UPS Freight: Get Better UPS LTL Rates

ups freight The UPS Freight division of UPS is one of the largest groups within the massive UPS empire. UPS? You’ve probably heard of them. They’ve become the defacto choice for small package ground shipping throughout the United States. But what most people don’t know about UPS freight is that they offer excellent LTL rates as well. In fact, UPS less than truckload rates are some of the best in the business in terms of reliability and affordability. They are everything their brand name promises them to be. UPS freight quotes are not one of the main freight LTL carriers like Roadrunner or R&L Carriers. Because of their size, they operate on a different scale than those carriers (and Roadrunner and R&L are some of the biggest LTL carriers in the country). But UPS freight is a global company.
They employ not only trucks, but trains, planes, boats, and basically anything else that moves, to ship UPS freight across the world.
You can imagine how exciting it is for us, then, having the option to offer their services to our customers across the United States. I think most people or companies that are newer to freight shipping probably end up going with either UPS Freight or Fedex Freight because they aren’t aware of the other options out there. Both these companies are at the top of the game in terms of technology options, integration, tracking and performance. But if you’re a residual shipper, and especially one who uses a bunch of different carriers, it’s worth it to throw UPS freight in the mix. UPS LTL quotes come across basically the same way as any other LTL carrier. They’ll supply you with rates dependent on freight class, pickup locations, and total weights. You can use your TMS to schedule the pickup and track the shipment, and then watch until it gets delivered. Bottom line: UPS freight can give you options. It’s not just small package, parcel shipments for the guys in brown.
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Overlength, Over Dimensional Charges, and Volume Quotes: Keeping Things Straight

overlength charges volume quotes
Love Math? You’ll Love Figuring Out Overlength Charges
There’s a saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” and a lot of people stand by the belief that bigger is always better. In the freight industry, however, this isn’t necessarily the case. LTL pricing is partially based on contracts that allow for a certain amount of space used in the carrier’s trucks. If you have multiple pallets that all add up to a lot of truck space (about 12 feet, or six standard pallets), you will probably need a volume quote. But if you’re shipping a 16ft. lead pipe, it doesn’t seem fair to have to pay for the full capacity of those 16ft., especially when the diameter of your pipe is only five inches! What do you do when you have just one item that is really long but won’t take up much width within the truck? Here at FreightPros, we encounter that question pretty frequently, so this blog is long overdue. (I won’t apologize for my horrible puns. You can’t make me!) Jokes aside, there are numerous accessorials (AKA additional services) that the LTL industry has to offer. The service in today’s spotlight is called “Overlength/Overdimension.” This is an accessorial that you can select when you have an individual piece that is really long but not very wide. As with any special service, there is an additional charge for overlength. However, paying for overlength on a single piece can often be cheaper than a full volume quote. Volume v. Overlength So how do you know if your shipment needs a volume quote, or just an overlength service? Most LTL carriers actually have two space limits that they base their pricing on: an LTL Limit and an Overlength Limit. The LTL Limit applies to shipments that will take up a full 12 feet or more of trailer space, and these shipments require a volume quote. The Overlength Limit, on the other hand, applies for single pieces that are long but won’t take up much of the trailer’s width. Usually the Overlength Limit is a few feet shorter than the full LTL Limit. This means that even if a shipment doesn’t go over the LTL Limit it could still have a piece that goes over the Overlength Limit, so you would need to include the overlength accessorial to ensure that you get an accurate rate. Packaging Matters! Remember that carriers apply overlength services per piece. Two loose pipes that are overlength will get you two overlength charges. However, one bundle of five overlength pipes will only incur one charge, because they are all packed together as one item. It’s the ultimate group discount! If you are shipping multiple overlength items that are packaged separately, it’s a good idea to reach out to your freight broker to ensure that you are getting the most accurate rate possible, since multiple overlength charges may apply. Help! How Do I Know if My Shipment is Overlength? If you’re not sure if your shipment is considered overlength, reach out to your freight broker! Any broker worth their salt should be able to assist you. A good rule of thumb is to reach out to your broker any time you have a shipment where an individual piece is over ten feet long. Your broker should be able to tell you what the rules are for each particular carrier and whether or not an overlength service is needed. Adopting this practice and learning these rules will help you proactively avoid delays, as well as unexpected additional charges on your invoices! Keep it up and it won’t be long before you become a freight expert! cc image courtesy João Trindade via Flickr

FreightPros gets a Density Calculator

  freight density calculator Good news for all you LTL shippers out there. We finally have our own density calculator, and you can find it at our website on our customer login page. But what’s a freight density calculator, and why is it an important tool to have in getting a freight quote?

What Is A Freight Density Calculator?

A density calculator is a tool used to determine the density of an item. I’m a writer and therefore no good at math, so you’ll have to use the magic of Google to figure out the actual density formula, but suffice to say our system works great and, much like a good third party freight broker, does all the work for you.

What Does It Have To Do With Freight Shipping?

The freight class of many shipping items is determined by that item’s density. As freight class is a large determinate of shipping cost, you’ll want to have the correct density. Our calculator ensures you will.

How Does The Freight Density Calculator Work?

Simply measure the length, width, and height of your freight (packaging included) in inches. Next, list how many pallets will be shipped. Lastly, input the total weight of the shipment. Our calculator will automatically generate your exact density, along with the total cubic feet.

What Does Total Cubic Feet Matter?

Total cubic feet is sometimes needed for purposes of volume shipping quotes. Many freight carriers require the total cubic feet needed to get an accurate volume quote. Our density calculator saves you from enduring more math. There are loads of great reasons to have a density calculator if you’re in the shipping game, and now you’re just a quick click away. Avoid those crappy reclasses! Get even lower and easier volume shipping quotes! It’s as easy as finding the best online freight broker in the business.
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Freight Shipping: Not a Commodity (Part 2)

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CC image courtesy of marksontok via Flickr
In the first portion of this two-part blog post regarding my arguments on how freight shipping is not a commodity, I focused on the service side of things and the people and team dedicated to providing additional value on a company’s freight moves.  In this section portion, I wanted to address the latter half of of the definition of a commodity regarding fungibility.  “A commodity has full or partial fungibility; that is, the market treats its instances as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them.” I’d like to relate this concept of fungibility to the LTL freight carriers directly.  Unfortunately the viewpoint is all too common that all of these carriers are essentially created equal. Trucking companies are not commodities. These carriers simply move your freight from pickup to destination and the major difference between the carriers is the freight quote variance depending on the lane serviced or type of goods being moved.   This may be the perception, but the reality is startlingly different. Its an unfortunate fact that quality information about the LTL carriers is difficult to find online.  There are several reasons for this lack of information related to LTL carriers and their service.  For starters, many carriers perform at greatly inconsistent levels depending on the lane being serviced or the type of freight being moved.  We have some carriers in our system that perform amazingly well for certain customers, and very poorly for others.  This could be due to management at a particular terminal, capacity (shortages or overages), the route that a customer is on, etc.   We have our own internal scoring system for carriers, and there are many times where the worst performing carriers are some of our customer’s favorite to work with.  They’ve just had quality experiences with them and have no reason to look elsewhere.  Othertimes, we’ll run into potential customers that “hate” a carrier or two that we love working with internally and have had great success across our system with the thousands of shipments we move each month. The other major reason that there isn’t a lot of transparency related to the carriers and their offerings, at least from the broker side of things, is that a broker has to be very careful about maintaining the quality of the relationship with each of the LTL carriers that they choose to work with.  Unlike truckload shipping, where there are tens of thousands of carriers out there, the LTL side has 50 to 60 legitimate carriers to work with.  Of course, a quality broker will stop working with a carrier that is truly an awful partner from a service level perspective, but there probably not going to issue a press release espousing the reasons they are no longer working with a carrier.  Nor am I going to write a blog post publicly listing our scorecards for the different carriers.  A web search will typically only produce some lists of LTL carriers listed by revenue, and almost no qualitative information.  The reality is, that different LTL carriers work better for some customers than others. What’s the solution?  Talk with your broker or a potential broker about your freight and get really detailed about what’s important to you.  We have certain carriers that are awful about on-time deliveries, but they might cost 20-30% less on average.  Some freight isn’t time sensitive, and if yours fits that bill, then one of those carriers might be a great option for you.  We have other customer’s whose freight is so critical that one day of delay can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.  So we have to figure out the best mix of carriers that service their lanes at the highest on-time percentage as possible.  After giving the detailed input about your freight requirements to your broker, they can select a proper carrier mix for your freight, and then most importantly, carefully monitor the freight shipments they are moving for you and add/subtract carriers as appropriate.  Beyond just on-time delivery, a reputable broker will be able to analyze how many pickups are missed, what % of shipments are getting additional charges, what carriers service your destination locations each day of the week, and how many claims are being generated by the carriers you are choosing.  Setup your own internal scoring system if you don’t use a broker that can do these services for you.  Here’s a great article on some of the things to think about. By working with a broker that throws that fungibility argument out the window and realizes that all carriers are definitely not equal,  and more importantly that each carrier individually is going to operate differently for each customer, you can really get the benefit of a consultative approach to maximizing the efficiency of your freight shipping and align your company’s goals with carriers that can meet or exceed them.
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Freight Shipping: Not a Commodity (Part 1)

 
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CC image courtesy of Simon Cunningham via Flickr
Over the past year I’ve met with multiple Presidents of other freight brokerages and have had heard the same theme ringing through regarding freight services as a whole.  That the services we provide for people’s freight are essentially a commodity.  One President told me something along the lines of, “We’ve accepted that LTL freight shipping is a commodity and we treat it as such.  We just give the lowest pricing possible to our customers and let them handle the service side of things.”  I couldn’t disagree more with this viewpoint, however I do think many shipping customers in the marketplace may view freight shipping, and particularly the LTL side of things as a commodity because they’ve not yet worked with a broker that has provided services and delivered soft-cost savings that they didn’t realize were even an option. Let’s grab a definition of a commodity (pulling from Wikipedia here, which I’m sure was pulled from somewhere else), “It is used to describe a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.  A commodity has full or partial fungibility; that is, the market treats its instances as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them.” Tackling the first part of the definition, we know there is huge demand for freight services, literally hundreds of billions of dollars of domestic US transactions each year.  The crux of the commodity argument is that these services are being supplied without qualitative differentiation across the market.  From an outsider’s perspective or from a shipping customer that hasn’t worked with a service oriented broker or carrier this may be the case.  Its logical to think that a truck is going to move your goods from point A to point B, and in a relatively standard amount of time.  In fact this is usually the case.  However, there are so many working parts that go into each freight transaction, that we as brokers are given the opportunity to shine and add extreme value to the customer who’s goods are moving in that transaction, that the commodity argument starts to fall flat on its face.  And only at a point in time where all brokers and carriers are going above and beyond and delivering the maximum amount of soft-cost savings, will the commodity argument truly fly. Logan, from our account management team,  is a few days away from releasing a series of blog posts on what services a quality broker should be supplying to its customers, so I won’t go into extreme detail on each of these, but if you are moving your goods and not receiving the following services from your carrier or broker, you are in fact choosing an inferior level of service and if your freight decisions are based purely on price, then you might be making the mistake of treating freight as a commodity:
  • Online Freight  Quoting Automation and Transit Time Estimates from Wide Diversity of Carriers
  • Pickup Tracking
  • Delivery Tracking and Delay Notifications and Resolutions
  • Billing Auditing
  • Consultative Freight Optimization Services
  • Carrier Scoring
  • Engaged Sales/Support/Account Management Team
Touching on the last bullet, I think its so important that the broker or carrier servicing your freight absolutely does not view a freight shipment as a commodity.  An engaged team that is constantly trying to refine your shipping processes, create efficiencies, or unlock areas of potential savings for a shipping company is critical to the successful relationships of the two parties, otherwise you run into a potential situation where the customer is actually viewed as a commodity.  If a team is viewing a company’s critical freight shipment as just another shipment moving from point A to B, then service will suffer in the long run. In part two of this post, I will talk about fungibility and how not all carrier’s are created equal.

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