To err is human – but making frequent mistakes can be devastating to any supply chain.
Shippers, regardless of the size of their customer base, depend on the efficient movement of commodities. Those with items larger than 150 pounds rely on the less than truckload (LTL) industry to get products out to their customers.
Due to the way that Less Than Truckload shipments work, they are notorious in some circles for being the most prone to errors. While preparation, proper packaging, and choosing the right carrier can reduce LTL shipping errors, sometimes a shipper just needs to go the extra mile to mitigate mistakes.
If you depend on LTL as a normal part of your supply chain activities – this article may prove to be an exceptional resource.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the most common mistakes made in LTL shipping and review a few insider tips from LTL shipping experts.
What are the Main Problems with LTL Shipping?
The LTL industry as a whole works just like any other transportation-based business. A shipper will contact an LTL carrier, schedule a pick-up, fill out a Bill of Lading (BOL), and complete other steps to ensure the freight is ready to be shipped. The main issues that shippers experience with this type of freight movement include:
Mistakes with invoice processing
Inconsistent delivery or lead times
Missed deliveries or multiple reattempts
In some instances, the issues can be resolved with some simple proactive planning and basic communication between all parties. On the other hand, some of these problems require aggressive changes take place in the process.
So, let’s break down a few of the best ways to minimize the hassle associated with LTL shipping.
Improve Document Workflow
The movement of less than truckload cargo is a detailed and time-consuming process due to its similarity to parcel shipments. With a parcel package, the commodity is picked up or dropped off at a carrier office, sent to a distribution hub or sorting facility (or multiple locations), and eventually routed to a local delivery center.
LTL shipments operate in a similar manner. The problem with LTL is that the freight is much larger and the movement and distribution process is more time-consuming.
And the one thing that can severely impact the LTL carrier's ability to perform efficiently? You guessed it... accurate data being input on the BOL.
One way shippers can simplify their document workflow is by generating automated LTL documents.
A Transportation Management System or TMS is an exceptional software solution that can be configured to generate automated BOL and other LTL-specific paperwork, that includes input fields that carriers require. The software can alert the shipper if mistakes are entered, so they can be corrected before the paperwork is printed or sent forward to the carrier. This streamlined document workflow is a critical component to improving the paperwork control, which can minimize mistakes and frustration with LTL shipping.
Learn How LTL Carriers Bill for Freight
The automation of document control is a great first step. But another common source of LTL frustration are unexpected increases in the cost of shipping once the customer receives an invoice. Under most circumstances, the leading change from the initial estimate is the size of the freight – or the cost associated with freight. Many LTL carriers are beginning to use dimensioners or computer-generated measuring equipment that factors in more than the high x width x length. Other carriers use physical dimensions and weight to bill customers.
The best way to reduce mistakes with billing in LTL shipping is not to invest in expensive equipment – but to simply determine how each LTL carrier bills for freight movement. By learning how an LTL carrier estimates and charges for freight classifications, and their charges for the movement of that freight, you can set up a carrier profile within your TMS, so that the right dimensions and freight data can be entered – and improve the consistency of estimation.
Improve Packaging Procedures
Across the board, most freight damage is caused by poor packaging procedures being followed by the shipper. Whether it’s using broken pallets, inferior materials, or non-recommended procedures, shippers across the board can reduce the majority of freight damage by simply being proactive about how they package and secure their freight.
LTL shipping has improved its service offerings and become more efficient as technology has improved. Nowadays, by just taking a few proactive measures shippers can fairly easily reduce LTL shipping errors.
The Best Way to Reduce LTL Shipping Errors is to Partner With a 3PL
If you’re looking to integrate or upgrade your LTL service, an experienced 3PL like Redwood Logistics can help!