Monthly Archives: August 2017

PLS will donate 100% of Profits from TX Moves to the American Red Cross the Week of September 4th

Cranberry Twp., PA, August 30, 2017 – PLS Logistics Services, a leading 3rd party logistics provider, has committed to donate 100% of profits from its Texas freight moves for the week of September 4th to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.  

PLS is teaming up with the American Red Cross and GoFundMe to raise money for the affected communities. PLS will donate 100% of the profits from all Texas freight moves next week to the American Red Cross.

“PLS has a large number of employees, shippers and trucking partners in Texas and Houston and we want to do our part to assist in the recovery efforts of this catastrophic storm,” says President and CEO Greg Burns. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the millions of people impacted by Hurricane Harvey.”

PLS employees and customers can donate to the American Red Cross through the company’s GoFundMe page titled “PLS Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund”.  Alternatively, any shipper using PLS trucking services the week of Sept. 4th for Texas related freight will have 100% of profits from those shipments donated to the American Red Cross. Shippers can contact their local PLS Account Executive or their local PLS office with any Texas freight needs. With over 500 employees, the company’s goal is to raise funds from its employees, customers, and vendors in addition to the Company’s donation.

While Hurricane Harvey has forced the closure of the PLS Houston office, all employees have been verified as safe. In the next several weeks, the PLS team will work tirelessly to help our customers maintain their delivery schedules, stay informed and assist them in any way possible.

To visit our GoFundMe page, follow this link: https://www.gofundme.com/PLS-Harvey-Relief-Fund

About PLS Logistics Services

PLS Logistics Services is a leading provider of logistics management, brokerage, and technology services for shippers across all industries. PLS handles millions of loads annually across all major freight modes: flatbed, van, LTL, rail and barge, air and ocean. The PLS carrier network consists of over 40,000 pre-qualified trucking companies along with Class-1 railroads and major barge companies. PLS has been recognized as a top 25 freight brokerage firm. To learn more visit www.plslogistics.com.

Media Contact:

Kelsey Magilton, Marketing Manager

(724) 814–5074

publicrelations@plslogistics.com

Freight Inquiries:

Dallas Branch
John Berberick
(496)513-4841
jberberick@plslogistics.com
Houston Branch
Andrew Barricks
(713)518-1128
abarricks@plslogistics.com
National Accounts
Joe Bielawski
(724)814-5846
jbielawski@plslogistics.com

Perks of Using a 3PL for your LTL Shipments

LTL, or Less-then-Truckload, is quite popular across the board nowadays. If there is no rush –  there is no reason to pay for the whole truck to ship just a few pallets. This is where LTL comes in handy.

It might seem easier to handle your LTL shipments directly through the LTL carrier, cutting out the middle-man – a 3PL. But is it really the case? Let’s look at a few benefits of shipping your LTL freight through a 3PL.

ExpertiseLTL shipment

Freight shipping is literally their specialty, LTL included. Who can find the best way to handle your LTL freight than someone who is doing it on daily basis? A 3PL is helping many customers handle their LTL shipping – they have seen different lanes, products, issues. This experience helps them evaluate your shipping and choose the most efficient option and anticipate potential risks.

Cost savings

Your company might only ship a few pallets a month while a 3PL is shipping a significantly higher volume across the whole country on daily basis. What does that mean for you? Their volume and buying power gives a 3PL a leverage when negotiating rates with LTL carriers. By partnering up with a 3PL, you get access to these discounted rates.

Visibility

It’s crucial for any business to know what is happening with their freight at any point in time. Many companies are afraid of the loss of control when outsourcing LTL to a 3PL. The truth of the matter is, you gain more visibility into where your shipment is that you may not have had previous to outsourcing. A team of professionals is focusing on providing the highest level of service to your company – from providing the list of carriers for your shipment (including rates, transit times and other shipping details) to detailed updates all along the way.

 

Additionally, PLS can offer you extra perks. ‘Where technology and logistics merge’ isn’t just a fancy statement! We pride ourselves in our proprietary state-of-art software, designed specifically to make your LTL shipping a unique and pleasant experience.

Do you want to be in full control of your supply chain? That’s an option, too! We will provide you with access to our LTL system for quoting, scheduling and tracking your LTL freight. You will personally manage your LTL shipping while taking advantage of our user-friendly technology and discounted rates.

Get Freight Quote

 

 

 Read more: Are you making these LTL shipping mistakes?, 4 recommendations to save on LTL shipments, Difference between LTL and TL Shipping 

Hurricane Harvey: Transportation Impacts

Hurricane Harvey has made landfall in Texas as of Friday 8/25/17. This is the largest storm to hit the United States in over a decade. Some forecasts are calling for as much as 60 inches of rain from Harvey. What does this mean for the transportation industry? A breakdown below:

Harvey Impact on Texas

FloodingThe most immediate impacts to be aware of:

  • High winds and wind gusts – Harvey has seen winds of over 130 MPH already, this can reach up to 140 MPH. Even hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm, wind gusts capable of tipping an LTL trailer are present.
  • Flooding – it only takes 12” of moving water to sweep a vehicle. Run-off from less than 1” of rain can collect, pool and stream to create that. Harvey has seen 15” of rain in some areas. Do NOT drive through standing or running water on any roadway.
  • Severe weather – severe thunderstorm outbreaks can and will occur in the outskirts of the storm. High winds and heavy rains expected and impacts are concentrated and produce a tornadic circulation. This can be seen hundreds of miles from the storm’s center.

This storm will see flooding for the days of the storm and even weeks following. Officials are estimating a potential reconstruction bill of almost $40 billion.

 While our Houston office will remain closed until the flooding subsides, PLS will remain fully functional. At this time, our dedicated employees have checked in as safe. Our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by this tragedy. 

Harvey Impact on Economy

With such a large storm in the 5th largest metropolitan area in the United States, there are going to be huge economic impacts. The Gulf Coast of Texas, including Houston and the surrounding areas, accounts for about half of petroleum and gas exports – not to mention a fifth of chemical exports.

“Since the Port Arthur refining complex is the largest in the U.S. and the second largest in the world, this will no doubt impact gasoline and chemicals prices,” says Brett Ryan, a senior United States economist at Deutsche Bank

Big oil and gas companies such as Exxon Mobil and Valero Energy have evacuated workers and shut down facilities in preparation for the storm. The slow-moving nature of the storm is likely to cause longer shut-downs meaning less production.

These shutdowns are having an immediate impact on gasoline prices. The cost per gallon has jumped to a two-year high as of Monday 8/28/17. This means drivers and transportation companies should expect much higher prices at the pump.

Another major economic impact will be the property damage from the storm. This is longer lasting and more significant than lost economic activities. Homes and businesses without flood insurance should be expecting delays in rebuilding and coverage.

The storm’s impact is still being assessed – but as history shows, the oil and gas industry usually takes a few months to recover from a big hurricane.

 

iStock-458607499.jpgWhat Shippers Can Do

Expect delays by at least 2-3 days. These delays can be avoided by choosing alternative routes, however, this is not always an option. If you have freight that needs to be moved in the area, prioritize loads based on need/demand and keep intermodal transportation in mind. For some areas trucks, railroads, or even air transportation may be ideal depending on the location.

 

How PLS Can Help                                   

PLS can help you move your freight with an alternative route or alternative mode of transportation. We can match you with one of our 25,000+ pre-qualified carriers from all over North America on a route to ensure timely delivery of your cargo. Additionally, we are researching routes and areas to see which mode of transport would best meet your needs. Perhaps rail in the area desired has been unaffected – we will do that research for you. Our professionals are closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey and associated weather conditions.

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency Contacts

  • For disaster survivors: 800-621-3362 (711 or Video Relay Service Available)
  • General contact: 202-646-2500

 

PLS Contacts

  • General contact: 888-814-8486
  • LTL Freight Services: 877-47507585
  • Human Resources: 724-814-5100 

 

Contact Me

The Benefit of a Freight Broker

Freight brokers are commonly talked about on the internet in a negative light. In reality, a freight broker can be a tremendous asset to an organization to secure carriers quickly and cost effectively.

In this , we’re going to explore the ins and outs of freight brokers – giving you the cold, hard truth.

What Do Freight Brokers Actually Do?

iStock-529422556.jpgHow does a carrier handle an urgent pickup or a problem covering lanes? What does a shipper do if they have no one to pick up their load? What does a carrier do if there are no trucks available and a customer has a last-minute request?

Answer: Call a freight broker!

Freight brokers are great business partners in predicaments, however, they are especially useful as a primary transportation solution.

Freight brokers are essentially personal freight managers for organizations, working hard to find you the best carrier at the best price to move your freight.  This allows you to focus on other critical aspects of your business, optimizing productivity and providing you with a competitive advantage.  

A freight broker can help improve client service and minimize the cost it takes to serve those clients. With the continual driver shortage, a relationship with a freight broker is a handy tool to keep in your back pocket.  

Why Use A Freight Broker?

Supply chains are changing. The freight industry is changing. Most companies have limited resources and limited time. Their valuable time and money shouldn’t be spent on forming relationships with trucking companies, checking loads, and dealing with claims – that’s where freight brokers come in.

A freight broker is your one stop shop for all your transportation expertise. These professionals know how to secure loads with pre-qualified carriers through their company. This industry knowledge and pre-existing relationship allow them to lock in lower rates than you would get as a one-off shipper.

Freight brokers help carriers optimize their resource productivity. In other words, by doing things like scheduling back-hauls and more effective routes, each truck is doing more work for less money. This improves your bottom line.

What’s more, freight brokers may be the future of trucking. Shift Freight, an LTL carrier based in California, has developed a business model that relies solely on freight brokers.

Contrary to popular belief, freight brokers are here to help you! Their main role is to make sure the customer (you) has everything they need to get their shipment from point A to point B hassle free! They optimize the freight business by saving time, money, and resources.

5 Benefits a 3PL Can Offer Smaller Businesses

Are you a small business owner? Then you know that sometimes you can be overwhelmed with all the orders and the urgent need to meet all the delivery requirements, whether it’s the material needed for production or a final delivery to your customer.

Hiring someone specifically to manage your transportation needs doesn’t seem cost-efficient, but handling your supply chain is becoming more troublesome and overwhelming – and takes too much time which could’ve been spent on growing your business. Often, you’ll find yourself spending more money than you would with outsourcing. That’s where a 3PL can come to the rescue!

iStock-544353792.jpgThere are a number of benefits a 3PL can offer you:

Expertise

Shipping may only be a part of your business, but it’s a 3PL specialty. They have seen it all and know what they are doing, whether it’s the rates or the most efficient mode of transportation. A 3PL can help you fulfill the orders more accurately and avoid possible mistakes which may trigger delays and extra charges.

Leverage

Are you shipping a lot of LTL? While your 3PL might be partnering up with the same LTL carriers you’re used to, they might be able to offer you better rates. A large 3PL has a buying power a smaller business doesn’t have this leverage (just imagine how much freight a 3PL ships daily!), which provides an opportunity to negotiate better rates. This also applies to full truck loads.

Network

Any 3PL ships an impressive number of loads non-stop and daily. They are screening and adding new carriers to their base every day. A 3PL can find a carrier for your shipments much faster, will be responsible for checking their safety and minimize your risks of giving your freight to someone who has no intention of delivering it.

Service

The main reason we all partner up with any third-party service providers. A 3PL will provide you the service you need – from tracking loads and reporting to resolving issues in transit. They will focus on your needs and strive to provide the service you expect to maintain the business.

Saving your time!

Most importantly, a 3PL will handle your shipping and free up the time to focus on sales and development. Instead of spending the whole day trying to arrange transportation and handle the issues that inevitably arise – you can contact your 3PL and let them handle it while you are working on growing your business.

 

Still looking for a perfect 3PL for your business? We can help.

Contact Us

 

 

Read next: 8 Steps to an Optimal 3PL Experience, Opinions on Outsourcing, 3PL Focus on Adding Value

Understanding Hazmat Shipping

As hazardous materials and wastes become more common, it is more important now than ever to understand what they are, what are the risks, and how to ship them.

Any company working with hazardous materials must understand the nature of these materials and how to safely ship them. There are complicated processes and potentially lethal risks involved – so it’s important to know your stuff.

iStock-182418467.jpgWhat are Hazardous Materials?

A hazardous material, also known as a hazmat, is a substance is “capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce and has been designated as hazardous under the federal hazardous materials transportation law” according to the Secretary of Transportation.

This definition includes hazardous wastes, substances, elevated temperature materials, and other materials determined as hazardous.

Some examples of hazmats are:

  • Fireworks
  • Gasoline (flammable or not)
  • Explosives
  • Dangerous when wet material
  • Poisonous material
  • Lithium batteries
  • Dry ice

It’s important to note that not all hazmats are created equal. Some, like Class 9 commodities (think household items) don’t require the transport vehicle to be placarded for domestic transport.

Once you’ve defined if your goods are considered hazmats, it’s crucial to have a hazmat plan in place. This plan will help when adjusting to government regulations (think the Samsung Note 7 battery controversy) and limit risks and liability.

Shipping hazardous materials can be a risky task. Understand the risks:

Manufacturer/Shipper Risks

  • Primary risks when transporting hazmats is the potential for personal injury and property damage due to mishandling
  • Regulatory risks – potential civil penalties by the US DOT
  • Individual state violations
  • Potential other government agency penalties such as OSHA or EPA
  • Potential for negative public opinion

Carrier Risks

· Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) points are the biggest risk

Truck Owner-Operator & Driver Risks

  • The same financial risks as shippers/carriers
  • Potential for suspension

General Public Risks

  • If near an accident involving the shipping of hazardous materials
  • Environmental risks
  • Potential health side effects for affected area

With all these potential risks when shipping hazmats, it’s important to find a qualified carrier who is aware of the regulations involved in shipping this material. At PLS, we mitigate this task for you and qualify carriers in house to ensure your hazmat shipment needs can be accommodated.

When evaluating carriers to work with, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • Is this carrier registered and permitted to transport hazmat?
  • Are they financially capable?
  • Is the company properly insured?
  • Do the employees have a solid understanding of which classes of hazmats they’re able to transport?
  • Does the company have dedicated and experienced personnel?

Keeping these 5 things in mind when selecting a carrier can significantly reduce the potential risk and liability of your company.

 

Interested in learning more about hazmat shipping? Read these articles next: Hazardous Materials Transportation FAQs, 7 Facts about Hazardous Freight Shipping, Infographic: Fireworks and Hazardous Materials

 

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Self-driving Trucks: The Future of the Transportation Industry

Countless movies covered it, humans expected it, and now the future is here. Self-driving vehicles are upon us. Self-driving vehicle technology is currently one of the most discussed topics in the transportation industry – and might be one of the most controversial ones.

Could you imagine a few years ago, that it would be the actual thing? But here we are and it’s becoming real. Uber has developed self-driving cars that are already in use. Technology is reshaping all aspects of our lives, including logistics and supply chain – will self-driving trucks be a blessing or a curse for the industry?

 

All those in favor, say:

Eliminating human error

Human error is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. Software doesn’t text and drive, violate traffic regulations or drive drunk. Cutting these out of equation may contribute to fewer accidents and overall better road safety.

iStock-692819426.jpgReducing traffic jams

Software can analyse and evaluating traffic data, and choosing better routes without a human behind the steering wheel trying to decide which road to take. Moreover, much of traffic is caused by drivers violating traffic regulations, trying to squeeze in and save a few minutes – and contributing to the congestion.

More efficient shipping

For supply chain, self-driving trucks mean faster transit times (software doesn’t need 8 hours of sleep), enhanced tracking options and fewer delays which will contribute to better and more reliable service. Reducing driver costs and maximizing fuel efficiency with smarter routes and traffic evaluation will affect and potentially lower shipping expenses.

 

All those opposed, say:

Is it safer though?

Of course, self-driving trucks comply with all traffic regulations and eliminate human error – but what about other vehicles, operated by real human drivers? Software lacks human intuition and might not be capable of reacting properly in an unexpected situation. Having both, driverless and regular vehicles on the road may trigger more traffic accidents, especially at the beginning of this transition.

iStock-533243370.jpg

 

Software vulnerability

Recently, we have witnessed a variety of example of software vulnerability. We have also found out that no matter how sophisticated the security systems are, they might be hacked as well. Whether ‘just for fun’, or for financial profit – purely technology-operated vehicles are potentially vulnerable. Even if unintentional – how often does your phone or computer glitch? In this case, it may cause serious consequences. 

Job cuts

Probably one of the most widely discussed cons of this new technology. The drivers are an essential part of the transportation industry – self-driving trucks will completely change the whole industry as it is. Will it eliminate all drivers? Probably not, but it’s likely to spike unemployment and put a number of drivers out of a job as the attention will be shifting from currently required driver skills to more technology-oriented ones.

What do you think about the potential impact self-driving technology will have on the industry?

Contact a Truckload Specialist

 

 

Read next: Automated Trucks are Here: How Should Drivers Prepare?3.4 Million Drivers Not Enough

The Importance of Carrier Connectivity

Capacity tightening, driver shortages, and other industry challenges are having a big impact on shipper operations. To have an effective transportation management system, you must move freight from origin to destination in a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective manner. This is no manual task.

Carrier connectivity is a priority to some and ignored by others. This will dive into the importance and value added in building a TMS system with carrier connectivity in mind.

Connectivity + TMS

According to a Gartner’s Research Director, Bart De Muynck, “How well you run your transportation network has a direct correlation to revenue.” Maximizing this correlation means considering all parts of a TMS – including carrier connectivity.

Some companies choose to skip this step in the decision-making process, and those that do see a slower ROI.

De Muynck states that the benefits of connection carriers into a TMS are substantial, regardless of how the shippers choose to do so. Visibility is a top supply chain priority for most companies, and automated connections and collaborations will improve access to real-time information.

This real-time data will subsequently result in better visibility over your transportation network. This helps shippers to more effectively manage issues such as driver shortages and capacity crunches.

Missed Opportunities

There can be countless missed opportunities if you are not actively engaging in carrier connectivity.

If your company develops an innovative new technology, and you don’t share that with your partners and carriers – that technology adds no value to your business.

iStock-639198068.jpgImportance of Technology

At PLS, we maintain a proprietary, web-based technology platform that compiles and analyzes data from our large network to serve our shippers and carriers.

Technology is a crucial component in most company’s transportation management services. This ensures accurate, real time data which is a foundation of many businesses.

 

Collaboration is Key

Increasing efficiency and saving money are two main focuses of companies in today’s landscape.

Carrier connectivity creates an environment for collaboration between shippers and carriers. When these two parties collaborate, money is saved and supply chain visibility is increased (therefore increasing efficiency).

Many TMS systems facilitate this collaboration through electronically exchanging information, such as extra capacity on a truck. This aids in the collaboration process, driving all company’s bottom lines.

 

Download the  Carrier Connect App Now

Are you Making These LTL Shipping Mistakes?

Many shippers consider LTL (Less-then Truckload) as an option for their smaller shipments for obvious cost-saving reasons. Why pay for the whole truck if your freight only occupies a few feet of deckspace?

iStock-482503593.jpgAt the same time, LTL carriers are much more ‘by the book’ compared to numerous full truck load carriers and minor mistakes can cost you time and money. Handling your LTL shipments poorly will result in various issues and overcharges, and defeat the purpose of the LTL cost-saving altogether.

To take full advantage of the benefits LTL shipping has to offer, be cognizant of the biggest mistakes shippers make – and try to avoid them!

 

Inaccurate shipments description

The most common mistake which accounts for the majority of post-shipping rate increases! Don’t surprise the carrier with the shipment characteristics drastically different from what you have initially quoted – and they will not surprise you with the increased rate on their invoice.

LTL rates are calculated based on precise shipment characteristics – that’s the whole idea of LTL! Always keep in mind that the quoted rate is only valid if the provided weight, dimensions and class are accurate. Rates will be subject to change should any of these characteristics change.

Carriers often inspect shipments if something seems off. You will not only be charged for the additional weight, deckspace or higher class, but quite often for the inspection itself. The easiest way to avoid unexpected up-charges is to know your shipment and provide accurate description when initially quoting it. Avoid using round numbers when declaring the weight of the shipment (e.g. 4,000 lbs) as it’s one of the red flags for terminal workers and will often trigger weight inspection.

 

Overlooked accessorial chargesiStock-539842772.jpg

As mentioned above, LTL is very ‘by the book’. Variety of additional services will cost extra (even notifying the consignee prior to delivery may by subject to a certain fee) – research most common accessorials and know what your shipment requires before requesting a rate quote.

Although most of the shippers are usually good about mentioning lift-gate or blind shipment requirements, there are some accessorials which are often overlooked and show up on the invoice to shipper’s surprise. Before quoting a shipment, think if there is anything even slightly out of the ordinary – for example, is it potentially delivering to a limited access (anything other than a regular business) or a residential area? Mind that a person’s name instead of a business name on the BOL will very often cause residential delivery charges.

 

Incomplete and incorrect BOL

Accurate BOL is crucial for any LTL load. This document contains the information critical for successful handling and delivery of your product. The BOL accompanies the load from pick-up to delivery – errors in consignee info will result in missed or delayed deliveries; errors in the number of packages might results in freight getting lost in transit – and so on.

As with anything else, doing your due diligence when preparing paperwork will go a long way in avoiding delivery delays and additional charges. Providing the BOL with the wrong Bill-To information will delay invoicing and you will most likely be charged the Bill-To change fee, and a simple typo in the delivery address caught too late might even result in a re-consignment fee with some carriers. Be detailed-oriented and accurate to avoid these unnecessary upcharges.

 

In general, know what you need and provide extensive and accurate information whether you are scheduling your LTL loads through a 3PL or directly with an LTL carrier. 3PL’s are often able to offer more competitive LTL rates due to their volume and tariff negotiations with an extensive network of LTL providers.

 

Looking for the best LTL rates? Contact us for a quote.

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5 Trending Transportation Updates: July 2017

iStock-641135686.jpgDrone Delivery Approved in China

SF Holding, a Chinese delivery company, has obtained a license from the country’s military to use drones to deliver commercial packages. Find out more here.

Amazon Beings Research for Box-Packing Warehouse Robots

The retail giant is hoping to add more robots to its payroll. Robots currently run the warehouse for gathering items for orders besides the last step, picking items of various shapes and packing the right ones into correct boxes. Will this be the last of their human employees in the warehouse? Find out more here.

Economy Boost Sends Fuel Demands to Decade High

Total fuel consumption surged to a decade high in June. There has been a strong demand for petroleum, which is a sign of a good economy according to the American Petroleum Institute. Find out more about this rise in fuel demand here.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Plans Toll Hikes for the Next 27 Years

Tolls continue to increase on the PA Turnpike. Drivers turning to free interstate highway options. Will the State meet its budget projection? Find out more here.  

3PLs Report Freight Volume Increases but Margins Compressed

Gross revenues have increased in Q2 of 2017, however net revenue and income are not as fruitful as a year ago. Studying the 6 publicly traded 3PLs, Bloomberg News analyzes the effect of tighter margins of the industry. Find out what this could mean for the industry here.