How efficient are you at less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping?
Moving LTL freight both efficiently and cost-efficiently poses unique challenges to shippers. Despite falling gas prices, LTL shipping costs are still effected by truck driver shortages, capacity challenges, and congested infrastructure. None the less, shippers can still be efficient managing their LTL freight. The solution for reducing freight costs and lag times is simpler than those might think.
Below are tips to efficiently maximize your efficiency in LTL shipping.
- Use accurate information such as how much weight you will be shipping and the number of pallets when obtaining price quotes or bidding.
- Be flexible with time the more time you give carriers to move your product, the more money you save.
- Max out your pallets but do not sacrifice the integrity of your product doing so. Using fewer pallets can save you money but damaged cargo due to poor packaging will cost you.
- Consolidate orders by shipping multiple orders going to the same place as a single shipment. Brokers can pass savings on to their customers when they ship multiple orders to the same general location, even if you cannot put them on one bill of lading (BOL).
- Do not idly accept annual rate increases from common carriers. Rate increases are unavoidable, try to offset them by having your commodity reclassified to a lower National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) class, freight-all-kinds (FAK).
- Know your carriers and agents who are handling your shipments since most LTL carriers do not service the entire country only “service areas”. When freight is shipped outside of a standard service area it could lead to higher freight costs or higher likelihood of becoming damaged depending on the number of terminals it will pass through before delivery.
- Get your freight ready prior to the driver's arrival and if possible, devote one or more dock doors to LTL pickups and deliveries. Coordinating a pickup system with your LTL provider will help eliminate delays. LTL carriers assign multiple pickups to each driver and sometimes instruct drivers to leave after 15 to 20 minutes with or without your freight. By having an efficient loading system, both parties come out ahead
- Take the time to learn about the industry, and recognize trends. LTL shipments account for the majority of revenue generated by the transportation industry as a whole. So, make sure to invest in resources that will help your staff be knowledgeable in LTL practices and procedures.
- Use third parties. If you ship out of multiple locations, third parties save you time and money, especially if you move more than five pallets or LTL shipments weighing more than 5,000 pounds. Brokers use independent trucking companies throughout the country that often look for extra freight to fill out their trailers. These trailers are already heading to where the broker's customer is shipping, so they usually offer savings on this available space. The broker will then pass these savings on to the customer. Not only is it more cost effective, but transit time is usually faster because there is less handling.
While some of these tips might seem basic for experienced LTL shipping pros, it’s often simple things that lead up to big costs and inefficiency.
Ready to maximize your LTL efficiency? Let GTS build your custom solution.