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Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is the efficient, cost-effective, and eco-conscious way to send shipments that won’t fill a whole trailer. However, successful LTL shipping requires a significant amount of preparation.
In this article, we’ll review the primary benefits of LTL shipping and go through the ten steps you can take to simplify, ease, and speed up the process of building LTL shipments.
Before we get into how to simplify the challenges of LTL shipping, let’s review five of the most important reasons why we undertake this mode of shipping.
Since LTL is based on combining smaller loads from various customers into one trailer, it reduces the shipping cost for everyone concerned, including the carrier.
LTL is one of the greener options available in truck freight. Allowing optimal routing and fewer vehicles to deliver shipment contents to their ultimate destinations also cuts down on fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
LTL routes are set up to have the fewest stops possible. Shipments combined in the LTL load are usually protected by palletized, containerized, or wrapped in other protective covering. Although usually repacked each time the LTL shipment is altered, the chance of being misplaced is slight due to tracking technologies and notification requirements.
LTL is ideal for customers who have regular shipments, which allows the shipping company to be more accurate in its planning and provide more consistent and reliable availability.
LTL carriers often make various shipping options available, including limited pickup, liftgate delivery, expedient timeframes, and custom delivery windows.
To be successful with LTL shipping, you need to build your loads specifically for it. Otherwise, you risk delays and issues later on that can remove the efficiency and cost-effectiveness you were after. By following these 10 steps, you’ll simplify and speed up the process of LTL shipping.
Giving all your freight to one carrier can create unnecessary risk in the long run. Develop a carrier pool and divvy up your inbound and outbound freight to increase the efficiency of on-time delivery.
Remember holidays and take weather conditions into account when choosing carriers. They are among the factors most likely to interfere with traffic processes. If your shipment includes time-sensitive goods, choose a guaranteed service in advance to avoid the extra expense of last-minute expediting costs.
Not all carriers provide LTL services, so your first challenge is finding one that offers LTL to your destination.
To simplify this process, partner with a 3PL that can track down the most efficient and cost-effective carriers for your LTL shipments. LPaaS, powered by RedwoodConnect, offers LTL users several advantages, including scalability, cost savings, increased capacity, ease of distributing inventory, and more.
Palletizing is perhaps the most used packaging method for LTL shipping. Wrapped pallets keep your freight safe during loading and unloading and all along the journey. Crating, boxing, and otherwise containerizing are also widely used.
Online LTL shipping services are one way to get started. These typically offer an online portal for booking and scheduling shipments. Online shipping platforms (such as LPaaS) help with advance planning and last-minute booking. These portals automate the logistics process and provide customer support services.
Redwood Logistics can meet all your logistics technology needs with one of the industry's best online portals and most advanced customer support services.
Knowing your freight class upfront is essential to getting an accurate rate. Otherwise, you risk being hit with a re-class or invoice revision after the audit. Keeping classification documentation can help you settle any discrepancies between quote and invoice.
LTL rates vary based on pickup/destination zip codes, freight class, total weight, and additional services, if any. Transportation management systems (TMS) will help you find carriers offering the best rates for your service needs. Employ a multi-carrier rating TMS to identify pricing and the lanes served by each carrier.
The bill of lading is the most critical piece of documentation in the whole LTL process. Think of it as your legally-binding shipment receipt. It provides evidence of your contract with the carrier and is a title document for the shipped goods. Ensure it is accurate and in the carrier’s hands at the pickup time.
LTL shipping companies provide a variety of insurance coverage for your freight. However, pay attention to liability limits, as you may occasionally need extra insurance.
Some carriers prioritize LTL shipments more than others when there’s a capacity crunch. Track your shipments to ensure your freight is moving expeditiously, and take note of carriers who appear to be de-prioritizing LTL loads.
Following these ten steps will make LTL shipping easier, simpler, and faster to process. Of course, you can also look to Redwood Logistics to modernize and manage your LTL supply chains from start to finish – from order entry and carrier selection to shipment visibility and payments.
Contact Redwood today for more information.