhelmed this tradeshow season, don't worry - the experts at PartnerShip can help. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a tradeshow shipping specialist, or download our free white paper for more information about tradeshow shipping.

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Shipping a Piece of History: American Freedom Distillery

November 12, 2018 at 12:29 PMJen Deming

At PartnerShip, we've pretty much seen it all. Our freight specialists have helped shippers transport everything from specialty candy to baseball jerseys, DJ equipment to used tractor engines. Every once in a while, we have the opportunity to work on a load that is unlike anything we've shipped before. September brought us something extra special - a section of steel thought to be one of the few remaining pieces left of the World Trade Center.

American Distillery 4

The steel beam belongs to the remarkable group of men behind American Freedom Distillery in St Petersburg, FL. They are a veteran Special Operations Unit and were the first force to engage in Afghanistan during the aftermath of 9/11. The beam was gifted to the team and they thought it best not to be held in a private collection, but rather displayed for the benefit of the public as the nation continues to heal. The steel piece is being utilized in a brand new memorial titled "Rise St Pete" honoring those affected by the events of 9/11. Located in the Warehouse Arts District near the planned American Freedom Distillery location, the groundbreaking ceremony took place this past weekend, keeping a special connection to Veterans Day. The monument will spotlight the steel beam as its main point of focus. It will also feature an interactive fountain and copper recovered during the recent Statue of Liberty renovation.

American Distillery 5

The retired Green Berets have set up shop in St. Pete, which serves as a close-knit hub for many of the military community including retired vets and their families. After years spent serving together in the military, they've settled down with families and are tackling civilian life. However, they often talked about a lingering need - a common goal or objective that would keep them united even after their time in the military. That dream was prompted during a group trip to Yosemite where they visited a small craft brewery. While there, the men fell hard for the science, art, and discipline of creating small-batch craft spirits. The life-long friends had found a way to stay connected through a shared purpose, a method to ease into life as civilians, and a push to live the American dream that they had so vigilantly defended.

After several years learning techniques from experts in whiskey hot spots such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Ireland, and Scotland, American Freedom Distillery has mastered their signature spirit - Horse Soldier Wheated Bourbon Whiskey. The liquor is named after the elite group of horseback-mounted special ops teams leading the charge in Northern Afghanistan after the 9/11 tragedy. The bottle label features an image of the America's Response Monument, a memorial dedicated to the Special Forces heroes, and a special run of the whiskey will feature bottles formed in molds made of steel salvaged from the Twin Towers. The distillery and adjoining restaurant, America Neat Grill and Whiskey House, is anticipated to open early in the new year.

At PartnerShip, we are dedicated to moving each and every shipment safely and securely. But, sometimes there are very special cases that really stand out above the rest. It's not every day that you ship a piece of history. Want to stay connected so you can keep on top of what we are working on at PartnerShip? Follow us on Facebook!

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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!

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It's Customer Service Week at PartnerShip!

October 5, 2018 at 9:00 AMJen Deming
Customer Service Week 2018

It's Customer Service Week and the time of year we like to especially celebrate our front line shipping specialists. Day in and out, these guys are making sure PartnerShip is giving the very best experience to every single customer. This year's Customer Service Week theme is "Excellence Happens Here" and it's a team value our reps demonstrate every single day. We played up the idea with a fun pirate spin for this weeks celebrations, because 'x' marks the spot for excellence at PartnerShip. And let's be honest--who doesn't love pirates?

In an effort to celebrate our PartnerShip Customer Service team, we've asked a few of them to share a bit about what inspires them to lead every day and what they've learned since they've joined the team!

What does a "good" customer experience mean to you?

  • Helping customers in an efficient and effective manner while maintaining a professional disposition and considering the company's bottom line. -Amanda B.

What is the most important skill to have for a career in customer service?

  • Excellent communication. -Andrea

What about customer service appeals to you?

  • Working with a lot of different people to help solve issues. -Vince

What is the best way you can help put out a customer service fire?

  • Listening, being empathetic and letting the customer know you understand their concerns. Follow up with the customer. -Amanda S.

How do you demonstrate that you are a team player?

  • Being there for my co-workers when they ask me for help. I try to offer help when I notice others may need something. -Amanda S.

What's the best customer service experience you've given?

  • A customer was leaving a tradeshow and failed to get a quote and shipment scheduled for the move- out. The customer called in a panic because the freight was going to be forced out and they were going to have to pay a very high rate. We were able to walk the customer through completing the material handling form and scheduled/arranged an emergency pick up. The customer was very pleased with the service and thankful for the discounts. -Amanda B.

What are you better at today than you were this time last year?

  • Everything! Every day in Customer Service I learn something new about shipping from my management team, customers, and co-workers! -Amanda B.

PartnerShip has a passionate team of Customer Service specialists who are an indispensable resource to both customers and other members of our organization. Though this week is dedicated to recognizing all that they contribute to our business, we know that these guys go beyond expectations every single day to elevate the customer experience and help customers ship smarter. Thank you all!


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How to Reduce Shipping Costs: Are You Sabotaging Your Freight Spend?

September 27, 2018 at 2:45 PMJen Deming
How to Reduce Your Shipping Costs

Shipping expenses are one of the top expenditures for most businesses, which comes as no surprise because it can be extremely challenging to determine how to reduce shipping costs. So far in 2018, US companies spent 6.2% more than they did year-over-year, totaling a record $1.49 trillion in shipping- related expenses. Many common shipping practices sabotage a business's ability to get ahead by protecting their bottom line. What are some important mistakes to avoid when figuring out how to reduce your shipping costs?

It's not always what's inside that counts.

Proper packaging is critical in helping to reduce shipping costs. We are all familiar with the risk of damages - used boxes that have holes or older labels still attached are asking for trouble. Make sure you are using the correct type of packaging materials for the product that you are moving. If you have more than a few boxes, it's a good idea to palletize all of them together, and wrap with shrink wrap. Freight shipments are loaded and unloaded at several terminal stations in route, and palletizing can keep them from being separated or lost along the way. It's also critical to use the right size packaging to help shippers reduce shipping costs. Make sure you are packaging your product with enough space inside to include proper cushioning, but not so much as to allow room for shifting or that make it difficult to handle - a carrier will charge for that too.

You are clueless about your customer's location.

Are you aware whether your receiver has a dock? How about a forklift? Are you delivering to a school, church, or another hard-to-reach area or location that risks being designated as "limited access" by the carrier? Will a 53' dry van be able to maneuver around that location? In addition to that, are hours of operation restricted for pick-ups or delivery? Every one of these variables can make a delivery potentially more difficult and more damaging to your bottom line due to costly accessorial charges. Keep in mind, the more difficult it is to get the delivery completed, the more you need to be prepared for additional fees. Planning ahead and knowing exactly what your carrier will charge for any additional services will help keep your shipping costs where they need to be.

Assuming that delivery estimate is a guarantee.

Shippers have to keep in mind that the estimated delivery day is just that - an estimate. Just as with your everyday postal service provider, business days are those included in a work week - weekends and holidays are not included. A more reliable measure to figure out shipment delivery is to take a look at transit times. When scheduling with a carrier, be sure to ask for this rather than relying on the estimated delivery date. That way, you know if your 5 day freight transit picks up on Monday, and an unexpected storm kicks up along the way, a 1 day transit delay actually results in a Monday delivery. Keep things safe by factoring in a couple extra buffer days when communicating to your customer. If you are truly in a crunch, shop the different expedited service options among different carriers, but be aware anything last minute will cost you, especially as weather worsens as we head into winter and the holiday crunch. Avoiding last minute rush shipments is always the quickest way to reduce shipping costs. 

It's about 500lbs...ish?

The old adage, "measure twice, cut once" isn't just a cute lesson in being diligent - it's a very important rule for shippers to live by. Guessing just doesn't work in an industry where being a few pounds or inches off can potentially double your freight bill. Carriers check weight and dimensions once, twice, and once more just for fun with calibrated scales every time your pallet is picked up by a forklift at a terminal. If the weight of your shipment doesn't add up to what's on the BOL, you can pretty much rest assured you will be billed for the difference. If you've already quoted your customer and billed them on shipping you estimated based on inaccurate measurements, you're playing a risky game. Be sure your warehouse scale is calibrated and reset often. If you don't have a large enough commercial scale at your place of business, measure each component of your load (including pallets) and add them up. Be as thorough and as accurate as possible to avoid any surprises.

Handing the reins to your vendor.

You may love your vendors, but lots of businesses take for granted the cost- cutting potential that's available by managing their own shipping. If you are able to do so, it pays to take a look at what carrier and service your vendor is using to deliver your freight and take control of your inbound options. Some carriers have more competitive lanes in certain regions, while others may offer additional options and less expensive fees for extra services your business may require. If you are responsible for your inbound freight costs, it's worth it to put in the time to measure which carrier and service really work best for you. The additional responsibility doesn't have to be a headache, either. By working with a quality 3PL, you can make sure you are using the correct carrier, correct service level, at the most competitive price. It's a surefire way to be sure you are reducing your shipping costs where you need to.

Figuring out how to reduce shipping costs starts with some simple best practices. Double checking your specs, being knowledgeable about your transit and locations, and researching carrier options help keep you prepared and proactive about avoiding higher freight costs. When you are stuck or simply need some experts on your side, PartnerShip can help make sure you are setting yourself up for success. To speak with a specialist to learn more about where you can cut your shipping costs, call 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com.

Learn more about common freight shipping challenges!

4 Freight Challenges