New Excessive Length Restrictions You Can't Afford to Ignore

September 18, 2018 at 10:16 AMJen Deming
New Excessive Length Restrictions You Can't Afford to Ignore

It's a tough time for shippers and carriers alike. It's no secret that the current capacity crunch is affecting freight rates and transit times, but now shippers are facing new excessive length restrictions as well. As the number of available freight shipments continues to increase at a record-setting rate, carriers simply cannot keep up. In an effort to free up for space for available loads, XPO will be implementing new restrictions on certain types of shipments. What are the changes being made, and what else can shippers expect from freight carriers as capacity continues to tighten?

XPO will be making a few specific changes that will affect the excessive length policies currently in place. The primary change that will affect customers is the following:

  • As of 9/24, XPO will no longer pick up shipments of pipes or bars that are not crated, regardless of length. Leading up to the 24th, all items should continue to move without problem unless over 20ft or more, which would be determined at the service center level

To summarize, if you are shipping pipes or bars of any length, they must be crated - simply palletizing your load will earn you a missed pick-up. Some shippers like to save time by combining multiple commodity types of different classes onto one pallet and one bill of lading. If you are used to combining your multi-class shipments into one load, and it includes bars or pipes, crate them separately from the rest of your freight and create an individual BOL. XPO has created a packaging guide with notable rules of thumb to help properly package your shipments and gives further insight into excessive length articles.

The active phasing out of excessive length shipments by XPO is anticipated to have a favorable impact on current available carrier capacity. It's a safe assumption that other carriers may follow suit. Many common carriers do not have the specific equipment needed to properly move long freight safely and efficiently. Historically, excessive length freight contributes to more damage claim submissions and creates much more wasted space than a standard dimensional shipment. This means less freight can be loaded into a truck at a time, and this can lead to an increase in missed pick-ups and longer transit times for other shippers.

Some carriers have already adopted special charges for small package ground shipments that are considered oversized. FedEx and UPS both charge higher surcharges on these types of shipments in order to discourage shippers from moving them. These fees range anywhere from $80 up to $500 on top of regular service cost, depending on the carrier and package size. Right now, many freight carriers already have excessive length fees in place, and it's entirely possible that carriers that do continue to move oversized freight loads may implement increases or initiate the same sort of surcharge system in the near future.

For customers who are shipping commodities that are consistently rated excessive length, it may be time to consider looking into truckload service options. Moving full truckload is a great alternative for businesses shipping many pallets of product at a time, but it's also a secure and efficient option for those who have fragile, large, or high-value freight. With this option, you pay for the cost of the space you take on a full 53' truck. Freight class doesn't affect your rate, and you may have more flexibility with packaging. Added security and quicker transit times typically are additional benefits. Depending on the length of your haul, a dedicated truck may be costly, but a freight broker can help look into partial truckload options that may better fit your budget. Whatever freight shipping option works best for you, it's a good idea to look into all available choices as the transportation industry continues to evolve.

The capacity crunch is an ongoing challenge, and carriers are responding by changing the industry as we know it. Pricing for both freight and small package services is rising, and policies are being adjusted to make room for an increase in demand. Working with a quality freight broker can help steer you in the right direction and make sure you are shipping smarter. Contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com today.


Contact Us Blog Button

5 Key Things to Know About Shipping Stone

September 12, 2018 at 8:06 AMJen Deming
5 Key Things To Know About Shipping Stone

One of the most common, and most difficult, commodities being moved either LTL or full truckload is natural stone materials. These are used mostly for construction projects, both residential and commercial. The stone can be cut, crushed, blocked, or moved upright in slabs, and each come with different requirements for packaging and handling. As dense and heavy as stone is, it can be very fragile, brittle, and difficult (not to mention dangerous) to transport. Whether you are going either LTL or full truckload for your stone shipping, there's a slew of potential complications you need to be aware of in order to ship safely and securely.

1. Packing and Packaging

First and foremost, proper packing and packaging materials are very important for stone shipping. In the most ideal of scenarios, smaller freight shipments can be packed in custom crates, with built-in foam material for cushioning. The crate shouldn't be too large, and should contain minimal extra space to limit movement of the product inside. Stone material can be separated in bags within the crate for easier removal and distribution upon delivery. Customized crates can be a little pricey, but it's well worth the extra cost in security. This is especially true if you are moving through an LTL carrier. In that case, your stone will likely be loaded and unloaded several times throughout the process, both initially and through terminals during transit.

Palletizing your stone shipments is another recommended option for larger freight loads, and are often stacked with wrapping materials in between to prevent scraping. Ideally, a specialized piece of equipment should be used to transport stone shipments cut into slabs, called an A-frame. Typically, these are made of both wood and steel and include a base with A-shaped bars angling upward acting as a sturdy support for heavy slabs. They can be used for both storage and transport, and many have wheels that can be locked into place or removed. These frames can be loaded onto the truck by either forklift or crane.

2. Trailer Types

There are many truck types that are able to transport stone, and the equipment required depends on how the stone is packaged.a 53' dry van (enclosed trailer) with swing or roll-up doors will work well for most smaller shipments going LTL. Shipments are loaded at the rear, using a loading dock and forklift. If a loading dock is not available, some trailers have lift-gates, but this additional service does come with a fee and makes it more difficult to find available trucks. It's important to note that palletized shipments of stone are generally not recommended to go LTL, unless plenty of corner guards, foam or other packing materials are being wrapped with the product.

There are a few additional trailer-type options for truckload stone shipping. A flatbed is an extremely popular trailer type that is widely used for its versatility. There are no sides so the deck is open, and freight is typically loaded over the sides and the rear. A step-deck or drop-deck is a variation of a flatbed that consists of both a top and bottom deck. The lower part is designed to haul freight that may be too tall to be hauled with a standard flatbed. Additional open deck options include RGN (Removable Gooseneck Trailers), stretch RGN, or low-boys. All of these options are designed to be used for exceptionally tall or long freight loads. These open types of trailers will most likely require straps, chains, or tarps to help protect the freight from wind or weather damage and will need to be requested by the shipper so that the carrier is prepared. A conestoga is a trailer that comes with a roll-up tarp system that creates sides and a top to offer protection of the freight, which is an added benefit to fragile stone shipping. Keep in mind, due to the specialized nature of these pieces of equipment, they may be more expensive and more difficult to find.

3. Over Dimensional Concerns

It's very common for large stone orders or building materials to be over dimensional when going full truckload. Knowing what to expect when it comes to legal requirements and how your shipment may be affected are very important in planning the haul. Every state has different legal requirements for obtaining a permit in order to transport over-sized freight. There are not only restrictions on hours of operation varying by state, but also restrictions on drivers for hours of service - meaning there is less time your shipment can be on the road. As the shipper, it's crucial to plan as much as possible beforehand and to give accurate estimates for transit time. It may be smart to plan an extra day or two when communicating with your customer. Since the load will more than likely go through checkpoints in each state it travels, each stop stop can potentially hold up your load. Make sure your drivers are prepared with the necessary permits, paperwork, and commodity information (likely including product spec sheets and packing slips).

4. Insurance Coverage

Due to the fragility and potential hazards and risk for damage in shipping stone, making sure you have proper insurance coverage is crucial. Carrier liability is typically limited, especially for LTL common carriers. So, if your shipment and damaged in transit, the probability that you will receive full compensation for the value of your product is very unlikely. Usually, in LTL shipments, the payout depends on a dollar per pound amount based on the class and commodity. In order to get this payout, you will need to go through all of the necessary steps to file a claim and prove the carrier is at fault for damaging your shipment. It can be a tedious process with a very limited return. Many shippers find it much more beneficial to obtain additional freight insurance to have more complete coverage of their freight.

Truckload carriers are required by the FMCSA to meet specific primary insurance minimums. Cargo liability is the type of insurance that covers your freight while it is in transit. Typically, up to $100,000 in cargo liability is covered, but it's important to note not all types of commodities are covered. Restrictions can vary depending on insurance company, so it's always a good idea to look into purchasing additional cargo insurance to be sure your freight is covered.

5. Accessibility of Site/ Unloading Teams

Another huge challenge for shippers moving stone materials is accessibility of the pick up and delivery locations. Oftentimes, these loads are being picked up directly at the quarry, and it can be difficult for the driver of a 53' dry van or a flat bed to maneuver in these locations. Delivery can be at construction sites, or even residential lots, which poses even more difficulty for drivers. It's important to know that the driver of your delivery truck typically will not assist in the loading or unloading of your freight. And with thousands of pounds of hard-to-move, bulky product, you need to be prepared and have a well-trained and reliable team ready at your disposal - possibly even after hours. Most truckload carriers charge detention after 2 hours for loading/unloading, which means extra money in fees off your bottom line. The time can go quickly, so have any equipment and areas cleared that are needed for loading and unloading. Being better prepared on the front side can save you lots of money and time wasted later on.

Stone shipping is one of the most challenging and problematic types of freight shipping out there. It's also very common. As both commercial and residential builders are more frequently using natural stone in their designs, the demand for transporting these materials is increasing exponentially. Stone shippers have to equip themselves with as much knowledge as possible about the many issues that may arise both during and before and after transit. Being well-informed is the best way to ship as smart and as  securely as possible while minimizing the potential for costly damage. Working with a freight broker can lend you some expertise from finding reliable and vetted carriers, to knowing just what type of equipment you need to get your freight to its destination safely. Contact PartnerShip for your next stone shipment!

Get a Free Quote

4 Essential Holiday Shipping Tips for Retailers

September 4, 2018 at 9:53 AMJen Deming
4 Essential Holiday Shipping Tips for Retailers

Holiday shipping is fast approaching for retailers. Though the season of gifting and good tidings seems miles away (and most of us have probably not even begun to think about our OWN shopping lists), it's never too early to start your holiday shipping prep. You may have already brainstormed your plan of action and received some inbound items and supplies, so now's the time to make that yearly best practices list. We've compiled a few holiday shipping tips specific for retails to make sure your busy season passes smoothly.

Tip 1: Prepare your inventory and manage your inbound shipments

As the saying goes, you have to learn to walk before you run. The very first step in great holiday shipping preparation is getting your inventory and inbound shipments from vendors in order. Taking control of your inbound shipping is crucial to being set up for holiday success. Plan ahead by looking at your past holiday seasons' wins and opportunities, check industry trends, and do your best to forecast just how much product you may need to make it through your holiday season. If you feel you will need a replenishment order, communicate with your vendors to make sure they are clear on when you will need the product (and build in some extra time as a cushion). If you are able to, consider managing your own routings by selecting your own carrier and directing your vendors on your precise shipping expectations and needs. This control can give you better peace of mind that shipments are being handled reliably and to your specifications. An added benefit to managing your own inbound shipments from vendors is that you can price shop for the best service level and carrier that fit your budget.

Tip 2: Invest time in planning and budgeting

The elevated cost of shipping during holiday peak season is just a reality for shippers, but most believe it's just the price of doing business.. Budgeting and planning what you can expect to pay during the crunch can make or break your bottom line. Not only will you be spending more overall due to an increase in volume, certain carriers implement surcharges during this period, so it pays to do your research. For the second year in a row, FedEx has announced it will NOT apply a peak season surcharge on residential shipments. UPS, however, will be implementing a surcharge on those shipments from November 18 through December 1 (in line with Black Friday) and again from December 16 through December 22 (last minute rush). The surcharge ranges depending on the service, from $0.28 to $0.99 on most residential packages, which can add up as volume increases. Larger packages will also include peak surcharges by both small package carriers, with the most expensive charge costing $165 per package. Which charges apply will depend on your package dimensions and weight, so make sure to educate yourself before the holiday rush begins.

Tip 3: Take control of setting customer expectations

The best way to ensure your holiday shipping will run smoothly, specifically from the customer's perspective, is to let them know what they can expect even BEFORE they make a purchase. It's a good idea to take a look at how your business performed last year, check through any customer issues for common themes, and adjust where you may need to. Use your website to its full potential - utilize clear and consistent language that addresses shipping costs, delivery times, order deadlines, and return policies, and make sure they are easy to find. Update your FAQ section and any links that may be relevant to holiday shipping time tables or price breakdowns.

In addition to your website, be sure to use email as an additional measure to touch base with your customers. Send out communications to past customers about any new policy changes BEFORE they put in this year's order. Send order confirmations, followed up by shipping confirmations. Many businesses send out notifications for delivery attempts or completions. These added touches not only communicate effectively to your customer but leave a positive impression of your company's reliability.

Tip 4: Make your returns process easy

As we touched on in the last tip, communication with customers is key to keeping expectations realistic and managing the consumer experience during the holiday shipping season. Another area that many retailers tend to overlook during peak holiday boom is the returns process. According to the National Retail Federation, three out of every four holiday shoppers checks the company return policy before committing to making any purchase.

Every retailer can do their best to avoid returns by being sure each product listing is as accurate and updated as possible, in order to avoid most surprises when it arrives at your customer's door. However, despite all of your efforts, returns are going to happen. If your business is going to handle and accept online returns, the more you can automate the process, the easier it will be on both you and your customer. The majority of customers are not willing to pay premium for return shipping. Price is the most significant deciding factor, so don't waste time offering faster, more expensive return services. Providing pre-printed return labels, packaging, and instructions can all improve the customer experience, lessen the returns headache for your operations team, and increase future value for your brand.

Summer may only just be winding down, but retailers are already thinking of what's on winter wish lists. It's never too early for holiday shipping prep, and being proactive is the best way to avoid a stressful peak season. In addition to our tips on planning, inventory, and streamlining your returns process, it's helpful to have the experts on your side. At PartnerShip, we know a thing or two about the peak season boom. We are happy to help you ship smarter, and with less stress, this holiday season, contact us today!

Contact US Blog Button Image

Ask a CTB: Your Shipping Questions Answered

August 21, 2018 at 2:05 PMJen Deming
Ask a CTB As part of an ongoing effort to be the ultimate shipping resource for our customers, we've compiled the most common shipping questions and had them answered by one of our CTB freight shipping experts, me! My name is Jen Deming and I've been with PartnerShip for 3.5 years. In that time, I feel like I've pretty much seen it all. Through my own personal experience, I've worked with all kinds of shippers - from newbie to veteran. I can help answer your most pressing shipping questions and help give you a better understanding of the shipping industry.

First up, it's back to basics: What is a CTB? And what's a 3PL, for that matter? Most importantly, should YOU be working with one? CTB stands for "Certified Transportation Broker", and is an industry certification developed by TIA (Transportation Intermediary Association) to increase the professionalism and integrity of the freight brokerage industry. Areas of study include general business principles, traffic management best practices (for shipment, claims, fleet, and international traffic management), contracts and pricing, regulatory principles, and case law.

A freight broker is someone who assists shippers with finding qualified carriers to haul available loads, and works within a 3PL (third party logistics) organization by outsourcing shipping and logistics services. These individuals facilitate the relationships between the carrier and the shipper, and will negotiate rates with carriers, arrange the transportation, schedule pick-ups, provide follow-up on tracking, and will often offer claims assistance for loss or damage on behalf of shipper. A freight broker should serve as a shipper's strongest advocate, and is a great resource for expert shipping advice.

There are many advantages to working with a 3PL, such as cost and time savings, additional expertise, and flexibility. A knowledgeable freight broker can custom fit shipping options based on the specific needs of your business. 

Next up: what's the difference between parcel shipping and freight/LTL? Small package shipments are typically under 70lbs but can go up to 150lbs, and are often shipped in your own boxes or carrier supplied packing materials. The packages are shipped singularly and should not be in excess of 108 inches in length. Small package shipments are subject to dimensional weight pricing, which can get expensive, so it may make more sense to ship via a freight service.

LTL or less-than-truckload shipping usually consists of multiple boxes or containers stacked on pallets and are over 150lbs. LTL shipments can utilize multiple modes of transportation such as rail or motor truck, and are sent with other shippers' freight to reduce cost. Depending on the length of the shipping lane, often these shipments are loaded, unloaded, and reloaded at multiple stops throughout transit. If you have multiple pallets (6 or more), need shortened transit time, or require enhanced security, it may make sense to use a truckload service instead of LTL.

Furthermore, what's the difference between LTL and TL? TL (or FTL/Full Truckload) refers to booking a dedicated semi-truck for your shipment, that will not be hauling other cargo along with yours. This option is most economical for shippers who have a very large shipment with multiple pallets, on that requires a lot of space, a high-value and fragile shipment, or one that needs to move at a faster pace. If your business requires strict pick-up windows or appointments for delivery, it may also make sense to work with a dedicated carrier. In the past, I've worked with customers who required set arrival times for pick-up, and though they may not necessitate the ENTIRE space within a 52 ft truck, appreciated the reliability of a dedicated truckload service over an LTL common carrier. Booking a dedicated truck also gives you the option should you need specialized equipment such as a flatbed truck or refrigerated van.

What is an NMFC/ freight class? How do I know which to use for my shipment? You'd be amazed at the variety of customer's freight shipments that I've worked with. From toy makers to hospital supply distributors, I've shipped the craziest stuff, and they all have a specific freight class or NMFC assigned to the category of shipment. The NMFC, or National Motor Freight Classification, can be rated as low as 50 and as high as 500. The higher you go, the higher the rate for your shipment. And details matter! Whether your work table is wood or plastic, assembled or broken down, each factor can affect the class of the freight. So it's important not to guess or mark whatever class you think may save you a few bucks. Freight reweighs and reclassifications are very real, and you don't want to have a $2,000 bill when you have $200 built into the budget. Your freight broker can be a good resource to determine your shipment's correct class - cutting down on costly errors in the long run.

What are these "accessorial" charges on my bill? Can I avoid them? My own customers brought me questions about the unanticipated service charges on their freight bills more often than anything else! Accessorials are fees a carrier charges for additional services. Common examples of these include lift-gate services, residential deliveries, inside pick-up/delivery, oversized freight charges, and limited access pick-ups or delivery. The difficulty with these is that the cost of the fees varies by carrier, and while one may determine one location "limited access", a different carrier may not. Your best bet? It's smart to do your research about every service your require before you get your rate quote. Find out if the pick-up location has a dock and a forklift. Know for certain whether your customer's delivery location is a place of business or their own home. Be accurate in your measurement of your shipment's dimensions and weight. Finally, consult your freight broker for any questions you may have about what incurs charges and what doesn't - they are your best advocate!

Just when you think you have this freight shipping thing figured out, carriers can throw you a curveball. It pays to be vigilant and ask questions of the experts so YOU can be sure you are shipping smarter and staying a step ahead. If you have any questions about your shipping practices, or how the shipping experts and PartnerShip may be able to improve your efficiency and lower your costs, email sales@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902.

Contact Us Button

For Good Measure: How to Avoid Freight Reweighs

July 26, 2018 at 10:08 AMJen Deming
Avoiding Reweigh Fees

LTL shipping requires plenty of diligence and double checking on behalf of the shipper. All may seem in order: you've used proper packaging, paperwork is up to date, shipping addresses reviewed, accessorial requirements checked, and you are confident you are using the proper freight class. Then it happens. Your shipment is delivered safe and sound, but when the invoice arrives, your bill is nearly $100 over what you had anticipated. On further review, you learn you've been hit with a reweigh fee by the carrier. How did this happen?

Freight reweighs are becoming more and more frequent, especially as dimensional and density based pricing becomes more common. It's important to understand what constitutes a reweigh, and what puts your shipment at risk. Many shippers, particularly small businesses, do not have certified scales that are large enough to accurately measure a larger LTL (less-than-truckload) shipment. This means that many of the weights listed on the BOL (Bill of Lading) are approximations, and carriers are pretty vigilant at checking for inaccuracies with their own certified equipment. A freight reweigh occurs when a carrier inspects and weighs the shipment and when the actual weight and the weight listed on the BOL do not match. One of the primary factors used to determine freight cost is weight, and in many cases, affects freight class as well. Often, a carrier will charge not only for the difference in weight, but also a fee for the freight reweigh itself.

To avoid a freight reweigh, it is so important that shippers try to avoid "guessing" their shipment weight. If your business does have a certified commercial scale, you are a step ahead of many other shippers. Be sure to have it calibrated and checked frequently to avoid miscalculations. If you do not have a scale, it is key to obtain accurate measurements and weights for ALL of the materials being shipped. This can be even more challenging if you are shipping an assembled, finished product made up of several separate pieces and different classifications. Add up materials used on product spec sheets, catalogue listings, and product invoices to get as accurate a weight as possible. It can be beneficial to look at any inbound shipping invoices for any pieces of your finished product that were shipped to you as a supply order. In short, don't be tempted to take shortcuts. It pays to take the time to measure individually and make educated and precise estimates.

Another mistake that many shippers make that encourage freight reweighs is neglecting to include packaging/packing materials in their calculation of gross weight. An average 48x40 pallet weighs around 30-40 lbs, and if you are shipping a multi-pallet load, that extra weight adds up fast. While it's always best to avoid guessing your shipment's weight, in the case shippers aren't able to weigh their shipments on a calibrated scale, it is important to factor this figure in the total. Additional materials used to protect your shipment such as molded plastic corner reinforcements, fiberboard, wooden stabilizers, and even foam inserts can increase weight, especially if you have a larger LTL shipment.

It's key to remember that accurate weight is not the only factor that affects your shipment- it helps to determine your freight class, as well. For heavier, denser items that fall into the lower NMFC classifications, total weight of the shipment is used to calculate at price-per-pound. For less dense shipments that take up more volume, your freight class can be higher and your shipping more expensive. If you happen to overestimate the weight of your shipment, and it falls into one of these higher freight classes, you will be charged more at the higher freight class. It is crucial for shippers to know their precise weight, freight class, and your freight density in order to estimate accurate shipping charges.

Even if you feel you've got everything in order, freight shipping can always lead to some surprises. While it's never a good idea to cut corners or knowingly try to mislead a carrier in the hopes of saving a couple bucks, sometimes even thorough shippers can get hit with some unforeseen charges. Don't let freight reweighs be one of them. The freight experts at PartnerShip have your back and can help make sure you are shipping smarter. If you have questions about determining your freight class or how working with a 3PL can help lower your shipping costs, call 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com to learn more.

5 Common Freight Mistakes CTA

Freight Insurance: Is It Right For Your Business?

June 13, 2018 at 11:07 AMJen Deming
Freight Insurance Blog Post

Let's face it: ship happens. Even though many shippers prepare for the worst and do their very best to protect their freight, loss and damage are an unfortunate reality of the business. Freight insurance is a vital tool that business owners can use to offset the costs of freight damage and limited carrier liability. Unfortunately for many shippers, freight insurance coverage can be complicated to understand and is often misunderstood. How do you know if you should be using freight insurance?

First and foremost, it is important to understand the difference between freight insurance and carrier liability. Carrier liability is an industry term used to describe the responsibility of the carrier as it relates to losses, damages, and delivery delays to compensate the shipper. Of course, exceptions are put in place by the carrier, such as whether the damage or loss is a result from the action of a shipper (ex. improper packaging), an act of God, public authority, or due to the inherent nature of the goods.

It is the responsibility of the shipper to prove that the damage or loss of their shipment is a direct result of the carrier's own negligence. To accomplish this, it is important to take pictures of your packaged freight before the pick-up is completed, and inspected thoroughly once it is delivered. Any damage or loss MUST be noted on the delivery receipt. If your shipment does not encounter any issues, it is important to properly follow the claim filing process within 9 months of the delivery date. You have even less time with a concealed claim. At 5 days max, it is extra crucial to get the process moving along promptly.

But here's the thing about carrier liability: even if you can win a claim against the carrier, the payout often doesn't cover the total cost or value of your freight shipment. Every carrier has an established payout amount, usually per pound and depending on the fright class and limit of liability. Additionally, there are many exceptions and limitations as well as restricted types of freight that are compensated for even less, such as some electronics, artwork, and furniture types. The good news? Freight insurance does not require the shipper to prove that the carrier was at fault for the damage or loss, simply that the damage occurred. It's a great way to protect you and your customers and to be sure your shipment can be covered for its full value. Freight insurance is often offered by third-party insurers at a fee on top of your carrier rate for transit. So how do you know if it's worth the extra cost?

Fragile Shipments

If you are shipping products that are fragile and may break easily, it's a good idea to seek out additional freight coverage. Most carriers have their best interest in mind, and only offer limited coverage on these types of shipments, knowing there is a higher potential that they may break in transit. So if there is damage, it's unlikely you will get the full value of what has been lost. Proper packaging can help mitigate the likeliness that damage may occur, but the loading and unloading process doesn't always go as planned. Damage can occur at pick-up and destination delivery, as well as the many times your freight may be loaded at various terminals throughout transit. There are carriers who specialize in the transport of fragile shipments, commonly referred to as white glove service providers, but this alternative can be costly and still may have limited coverage. Freight coverage purchased through an insurance provider is typically based on the declared value of your freight and can help give shippers peace of mind.

High Value Freight

Similar to those who ship fragile products, businesses who are transporting high-value goods need to be mindful of how much coverage they receive through limited carrier liability. Just because your shipment isn't particularly breakable, doesn't mean your freight is protected in the event that it can go missing or may be delayed. While unlikely, it's always a good idea to have a plan that will cover your back, and your bottom line. Carriers typically pay out by the pound. For example, it's not uncommon to see a pay out of $0.25 per lb or even less on restricted items for less-than-truckload, with a max cap of $100,000 per truckload. With many types of freight insurance coverage through different providers, the total value of the shipment is covered, despite whether the carrier accepts responsibility or not. Of course, it's always crucial that shippers are diligent and fully understand the terms of their third-party insurance coverage, no matter which provider they go with.

Inbound Shipments

Another important consideration for businesses concerns their supply order or inbound shipments. Typically, a vendor will determine this portion of the shipping process- choosing carrier, service type, and rate. Taking control of your inbound shipping is crucial, both in reducing costs and selecting the carrier that best suits your needs. But, apart from that, how can you better protect your inbound shipments against damage during transit, especially when as the receiver, you aren't even there to check on proper packaging and material handling? Enrolling in an inbound freight insurance coverage plan can help mitigate the cost of damage and help business owners take back control on their inbound freight.

It's safe to say that if you are shipping high value freight, fragile products, or receive inbound shipments, it is crucial to take a look at supplemental freight insurance options. At PartnerShip, we want to offer better coverage than the typical limited liability offered by the carrier because "one size fits all" just doesn't cut it. The shipping experts at PartnerShip can help you decrease your risk and increase your peace of mind. Contact us at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com for more information about freight insurance, or get a quote today.

Free Quote

ELD Enforcement: Are We There Yet?

May 7, 2018 at 10:13 AMJen Deming
ELD Mandate Compliance: Are We There Yet It's been just over a month since the "soft enforcement period" has ended for ELD regulation, and while the shipping industry is seeing huge improvements with compliance, there are still a number of challenges facing shippers. While most of the crunch was felt at beginning of the year, when the initial ELD deadline went into effect, it's going to take some time before we see the industry normalize. As we head into the summer and a heavier shipping season, what can shippers and carriers expect to encounter along the way?

According to several reports, it appears that the majority of carriers are now using electronic logging devices to track their hours of service, with as many as 95% becoming ELD compliant. While many small carriers originally insisted that they would not comply and figured it was time to make their exit, the capacity crunch and need for experienced drivers has boosted the trucker's market, outweighing the inconvenience of switching over. According to a DAT Solutions survey, over 60% of these carriers have added the compliant devices within the past three months, following the deadline date.

Survey respondents are, however, confessing that the ELD mandate has a huge impact on day-to-day business, with 87% reporting that the mandate is changing the way they prioritize loads. The most significant factor impacting carriers? A significant increase in detention time – basically any time taking over the given 2 hours. Many shippers fail to recognize that time for loading/unloading freight counts as active "on duty" hours for the driver. The strict HOS (Hours of Service) rules can decrease an already limited amount of hours available for transit time.The good news is, with trucker time being more accurately logged, drivers can now prove exactly how long they were held up during loading. Carriers then have leverage to choose precisely who they want to ship with, and determine who may create problems for them on future loads. While this creates a positive environment for truck drivers, it can leave shippers in the backseat. But don't fret, there are several things shippers can do in order to to create appealing loads for carriers, which we will get into a bit later.

The data taken from the ELD devices can actually help shine some light on existing safety issues within a fleet. Predictive modeling can determine safety concerns that may arise in the future, such as probability a truck may be involved in a roadside accident. By looking at historical data, it will be easier to determine potentially dangerous routes, trucking equipment, hours of operation, and operators. So far, utilizing data in order to better determine areas of opportunity for increased driving safety is the most positive application of the new mandatory ELD technology.

So what's to come? As expected, with drivers spending less time at the wheel in one run, transit times will continue to lengthen. This means that drivers have to take less loads per week as well, with 67% stating that they drive fewer miles than they did before the devices. Parking space is in a crunch as well, with more trucks spending mandatory rest breaks at stops. This is also related to yard congestion, or several trucks arriving on time for delivery within a small window. Proper warehousing protocol and smooth receiving and loading procedures is crucial. It may be a good idea for shippers to extend their warehouse hours to offset the congestion. Having properly staged freight ready and waiting with an adequately sized team can also help decrease time spent at the loading dock, freeing up hours available for your driver to be on the road. Another option for shippers is to consider drop trailer freight programs. A carrier will haul a tractor to a shipper's loading dock and pick up a previously loaded and left behind trailer. This can increase efficiency by decreasing detention time and likelihood of deadhead.

One thing is clear: the initial push-back from owner-operators to make changes in order to become ELD compliant has mostly disappeared. Those originally looking to leave the industry are adapting to new policies and procedures, but there is still a significant learning curve. The biggest take-away is the impact of detention time and a newly invigorated intolerance for running into overtime. Drivers are vigilant, and shippers need to be even more prepared for a smooth and quick load time. PartnerShip can help businesses manage LTL freight moves and connect you with vetted, reliable truckload carriers. Stay competitive and ship smarter with PartnerShip – get a quote today!

Free Quote

Laying the Foundation: Construction Shipping 101

April 9, 2018 at 2:13 PMJen Deming
Construction Shipping 101Warmer weather is finally creeping in and that means construction season will soon be upon us. Shipping in the construction industry is characterized by tight deadlines, oversized hauls, multiple stops and complicated loading and unloading – and unfortunately, a crew can only build as quickly as the materials arrive. Whether building a new home, sports arena, restaurant location or corporate parkway, there is a unique set of challenges for shippers who are trying to transport their materials to and from a staging area to an active construction site. It's important to know what to expect in order to anticipate any possible setbacks that can complicate your plan of action.

The product and materials being shipped to a construction site or for a building project vary wildly. Lumber, roofing material, windows/glass, dry wall, flooring, natural stone, plumbing fixtures/electrical components, home appliances, and landscaping elements are all commonly shipped construction loads. Additionally, the specialized equipment and large machinery necessary to build needs to be moved from rental location or site to site. Though the product materials may vary, a common denominator for many of these shipments is size of the load and tendency to be over-dimensional, particularly as it relates to width. Understanding and selecting the proper carrier and trailer type is essential in getting your loads transported safely and securely.

If the building material or equipment IS oversized, you will most likely need to obtain a permit, which can have different requirements depending on the state. You will need to adhere to the requirements for each state that your shipment travels through, so it's important to review requirements for each state beforehand. Maximum legal length for trailers is 53 feet; width is 8.5 feet. Maximum height is 13.5 feet and max weight is 40 tons. It's important to note that weight maximum is based on a per-axle limit, so sometimes simply readjusting the load can keep your shipment legal. Most frequently, if a load is determined to be oversized, it is due to over-dimensional width.

Pilot or escort cars are required in most states for loads that are over 12 feet wide. In many states, traveling with oversized shipments requires transit to take place during daylight hours, with nighttime restrictions in place up until 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Keep in mind, as well, that traveling during weekends or holidays is often prohibited and varies by state. All of these factors help contribute to the importance of knowing your exact route and researching the requirements for each state that your shipment will be moving through.

On smaller shipments of a few pieces at a time, it may be possible to ship via LTL freight rather than a dedicated truck. Just like when delivering to schools, churches, or military base locations, active construction sites can sometimes incur "limited access" or "non-commercial" fees. These are charges similar to residential delivery fees that are common with most national LTL freight carriers. Unfortunately, these fees can be unpredictable as some carriers may charge, and others may not. Typically the fee is passed on by the carrier depending on the situation at the time of delivery; for example, extra time and effort spent in accessing the site for unloading. The difficulty in planning for the charge can be an added frustration for shippers.

Moving via LTL carrier service can also be difficult due to restricted items and limited coverage on high-risk materials such as glass or electrical equipment. It's also super important to be sure you have accurate dimensions, as many of these products will be classed based on density. One final note relates to the security of the shipment. These larger and potentially fragile LTL shipments may be specially crated and packaged, but depending on the length of transit, there is still a risk of damage during loading and unloading at terminals throughout the course of transit. A partial or dedicated truck may be a less competitive rate, but shippers could save money in the long run by avoiding damages and shortening the transit time.

Businesses looking to move construction equipment and materials can expect to experience quite a few "oh ship!" moments unique to the industry. Planning, researching, and serious attention to detail can help offset any unexpected difficulties that challenge your timeline – not to mention your patience. Rest assured, you aren't alone. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are familiar with the distinct challenges that come with shipping construction materials. From understanding the proper trailer type you need to helping classify your freight, we mind the details so you don't have to.

Get A Free Quote

4 Freight Challenges That Will Actually Better Your Business

March 27, 2018 at 1:30 PMJen Deming
4 Freight ChallengesThere are many stressful parts of freight shipping, and for businesses shipping regularly, it can seem the challenges are never-ending. From shipment delays to damaged freight, it can seem there is a definite lack of control once your pallet leaves your dock or doorstep. Informed shippers can turn these frustrating obstacles into positive opportunities to take back control of your shipping processes, and better your business in the long run.

-Late freight is a very common issue for shippers, and one that can often affect the relationship between your business and your customer. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to avoid, and it all boils down to transparent communication between you and your chosen carrier. It may appear that you are at the mercy of your vendors with regard to your inbound shipping orders for supplies and raw materials, but you don't have to be. Setting up routing instructions with specific requirements and chosen carrier preferences is something you can and SHOULD discuss with your vendors, that way your needs are met and you can rest easy. Most carriers offer online tracking services through their company websites, and you can always stay informed by setting up alerts and notifications by either text or email, so you can stay informed about the transit status of your freight. Selecting the appropriate service type is another way to avoid late freight. Different service levels are often determined by transit timelines. Time-critical and expedited shipping options can help get your shipment where it needs to, at an accelerated rate. Another way to avoid delivery delays is to be sure you are familiar with your shipping locations. If there a short window for dock hours, or pick-up/delivery appointments are required, and you don't make the carrier aware when scheduling the shipment, you can bet on a missed or delayed delivery.

-Damaged or lost freight is every freight shipper's worst nightmare. Accidents happen, and every freight shipper will most likely experience damage to their product, especially as volume and frequency increases. If you are seeing repeated incidents, or a frequent occurrence, it's possible that there may be an underlying issue--improper packaging. Even minor adjustments can make all the difference in a long transit where shipments are being loaded and unloaded at several terminals and different trucks.

-In the unfortunate event that your shipment is damaged, the last thing you want to worry about is compensation for that loss in order to repair or send a replacement product. In order to receive compensation from a carrier, it is necessary to prove that they were at fault or negligent. It's crucial to take as many pictures as possible to prove the product was in good condition prior to pick-up. Even if you are able to win the claim after filing, oftentimes the payout leaves a little to be desired. The amount of coverage is often paid out at a fixed dollar amount determined by commodity and class, and there are endless rules and exceptions. The headache can be avoided if the shipper is proactive and obtains supplemental cargo insurance to cover the cost of the load. Many providers do not require the carrier is proven negligent and shippers can avoid carrier tariff loopholes such as restricted freight classes.

-It's a tough time for shippers. With the ELD mandate deadline behind us, many carriers still do not meet minimum requirements, thereby restricting the number of available carriers on the road. With truck drivers unwilling to risk the run as law enforcement officials crack down on non-compliant carriers, an already limited truck capacity is tightened further. Carriers that DO happen to have available trucks are asking a premium, and with options limited, they will get it. Shippers need to take control and shop rates among carriers, but that takes time, patience, and industry knowledge--and that's where working with a 3PL can come in handy.

There seems to be no end when it comes to obstacles that shippers encounter. Getting your shipments delivered on time, safely, and smoothly seems like a no-brainer, but once that pallet has left your dock, control is pretty much out of your hands. But it doesn't have to be. A quality 3PL provider can serve as an extra set (or two!) to make sure you are shipping smart and staying competitive. The team of experts at PartnerShip have taken a look at the most common problems shippers experience and how they can actually BETTER your business. Download our free white paper today!


Download our free whitepaper: 4 Freight Challenges That Will Better Your Business

ELD Updates: From Exemptions to Enforcement

March 12, 2018 at 2:54 PMJen Deming
ELD Updates:From Exemptions to enforcementAs we enter mid-March, we approach the three-month mark since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate deadline passed in December 2017. While the mandate has been "softly enforced" since the deadline, full enforcement will kick in beginning April 1. A stricter enforcement will include steeper fines, CSA points and subsequent out-of-service citations. That all adds up to tighter capacity and limited available truck drivers. So what does that mean for both carriers and shippers and what's been going on in the meantime?

As a review, several industries and specific groups have extensions and exemptions that are currently in effect, or will be approaching an expiration date. Most carriers will be required to adhere to the mandate, unless qualified by a series of standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you are not currently required to keep a record of duty status, you do not need to equip your vehicle engine with electronic logging technology. Additionally, if you keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) less than 8 days in a 30 day period, you are exempt as well. If you are a "driveaway/towaway" driver, or your vehicle's engine (not body, cab, or chassis) was made prior to 2000, the new ELD mandate does not apply to you. Rental truck drivers and those covered under the 90- day agricultural extension also are exempt for now. Agriculture and livestock haulers will have to file again, or install approved ELD devices by March 18. If they do not, fines and citations can be issued, but drivers will not be put out-of-service until April 1.

Since the official implementation of the mandate in December, many additional groups have filed for further exemption requests. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been very transparent in its opposition of the mandate, and has asked for an oversight hearing in order to express its concerns over the mandate and it's implementation. The organization's main issue with the mandate concerns technical issues and malfunctioning, which is an ongoing concern with many of the approved devices. System failures and crashing, issues with GPS tracking and reporting, and mechanical difficulties linking to the truck engine are all cited challenges with the current ELD devices being used. On top of that, the current FMCSA list of approved ELD vendors includes many "self-certified" providers who are NOT actually compliant with requirements. It's a complicated vetting process that leaves many questions and lots of confusion for both truck drivers and law enforcement officials.

Enforcement of the mandate up until this point has been spotty as well, due to the technical issues with the devices and insufficient training of both drivers and enforcement personnel. In fact, 17 states have decided not to enforce at all until April 1, with the remaining states leaving it up to the individual officer's discretion. The FMCSA has given direction to use a specific code, 39522A, in order to report violations in order to track ELD compliance, but to this time, the code has not been showing up in reports. Namely, this is due to the complicated nature of the devices and the wide range of types being used. Put simply, both drivers and enforcement officers are finding it difficult to recognize whether a carrier's chosen ELD is truly compliant. As a result, drivers are required to carry cards indicating proof they are compliant, as well as instructions on how to operate their software, report device errors, and alternative options to record their hours of service.

With less than 3 weeks away to a more strict enforcement period, many carriers and truck drivers have yet to move ahead with becoming ELD compliant. Some are battling training issues or troubleshooting their current ELD technologies. Many small enterprises are simply waiting out the soft enforcement period and then find it easier to leave the industry entirely. Either way, it's safe to say that major changes will be occurring in the next few weeks and that the crunch in capacity will continue to affect shipping rates. PartnerShip can help make sure your shipments are covered at a competitive rate. Ship smarter with PartnerShip, get a quote today!


Get a free quote!