Newcomers to less-than-truckload shipping are often daunted by the multifaceted and seemingly finicky nature of the beast. LTL is the halfway point between parcel post and full-truck freight, the result being a myriad of merged elements to remember and new terminology to learn. The ultimate goal is, of course, to meld your existing operations with a shipping option for the best rates possible. The LTL learning curve, however, holds many small businesses back from tapping the savings potential.
Not only does FreightorGator step in to reduce the complexity of LTL shipping by providing the best carrier rates, we want to transfer our knowledge and expertise to our customers. Our goal is to empower shippers and strengthen carrier ties, both of which depend on informed participation to succeed.Consider this your A to Z guide for all things LTL, whether you are a seasoned freight veteran or a rookie – these are the need to knows to keep your business running smoothly…
Consider this your A to Z guide for all things LTL, whether you are a seasoned freight veteran or a rookie – these are the need to knows to keep your business running smoothly…
Folks unfamiliar with LTL shipping ought to be aware of its role in global commerce as well as its fundamentals: Less-than-truckload shipping covers any shipment too big for parcel but too small for a dedicated truck for transport. The rule of thumb is that anything over 150 pounds is LTL – “relatively small freight” – while anything filling an entire truck is a full-“truckload.” LTL is big business; huge business in fact. Added up, the leading North American carriers pull roughly $26 billion in LTL revenue every year.
Bill of Lading
The Bill of Lading (BOL) is the document attached to a shipment, signed by both parties, detailing the specifics of the shipment. Everything from weight to value is included. Shippers must know that there’s no such thing as too much information on a BOL. Keep your copy – if problems arise with a carrier over a shipment, the BOL may very well be the evidence which proves which party is at fault.
Claims and Damages
Ship enough goods and items through LTL – or any shipping method for that matter – and eventually something will turn up destroyed or missing. The freight claims process is not a simple one, but necessary in order to salvage the value of lost or damaged shipments. A thorough Bill of Lading will expedite the process.
Dimensional weight pricing – or DIM – is a new pricing model quickly gaining popularity among carriers. It pays much more attention to space required for a shipment rather than the density of the shipment, effectively penalizing poor packaging techniques. Shippers are increasingly being forced to adapt to DIM pricing, which usually entails rethinking their packing procedures to prevent unnecessary volume (i.e. reduce the dimensional properties of a shipment).
Items shipped via LTL fall into one of 18 freight classes. The factors that determine freight classification are density, stow-ability, handling, and liability. Knowing how your shipment will be classified is necessary for getting an accurate quote. Find out more about the specifics of classifications here.
The general concept of LTL insurance is undoubtedly familiar as it’s the same as all insurance. Knowing when it is and isn’t necessary is important; carriers are liable for company-caused destruction to shipments, whereas they aren’t liable for damages caused by natural disasters. If an LTL shipment is going through Oklahoma during tornado season or some other high-risk location, consider insurance. Otherwise, save your money. Each freight carrier has their own policies regarding what standard coverage they offer per load. If you require supplemental insurance, you might look into a third party provider like http://www.falveycargo.com/.
LTL allows for a more dynamic and fluid method of getting goods in and out, known as inventory flow. This is perfect for small businesses in the process of building reliable clientele and otherwise unsure of what is needed and when it needs to arrive.
Loading Dock Efficiencies
The art of an efficient loading dock procedure begins with safety. Unrestrained trucks repeatedly accessed by forklift are notorious for “creeping” away from the docking bay, creating the potential for dangerous disaster. Water on the floor, strewn pallets, and miscommunication between dock and driver can all lead to the threat of damage or bodily harm. Once you’ve sorted through any safety concerns, we recommend reading up on best practices for streamlining dock operations to improve efficiency from the get-go rather than trying to learn on the fly.
Freight carriers generally will not enter buildings to pick up shipments, and this applies to LTL. Consequently, pick up procedures have to account for the time and energy needed to prepare the shipment right up to the front door or dock.
Reclassifications and Re-weighs
Carriers operate on finely-tuned systems designed to swiftly weed out discrepancies, irregularities, and errors in packaging and labeling. This leads to re-class and re-weighs, a costly and time-consuming process for all parties involved. Avoiding the pains of having to reconfigure the Bill of Lading (and possibly the shipment itself) requires an understanding of classification and an ability to accurately calculate its ultimate size and weight.
There is an art to safely and efficiently receiving LTL freight; similar to a successful pickup procedure. Be mindful of the carrier’s time; their speed depends on shippers having their act together upon arrival. Help drivers get in-and-out in under 20 minutes by having a forklift, dolly, and/or staff at the ready for receiving.
Similar to dimensional pricing systems, volume pricing pertains to the physical space of an LTL shipment is consuming within a truck. This method provides enormous opportunity for shippers to be on the right side of freight discounts, especially if they maintain consistent ties to a carrier. Ultimately, carriers want to fill their trucks and are willing to remain competitive in order to better predict future demand. Volume pricing discounts are a way for carriers to incentivize shippers to bring their loads their way.
Small business owners that are unfamiliar with less-than-truckload freight shipping can easily become overwhelmed by the classification system, carrier rules, and vocabulary of LTL, not to mention the recommended paths – (often winding) – toward efficient and cost-effective shipments.
At FreightorGator, we happily serve to connect LTL shippers with the right carriers to match their business needs. It but doesn’t stop there. Helping shippers with the ins-and-outs of LTL shipping not only calls for service, it requires the transfer of knowledge. The FreightorGator blog and resource center exist to keep you in the know.