Most businesses that ship freight via Less-than-Truckload or LTL freight shipping services will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their transportation and logistics departments with the use of an automated transportation management system (TMS).

Many larger shippers, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or large distributors, with freight expenditures in the millions of dollars, typically have logistics departments with one or more traffic managers and are already using a TMS.  However, many smaller companies, with lower freight spends, would also benefit from implementing a transportation management system for the same reasons of helping manage LTL freight more efficiently that a large freight shipper would use a TMS.

The Evolution of LTL Shipping Practices

There are many benefits of a TMS that shippers will realize if they implement one. However, a lot of smaller shippers believe that an implementation of a TMS is expensive. That is a myth. Most Transportation Management Systems today are web-based, have easy to use web services such using APIs, and are easily integrated into other systems, so there are seamless data interchanges, such as integration with an ERP system or address book program.

As a shipper, transportation management by avoidance is not a good option. Now more than ever before, transportation issues, especially in the fast-moving and complex world of LTL freight, demand increased time and attention. Transportation will not take care of itself. Surprises will eat into your margins. If you don’t know where your inbound freight is, you may be faced with shutting down a production line, or you may have to delay shipping orders to your customers. You may get hit with customer chargebacks if someone at the warehouse makes a mistake and sends shipments without knowing that they need to use a particular carrier in a specific lane (governance). The result is not a good one nor as most would agree, the desired outcome: lower profits and lower customer satisfaction ratings.

The Evolution of LTL Shipping Practices

Addressing Capacity Woes, Use of Last Mile & How to Choose the Right LTL Carrier

6 Benefits of Using a TMS for LTL Freight Management

The use of a TMS in less than truckload freight management helps ensure that your loads are matched to the best LTL carrier, equipment, and lanes so that you can get the best possible rates without sacrificing the service you expect and deserve. The main advantages of a TMS applied to Less than truckload freight include:

  • Improved visibility to your shipments: When you know where your freight is, you can better communicate to your customer, allowing you to build better relationships with them. On the inbound side, it helps build rapport and accountability with suppliers.
  • Availability of data and analytics: With reports generated from your TMS, you can better gain insight into your Less than truckload freight shipping activity and business outcomes. For example, you may find in a matrix report valuable information such as what would have you saved if you chose the least cost carrier each time or how is Carrier A performing in the way of claims vs. Carrier B. This kind of information allows you to make future business decisions that are based on fact and not gut or opinion.
  • Automation in the Process of Logistics/Transportation: With a robust Transportation management system, you can realize such benefits as real-time LTL freight rates, organizational control or governance by restricting user choices to those desired by management, speed, and scalability to avoid future growing pains as the TMS will grow easily with you as you ship more freight, and of course, a TMS that is backed by a dedicated technology team will make sure you have the latest and greatest technology to keep up with the fast paced changing world of logistics technology.
  • Simplifies data entry and the elimination of many manual steps: Logistics automation features such as integration to your commodities via your ERP system and access to your address book, as well as automatic storage and entry of fuel surcharges and accessorials, will have you never again worrying about keying in the wrong information. These kinds of manual data entry errors will lead to increased shipping costs such as having to pay for shipping twice or paying a higher freight rate due to entering an incorrect commodity freight classification. Remember, several factors go into creating an Less than truckload freight rate, so it is vital you don’t let something such as manual entry, create a rate you shouldn’t have to pay.
  • Invoice retrieval, consolidation, and audits: Transportation accounting can be quite the headache, especially if you have multiple locations or multiple freight shipments each week. Imagine if you were the controller or CFO at a manufacturing company, and you had 15 locations that each shipped 10 LTL freight shipments each week. That is 150 freight invoices that must be managed, paid, and HOPEFULLY audited against the original quote! Whew, that is a lot of process work and plenty of opportunity for costly errors. A good TMS should house all shipment information for easy access, automatically provide reporting on variances between quote and actual freight invoice, as well as provide further auditing features for piece of mind.
  • Enhanced communications between all parties: Because most TMS software are now web based, many of them also store documents for future use in very important discussions between various parties, such as the shipper, the consignee, the carrier, or a third party logistics provider. This allows for easy communication without having to dig for documents. They are available for whenever you need them. Add to the automatic notifications via technological applications such as EDI with carriers so all parties know where the freight is at any time, and a TMS allows you not to miss a step in communicating between all sides. It is the communication aspect in logistics where things can go awry, and when things go wrong, you know there is money being lost.

Partnering with a transportation management provider to obtain the benefits of a TMS also gives you access to that partner’s entire team of logistics experts. Further, you gain access to an array of other value-added services which can include LTL freight back office support to handle pick-up scheduling, tracking, appointment confirmations, proof of deliveries, claim processing, bills of lading, auditing of freight bills and daily reporting on pricing so you can charge quickly. What other benefits have you realized when using a TMS to manage better LTL freight?

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So, your organization has decided to explore the benefits and perks of less than truckload freight shipping. However, the set-up costs and initial implementation of LTL relationships can seem daunting. You may have to learn how to navigate a new software, or your organization may simply need additional training on a new transportation management system (TMS).

Although these factors represent real costs, the greatest benefit is fully realized over long-term projections and operations. The dedicated TMS can further eliminate the frustrations that occur with typical full-truckload (FT) shipments and small package freight by combining all KPIs and available options into a single, comprehensive tool. Let’s take a look at how the TMS impacts the costs of shipping over the long term in four critical areas.

Overall Costs of Less Than Truckload Freight Shipping

For an organization to justify the cost of using Less than truckload freight shipping, the topic of return on investment usually crops up. Initially, the cost seems to outweigh the benefits, but the overall cost of using Less than truckload freight shipping is dramatically lower than using FT in the long run for short distances and small shipments. Moreover, LTL shippers often work with third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to keep operating costs lower, which translates into lower costs for individual shippers. The overall cost savings can be further expanded through the use of a dedicated TMS, promoting a self-service environment while maintaining the benefits of a 3PL-shipper relationship.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is one of the top concerns for shippers. Having enough insurance can mean the difference between keeping an organization running or experiencing excessive fines for failure to maintain financial responsibility. As explained by FP Marine Risks, all shippers should carefully consider the limitations and benefits of a particular insurance policy.

If a shipment is traveling by land and sea, additional insurance coverage may be needed. Some believe marine liability coverage continues on land, but in reality, this type of insurance may not apply to international carriers. In the event of an accident, an international shipment’s value could be lost without an appropriate standard of coverage, leaving the shipper to pay the full cost.

Another fundamental concern about liability insurance includes errors and omissions and retaining paperwork relating to a shipment. For example, an insurance claim may require original Bills of Lading, notices of declination of coverage for specific shipments and more for the claim to be paid properly.

It’s also important for shippers to understand the different types of liability insurance, according to Trucker’s Report, which includes the following:

Obviously, the paper-trail and the potential riders or exclusions to a policy can make selecting an insurance policy difficult. However, the process can be streamlined when a dedicated TMS is used.

Customer Satisfaction

When customers are angry, business will not be good. Less than truckload freight shipping can reduce the delays from using FT shipping to get products to customers, and after delivery, the value of customer feedback must be considered. Even in cases where a shipment was delivered on time, the items could be damaged or incorrect, and this can have major implications for insurance claims and processing.

Customer feedback is also directly related to audits. An organization that routinely performs audits to ensure all orders are fulfilled correctly and in an acceptable time can work to reduce inefficiencies and delays, resulting in better, faster processing and shipping. Now, you may be wondering about how customer feedback affects the auditing process.

Negative customer feedback is indicative of problems during order fulfillment and shipping. Although an audit may not have already caught issues, constant complaints along specific delivery routes or areas can isolate the source of the problems, triggering a review for the affected truckers, distribution centers or manufacturers. Essentially, how well customer feedback is handled helps shippers recognize when an audit may be needed. However, preventative auditing, such as through the Cerasis Rater, can identify potential issues even if customer feedback does not indicate a problem.

Performance Reviews

As with tracking of customer feedback, a dedicated TMS is capable of tracking KPIs and analyzing metrics to determine the performance ratings of particular parties in the shipping process. In fact, the definition of auditing, asserts the Business Dictionary states, “[The] systematic examination and verification of a firm’s book of accounts, transaction records, other documents, and inventory.”

This definition alone shows how an audit can directly lead to the identification of problems in a given shipping process. Unfortunately, audits have a negative connotation, and shippers tend to think of audits as a process that is handled by the government and often results in the assessment of fines. However, preventative auditing is meant to reduce costs by identifying potential problems or violation in compliance measures before they reach the point of requiring an audit from a government organization. In other words, shippers who catch problems as they arise can avoid the assessment of fines or filing of insurance claims for errors before they ever occur.

This concept can be applied to individuals and teams, allowing management to determine if additional coaching or disciplinary action is warranted. As a result, costs are further reduced, and in some cases, internal auditing could result in lower insurance premiums.

Since Less than truckload freight shipping may involve many different organizations, the best way to take advantage of internal auditing remains a 3PL or a dedicated TMS. Therefore, the organization can view internal and external benchmarking results for comparing performance against competitors. In Less than truckload freight shipping, it would be impractical to share all information with competitors with one another, so a 3PL can distribute the information without violating the privacy of individual organizations.

Few shipping processes can be more complicated than managing Less than truckload freight shipping. Your organization has the power to leverage technology and experience from a 3PL and TMS to uncover hidden savings in overall cost, insurance, customer service and performance measurement. However, you still need to take the first steps toward these savings by contracting with a 3PL and TMS-provider today. With time, your savings will clearly be more than the costs you’re currently experiencing.


Fill out the Form Below to Access the “Complete Guide to Effective LTL Freight Management” White Paper Today!

If you are a shipper who is using the mode LTL often and are looking to better effectively manage LTL shipping process and mitigate LTL pricing increases through expert help, please reach out to a Cerasis Account Executive by setting up a complimentary logistics consultation today.

Cerasis, a third party logistics company with a strong focus on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight management announces the release of a new white paper entitled, “The Complete Guide to Effective LTL Freight Management.” Those interested in obtaining a copy of the white paper may fill out the form above to access it.

The white paper is perfect for shippers whose transportation spend and shipping activity is a large percentage in the LTL mode.

With the focus on LTL freight management as a third party logistics company, Cerasis is well poised to teach shippers about effective LTL freight management in this industry leading white paper. A good third party logistics provider will improve cost, on-time performance, freight damage, billing accuracy and a whole lot more. The best 3PLs provide free web based software along with logistics experts that will drive continuous improvement.

Depending on the shipper’s needs some 3PLs take over routine freight tasks, which frees up the shipper’s logistics team. Since 3PLs partner with dozens of LTL carriers, they can match a shipper with the best carriers for their situation. With the increase in use of LTL as a shipping mode, and as the industry recovers, now is the time for shippers to focus on effective LTL freight management.

What You’ll Learn in the Effective LTL Freight Management White Paper

Those who download the white paper will gain a deep understanding of how to effectively manage and understand the nuances of LTL freight shipping. The white paper will cover the following topics:

  • What is LTL Shipping (Less-Than-Truckload) and how did it come About?
  • The Benefits of Shipping via Less Than Truckload Freight
  • What is and How To Determine LTL Freight Class
  • The Factors Which Determine LTL Freight Rates
  • Areas to Look at in Order to Save on LTL Freight Shipping
  • Less Than Truckload Freight Shipping Tips for Improved Carrier Relations
  • The Benefits of a Transportation Management System for Better LTL Freight Management
  • Logistics Service Providers and How a Niche Focus on LTL Creates Better Logistics Outcomes

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