less than truckload quotes

Less Than Truckload Rates | What You Need For LTL Shipping Rates

less than truckload quotes
LTL Quotes
A less than truckload (LTL) shipping rate is based on several different factors, all of which we’ll go over in this blog.  If you’re unsure of how these relate to your product, just let us know and we’ll help you out! Typically, an LTL quote will take up less than 12 feet of linear space on a truck. For those of you who don’t have truck dimensions tacked to your office walls, this equates to 6 standard size pallets, not stacked. A standard size pallet is typically 48” x 40” or sometimes 48” x 48”. If your shipment takes up more space than this, you may need  a volume shipping quote or a Full Truckload quote. Now that we’ve defined LTL, what exactly do we need to get accurate less than truckload rates? It comes down to 4 basic must-haves: Origin zip code, destination zip code, total weight, and freight class. I can’t say this enough: THESE FOUR PIECES OF INFORMATION ARE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. The zip codes and total weight are self-explanatory, but freight class can sometimes be more complicated.  We have an excellent blog explaining freight class if you need assistance on that end. Your freight broker can help with your freight class as well. Another vital piece of information for less than truckload rates is the mention of additional services. The standard LTL shipment is business-to-business and dock-to-dock. If you don’t have a shipping dock or forklift to get the pallets off the truck, you’ll need a liftgate, which can cost extra.  Residential shipping also costs extra, as do several other things. Check out our Additional Services Cheat Sheet for more information on theses accessorials. They can change your freight quote and can make a difference in which carrier you select. Less than truckload has a lot of moving parts, and this blog is just a primer. If you’re new to shipping, be sure to download our Beginner’s Freight Shipping Guide, and check in on our collection of instructional Freight Papers, all available for FREE on our website. Happy Shipping! CC image courtesy Sergio Russo via Flickr

How to Ship Beer (When You’re Not Drinking It)

how to ship beer At FreightPros, we talk alot about how to ship beer. It’s one of the most common questions we get, How do I ship my homemade beer? With the rise of the popularity of home brew beer kits, the movement of beer through the freight industry have never been higher. While most carriers don’t have a problem shipping alcohol, there are a few steps you need to take to ship your beer. There are three things to think of when it comes to how to ship beer: packaging, boxes, and freight class. If you pay attention to these three aspects of your beer shipment, you’ll have the best opportunity for a successful freight shipment.

Step One: Packaging

Good beer is usually in bottles. Bottles are made of glass. Glass is very breakable. Do you see the importance of packaging? If a bottle of beer breaks and leaks everywhere, your box could be ruined, and your shipment could be disposed of by the freight carrier. To avoid this, put your beer bottles in Ziploc freezer bags. One per bag. After that, wrap the bottle and bag with bubble wrap. Everyone knows bubble wrap is fun. Don’t skimp on the bubble wrap. And for added security, you can get freight insurance.

Step Two: Boxes

If you can get some styrofoam wine shippers, then you should. They’re designed for figuring out how to ship beer, and it’s best not to take chances. If you don’t have these, you’ll need lots of packing peanuts and newspaper. Swing by your local liquor store to see if they have wine boxes. These aren’t quite as good as the styrofoam wine shippers, but they help separate the bottles, and give a bit of stability. Pack as many packing peanuts and as much newspaper as possible around the bottles. The goal is to keep the bottles completely still. In a perfect world, you should be able to shake the box and hear not a sound.

Step Three: Freight Class

After you’ve got your beer packaged in boxes, you’ll need to get your freight consolidated on standard-sized pallets. If you’re only shipping one box, then you won’t have to worry about palletizing it, but more than one box should be consolidated on a pallet. All LTL shipments have a freight class, and your freight class on this shipment will be Class 65, NMFC 111470. Make sure this information is legible on the bill of lading used at the time of pickup. Freight brokers can put you in touch with reliable freight carriers that have the necessary permits to move your alcohol from state to state. Please note that it’s illegal to ship beer via the United States Post Office. So don’t do that.

Intermodal Shipping: A Different Way to Move Freight

  intermodal shipping Contrary to popular belief, intermodal shipping is not rail shipping. The process of getting freight quotes, moving freight, transit times, etc., is completely different from rail. Rail/tracks access is a must for shipping via rail. Obviously, not many shippers have this access. We use intermodal shipping to get around this.

Intermodal Shipping is a process for shipping that combines rail and truckload.

Most of the time, the freight will not leave its container from pickup to delivery. The container will be moved from truck to rail and back to truck again; never leaving the container. Here’s some other things to know about intermodal:

Packaging is Key

Because the container will be moved (rather than the pallets inside like in LTL), dunnage and blocking/bracing materials are very important. The idea behind intermodal packaging is to keep movement inside the container to a minimum. Items must be crated or palletized (no loose boxes), and must be secured.

Intermodal Shipping is cheaper for longer distances

The rub, however, is that the transit time is longer. And once an item is picked up and in transit, there’s no stopping the freight until it’s delivered. Consequently, intermodal shipping is for items that are not time-sensitive.

The weight limit for this type of shipping is 42,500 pounds

Anything over that will need to be broken up into multiple containers and shipments.

Getting a quote is similar to truckload shipping

To get the most accurate quote you’ll need: pickup and delivery locations (lanes), product description, weight, pallet or crate count, value, and the urgency level that the freight needs to be delivered. It’s very rare to receive a same-day pickup (at least 24 hours is needed to plan a pickup), so patience is a virtue in intermodal shipping. The good news is that intermodal capacity is known a week in advance, so you have plenty of time to plan.

There’s a long list of things that cannot be shipped intermodally…

So you’ll need to check with your freight broker to see if you product is one of them. Some popular items that cannot be shipped include: fruits, vegetables, fish, medicines, over-dimensional products, rockets, batteries, hazardous material, furs & pelts, tobacco products, and motor vehicles. So yeah, lots of stuff. We’ve covered the basics of intermodal shipping in this blog, but there’s always more to learn. For more information, contact our truckload team. They can get you a freight quote, and see if intermodal shipping is an option for you and your shipments.

Dealing with Damaged Freight

Damaged Freight One of the harsh realities of the shipping industry lies in Damaged Freight. The fact is, no matter what you do to avoid damaged freight, chances are you’ll experience it eventually in LTL shipping. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what to do when damaged freight shows up at your door. 1. Inspect the freight This is the most important part of the process. When you receive an LTL shipment it’s imperative that you inspect the freight for damage before signing the Delivery Receipt/ Proof of Delivery. Notate any damage to the product on the POD. If you don’t, you won’t be able to file a claim. 2. To accept or refuse the freight Depends. If the freight is damaged enough that you’ll want to file a claim, do not accept the freight. Refuse the freight. The carrier will take it back to the terminal, and then you’ll need to contact your broker to ship it back free astray. If the damage is minor and you won’t need to file a claim, go ahead and accept the freight, but NOTE THE DAMAGE ON THE POD. 3. Get freight insurance We talk about this all the time, but it’s very important. It helps the claims process immensely, giving you a better chance at getting paid out for any damaged freight. If your freight’s value is over the average deductible ($500), get insurance. It’s the best way to handle damaged freight. 4. Concealed damage Sometimes LTL damage is concealed inside the packaging of a shipment. If you think that your freight might be damaged, but there’s no physical signs of damage to the exterior of the shipment, notate that there may be concealed damage on the POD when you accept the freight. It’s not a full-proof system, but it helps in case a claim needs to be filed later. Remember, there’s no guarantee in LTL shipping that freight will be fully compensated in the event of damage. Make sure to get insurance and package your shipment correctly, before the freight carrier picks it up.

10 Questions to Consider When Choosing Your Freight Broker

10 questions to consider when choosing your freight broker

If you’re new to shipping and looking for a freight broker, how do you decide who to go with? Do you just Google the phrase “Freight Broker?” Do you reach out to your shipping contacts and see who they’re using? Do you try to go straight to the carrier, and bypass the broker option entirely? Shouldn’t it be easier to get started?

Below you’ll find 10 questions to consider when choosing your freight broker. These questions are not in any particular order or level of importance, but if you can answer all or most of them, you’ll be on your way to getting the right freight broker for you and your shipping.

It’s important to remember that the relationship between a shipper and a broker is a two-way street. Some brokers are experts in certain fields, some put a higher priority on different kinds of service. Freight brokers are always looking to work with great shippers, and a good broker-shipper relationship should be a great exchange of services, that make BOTH parties happy.

Whether this is your first foray into freight, or if you’re an old pro looking for a new broker, utilize these 10 Questions to Consider When Choosing Your Freight Broker:

1.) LTL, Truckload, or Small Package?

What kind of stuff are you shipping? I’m not talking about the commodity (we’ll get to that in a bit). I’m talking about what form of shipping you’re looking into. There are a lot of different ways to move freight, and different brokers specialize in different shipping options. The skills involved in being an LTL broker do not always translate to the truckload side of the freight industry (not to mention ocean container shipping, or even air shipping – both of which have totally different practices than LTL or truckload). Some brokers offer multiple services through different teams, some brokers are more specialized. To be able to get the best rates and service, you should figure out what kind of freight you’re shipping, and find the freight broker that knows the ropes for your particular shipping type.

2.) How Often Are You Shipping?

There’s no base number of “You must ship BLANK many times a week to utilize a freight broker.” Like most things in this industry, there’s no hard and fast rules. And while you can use a broker to set up any shipment (For instance: If you wanted to ship an engine from Florida to California), there are brokers that focus more on “one-time-shipments,” and then there are brokers that focus on residual shippers, or shippers who ship daily, weekly, or monthly. These brokers are known as “full-service freight brokers,” and can assist in invoice discrepancies, freight tracking, and even negotiate FAKs or lower rates. If you’re a residual shipper, you’ll want to be in contact with a broker that can handle more than just pickups and deliveries.

3.) What is Your Commodity?

Freight class is one of the main factors in LTL shipping rates (along with weight, and distance travelled), so it’s important to know your commodity and, subsequently, your freight class. Fragile and oversized pieces are often more expensive to ship, while smaller, easily packaged, and hard-to-break items are usually cheaper. Before you select a freight broker, it’s important to note the sort of commodity you’re shipping. Some truckload freight brokers have contracts that utilize flat bed shipping, others are more focused on the movement of produce and perishable goods. To find the best broker for you, whether it’s full truckload or LTL, you’ll need to know what you’re shipping.

4.) Where Are You Shipping To & From?

Truckload rates heavily depend on seasonal capacity and geographic coverage. That means, depending on the time of year and capacity of drivers, a shipment going into California might be more or less expensive than a shipment leaving California. The up and down of truckload capacity is an art, and you need a truckload broker that’s not only aware of the game, but has mastered it. On the LTL side, certain carriers only operate in certain geographic areas. Of course, there are national carriers with coverage maps that extend across the whole of the United States. But sometimes, small regional carriers can offer better freight rates in their area. A good broker will be able to customize your freight experience, and get you the best rate, depending on where you’re shipping to and from.

5.) Dock to Dock? Liftgate? Warehouses?

Standard freight shipments are “dock-to-dock,” which means that a loading dock is required for both pickup and delivery. But what if your shipments are not moving out of warehouses, or don’t have docks? This is something that you’ll have to look into when choosing your freight broker. Liftgates can be used to load and unload freight when there’s no dock, but these usually carry additional prices. There can also be additional “limited access” fees when delivering freight to places like government facilities, or distribution centers. Some brokers will be aware of these locations, and can be proactive in in negotiating rates with fees included, or getting additional fees removed all together. These are determined on a shipment by shipment basis, but if you know where your freight is being delivered, that gives your broker the best opportunity to save you money on freight quotes.

6.) Looking for Value or Price?

Before you select a freight broker you should know the difference between value and price. For a full-service broker, the quote is just the first part of the journey. Other brokers can offer cheaper quotes and less post-transit service. Before you select a freight broker, consider where your priorities lie when it comes to your freight shipments. It’s easy to think the bottom line is price, but it’s important to consider what you might be losing once your freight is in transit, whether it’s dealing with accidentally damaged freight, invoice discrepancies such as reclasses or reweighs, and any other hiccups that can occur during transit.

7.) Will You Be Shipping Internationally?

International shipping is a different beast than regular LTL or truckload shipping, with different practices and documents needed. Anytime you ship internationally, your freight shipment will have to pass through Customs. When you’re selecting a freight broker, you’ll need to use carriers that service the movement of freight from Canada, Mexico, or wherever. Customs brokers are different than a typical freight broker, but freight brokers can help with the domestic side of your shipment, as well as help you with the documents needed for Customs such as commercial invoices. There’s a lot that goes into international shipping and having freight that crosses borders, so before you start shipping make sure you’ve got all the paperwork in order. This will help you avoid delays that might cost you time stuck in Customs.

8.) White Glove Service or Inside Delivery?

While most freight brokers regularly offer services such as “inside delivery,” it’s important to note the difference between ID and white glove services. Due to liability issues, LTL carriers are not often eligible to enter a consignee’s home. LTL carriers are not moving companies. If you’re shipping items that need to be hand-delivered, or installed in the consignee’s house or store, you’re going to need to hire a white glove service. Your freight broker can help you navigate residential pickups and deliveries, but make sure to note if you need the assistants of white glove services. If all of your shipments will require that sort of handling and care upon pickup or delivery, it might be worth it to look into a moving company, instead of using LTL or full truckload shipping.

9.) How “Hands-on” Do You Want to Be?

Different brokers will offer varying levels of service, so before you choose your freight broker determine how hands on or hands off you want to be with your shipments. Some brokers offer the services of a TMS (Transportation Management System) allowing you to set up shipments on your computer or mobile device, print BOLs, and even track shipments. Other brokers will handle all of that for you, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. Determine how involved you want to be in the daily ins and outs of your shipping, and choose the broker that handles (or provides the tools for you to handle) your unique freight shipping practices.

10.) What Kind of Company Do You Want to Work With?

Trust is imperative in any successful business relationship, and selecting the right freight broker is no different. But it’s not just about trust. Before you select a broker, think about what kind of companies you want to work with, and what kind of business relationships you want to cultivate. Do you want to work with a local broker? Or do you prefer the scope of something on a national scale? A small freight brokerage with a dedicated team, or a larger one, with more resources but less personalization? There’s no wrong answer to these questions, just preferences. Finding a good freight broker is a two way street. You’ll want to work with them, and they’ll want to work with you. By considering these sorts of questions, you can save you and your business time and money.

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