The freight shipping process can seem superficially complex, particularly to those engaged in shipping for the first time. Shippers wish the process could be simple, but the fact is that there are several regulations and processes that you need to follow to make sure that shipments are received on time.
Here are some of the most common questions that first-time shippers are likely to ask.
What is a 3PL and What Does It Stand for?
3PL is an abbreviated term for “third-party logistics.” 3PL companies typically try to manage every element in freight shipping, from the time a shipper requests a freight quote for shipments to delivery, with a combination of expertise and ample resources.
How Do I Determine Shipping Rates?
Freight shipping rates often rely on several factors, such as the type of freight being shipped, weight, mode of transport, and distance traveled. Typically, this is more easily determined based on the type of shipping option, including LTL, full-truckload, and flatbed shipping & trucking companies. LTL, or less-than-truckload rates, are mostly dependent on the freight class, with other fees applied for added actions and services such as liftgate services and delivery times.
Full-truckload, or FTL, on the other hand, depends on an amount per-mile which may include fuel surcharges. Meanwhile, flatbed rates depend on the type of equipment, weight, and mileage of the shipment.
What is a Freight Class?
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) developed a freight classification system to help standardize freight pricing for all shipments. Commodities are included in 18 freight classes numbered 50 to 500. Class is determined based on several factors including weight, density, ease of handling, value and liability, and dimensions. Normally, the lower the class, the lower the cost.
Is It Possible to Estimate Weight and Dimensions?
In short, you should never estimate any measurements regarding your shipment. It’s necessary to take accurate measurements of the width, length, and height to the nearest inch, particularly for LTL shipments.
This is because carriers depend on exact measurements to determine how much freight can actually fit on the bed of the truck. Weight also needs to be accurate; carriers normally use the listed weight to figure out how much can fit in the truck.
What is a BOL?
BOL, or bill of lading, documents function as receipts of freight services, or contracts between carriers and the freight shippers that provide all pertinent details to properly process and invoice shipments. BOLs are created and then presented to carriers upon pickup, and the shipper keeps a copy for their own records.
Understanding these different terms and rules can help you ensure that your shipping processes go smoothly from start to finish. You’ll benefit from understanding these aspects when shipping any commodities, whether it’s a statewide or international intermodal shipment.
You’ll also be able to help provide carriers with the necessary information to keep shipments secure and consistently on time, regardless of the extent of the shipping process.