July 2015 | How-To | Ten Tips

Overcoming LTL Shipping Challenges

Tags: 3PL, Trucking, Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Supply Chain Management, Transportation, Logistics, Logistics Solutions Providers

Less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation involves moving shipments that won't fill a 48- or 53-foot semi-trailer. LTL could be half of a full shipment, a single pallet, or a single box. LTL shipping creates many challenges, and understanding how to overcome them is key to efficiency. Adam Robinson, marketing manager of third-party logistics (3PL) provider Cerasis Inc., offers some advice for tackling common LTL freight challenges.

1. Find a qualified carrier. Not all carriers handle LTL shipments, so finding one can present a challenge. Partnering with a 3PL is one way to secure the best rates and carriers for your LTL freight.

2. Know your freight class. Knowing your freight class is vital to getting an accurate rate, avoiding a re-class, or correcting an invoice after a freight bill audit.

3. Understand your product. Consider transportation accounting before you get the invoice. Keeping documentation on your shipments' classification helps avoid any issues with quote vs. invoice rate discrepancies.

4. Find the best LTL freight rates. Pickup and destination ZIP codes, class, weight, and any additional services determine LTL shipping rates, which can vary. Using a transportation management system (TMS) is one way to find carriers that offer the best rates and meet your service needs.

5. Create a carrier mix. Many shippers give all their inbound and outbound freight to one carrier. But giving multiple shipments to one carrier can hurt you in the long run. Creating a pool of carriers alleviates some risk, and helps increase your on-time delivery efficiency.

6. Review insurance policies. Insurance isn't often an issue because shipping companies offer a variety of policies to cover your freight. However, it is important to pay attention to liability limits on your shipments, and get extra insurance if needed.

7. Determine carrier pricing. To price carriers on your own, it is a good idea to employ a multi-carrier rating TMS that can identify carrier pricing and the lanes a carrier serves.

8. Communicate freight claim procedures. It's a common misconception that freight claim management is confined to the claims department. In reality, departments ranging from receiving to purchasing play an important role in ensuring freight claims are paid and processed properly. Be sure to clearly communicate the role each department plays in freight claim management.

9. Plan in advance. Shippers know how critical it is to get shipments to their destination on time. Be aware of holidays and weather conditions to help make better decisions about which carrier to choose. Also, keep track of time-sensitive shipments so you can select guaranteed service in advance to avoid additional expedited costs.

10. Track transit time. Some carriers give LTL shipments a lower priority than other shipments due to the capacity crunch. As a result, your shipment could take longer to reach its destination. Keep track of your transit times to make sure carriers move your LTL freight expeditiously.