Knowledge is power when shipping less-than-truckload (LTL) freight. Without the proper preparation, shipping LTL freight can quickly transform from cost-effective to costly. Businesses who utilize LTL frequently know that shipping into big box retailers or direct to a grocer can lead to hefty fines, non-business hour deliveries, and bill-backs on shipments. Especially with the ever-changing requirements of receivers, the prospect of shipping less-than-truckload may seem daunting. However, shipping LTL freight does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. There are many ways shippers can save money and satisfy their customers.

Know your freight provider

It is imperative for businesses to have a strong understanding of the operations of their freight provider.

  • Delivery Practices: Knowing how a freight provider delivers to a customer – whether they schedule by drop appointment, whether they pool freight at the destination terminal, etc. – can save shippers thousands of dollars per shipment.
  • Safety Performance: How a carrier fares in terms of safety is an important factor shippers must investigate about their carrier partners. Inbound Logistics suggests that shippers select carriers based on a pre-defined set of objectives and requirements. This practice ensures that shippers select a smaller number of carriers who align closely with their needs and experience level [Source].

Having this level of understanding is important because it allows shippers to plan more effectively and better position their resources to have the freight ready when it needs to ship.

Know your operations

Streamlining internal operations is vital for businesses that ship LTL freight. To save time and money, businesses must ensure that their shipping departments are working with accuracy and efficiency.

  • Maintaining Best Practices: Saving money is simple if shippers know certain best practices, such as maxing out pallets, consolidating orders and pre-building pallets to avoid loading delays. By making a list of detailed procedures the shipping department must complete with each shipment, shippers are guaranteed to save money.
  • Departmental Collaboration: Another way for businesses to streamline their operations is to understand how different departments work in tandem. For example, producing for PO’s can be a good way to keep costs down, but can also prove problematic if the lead time is not sufficient to produce, fulfill and ship the order. By educating their sales force on time constraints before they begin to sell, businesses can avoid dealing with the ramifications of late deliveries all together. Maintaining cross-departmental transparency ensures that businesses can do their job effectively and ship without complications of time or money.

When striving to save money and time in shipping LTL, it is important for shippers to look internally and make changes to their own operations in order to effect change on their bottom line.

Know your customer

It is important to remember that no two receiving locations are the same, even if they’re owned by the same customer. Whether shipping into Costco, CVS or a 3PL warehouse, learning how each receiving location operates will help shippers avoid delays and extra charges. Businesses must determine a number of things about the receiver, such as how they handle pick-ups, lift gate services, waiting time, storage, packing and fuel surcharges. In many cases, these factors can be negotiated into one flat fee or waived completely [Source]. Without investigating, businesses could be saddled with a number of excess costs.

Know your limits

Using a third-party logistics provider can open many doors for shippers hoping to streamline their LTL freight processes. 3PLs work with independent trucking companies across the country that are frequently looking for freight to complete their shipments. Working with a logistics provider allows shippers access to that capacity along with cost savings resulting from their ability to avoid delays and additional charges. Partnering with a 3PL can also cut transit time because there is less handling [Source].

Fully understanding their supply chain is the first line of defense for shippers when combatting the delays, additional charges and headaches associated with shipping LTL freight into large facilities.  By examining how freight providers work and increasing cross-departmental communication in their own operations or considering a partnership with a logistics provider, businesses can plan effectively and ship LTL without suffering from large accessorial costs and impossible time constraints.