LTL freight process info-graphic

LTL Freight Shipping: How to get the Most accurate and Best Rates Every shipment!

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Example LTL data input screen for quotes

Example Quote Screen for LTL Freight

Most business don’t have the option to wait until they can ship a full truckload at a time.  Most orders for goods are smaller and need just a fraction of the area. LTL or Less Than Truckload is the preferred transportation mode for these types of shipments. 

LTL is generally used for any freight that takes less than 12 linear feet of truck space and weighs 150lbs to 15000lbs. In terms of pallets, it is generally up to six standard pallets of length, width, and height of 40*48*90 inches or 12 double stacked pallets of 45-50-inch tall.

The option may not be as efficient as shipping a full truck load at a time, but in generally it is more cost effective and protects your goods shipping much better than shipping ground or parcel.

Why Most Companies Prefer to ship LTL?

There are several reasons for choosing LTL over other shipping modes like ground/ parcel. For example:

Reduced Costs!

Since the truck you are using has multiple shipments, you only have to pay for the cargo space your goods are utilizing.  Generally speaking you can transport any package that weighs more than 150 and is large dimensionally for significantly less the LTL shipping mode.  In most cases goods shipped LTL are palletized and shrink wrapped so they are also much better protected against transit related damages which also saves you money in the long run!

Easier Shipping Mode to transport and lift Heavier Bigger Products

Let’s face it, shipments that are 150 lbs or more in weight are difficult to lift and handle.   LTL solves this issue as most carriers have forklifts, lift-gates, and can more easily handle larger heavier loads in a more mechanized fashion. While using LTL, you generally have to palletize your packages, further providing a safe attach point to move them with forklifts without damaging the goods.

Easier way to track larger quantities of product shipped

As your packages stay palletized together, there is much less risk of losing them.  Moreover, since all the packages will travel under the same BOL number and tracking ID, you can easily track them as one unit. The LTL shipping companies also maintain a precise system for tracing their trucks and cargos.

Professional Customer Service and Support

The LTL carriers use highly trained professionals to transport and handle freight shipments. They ensure that the cargo reaches its destination safely. However, in rare cases, if the shipment gets damaged, they can help you with insurance claims. Generally speaking they will also send your damaged goods back to their origin ship point for free, referred to as “Free Astray”.  Furthermore, if you ship the replacement product with the same carrier you can generally include that additional cost in your claim to the carrier.

Reduced Damages

    In generally goods that are shipped LTL freight are better packaged and protected that small parcel shipment that may ship in their own box.  LTL freight shipments are generally palletized, corner protected, and shrink wrapped to further protect the contents of your shipments.   Also by using the pallet as the primary lifting point the goods should not be touched in transit.

How to Properly Calculate the Cost of an LTL Freight Shipments

While FTL (Full-truckload), you generally are charged by the cost per miles plus wait time in some instances. However LTL shipping is rated/ billed on  a wider variety of factors including:

Weight

An LTL shipment can weigh anywhere between 150 to 15000 lbs. The base shipment cost will start with 150lbs and will increase per hundred pounds. So the heavier cargo you have, the more it will cost to transport.

Dimensions

In LTL, you are paying for the amount of area your freight will occupy. So, obviously, the size will be a concern. Usually, shipping companies have set area cost, according to pallets. However, this cost factor differs from company to company, and you have to inquire about it yourself.

Freight Class

To standardize the Freight shipping cost in LTL, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association has set some criteria called Freight classes. The system uses the density, stow-ability, handling, and liability of the cargo to find its class. There are 18 determined classes that range from 50 to 500. The cost of your freight will directly depend on its class.

Distance and Accessibility

The most apparent factor for shipment cost is the distance between the pickup and drop points. The higher the range, the higher will be the time and fuel required for it. Hence, the more the over cost to ship will be.

Carriers also charge depending on how accessible the pickup and drop of points are for LTL freight shipping.  If you think about it logically most LTL freight travels on large 53 ft trucks.  So if you need to delivery your freight anywhere but a standard commercial dock-high delivery it can sometimes cost more.   Currently with the rise of e-commerce deliveries, LTL freight sometimes has to be transferred into smaller final mile trucks.  So that shipments can be delivered in dense urban areas, and smaller residential neighborhoods which can add to the cost of the shipment also.

Additional Services

The LTL provider do in most cases offer you additional  services like a lift gate, delivery appointment, inside delivery, residential delivery, and more. These additional services do in most cases add to the cost of the shipment, so it is important to make sure you know exactly what services you will need when quoting and booking your loads.

Best Practices for LTL Freight Shipping

LTL doesn’t generally include any long or complicated paperwork or procedure and can now be booked using some pretty easy to use TMS software. However, you do need some preparation before shipping your goods. Without properly preparing and quantifying the services your freight will need, you can quickly end up with unwanted additional fees or damages to the goods in transit.    

The following are the preparation that you will need.

Properly Measuring your cargo

Determine the dimensions of your cargo with an accurate instrument. It will help you to calculate the cargo volume and area it will need and will help you get the most accurate rate the first time.

Weighing your Freight Shipment

You will need to have an accurate weight to properly rate and ship your cargo. If possible we recommend getting a digital freight scale that will print a weight receipt. You can then attach the weight receipt to the BOL, packing slip, or item itself to further insulate you from unwanted freight adjustments.

Organization of Freight Shipments for Easy Rating and Receiving

LTL shipped freight should ideally be organized by item in master cases.   Ideally if possible you should also organize separate skus or items on separate pallets to make the freight rating process and receiving process easier.

Shipping Documentation

The cargo that you dispatch must always contain a bill of lading on it. It should also contain a Packing Slip that states exactly what is traveling on the shipment. Most modern Transportation Management system can easily automate this process for you and can even provide labels for multi-piece freight shipments.

Packaging

The freight packing should be durable but as light as possible also to not add drastically to you freight costs. Also by properly packaging your shipments you can in some cases reduce the overall shipping dimensions and reduce your overall cost.  The use of Pallets, heavy duty boxes, shrink wrap, corner protectors can greatly reduce your risks of transit related damages also! This will save you time, money,  and headaches down the road.

 

Additional Ideas and Tricks to Further Economize your LTL Freight Shipping Costs

Leverage a 3PL Freight Brokerages Rates and TMS Booking Software

     Lets face it, sometimes you just don’t have enough shipping spend or volume to get the LTL shipping discounts you would ideally like.   Working with a 3rd Party Logistics company can be a good option.  3PL’s leverage their client’s  aggregated buying power to negotiate shipping rates generally reserved for large corporations.   

     They also are generally very technology forward, so their TMS and FMS software can usually simplify and make your load booking procedures much easier.   Additionally, with the rise of API automation, in many cases you can import your discounted 3pl freight rates directly into your website or ERP business software.  Thus automating the entire load booking process and saving time and money.

 

Negotiate an FAK to reduce or simplify your freight class

     If your company is shipping a wide variety of merchandise that moves at different freight classes. It can sometimes be best to negotiate with carriers directly.   Some carriers can offer their clients an FAK or Freight of all kinds classification.  This essentially allows the shipper to move a variety of products at 1 simply flat class to avoid re-bill / adjustment head aches.  In generally the magic number to begin a customer specific negotiation directly or through a 3PL seems to be around $15,000 in monthly freight spend.

Negotiate a better discount 
    This goes without saying but if you don’t ask you don’t get!  Freight Rates are affected by a variety of factors but getting a better overall discount can always help lower the overall cost of LTL freight shipping.  Using a 3PL’s bulk buying power is a great way to start, but as your freight spend grows, you can sometimes get better specific deals through a customer specific pricing arrangement or carrier direct in some cases.

Negotiate Accessorial Exemptions

    Any LTL freight shipment other than commercial dock to commercial dock can involve additional services and fees.  Sometimes it can substantially lower your overall cost of shipping LTL freight to try and get carriers to include these additional services at no extra charge.   Services such as lift gates, residential deliveries, delivery appointment scheduling, etc can effect your LTL freight rates greatly.

Rethink/ Re-design your packaging 

If your freight is density rated like bicycles, surfboards, and stand up paddle boards.  The density of your packaged items can greatly affect your overall freight costs.   If possible consider trying to reduce the overall dimensions  of how you are packaging and palletizing your items to lower your overall LTL freight costs.

Ship from a warehouse and fulfillment point closer to your end customers

    Obviously the shorter the distance shipped in generally the lower the overall cost.   if you find your company shipping cross country or long distance you might consider using a fulfillment warehouse.  By partnering with a regional warehousing and fulfillment center closer to your end customers, you can greatly reduce your overall LTL freight rates. This can also have the secondary benefits of faster transit times, greatly reduced transit related damages, and generally happier customers

 

Full Support For Your Increasing LTL Freight Shipping From Easy Logistics Management

LTL shipping model is a quick, easy, and cost-effective option to transport cargos that that are too small for full-truckload shipping and too large for general courier services. If you are looking to further economize, automate, or plain outsource your LTL freight shipping pain points feel free to contact us.  We would be happy to have a short meeting with you to show you what our well-trained and super nice team can do to make your LTL shipping easy as possible!

     Our state of the art Transportation management system automates and simplifies most of the LTL freight booking procedure including:

  1. Automatically saves the addresses you frequently ship to
  2. Auto fills your most shipped products from a drop-down menu including class and nmfc
  3. Reminds you to get sufficient insurance for the product you’re shipping
  4. Calculates density if needed and if over-length fees are necessary per carriers rules tariff
  5. Shows you key stats per carrier including damage percentages, rebill percentage, on time delivery performance, etc.
  6. Automates the process by making the BOL easier to print, email or fax to wherever your goods will ultimately be shipping from.
  7. Track and traces shipments through one simple interface in real time.
  8. Automatically also provides shipping update in transit to anyone you choose via email ping.  Including dispatched, picked up, in transit, out for delivery, and deliver confirmations.

So, if you are looking for an automated, economical, or reliable freight shipping process, feel free to contact us anytime. Or, give us a call at (866) 854-5341 x3

Contact us to have us help you better manage your LTL Freight Shipping!

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