How to Avoid Mistakes with Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping
When it comes to setting up freight shipment, most shippers dread the Less than Truckload option. Whether it’s the excessive charges that some carriers rate, or the inability to get a direct delivery estimate, it’s quite common for shippers to get frustrated with LTL shipping. However, in most cases, the frustration is due to the shipper’s mistakes that are the root source. The troubling thing is that most shippers don’t realize that they are making mistakes at all.
If you’re a shipper and are new to LTL or less than truckload shipping, there are a few items you can do to reduce common mistakes made when setting up this type of shipment. Following these four basic rules will reduce stress, improve service, and can save your company a tremendous amount of money in the short and long-term.
Make Sure You Understand LTL Freight Classes
Documenting the correct freight classification and dimension is the best way to ensure proper billing and estimation of LTL shipments. Having accurate dimensions is vital to determine the correct freight class. However, it’s also critical to gather the density, ease of handling, value, liability, and storage capability of your shipment to determine the right shipping class. Most carriers are more than happy to provide you with freight classification terms for each of their services. You need to ask.
Why this is important?
Freight classification and dimensions are critical to the accurate billing of and handling of LTL shipments. When mistakes are made in this segment, it can cause overbilling, increase shipment lead time, and cause other headaches to shippers. The shipper can control this issue 100% by having the right information and understanding the freight classes.
Errors in the documentation are another leading source of frustration for shippers. Since carriers require paperwork to include accurate information for freight efficient processing, its errors are documented on the paperwork, delays can – and often will occur. In most cases, errors are made by the shipper – or employees involved with the paperwork control. While it might seem to be “no big deal,” some of the most common mistakes that lead to freight delays or sometimes additional charges include contact information – especially when hazmat, cross-border, or tradeshows are involved.
Why this is important?
If a carrier can’t deliver the product due to errors made in the paperwork, the responsibility often falls on the shipper who submitted the paperwork initially. It might take a few extra minutes but always take time to double-check every aspect of documentation with any LTL shipment – to avoid these mistakes.
Clarify Point of Delivery
This one does not always fall on the shipper – but it’s something they should be proactive about clarifying. Knowing and verifying the point of delivery is another item that reduces errors. If you’re a shipper and a customer directs you to send a shipment to a certain location, don’t be afraid to verify with the customer that this area can receive an LTL shipment. If you set up an LTL shipment and it’s not deliverable due to its location – the responsibility will often fall on the shipper.
Why is this important?
Most additional penalties and charges are due to missed-deliveries. A leading source of a missed delivery is that the carrier cannot deliver at the point of delivery. Whether it’s due to the delivery location or the receiving office was not open, there is no forklift available or a loading dock – it can cause a freight delay or extra charges. Take time to verify with all customers or LTL shipment recipients that they can receive during their hours of operations and document this on all LTL shipments.
Be Proactive About Packaging
An LTL shipment will be handled multiple times and often routed through multiple trucks before it is delivered. Every time the package is handled, it opens the opportunity for damage. This is why it’s so important for any shipper to be proactive about using high-quality packaging materials and procedures to avoid damage to their freight and reduce delivery delays.
Why this is important?
Proper packaging includes labeling your shipments correctly. If a label comes off in transit, delays and sometimes, additional charges will be applied to the shipper.
If you’re tired of dealing with the frustration that comes with shipping via LTL carriers, working with an experienced 3PL to manage your LTL tasks is a smart idea that can save you a tremendous amount of time and money.