LTL carriers in the U.S. moving freight represent a $30 billion industry. It’s that massive. How is a relatively small business looking to ship product supposed to know where to even start? Fortunately, LTL carriers have changed a lot over the past few decades, and now offer a lot of cost-effective solutions. To get your products where they need to go, read more below.
LTL Carriers Add Value
A solid LTL partner should help make the distance from manufacturing and fulfillment easy. With different freight hubs being linked together, customers looking to ship should have good options in terms of flexibility. Of course reliability, at a fair price, can make the service offered by the LTL carriers a key part of your supply chain.
The sprawling country that we live in offers a variety of modes that LTL carriers use to ship. Air, rail, water, and truck are all used by the LTL companies to deliver. However, trucks offer more scheduling flexibility compared to rail. And it’s faster too.
LTL Costs Less
Generally, the price for shipping something via LTL versus FTL will always be less. LTL carriers do compete directly with the parcel carriers. However, the parcel carriers will not accept shipments that weigh more than 70 to 100 pounds.
Your friendly local LTL carrier almost certainly has a number of vehicles in the area to collect shipments. The shipments are ultimately taken to a terminal where they are offloaded. Each shipment is weighed at the terminal so that the customer billing can be processed.
Next, up your products are loaded onto an outbound truck, along with shipments from other customers. The truck will then head to a region that all parcels have in common. Once everything gets to general area they are sorted one more time and placed onto local trucks headed for the final delivery.
The Industry Has Evolved
The LTL industry was first deregulated by the federal government in 1970. With deregulation, price fixing and collective vendor pricing were reduced. A reduction of both is good for the consumer. The effects of deregulation were widespread with thousands of new, low-cost carriers now entering the market. Rates for customers also fell dramatically.
Also more recently the LTL carriers have adopted the latest technology. This includes paperless tender and billing, electronic dispatch and verification of delivery in real-time.
How to Choose an LTL Carrier
There are several factors that you will want to keep in mind when choosing your LTL carrier. The list, below:
- You’ll want guaranteed service. It costs a nominal fee, but carriers provide a money-back guarantee that they will meet published expectations for service.
- Don’t forget insurance policies. LTL carriers can provide liability insurance. Usually at a rate of $10 per pound. Sometimes as low as $1 per pound.
- Sealed trailer space is important. This is when the carrier reserves exclusive trailer space. This way goods can be packed in different arrangements, and sealed off from other freight.
- LTL Carrier shipping units. The convenience offered by prefabricated containers are great for easy shipping of mixed objects and even entire household estates. The containers can be very small, like folding crates, all the way up to full-size.
- Service that is time-definite. Lots of carriers offer options for delivery that can work with your schedule. Just tell them your requirements.
An LTL carrier like ASAP Courier based in Florida doesn’t require contracts or termination fees. They will even store and ship freight that you require – at a moment’s notice.
With it being 2018, there are some high-tech conveniences that consumers have come to expect. And LTL carriers have responded. Orders can now be placed online, or in-app. Basically wherever you are at the time which comes in handy if you need quotes or delivery times.
Delivery transparency is now provided with carriers sending the email confirmation when your freight is picked up. Electronic proof of delivery is also convenient so you’ll know when your order arrives. All these conveniences and more are offered by LTL carriers like ASAP Courier.
If You Require Warehouse Services
It’s a good problem to have if your business is growing, and you need to add warehouse capacity.
There are a lot of factors that go into this decision, however, and below are some tips to help make your decision.
- Location(s). If you need several warehouse locations, make sure they are in relatively close proximity or else risk adding cost. Of course, it also helps if they are near major freeways or railroads.
- Sizes. Generally speaking, it’s better to go smaller for storage size as you can always upgrade later to a larger facility. Don’t forget to check the ceiling height of the warehouse, too.
- Time. Know before you sign any contracts how long you’ll need to store product for. Again, better to go with less, with the option to always add time to your contract later.
- Flexibility. Your business needs will always be changing, making it a good idea to find a warehouse company that can meet personalized needs.
- Accessible. Some businesses require constant access to the facility to ship product in and out. Make sure warehouse scheduling doesn’t slow you down.
- Reputation. Try to speak to current clients of the warehouse, or check for reviews online to make sure the facility is reputable.
The Latest On The Industry
2018 is looking like a strong year if you own or operate an LTL business. When demand is up, but supply is down that usually adds to profit margins. In fact, some “spot” markets might see rate spikes as high as 20 percent. However, the factors that are impacting these rate increases are generally not controlled by the industry.
Issues relating to driver recruitment, poor highway infrastructure, and federal electronic logging devices are all helping to drive up prices. Specifically for the electronic logging devices, this relates to the requirement that truck drivers can no longer log their hours via pen and paper.
LTL carriers quite literally provide the logistics necessary to keep goods flowing in this country. For your business, making the right choice of an LTL carrier will ensure you can both meet demand and keep costs reasonable. Check out ASAP Courier in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for both the latest on the industry and what services are offered to keep your products moving.