LTL freight route optimization requires the consideration of several factors, including delivery constraints, time windows, carrier preferences, tariffs, and compliance with government regulations.
A multi-carrier system that provides shipment tracking is essential to the process. It can ensure that the carriers you use are adequately rated and can provide the best service for your freight.
Track Your Freight
Keeping track of your freight is essential to maximizing the efficiency of your supply chain. If you’re shipping less than a truckload, LTL freight tracking will help ensure your shipment arrives at its destination on time. It’s also a great way to improve customer service by providing real-time updates.
The easiest and most reliable method to track your freight is through a PRO number. When a carrier picks up your cargo, they will give you a PRO number on a sticker affixed to the pallet and one on a copy of the bill of lading (BOL). You can enter this number into the carrier’s website to see its location.
Freight consolidation is another logistics best practice that can save money and reduce emissions by optimizing the space on a carrier’s truck. It allows you to route your freight efficiently, minimizing dwell times in distribution centers. In addition, it can allow you to use a smaller truck to haul more weight and increase the capacity of your freight. The result is reduced fuel costs and improved ETAs for your customers.
Track Your Carrier
While the world of freight logistics is complex, there are just two basic types of services: full truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL). FTL shipments consist of one shipper filling an entire semi or intermodal container with their goods for delivery. LTL shipments are smaller, consolidated shipments of various shippers’ goods that a carrier transports as one unit to the final destination.
When you ship your goods, your carrier should give you a PRO number or other reference number that you can use to track your shipment online. Carrier portals are a good choice, but you can also search by BOL or PO numbers if your reference number isn’t available.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, giving your LTL carrier the correct address is crucial. Wrong addresses can cause delays and result in redelivery fees or accessorial charges. To avoid these issues, ensure your team checks the accuracy of your shipment’s delivery address before labels are printed. It will ensure your shipment is where it’s supposed to go and help you build a solid customer-client relationship.
Track Your Documents
Less-than-truckload transportation is a terrific option to get your freight anywhere without paying for the entire truck. But it can also come with some complexities that need to be addressed, such as packaging for LTL shipments and tracking your cargo in transit.
Taking time to package your products properly for LTL shipment is essential. It will help avoid damage during transport and save you money. Also, make sure to include a PO number on all orders so that they are easier to track and reference.
Another tip is always to use accurate dimensions for your LTL shipments. It will help the carrier to make the best use of their trucks and save you any redelivery fees or accessorial charges. Finally, record your bill of lading (BOL) and all other documents associated with the BOL. If anything happens during transit, all parties can refer to the paper and adjust expectations accordingly.
Track Your Bill of Lading
LTL freight shipping offers a more flexible supply chain logistics solution than total truckload shipping. But to take advantage of this benefit, businesses must follow some best practices that can reduce costs and improve performance.
When preparing to ship, always use a BOL (bill of lading) or PRO number to track your shipment in real-time. These 7-10 digit numbers are unique and can be used to locate your freight in the carrier’s system. Searching by this number, along with a pickup request confirmation or customs bond number, customer reference number, and the pickup date and time window, is a reliable way to pinpoint your freight’s current location.
In addition, shippers need to produce accurate freight class data to help lower shipping rates and prevent claims. Freight classification determines your freight’s transportation characteristics, such as density, liability, handling requirements, and stability. Additionally, working with a logistics provider with an information advantage can help maximize the impact of LTL shipments.
Track Your Time
Less than truckload shipping is an excellent option for businesses that have many small shipments going to different locations. Instead of having a full semi-truck dedicated to one shipment, LTL carriers combine several shipments into one truckload. It helps drive down transportation costs for the shippers and reduces emissions.
However, with less than truckload freight tracking, time can sometimes suffer as a tradeoff for price and flexibility. Since each truck carries multiple shipments from various customers destined for different locations, it may take longer for freight to reach its destination.
To improve efficiency, use a management system that handles all your freight orders, quotes, status updates, and invoices in one place. It’s also essential to understand the Tariffs and NMFC classifications that can impact the pricing of your freight. Staying up-to-date with these rates can help avoid costly surprises on your freight bills.
Use pallets to minimize handling and maximize your cost savings when packing your freight. Pallets are standard sizes and shapes that make it easy for a forklift or pallet jack to pick up and load. Pallets also make identifying the freight type, weight, and class easier.