Shipping products and goods is the lifeblood of our economy. Being able to get your product where it needs to be is the only way to put it in the hands of the consumers that use it, and as such shipping will be a major part of your company’s operations. There are numerous terms within the shipping industry, but one that stands out to most people is shipping LTL. It’s incredibly common, and here at Cerasis about 95% of our business involves this type of shipping.
At Cerasis, we have mastered the many moving parts of shipping LTL and LTL transportation management. We love the thousands of details and process that go into making our shippers, our shippers’ vendors, and most importantly, our shippers’ customers happy. Today’s post is a bit tongue in cheek. It’s a bit 101 and fundamental. But, like the rich fireman who put 10% to his retirement for 35 years, it’s those who execute well and execute the fundamentals well, who usually succeed. Please don’t take the small things for granted. Today’s post is a little reminder of that. We hope you enjoy!
So, backing up just a bit, just in case the LTL capitalization throws you off…….
Shipping LTL refers to ‘Less Than Truckload’. These are shipments that won’t fill up a full 48 or 53 foot semi-trailer. It could be half of a full shipment, a single pallet, or even a single box, but if you aren’t filling up a truck then your shipment will be considered LTL. There are several challenges associated with this, and understanding some of them is the key to overcoming them.
If you haven’t already, make sure that you download our white paper for shipping LTL called “The Ultimate Guide for Effective LTL Freight Management.” That will give you some more advanced things to master the management of shipping LTL.
5 Biggest Upfront Challenges when Shipping LTL
Here’s a look at the 5 biggest upfront challenges you’ll face when shipping LTL freight:
1. Finding a carrier can sometimes be tricky. There are several carriers that handle LTL shipments regularly, and finding one is the first challenge. Not all carriers will handle these types of shipment, so you’ll need to track down the ones that will. Oh, and when you get to the rate section, you’ll see that finding the BEST carrier for that exact shipment, isn’t always the easiest task. But, more on that later.
2. Freight Class doesn’t mean just pick “Freight All Kind” or FAK. Knowing your freight class is vital to getting an accurate rate and avoiding a reclass or dealing with correcting an invoice when a freight audit is performed. Want to know exactly how to pick the right freight class? There are two ways: 1.) you can start by reading our “How to Determine LTL Freight Class” blog post here (it’s the most popular post we’ve ever had) and 2.) pick up a copy of the NMFTA‘s NMFC Book on their website.
BONUS: DIM or dimensional weight pricing is not quite here fully in the world of LTL, but some carriers are looking at changing models or making a hybrid. View our blog post on all things DIM pricing here to get prepared or at least have informed conversations as carriers and the industry makes changes.
3. LTL Freight Rates are another issue for many. Your LTL shipping rates are determined by a few things including pick up and destination zip codes, class, weight, and any additional services. Rates vary, and it’s important to track down the one that offers your company the best rates while still providing solid service. So, how do you know you are getting the best one? Without a transportation management system, you are left to either a.) have already done a lot of work to set up contracts (which you’d have to maintain & renew or renegotiate each year) b.) sending out mass emails or make a bunch of phone calls to get rates for that one shipment (whew that is a lot of time spent!) or c.) start using a transportation management system (like you see in the screen shot of our TMS decision screen below!).
4. Transit time is important for any shipment. A problem with some LTL shipments is that they’re given a lower priority than other shipments. Why? It has, in part, something to do with how attractive your freight is to a carrier, and if we are in a tighter capacity situation, also known as the “capacity crunch.” And, you guessed it, we encourage you to read our blog post on how to make your freight more attractive in a capacity crunch here. As a result, your shipment could take longer to reach the destination. Going back to the finding a carrier and rates point, again, how do you know you are getting the best transit time? Make sure you add that column into your spreadsheet so you can remember this one too! Are shippers still using spreadsheets when there is such easy to deploy web-based TMS out there? Unfortunately, yes….even at multi-million dollar freight spend shippers.
5. Insurance isn’t often an issue since shipping companies offer a variety of policies. However, you’ll still need to pay attention to the limit of liability on your shipment & getting extra insurance. What is the difference you ask? Well, find out in this handy blog post here to master the difference between limit of liability and carrier insurance. It’s pretty important. And again, who has time to gather all this info anymore, when you know….”There is a better way!” (Borrowed that one from my buddy Chuck Intrieri….it’s his favorite phrase and I love it!).
All of these issues have to be considered with every LTL shipment, which can end up taking you time and becoming a stressful hassle to some. To avoid the issue, turning to a third party shipping logistics company could help. The combination of connections and experience means you’ll get the best shipping results without having to deal with the hassles. Just like the awesome graphic you see below! 🙂
We can help. If you need any kind of LTL freight management services and are ready to let the pros handle you’re transportation logistics and management for you, contact us at Cerasis today.