Logistics can be maddening at times, and the month of March is no exception. However, since March is the official month of madness, we thought we’d provide a few tips for shippers to consider to avoid some of the madness that often comes with freight transportation and logistics.
- Packaging your freight properly. Poorly packaged freight increases the risk that your shipments will get damaged; and many carriers are starting to decline damage claims when improper packaging is the culprit. Review your packaging processes – and enlist help if needed – to reduce your risk and avoid these unnecessary time and money costs.
- Inaccurately weighing your shipment. Some companies don’t have the proper equipment to accurately weigh shipments which leads to inaccurate weight estimates on your bill of lading (BOL). Most carriers now have certified scales at their terminals, and will re-weigh shipments and add on a fee to your invoice if the original estimate was inaccurate. Re-weighing fees add up quickly, so purchasing a proper, certified scale can save money in the long-run.
- Inaccurately classifying your freight. When it comes to LTL freight, shipping at a lower freight class will be less expensive than shipping at a higher freight class. If you don’t know the NMFC item number for your product – and place that item number on your BOL – you run the risk of a carrier re-classifying your shipment and adding on an additional fee. Freight class is an important factor in how LTL carriers determine their freight charges, so they spend a lot of time and effort on analyzing and re-classifying freight. So if you don’t know the proper freight class for your shipment, make sure you ask an expert ahead of time.
- Not knowing to whom you’re shipping. Shippers must know the consignee’s capability to receive a freight shipment. For example, if the consignee doesn’t have a receiving dock, then a lift-gate might be required for the carrier to effectively deliver your shipment. If you don’t specify this in advance, you run the risk of redelivery fees if the carrier must make an extra trip to provide the final delivery. The same fees might apply in cases where the consignee has only limited receiving times, in which case an advance appointment might be appropriate. So knowing where your freight is going, and assigning the proper services to your shipment in advance, are important factors in maximizing efficiency.
- Relying on a single carrier. Some shippers rely on only one (or a couple) carriers for all of their transportation needs. Relying on one carrier alone to handle all of your shipping can lead to sub-optimization and end up costing you more time and money. Generally speaking, regional carriers are faster and less costly on short-haul moves, while national carriers perform much better at long-haul and coast-to-coast deliveries. Working with multiple carriers – or a 3PL that has multiple carrier contracts – allows you to optimize your deliveries using the right carriers.
- Not inspecting freight upon delivery. Consignees should always inspect the freight they receive before they sign a carrier’s delivery receipt. Any damages or abnormalities should be noted on the delivery receipt. If a damage notation is omitted on the delivery receipt, it will be difficult to recover any costs with a damage claim. When in doubt, make a note on the delivery receipt that there are possible damages pending a more thorough inspection.
- Using incorrect shipping or receiving addresses. This remains one of the most common shipping mistakes. Inaccurate origin and destination address information can lead to missed pickups and delayed deliveries – often times with additional re-delivery or re-consignment fees. Even one wrong ZIP code can result in a time-consuming effort to track down a shipment. So take time to review your address information when completing a bill of lading – it will save many headaches down the road.
- Not using an experienced, reputable 3PL partner. Okay, this tip is admittedly a little self-serving. However, an experienced and reputable 3PL can help with you with many of the items above. They will also have the leverage to go-to-bat for you when things go wrong – and we know at some point, things always do. A good 3PL can alleviate much of the “madness” that goes into logistics. So enjoy the fun “madness” that comes with “March”; and leave the “madness” of logistics to a partner like Logistics Plus.