How to Deal with the Challenges of FTL Shipping

Challenges in FTL

Whether you are purchasing or shipping in bulk, FTL freight can be a bit of a challenge at times. For starters, you are dealing with a high shipping volume which makes this type of shipment to be equally high-priority. And when the stakes are high, that creates stress and tension on the shipper, the carrier and the customer. 

Needless to say, when all of these things come together it can spell disaster.

The good news is, there are things you can do to make the whole process run just a bit smoother and avoid a nightmare shipping scenario.

So, in this blog post, we will be taking a look at some of the things that can and do go wrong sometimes and how best to avoid the challenges of FTL shipping.


It’s Difficult to Keep Up with Consumer Demand

In today’s market, efficiency is the name of the game. From manufacturing to marketing to order fulfillment, only businesses who make their processes as efficient as possible see success.

FTL is, at this point in time, the most efficient approach for those working in logistics. This is because FTL is the most cost-effective approach to transporting commodities. Plain and simple.

And since FTL transportation benefits both shippers and carriers, there has been a huge increase in demand for this method of transportation. Thus, the biggest challenge in FTL freight management is the inability of supply to keep up with demand.


Problems Finding Qualified Drivers

Due to the large increase in demand for FTL transportation, there is now more of a demand for qualified CDL drivers. Despite the fact that CDL drivers are paid well, carriers are struggling to recruit and keep qualified drivers. The reason for this could be cultural: the profession does not appeal to younger demographics who are looking for jobs that are considered “cool” instead of profitable.

There could be other reasons for the lack of drivers as well, such as difficulty in training and increases in local driving jobs that some drivers might find preferable. Whatever the reason may be, there are simply not enough CDL drivers available to complete FTL shipments.

One solution to rival the challenges of FTL shipping that has helped FTL freight management in recent years has been significantly increasing shipping rates for FTL. Due to the profitability of FTL, retailers are willing to spend a little more in order to get their products to their customers.

With the increased shipping rates, carriers - including smaller owners/operators - are making more money than ever. This increase in pay works to motivate CDL drivers to keep their jobs or seek out positing driving for an FTL carrier. It is very much a matter of offering competitive rates.


More Volume Equals More Competition

Since the NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) does not regulate FTL rates, volume determines the rates being charged. An issue for FTL carriers is that destinations with low volume have been hit with large increases in rates. In these low-volume markets, competition is stiff.

To prevent having to price themselves out of the market, shippers in these low-volume areas use TMS systems to book FTL carriers based on the overall value they provide, rather than them having the lowest rate.


FTL Freight Management - Evolving Best Practices

For a business in any industry to evolve and adapt to changes, it is essential to understand the difference between actions that are controllable versus those that are not. For those working in shipping, something that all shippers can control is improving and expanding upon their FTL shipping best practices.

Here are some challenges of FTL shipping that shippers have full control of and can fine-tune to ensure they receive the best rates and deliver shipments on time.

  • Keep Up with FTL Trends: Since FTL rates are always changing, it's important for shippers to follow these trends and adjust as needed. Fluctuations in rates occur due to changes in demand, weather, mileage, road conditions, and more. The best shippers watch these trends closely and adjusts their rates accordingly, so as to avoid sharp rate hikes.
  • Maintain a Consistent Shipping Schedule: If you’re a shipper, you will be able to win reduced rates from FTL carriers if you are able to provide consistent shipments. By developing a consistent shipping schedule and sticking to it every time, FTL carriers will be willing to offer lower rates in exchange for this guarantee of consistent shipments.
  • Be Flexible: In the logistics industry, things are always changing. To keep up with these changes, shippers should use TMS systems to keep up with these changes, such as changes in logistics planning or carriers in your area who have canceled shipments. By adjusting your shipments based on these changes, you will be able to save a lot of money.


Tried all These Tips and Still Need Some Help?

At the end of the day, knowledge and the ability to evolve with changes are the keys to combating challenges in any industry, including FTL logistics. If you want to be best prepared for operating your FTL freight management system as efficiently as possible, contact the FTL supply chain experts at Redwood Logistics.