Monthly Archives: March 2018

Freight Claims Do’s & Don’ts

Having damaged freight can cause anyone to get frustrated. Filing a freight claim can even be more frustrating to someone who is not familiar with the process. There is a lot that goes into the freight claims process and it is important to know that damaged freight isn’t the only type of freight claim you may encounter. We will go over what freight claims are, how to properly file a freight claim and the do’s and don’ts when it comes to the freight claims process.

 What is a freight claim? iStock-174949576 (1)

A freight claim is a legal demand for financial reimbursement for a lost or damaged shipment. The Carmack Amendment is a law that addresses the issue of liability between shippers and carriers. This law is put into place to make sure that the goods delivered were picked up in good condition, delivered in damaged condition and resulted in a specific amount of damage. When one of these requirements is met, the carrier is held liable unless it proves the damages were not their fault and were caused by an outside force (the shipper themselves, public enemy, nature). When you are filing a freight claim, it is important to do it as soon as possible.

How do I file a freight claim?

To file a freight claim, you need to provide a detailed description of the freight loss, damage or delay that occurred with your shipment. The amount lost must be stated in the freight claim. When you are filing your freight claim, you must provide the original bill of lading, the paid freight bill, proof of the value or damage that was lost and any reports/certifications/diagrams/etc that were included or made.

Do’s and Don’ts of Freight Claims

  •  Provide accurate proof of the damages: make sure that you include documentation that accurately shows the extent of the damages that you have experienced. Your claim should include specific details and should provide legitimate proof of the damages. It is very important to document the damages on the paperwork so that the claim can be approved.
  • Select carriers with care: working with a 3PL (third party logistics provider) can help you know how individual carriers handle claims.
  • Don’t carelessly pack your shipment: the best way to ensure freight is fully secure and protect your package with the proper packaging in compliance with the National Motor Freight Classification.
  • File your damages promptly: many shippers who experience shipment damages do not recoup their losses because of missed deadlines.

Hopefully the next time that you file a freight claim, you will feel confident in your ability to properly manage the freight claims process.

 

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Basic Guide to LTL Freight Class

While LTL shipping is pretty straight-forward, freight class may seem quite confusing for many. At the same time, knowing the right class of your freight is essential for shipping LTL. When shippers first come across having to move an LTL load, determining and understanding freight class may be quite a challenge.

In today ’s, we want to talk about some basics of freight classification and answer the most common questions: What is it? How does it work? Why is it important to know your freight class? How do you find the correct class for your freight?

What is it?

Freight classification was introduced by NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) to categorize freight based on a number of characteristics and standardize pricing. All commodities are grouped in 18 classes, ranging from Class 50 to Class 500. The classification is cataloged in the NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) tariff, and a unique NMFC number is assigned to each item.

How does it work?ltl freight class

A hundred-pound load of brick will probably be smaller and easier to handle than a hundred-pound load of ping-pong balls, right? The classification is fairly comprehensive and is based on four characteristics: density, freight stowability, ease of handling and liability. Each commodity is evaluated according to these factors and cataloged under a specific NMFC number and class. The densest and “shipping-friendly” loads will fall under Class 50, which will also be the cheapest. The least dense and “inconvenient” loads will be classified as Class 500, which will be the most expensive.

Why is it important to know your freight class?

As mentioned above, freight class directly affects the pricing. Knowing the accurate class of your freight will ensure that you know the correct shipping price upfront and avoid carrier re-class and up charges. The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises on the invoice is not only to know the correct class but the accurate NMFC number for your freight as well. The NMFC number should be on the BOL along with the clear freight description.

How do you find the correct class for your freight?

Finding the correct item and determining freight class may be a little confusing at times. If you are not yet a pro, you can reach out to your 3PL representative. They have expertise and access to the NMFC database and will be able to help you determine the class. Classifying LTL freight may be tricky, so make sure to provide extensive and accurate freight description, including weight, dimensions, packaging, and value to your 3PL representative.

Need help figuring out the correct class for your LTL freight? We can help!

 

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Truckers, Self-Driving Trucks Aren’t That Bad

Self-driving trucks have been the topic of the year for 2018 so far. With last year’s announcement of the Tesla Truck, it has only grown in hype. Uber and Tesla have been front running the autonomous market for some time and are in competition to have the first truck on the market. But there are other companies around the world as well in regions such as Asia and Europe. The concept of a self-driving truck has been around for years, so why all the commotion about it now?

The 2017 market was rough, the driver shortage pairs with a surging transportation demand meant that carriers were charging as much as a 30% increase on long routes compared to the prices from the year prior. These increases haven’t gone down for 2018 either as the driver shortage is still an issue. Adding capacity is difficult if there are not enough drivers. The 2018 market has had a good economy and the growth of e-commerce has been leading the charge in capacity increases.

Within the chaos of the shortage and spot rate increases, autonomous trucking is becoming an important figure. Truckers are not fans of the autonomous trucks, but fear not, they don’t plan to take away your jobs. Autonomous trucks are here to help you meet the capacity crunching but they require drivers. The concept of a fully autonomous truck that will go from dock to dock is a long way away, but the ability to drive on highways is right around the corner.

Projections indicate that future trucking will be heavily divided into long-haul transportation that reaches distribution hubs at the edges of cities and local-haul transportation that move the freight within city limits. The autonomous trucks are most efficient in long-haul situations, which is what can cause driver fatigue after they make these time-consuming journeys. These trucks don’t work so well in the tight cities, truck drivers know this from their own personal experience. Autonomous trucks are very far away from achieving the necessary skills to navigate city streets and complex loading docks, so a driver is needed for such operations.

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Uber, in a from February, estimates that by 2028, 1 million self-driving trucks will be on the roads if R&D was to move at a fast pace. Their projections (as seen in the chart) without the self-driving trucks show that more than 766,000 truck driving jobs would be added by the 2028. And when they put self-driving trucks into their scenario, they see the jobs increase further! They also make projections also highlight the movement from long-haul to local-haul jobs, which is a shift of 1 million jobs with the addition of 400,000 jobs needed for increased demand of freight volume.

The bottom line? These self-driving trucks are going to benefit carriers and drivers equally. They will lower operating costs, which could lower the cost of goods being moved, and they will increase overall efficiency. These trucks also provide safety benefits on the road. Avoiding collisions and reducing driver fatigue are just a few aspects of their operation. This technology just opens the doors to the possibilities they can bring to the industry. The biggest benefit, is the increased number of jobs that will introduced with self-driving trucks. So truckers beware, you will have more opportunities in the future!

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PLS Logistics Strengthens Partnership With The Independent Steel Alliance

CRANBERRY TWP., PA (March 20, 2018) — PLS Logistics Services, one of the largest industrial 3PL transportation service provider in North America, has partnered with the Independent Steel Alliance to sponsor their Annual Shareholders Meeting in Napa Valley, CA, in April.

The Independent Steel Alliance (ISA) is a purchasing cooperative of independently-owned and operated rebar fabricators in the U.S. and Canada. The ISA helps provide a tangible financial return to its members along with giving members the benefit of highly focused peer-to-peer engagement. The shareholders meeting will bring together ISA members and suppliers to participate in the conversation about the steel industry.

PLS Logistics Services is an industry leader in moving steel and products related to steel across North America. As a supplier of the ISA, PLS Logistics has chosen to sponsor this meeting to further PLS’s involvement and success in the steel industry. PLS Logistics Services’ scale, history in the steel industry, and quality of service are all factors that lead to the decision to become a sponsor of the ISA meeting.

“This sponsorship is a great way for PLS to further our involvement in the steel industry to build an alliance and strengthen the relationship between PLS and steel manufacturers and carriers,” said Greg Burns, President, Chairman, and CEO of PLS Logistics.

The 2018 ISA Annual Shareholders meeting will take place from April 11 to April 13. The ISA Annual Meeting is open to current fabricator members and supplier-partners. For more information about joining ISA, please visit www.independentsteelalliance.com.

About Independent Steel Alliance

Independent Steel Alliance is a member-owned purchasing cooperative of independent rebar fabricators in the US and Canada. Launched in 2013, ISA’s mission is to achieve measurable and significant financial returns for its members by leveraging collective purchases for patronage rebates from suppliers.

For more information about ISA, including information about joining the cooperative, visit the ISA website at: http://www.IndependentSteelAlliance.com.

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

 

ISA Contact

Chris Casey Ph.D., ISA Executive Director
404 – 577 – 0207
Chris@IndependentSteelAlliance.com

New ELD Waiver For Agriculture Carriers

We are two weeks away from one of the most discussed dates in the transportation industry this year. Carriers were given a grace period between December 18 and April 1 to ensure ELD compliance. The soft launch was intended to facilitate the transition. Despite the push-back from carriers and attempts to overturn the new regulation, FMCSA will begin full enforcement of the ELD compliance on April 1.

In two weeks, those without an ELD will be placed out of service. The first violation will place the driver out of service for 10 hours. They will then be allowed to travel to the nearest stop, but should not be dispatched again without a properly installed ELD. If the truck is dispatched again without an ELD, it will be subject to “further enforcement.” However, FMCSA did not specify what this might entail.

According to FMCSA reports, the ELD compliance has been steadily rising since December. The latest reported data shows that the compliance rate is now at quite an impressive 96% compared to 90% in early March. Currently, there are over 330 self-certified devices on the registration list.

However, the unique needs of the U.S. agricultural carriers called for additional review of the new regulations. The National Pork Producers Council petitioned for the waiver and exemption from the new regulations in September 2017. Although the exemption is still pending, agricultural carriers were provided a 90-day waiver, until March 18.iStock-690781410.jpg

Last week, the FMCSA announced an additional 90-day waiver for agricultural carriers. The agency is planning to use this time to provide more helpful guidelines on the 150 air-mile radius exemption and personal conveyance.

“The U.S. pork industry is grateful to DOT Secretary [Elaine] Chao and FMCSA Administrator Martinez for this additional waiver from the ELD rule, which poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” Jim Heimerl, President of the National Pork Producers Council, said. “This will provide the department and Congress additional time to find a solution that meets the unique needs of livestock haulers. Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling regardless of any regulation.”

According to the agriculture professionals, livestock is vulnerable and complying with the new ELD and HOS may be harmful to the animals. The additional 90-day period is meant to give more time to work out a solution which will meet the requirements of the agriculture industry while ensuring safety on the roads.

 

 

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The 14-Hour Driving Window Dilemma

The FMCSA issued hours of service (HOS) regulations for truck drivers that limit the maximum time that can be driven in a period. Recently in the transportation industry, the OODIA made a petition to the FMCSA to create more flexibility for drivers so that traffic, weather or dock delays don’t impact their drive time availability. They are requesting that drivers who fall under the HOS regulations are given a rest break (up to three hours) once for every 14-hour duty. This rest break would be to stop the continuous 14-hour window drivers are given to operate. However, this would not eliminate the consecutive 10-hour off-duty break that is required before each shift.

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So, what does this mean for drivers? Well after the 10-hour break, drivers are able to log a 17-hour workday, which means a new workday starts 27 hours, 3 hours later than the prior day. This is known as a rotating forward schedule. This new rule is much more effective than the 10-hour on and 8-hour off rule that had workdays starting 6 hours earlier every 24 hours. Drivers often can suffer from a jet-lag like feeling on a daily basis due to a shortened sleep routine.

Humans need sleep in order to complete basic, daily functions. Humans are technically nocturnal sleepers, we require the room to be dark… who sleeps with light in their eyes anyway? When drivers have to sleep during the day, they can feel fatigued but not sleepy, that groggy feeling you get when your sleep has been interrupted. With sleep being the most important time, should we be tracking it instead of drivers work duty? It would probably be a good idea. By regulating the hours worked, we don’t know for certain that the drivers are well-rested before their next shift. Plus, most humans only need 6-8 hours of sleep each day, the petition by the OODIA is logical.

This petition is somewhat similar to when truckload carriers applied for an exemption to some of the HOS in 2006 to which they dubbed it the name “Hours of Sleep.” It was requested that a 24-hour day was from 6am to 6am instead of 12am to 12am. They even requested flexibility with the 14-hour clock to allow drivers to have 11 hours driving and 10 hours off duty, with 6 out of 10 hours being continuous. Then drivers would be able to sleep when they are tired without being stuck to a strict schedule. This was turned down by the FMCSA, but they said that if all carriers had electronics logs (which is almost universal after the ELD mandate), then it could be considered further. With the ELD mandate in place, we could more exemption rules like this presented to the FMCSA.

Each driver is different, so to make a regulation that is designed to work with everyone is flawed. Allowing drivers to have flexibility will allow their rest and work periods to be tailored to themselves. This way, if a driver is tired, he can interrupt his drive for a few hours of sleep and then continue on. Being able to break up the day can create drivers with less fatigue which can result in fewer fatigue-related incidents out on the road. The exemption can give drivers the incentive to rest versus driving through their time when tired. They get paid by the mile, and fitting in 11 hours of driving into the 14-hour window is difficult. Ultimately, drivers will benefit from the 14-hour window being changed, it’s just a matter if the FMCSA will make it happen or not. But with the increasing number of petitions for change regarding the ELD, maybe the FMCSA can make the change to this in the meantime.

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What Are Chameleon Carriers?

Most shippers and 3PL’s are practicing quite strict and thorough carrier vetting procedures nowadays. This is an absolute must in today’s freight world – implementing and following thorough processes for carrier screening is the only way to ensure you’re dispatching your or your customer’s freight into good hands.

However, checking carrier’s USDOT and screening their safety does not guarantee they are actually “clean”, even though they show good safety scores. Unfortunately, there is an unpleasant phenomenon in the trucking industry called “chameleon carriers”.

Truck driving.jpgWhat are chameleon carriers?

Basically, we are talking about carriers that have been put out of service at least once (and usually, way more often than that) due to safety issues. Often, they have been involved in deadly crashes and have been violating numerous safety regulations.

In an attempt to cover up their unfortunate history, these carriers shut down and reopen under a new name – and with a nice and clean record.

Why are chameleon carriers a problem?

In most cases, new identity doesn’t necessarily mean a new approach. The trucking company reopens with the same staff, poorly maintained vehicles or the neglect of basic safety requirements which put them out of service in the first place. These carriers tend to cause accidents, which could have been prevented in the first place if they were kept out of service until they prove they are willing and ready to “redeem themselves”.

According to the GOA report in 2012, carriers with “chameleon attributes” were three times more likely to cause severe accidents, resulting in a serious injury or a fatality one of these three times.

What is being done?

FMCSA has officially recognized the problem in 2008, and they are trying to vet such carriers based on “chameleon attributes”. Unfortunately, it has proved to be problematic to identify and cut off all chameleon carriers altogether, but it’s a step in right direction.

 

Chameleon carriers are a negative phenomenon in the industry. Reducing the number of potentially unsafe trucks is critical for the safety of everyone on the roads. It’s too early to say that the problem has been eliminated, but necessary steps in the right direction certainly bring us closer to the end goal of safer roads.

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Women Who Shaped The Trucking Industry

This year, Women’s History Month is observed in March. This month is dedicated to celebrating accomplishments of all women in all aspects of our lives. Today, it’s hard to imagine the trucking and logistics industry without women. In today’s , we want to tell you a little bit about the history of women in trucking, who they were and how they fought for women’s rights in a profession viewed as predominantly male.

Here are a few names to know:

iStock-501652844-1.jpgLuella Bates was the first female driver who drove a class B truck for Four Wheel Drive Auto Company from 1918 to 1922. She was a very skilled driver as well as a mechanic, personally handling all maintenance on her truck. Bates was sent on three transcontinental tours demonstrating her truck and promoting the “safety first” campaign.

Lillie Elizabeth Drennan is credited as the first licensed female truck driver and trucking company owner. In 1928, she took advantage of the oil boom and together with her husband established the Drennan Truck Line. She later became the sole owner of the trucking firm.

Rusty Dow was the first woman who was a truck driver for the U.S. Army Engineers/Alaska Defense Command during World War II. In 1944, she drove a full loaded truck the entire length of the Alaska highway (1,560 miles) in seven days.

Adriesue “Bitzy” Gomez was a truck driver and part of the 1970’s Coalition of Women Truck Drivers. Bitzy and the Coalition fought against discrimination in the industry, dealing with problems like sexual misconduct and women’s bathrooms at truck stops. The results of their work were crucial for the current opportunities in the trucking industry.

These women fought their way to the top and succeeded in an industry that was known to be predominantly male at the time. Currently, many women choose a career in trucks because of the flexibility, freedom and good job opportunities.

Thank you to all of our female truck drivers out there!

 

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Trending Transportation Updates: February 2018

UPS Bought Electric Vehicles to Increase Sustainability

Sustainability is a hot topic today that is pushing many companies to “go green” and adopt new technology that is environmentally friendly. UPS has taken a step towards being more sustainable by purchasing 50 electric vehicles. Electric vehicles can save companies lots of money by reducing the cost of maintenance along with fuel costs. UPS acquiring these electric vehicles puts them ahead of other companies who may be looking to do the same and acquire electric vehicles themselves to stay ahead of technology advancements being made in the industry. To read more, click here.

 Valentine’s Day & Chinese New Year Impact on Demand

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Holidays are known to create higher frequencies in both air cargo and truckload shipments. Having Valentine’s Day and the Chinese New Year in the same week this year caused a giant increase in air cargo shipping different gifts and flowers all over the world. It is no surprise that shipping companies transported more than 8 million pounds of flowers to destinations throughout the U.S. this year. To read more, click here.

 

Trump Imposes Tariffs on Steel

There will be new tariffs set on steel and aluminum in the coming weeks of early March. The U.S. will set tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum. Trump said that trade trends have “destroyed” American steel and aluminum industries. The percent increases will apply the tariffs broadly and not impose quotas. To read more, click here.

Uber’s Autonomous Trucks Will Shift Driver Jobs

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Autonomous technology is becoming more popular and could drastically change the transportation industry. Uber, a popular mobile ridesharing platform, said that it sees a shift in types of truck driving jobs available and said that there will be an increase in the number of drivers needed for localizing driving jobs. Uber hopes that the self-driving technology could give truckers control more of their daily lives and hopes to give them more home time and consistent pay. To read more, click here.

 

 

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LTL Shipping Made Easy: What Should You Know

Less-than-truckload (LTL) is often our go-to for smaller shipments. It is more structured and often more cost-effective than simply shipping your freight as a partial load, not to mention that it’s much easier to arrange.

While offering plenty of benefits, LTL shipping has quite a few traps for someone new and inexperienced in the field. Last week we looked into LTL carrier liability, and we strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the topic before scheduling an LTL move. Today, we will talk about choosing LTL carriers and minimizing the risk of potential issues.

Choose wisely!

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  • Regional VS National

Keep in mind that LTL carriers can be regional and national. If your shipment isn’t going across the country, it might be worth researching regional carrier options. They will typically offer better capacity and rates within their region.

  • Direct VS Indirect

Check whether the service is direct or indirect. Indirect service usually means that the carrier will be using their partner carrier for a full or partial transfer. Indirect service will usually come with longer transit times, more problematic communication and poor visibility when it comes to load tracking and obtaining paperwork.

  • Premium VS Economy

Just like anything else, LTL carrier selection will offer premium and economy options. Keep in mind that economy options offer cheap rates for a reason. If your load it time-critical, fragile and requires a high level of service, it might not be smart to simply choose the cheapest option.

Know what you need

Be aware of all requirements to avoid unexpected upcharges. This includes appointments, liftgate service, residential or inside deliveries as well as any other accessorials. Make sure that the carrier is capable of providing that service on that particular lane. Keep in mind that additional services might result in additional transit days.

Remember that BOL is everything

A properly filled out BOL is a shipper’s best friend in an LTL world. It must contain accurate and extensive information about the shipment (including freight class, requirements, requested services, etc). Correct BOL will help you prove your point in case of a dispute with a carrier.

 

Other tips include quality packaging, clear communication and, as we reviewed last week, researching carrier liability. Need to ship LTL? Reach out to a logistics professional who will make it easy and cost-effective.

 

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