Tag Archives: ltl freight

What Is Expedited Shipping?

Today’s society consists of living in a world full of many unpredictable circumstances. Logistics usually requires strict delivery times and deadlines with close attention to detail, and people may often not know there is a faster shipping option available. If you have an urgent, unplanned shipment that has to be delivered as soon as possible, expedited shipping can be a great solution for you and/or your company.

What is expedited shipping?

Expedited shipping is when freight is delivered faster than regular transit times. The main difference between standard shipping and expedited shipping is a much shorter transportation times and fewer touch points during transit. Naturally, expedited freight shipping may cost more than a regular shipment, as it is considered a special service.

How is expedited freight transported?

Usually, companies provide a separate truck with two drivers switching shifts. It’s often called a “dedicated” truck, as it is devoted to your LTL shipment and doesn’t make frequent stops while in transit. The “dedicated” truck goes straight from the pickup point to delivery destination. A solid route not only makes shipments much faster, but will also assure freight safety. The fewer touch points there are during transit, the fewer are chances your freight will be damaged or stolen.

In what cases should you use an expedited shipping option?

Expedited shipping is a perfect solution for urgent and last minute situations. Whenever the deadline is tightening or there is an unpredictable situation that takes place effecting your shipment, picking the urgent shipping option can be a wise decision. For example, there is equipment damage at the manufacturing or mining site, and the new assets need to be delivered as soon as possible, or medical supplies are required for a specific location quickly. All of these cases need time-sensitive delivery and demand a faster transit than regular shipments.

Depending on the company and your needs, expedited transit times differ. Generally, the delivery takes 2-3 days. Third-party logistics providers can help plan and manage expedited LTL freight shipping. Here at PLS Logistics Services, we can handle your freight regardless of its size and distance. Our experienced freight brokers will provide professional help so you can be sure that shipment arrives safe and on-time.

Read about our expedited shipping services or get your quote now! 

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  • Why consistent delivery is the primary element in gaining customer satisfaction
  • How to plan for expedited shipping instead of using it as a rushed solution
  • How to reduce expedited shipping costs
  • The value of JIT inventory
  • Why expedited transportation is an effective shipping strategy

How Does Technology Help Reduce LTL Costs?

Technology has made a huge impact in the shipping industry and can help companies reduce costs and save time when managing their supply chain. If you learn how technology can benefit your shipping needs, you can integrate and improve your shipping strategy.

LTL shipping is a great resource for smaller companies to use when they want to try and save money on both frequent and sporadic shipments. There are many ways to reduce LTL shipping costs, and technology seems to be the best solution for this purpose.

Among well-known innovations, transportation management systems (TMS) are vital for collecting data and proper decision-making. It allows you to gather and organize all the information about the shipping process, therefore allowing you to analyze and make the right conclusions about your companies shipping efforts. It might not seem evident, but proper forecasting and effective decisions can save shippers lots of money. A TMS is a universal, multi-functional tool that can upgrade the company’s performance to a higher level.

Outsourcing to a third-party logistics service can be very beneficial, as they offer helpful services and possess a wide range of automation tools. Many businesses don’t want to spend time and money maintaining their own transportation management, and instead choose to work with a 3PL provider that can help take the burden off of the company’s shoulders.

Another trend in LTL shipping is real-time visibility of shipments. Because of the excessive growth of e-commerce and its impact toward the logistics industry, the definition of excellent service is expanding. Shipment visibility keeps customers aware of the freight location and notifies them quickly about the circumstances that require immediate feedback.

As quality customer service depends on speed and quick feedback, the future of LTL shipping is heading towards automation. While GPS and hands-off devices are nothing new, the Internet of Things (IoT) still spreads confusion. IoT means connecting various items to digital devices that gather data, such as temperature, humidity, speed, and other characteristics. Such operations make the shipping process faster and easy to operate, so you can immediately react to updates on the shipment. Mobile apps simplify the transportation process for shippers and carriers as well.

Taking into account all the benefits business can get from utilizing new technologies, it is a must to stay updated on new industry trends. Applying some of the mentioned technologies can reduce costs and increase efficiency.

4 Tips to Help You Handle Your High-Value Shipments

When you need to move a smaller high-value shipment, you undoubtedly consider shipping it LTL. This is definitely the most efficient way, but what about the classic LTL risks? The freight will be handled and transferred multiple times between origin and destination increasing the risk of loss and damage.

Let’s take a look at a few tips which might help you eliminate these risks and ensure your high-value shipment is delivered on time and ‘in one piece’.

Using Expedited Time Critical Service iStock-621247676.jpg

Usually, time-sensitive LTL service not only offers a quicker service but provides better visibility and gives you an opportunity to have more control over your shipment. You may combine it with Guaranteed service as well.

This will give you an opportunity to have a more specific pick-up/delivery time. These services will not be free but will give you peace of mind knowing your high-value shipment is being shipped with premium treatment.

Selecting a Quality Carrier

The cheapest option is not always the best option. Carriers with significantly lower rates and reasonable transit times are usually notorious for their service levels. Although you might have no problem taking a little risk with your other shipments to save money – it might not be the best idea for a high-value shipment.

Choose a reliable carrier that will take proper care of your shipment, pick up and deliver on time and provide clear visibility in transit. Always make sure your shipment will go direct, without being transferred to partner carriers as it will decrease the visibility and increase the risks.

Shorter Transit Times

Usually, shorter transit times indicate that your shipment will be transferred around less often. This is exactly what we need for our high-value shipments – the absolute minimum of transfers and terminals.

Choose a quality carrier with the shorter transit times to ensure the safety of your shipment. As already mentioned above, consider using Time-Critical and Guaranteed options to have it delivered as soon as possible.

Proper Insurance Coverage

Think ahead and always plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you have done everything to ensure your shipment gets to the destination on time and in a perfect condition – you can never be 100% sure! Don’t leave yourself exposed to the unexpected and avoid financial loss should anything go wrong.

Consult your 3PL representative and find out whether the liability provided by the carrier is enough, or the purchase of additional insurance is required. It will never hurt to ensure your freight is fully covered and you are ready for the worst before sending your shipment out to the consignee.

Looking for advice or a rate quote on your regular or high-value shipments? Contact us!

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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 deck space?

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, deck space 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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4 Recommendations to Save Money on LTL Shipments in 2017

Carrier.jpgLTL carriers saw all-time high revenues in 2014, then due to a decrease in fuel prices, revenue dropped in 2015. Balanced supply and demand kept LTL prices from dropping in 2016, and JOC.com reports that LTL carriers are looking forward to 2017 as freight volumes are predicted to be higher. Next year, the LTL sector could see a capacity crunch due to the ELD mandate, a slow economy and pricing models. LTL pricing is expected to increase in 2017 and fuel costs aren’t likely to see change. In order to cut LTL freight shipping costs, shippers need to be exact with freight’s weight and dimensions, package and pallet the freight properly, consider consolidation, and utilize transportation management systems.

Infographic: Breaking Down the Costs of LTL Shipping

  1. Weight and Dimensions

LTL rates aren’t straightforward; shippers find that accessorial fees and surcharges increase the total spend. uShip says that about 30% of freight invoices have some type of correction for weight, dimensions, class, or cubic feet. Shippers must be completely accurate in the measurements and weights of the freight pallet being shipped, otherwise, they will be charged for the inaccuracy.

Common Accessorial Charges:

  • Reweigh
  • Reclassification
  • Residential pickup or delivery
  • Redelivery

Download The Shippers Complete Guide to LTL Shipments for more information on accessorial charges.

  1. Packaging and Palletizing

When packaging LTL freight, pallets make shipments easier for carriers to move. With regular LTL freight, shippers palletizing their freight need to use a slip sheet put boxes into a stable position, stack the pallets in columns (not pyramids), strap them for extra safety, and use stretch wrap to avoid shifting. Most shippers are more concerned with freight arriving undamaged at the destination; unsuitable palletizing can lead to 50% of boxes’ compression strength loss. Learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of Palletizing here.

  1. Optimizing Freight with ConsolidationFreight-1.jpg

Freight consolidation supports shippers who want to cut down costs and emissions. Consolidating LTL shipments into full truckloads helps companies decrease transportation costs, drives consistency and reduces inventory. Load consolidation saves money by improving truckload utilization and taking advantage of the less expensive truckload rates. According to Inbound Logistics, companies can reduce transportation costs from 20-35% by converting LTL shipments to truckload shipments.

Read: Market Update: LTL Volume Down, but Prices Stay Firm

  1. Less-than-Truckload Technology

Transportation management software simplifies the LTL shipment process. Technology helps shippers with carrier selection, rates, invoicing, and other details. PLS PRO 2.0, for example, has standout benefits for LTL shippers: automatic density class estimator, data integrity, auto GL coding, accessorial data with calculated fees, and real-time shipment visibility. For shippers, a TMS reduces inbound and outbound freight expenses, reduces administrative costs through automation and highlights available carriers with an estimated rate, transit time, lane and billing information.

Want to learn more about PLS LTL services and PLS PRO 2.0? Email ltlsales@plslogistics.com.

Differences Between LTL Shipping and TL Shipping

Deciding the best mode to ship your freight can be complicated. To determine the primary way to move freight, shippers should identify the size of the shipment, the budget, the delivery schedule, and the freight’s fragility.

The 2016 logistics report exposed challenges in over-the-road (OTR) transportation; truckload carriers have extra capacity, most shippers have surplus inventory and consumer spending is low.

Low transportation rates and fuel surcharges are affecting truckload carriers more than LTL companies. As a solution, many truckload carriers are removing old trucks from their fleets to close the overcapacity gap until freight demand picks up. LTL carriers, however, are not experiencing overcapacity and have maintained, and even raised rates. In July 2016, both truckload and LTL carriers added jobs.

What is full truckload?

  • Freight shipments that need the entire space or weight limit of a truck’s trailer is a full truckload (TL) shipment. TL shipping is the best option when the freight weighs more than 15,000 pounds, or the shipper has more than 10 pallets of freight.
  • Full TL shipments travel on one truck to its destination, creating a more reliable timeframe for shippers. Truckload shipments are generally more expensive and require less handling than LTL shipments.

What is less-than-truckload?

  • Freight shipments that do not require the entire space in a truck’s trailer is less-than-truckload shipping. LTL shipping is the best option for shipments that weigh less than 15,000 pounds.
  • LTL shipping allows multiple shippers to share space on the same truck. Since you’re sharing the truck’s space with multiple shippers, there is a higher risk of damaged goods. With LTL, your freight is usually loaded and unloaded multiple times before arriving at its destination.

When using OTR transportation, there are a variety of trailer choices, including:

When looking for consistent service, shipment visibility, cost-effective modes and reliable routes, shippers of all sizes turn to 3PL services. 3PLs offer shippers size, scale, flexibility and technology.

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JOC.com: Source

Announcing the Newest Surcharge for LTL Shipments

The US transportation system moves more than 54 million tons of goods worth nearly $48 billion each day. Freight tonnage is expected to increase by 45% by 2050. In the US, nearly 70% of all freight tonnage is moved by trucks.

To meet the strict requirements of consumers, many shippers find themselves sending smaller, more frequent freight shipments, using less-than-truckload shipping. LTL freight shipping has increased about 1% this year.

Best Practices of LTL Shipping

Shippers who select LTL freight shipping can make their freight more attractive to LTL carriers by correctly weighing the shipment, providing longer lead times, consolidating orders and learning LTL trends.

  • Accurate Weight & Number of Pallets. Carriers reweigh about 80% of shipments, which means extra fees and reduced efficiency. Accurately weighing your shipment and reporting how many pallets are being hauled will pay off in the long-term.
  • BOL. Every detail on the bill of lading needs to be reviewed to avoid miscommunication. Wrong information on the bill of lading can affect rates and transit time.
  • Accessorials. LTL carriers charge an extra fee for a variety of services, like reclassifications, collect on delivery, limited access, and pallet jacks. There are wide variances of rate bases and accessorial fees, so it’s important to check carrier’s rules tariff and create a relationship.
  • Packaging. When carriers have to take extra steps to handle a packaged shipment, time and money is lost. When freight isn’t packaged correctly, it risks being damaged.

Recent Changes with Popular Carriers

Due to the changing logistics industry, FedEx said the company has seen an increase in residential deliveries and larger-sized packages. To continue safe handling and on-time deliveries, providers increase fees.

In early May 2016, FedEx and UPS announced new surcharges for additional handling on ground packages in the US and Canada. For FedEx, the rule states that any ground package that measures more than 60 inches, but equal to or less than 108 inches along its side will be charged. For UPS, the surcharge is applied to any package with the longest side exceeding 48 inches. For both carriers, the fee is $10.50. This rule is effective June 1, 2016.

According to Internet Retailer, FedEx said the handling charge threshold was lowered to account for the fact that e-commerce shipments are more dynamic and varied in size, and the surcharge will help handle the increased complexity of sorting those items.

Carriers add fees and surcharges because customers are ordering online, and providers must adjust their fees and services to remain profitable.

Learn More about Shipping LTL Freight:

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3 Ways CPG Shippers Reduce LTL Shipping Costs

CPG shippers rely heavily on LTL transportation, which leads to several inefficiencies. CPG shippers rarely have the freight volume to utilize a full truckload, and often feel stuck using more expensive, slower LTL transportation. But, there are ways to make LTL shipping as efficient and cost-friendly as TL shipping. 

LTL transportation is expensive and rates continue to climb. Other issues with LTL shipping include a greater risk of damage, slower transit time, inconsistent pricing models and a bigger carbon footprint.

LTL shipping is a necessary part of a CPG shipper’s transportation strategy, but CPG shippers don’t need to live with the downsides of LTL freight moves.

3 ways CPG shippers can reduce LTL costs:

  1. Cross-Docking. It’s unlikely you can cross-dock all of your freight – many CPG shippers find the cross-docking process difficult due to limited inbound freight visibility. But, when a strategic portion of your freight is cross-docked, you save money by eliminating the time and costs associated with the handling and storage of products at a warehouse facility. Freight moves through your supply chain and to customers more quickly.
  2. Load Consolidation. Retailers bring in products from thousands of suppliers. CPG shippers ship to the same retail location as hundreds of other companies, even competitors. Consolidating loads to make full truckload shipments makes sense. Load consolidation is quicker and utilizes available trailer space, leading to lower costs and increased service levels.
  3. Rate Negotiation. There are many ways you can negotiate rates with LTL carriers. You can consolidate your entire freight spend to leverage lower GRIs, base rates, fuel surcharges or even accessorial costs. When you negotiate, you can keep the LTL carrier base small so that bids are more competitive. Accurate data and transparency in the process will also make LTL carriers want to work with you, and lower their rates to do so.

CPG shippers who apply these 3 tactics will see decreased costs and improved service in LTL freight moves. Plus, you’ll experience reduced inventory carrying costs, decreased occurrence of lost or damaged products, and a more efficient overall transportation strategy.

Typically, CPG shippers partner with a 3PL or multiple 3PLs to help manage the costs and complexities of LTL transportation. 3PLs have the leverage to find the best rates and the technology to efficiently control LTL freight. They also have access to a large network of LTL carriers and can provide you with the best, most reliable carriers for your freight.

Want more CPG shipping tips? Click here: 4 Logistics Solutions for Struggling CPG Shippers

5 Ways to Save on LTL Transportation

Less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation, inbound and outbound, can be a complex and expensive process for many companies. Moving LTL freight requires a different approach than moving truckload freight. Without the proper technology and manpower in place, it can be difficult to know where to start implementing cost-saving strategies, and if those strategies are effective. 

5 ways to save money on LTL transportation:

  1. Create Visibility into LTL Freight Spend. Many companies lack the ability to see how much they’re spending on LTL and which components are the most expensive. This is crucial information while trying to implement changes – not only to identify specific inefficiencies but also to measure the progress of implemented solutions. A transportation management system (TMS) is the best way to gain visibility into LTL freight spend. Detailed, customized performance reports, along with instant status notifications, give you all the information you need about LTL transportation spend.
  2. Work with Suppliers on Inbound LTL Freight. Suppliers often hide the true cost of transportation in the price of their products, making LTL transportation a source of profit. It is best to take control of inbound freight to find the most efficient carriers and routes. This is especially important for retailers, who have to deal with omnichannel challenges, shipping LTL and partial shipments to several different locations at the same time. Inbound LTL freight can be costly. By properly managing inbound LTL transportation, you will find savings through reduced rates and efficient delivery.
  3. Avoid Extra Accessorials. Some accessorial charges, such as lift gate services or remote access locations, are mandatory. But many accessorial charges can be avoided, such as limited access fees, where a driver has to enter a building to find the consignee. Avoidable fees add up over time and significantly contribute to the price of LTL transportation. By accurately filling out the bill of lading and setting standard shipment receiving procedures, you can quickly reduce or eliminate the number of extra accessorial fees you receive for LTL transportation.
  4. Negotiate Lower GRIs or Base Rates. LTL transportation rates are set to rise in 2016 and beyond. FedEx and others have implemented GRIs, along with fuel surcharge increases, which will raise rates for everyone, however, there are opportunities to negotiate lower GRIs or base rates. By doing things like consolidating and leveraging LTL freight spend, utilizing the standard CzarLite Tariff, and highlighting attractive freight, you can directly negotiate lower LTL rates.
  5. Work with a 3PL. A 3PL company has resources that are too expensive or too time to consume to own and operate in house. 3PLs have internal expertise and can find hidden cost savings opportunities. 3PLs have their own prequalified LTL carrier network that can complement your current assets or be used as leverage to find the lowest rates. A 3PL will find time and cost savings in LTL transportation.

Want to read more about LTL transportation? Check out these posts:

 

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How to Negotiate Lower LTL Freight Rates

Operating costs are rising for LTL carriers due to a number of factors – the driver shortage, rising pay, and aging equipment. Spot market and contract rates have both risen to compensate for these extra costs, however, contract rates rose higher than spot market rates and remain higher. 

This is unusual, since promising freight volume ahead of time typically leads to freight savings. So, why have contract rates risen above spot market rates?  Because contract carriers bought a record number of trucks in 2015 and boosted driver pay, all in an effort to regain capacity and reclaim market share that had been lost to spot market providers.

These rates aren’t going down anytime soon, as operating costs continue to climb. Unfortunately for shippers, the transportation industry has a serious shortage of capacity and most companies find it necessary to pay higher LTL contract rates to get truck capacity. How can you avoid paying such high contract rates for transportation?

Here are 3 tips for negotiating lower LTL transportation rates:

  1. Use the CzarLite Tariff.

The CzarLite tariff for LTL freight is independent of trucking companies and is the transportation industry’s base rate standard. Most carriers develop their own tariff and encourage you to use it. For example, a carrier may offer you an 80% reduction on fuel surcharges if you use their base rate, which sounds great, but their base rate will likely end up costing more than the savings. The CzarLite tariff transparency into negotiations by providing you more visibility into costs compared to other carriers.

  1. Utilize LTL Guaranteed Service Levels.

Using guaranteed freight services is a way to negotiate lower base rates or GRIs in the future. Guaranteed freight is when an LTL carrier guarantees to a specific service level. Carriers prefer to operate theseltl-rates-on-the-rise.jpg services – it gives them an opportunity to acquire more freight spend. With guaranteed freight, a shipper immediately spends less time on track and trace operations. By paying for a service that carriers want to perform, you gain preference and can leverage lower rates on standard shipments, fuel surcharges or GRIs during future negotiations.

  1. Highlight Attractive LTL Freight, but Don’t Hide Unattractive LTL Freight.

Shippers should highlight attractive freight during rate negotiations. Carrier-friendly freight, in general, allows carriers to utilize their truck space effectively. Dense, small, and stackable freight that fits properly on a pallet will be easy and efficient for a carrier to haul. It’s also important to disclose information ahead of time about freight that will be difficult or inefficient to haul. Eliminate any surprise charges and keep the carrier compliant with all state and safety regulations. LTL carriers need to know their risk liability before hauling freight because this affects their view of the value and cost to carry the freight. Carriers are rated by a CSA system by DOT. Losing rank in CSA due to compliance issues the carrier was not notified about can hurt their chances of getting new business, and you can be sure they won’t want to give you any discounts.

Learn more about reducing transportation spend in the post 7 Steps to Reduce Freight Costs.