There are nearly 12 million trucks, rail cars, and vessels that are used to move goods over the transportation network. With such a plethora of options to choose from, it can be quite time consuming trying to ensure you are getting the best rates and services for shipping your products. Is cheapest always best? How can I cut down on lead time? What is the safest way to transport my goods? These are questions we get from executives frequently to help them manage their truckload freight.
Whether you are looking for specialty freight services, oversize freight, or trade show shipments, we have experience in all aspects of truckload freight. In fact, as one of the leaders in truckload freight, we decided to compile a list of helpful tips to ensure that you are maximizing the value you get per dollar spent on freight. Everyone knows that cheapest isn’t always best (especially when it means delays in shipping that leave stores with no product in stock). However, when you spend money on freight, it needs to be money well spent, and efficiently spent. Here are some of the best ways to maximize your freight efficiency.
The first step is to determine if you need FTL or LTL. While this may seem like an obvious point, we frequently find clients who have been shipping with other freight companies who, though they understand what FTL and LTL are, don’t know WHY they should choose one or the other, and often just default to LTL.
Full Truckload (FTL), comes with two main benefits: speed and security. While more expensive than LTL, FTL is great for businesses who have a large amount of product to move. Because an FTL shipment never switches between trucks, it is more often than not much faster than an LTL shipment. For shipments that need to be expedited and reach destinations quickly, FTL is the way to go. Additionally, FTL shipments have much higher security. Because the product is all on a single truck, and not being switched between trucks, there is no exchange of hands or vehicles. This means less change for dropping or damage goods. In fact, the chance of damaged goods is virtually non-existent with FTL. Because the good stay on a single truck from beginning to end, there is also a significantly reduced chance for theft or user error (in mixing up boxes and shipments).
LTL Freight Shipping is the natural alternative to FTL. LTL is typically used for smaller shipments and can work great if you need to stretch the dollars for shipping to make sense (even for large shipments). A common misconception is that for large shipments, FTL will always be more economical because it is all being transported on a single truck with a single destination. However, that isn’t always the case. Using LTL can be much cheaper if you are able to get your product to fill extra space on trucks already headed to certain locations. Think of it like carpooling for your products. However because the product is being carpooled, it often takes longer to reach a final destination.
Once you have determined whether FTL or LTL is right for your shipments, the next step would be to determine transportation options. There are four main options for the transportation of goods: road, air, rail, and intermodal (aka mixed). Road and truckload shipping is the most common because it is a great balance of speed and price. Additionally, road shipping is very easy to track, giving you more control over the shipment process. Air is by far the fastest way to ship, and can provide great advantages for light and small products. However, air travel can be very costly for products that take up a lot of space or have a high weight. Rail (or train) is the most cost-effective option, though it is also the slowest. Intermodal combines any number of the above methods of transportation.
If you are looking for the most effective way to ship your products, give us a call. We would be happy to consult with you to find the best shipping options for your business to get you the best results and the best value.