Less than truckload (LTL) is a cost-efficient way to ship smaller parcels that do not require a full truck. However, it can be a challenge for shippers to manage–shipment delays and disruptions are often prevalent. There are a few strategies that can be implemented to improve the efficiency of LTL, which will not only increase the chance for on-time delivery but also boost your bottom line.
1.) Create a Shipping Plan
Shipping a load of goods from one place to another takes time. Even the best carriers sometimes miss a delivery deadline due to weather, traffic, or other unexpected events. Creating a shipping plan and sending your product earlier than necessary could alleviate some of the delays that can be common with LTL shipping. Since LTL carriers have limited space, giving at least 5-6 days of lead time will help ensure an accurate delivery estimate.
2.) Freight Packing Makes a Difference
How you package your shipments is important. Freight weight and shape contribute to how the shipment is perceived by the carrier. Freight that is correctly palletized and packed is easier to stack and handle. On the other hand, incorrect packaging leads to delays, extra charges, or failed shipments. Average shipments weighing 1,000-2,000 pounds will take priority over smaller or larger ones. The packaging style should depend on the product being shipped since improper packaging can also cause non-shipment or rejection.
3.) Carrier Communication is Key
Communicating the details of the shipment to the carrier increases the chances for an on-time delivery rate. Information such as weight, dimensions, and freight class, as well as any additional services that are needed, should be included with every shipment. This enables the carrier to find the best transportation option. Carriers plan multiple-pick loads based on the information you provide and historical experience so if the pallet counts or shipment weight is not communicated properly, the carrier might miss the pick.
4.) Use Automation to Your Advantage
Technology can help make the shipping process more transparent and efficient. Investing in tools that automate the freight shipping process saves time and money. As the LTL market remains tight, network optimization becomes critical. Data analytics and dimensionalizers make it more efficient for carriers to accept the proper mix of freight to gain a profit. As carriers are telling shippers that their freight might not fit their network, using automation to find the right carrier can align the shipper with the right carrier.
5.) Create Value for the Carrier
Carriers want to work with shippers that make it easy. Dwell time is a consideration for carriers so locations that tend to have long dwell times may be deprioritized or removed. LTL freight should be ready to go when the carrier is scheduled to arrive. If not, the carriers might leave without the freight or charge a ‘dry run’ fee. Another way to create value is to make a pick schedule with fewer days to give the carrier route optimization. Sometimes the freight company may call for pick-up in a short amount of time but being prepared one day in advance can ensure the shipment is ready even for an early pickup. In other words, make your freight look attractive to carriers and be a partner that carriers want to work with.
6.) Understand that Carrier’s LTL Transit Times
LTL transit times over the last year have been very volatile due to a variety of factors. There is more freight than capacity, which means shipments are often delayed a day or two for final delivery. The published transit time is a guide, not a guarantee. It is recommended to add at least a day to published transit times, or more if a lane is experiencing greater volume.
By following the above suggestions, more efficient LTL shipping can be achieved. In addition, working with a qualified third-party logistics partner like Red Arrow Logistics can help optimize carriers and routes to maximize efficiency and ensure shipments meet their delivery deadlines.
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Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 425-747-7914.