What is Freight?
FAQs: 6 Common Questions About Freight Shipping The freight shipping industry fluctuates often, but business is still booming. According to the American Trucking Association, U.S. trucking companies earned a record $700 billion in 2014. From drivers to warehouse workers to end users, it takes a combined effort to transport products all over the world. Whether you’re new to the industry or looking to ship items from Point A to Point B, this is a good place to start. We’ve rounded up 6 common questions about freight shipping and what you need to know to get your package where it needs to go:
What is a 3PL? Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL, or third-party logistics company, saves time and money. A 3PL offers all-in-one solutions for services such as warehousing, transportation, inventory management, packaging, and freight rate negotiation. The legal definition of a 3PL, as determined by a 2008 legislative bill, is “a person who solely receives, holds, or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business but who does not take title to the product.”
What are LTL and FTL? LTL, or less than truckload, is cargo that does not fill a standard 48- or 53-foot trailer. Many businesses share a truck and pay only for the portion of the trailer that contains their goods. Most LTL loads range from 100 to 10,000 lbs., and the number of pallets that can ship LTL varies with each carrier. In general, most offer up to 12 feet of space. LTL shipping is ideal for small businesses with lesser budgets. On the contrary, FTL, or full truckload, completely fills a trailer. FTL applies to shipments over 10,000 pounds and those that stay in the same truck from origination to destination. FTL shipments are generally faster than LTL because the latter has to make multiple stops. FTL is ideal for high-risk or delicate shipments and also when time is a concern, according to JBT Transport, which is based in Canada. It is typically used when businesses have 10 or more pallets to ship.
What is freight class? The class of a freight shipment is based on its contents. The National Motor Freight Classification guide, created by the National Motor Traffic Association, has 18 freight classes ranging from 50, the least expensive, to 500, the most expensive. These classes help shippers standardize pricing when working with various carriers, warehouses and brokers, according to Minnesota-based freight logistics company Cerasis.
How are shipping rates calculated? LTL freight rates vary by the carrier and are priced per 100 pounds. FTL shipments are based on a rate per mile and generally have a minimum charge per load. Cost is determined by value, density, ease of handling, and stowability (the ability to mix well with other shipments). Other fees that might be incurred with shipments include those for driver loading or unloading; layovers; after-hour deliveries; and for handling hazardous items.
What is a bill of lading? A bill of lading is the most important document in the shipping industry, says PLS Logistics. It serves as a receipt for goods, a contract between carrier and shipper, and as a document of title. Make sure it is filled out completely, correctly and legibly. A correct bill of lading can be the difference between an invoice paid on time and one that takes way too long.
What kinds of things can I ship? You can ship nearly anything; however, some items have restrictions. Check with your 3PL provider for more information on prohibited items or those that need special care. All shipments must be packaged according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s standards, especially hazardous materials. Also, UPS offers packaging guidelines and a tool for international shipments.