As a shipper, it can be hard to procure full truckloads, and small and mid-sized shippers suffer from an exacerbated version of this problem. Shippers face tightening capacity, higher rates, and demanding consumers, and procuring a full truckload may be the last thing on their minds.
In reality, procuring a full truckload as a small or mid-sized shipper comes with unique challenges. Will capacity be available, and are trucks heading in the direction needed? Will the freight be competitive? What does the schedule look like? What about payment processing and documentation?
These questions reflect the various issues and concerns with procuring full truckload shipping. Fortunately, shippers can take advantage of the benefits of full truckload by understanding what’s involved with self-procurement or working with a broker or third-party logistics provider (3PL).
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The Challenges & Process of Procuring a Full Truckload By Yourself
Full truckload carriers will charge more, and if you have not previously worked with a given carrier, you are more likely to end up paying more than necessary. In addition, the amount of work involved in scheduling full truckload is extensive, but a 3PL can manage the entire process, explains Zipline Logistics. The typical process is as follows:
- Order Tender – This starts the process during which a shipper will contact the broker for pickup. Shippers should provide basic location and contact information, special packaging and handling instructions, compliance standards, equipment and other preferences. If technology is involved, such as electronic data exchanges EDI and application programming interfaces (API), it simplifies the process.
- Freight Scheduling – A 3PL takes information gathered during order tender and enters information into a freight transportation management system (TMS). The 3PL reviews the network of carriers, verifies carrier equipment, and commits the carrier to a mandatory timeline.
- Dispatch – At this time, a 3PL connects with a driver and checks all the relevant information for accuracy, including name, truck number, trailer number, current empty location, trailer type and relevant information, and we communicate all necessary handling requirements.
- Loading– The 3PL will stay in contact with the carrier until all shipments are loaded, and the bill of lading has been signed, putting control and possession of the freight, as well as liability, in the hands of the carrier.
- Transit – Throughout transit, the 3PL stays in contact with the driver and uses all relevant, necessary technologies, including GPS, ELDs, and automated systems, to ensure shipments arrive as fast as possible and account for any unexpected issues, including traffic and weather delays.
- Unloading / Delivery – Upon arrival at the destination, the carrier oversees all necessary unloading a delivery, and the 3PL ensures the driver documents all information, including arrival time, accounting for detention, and checking freight for quality, damage, and contents. At this point, the billing cycle begins.
- Billing – Once a carrier turns in all paperwork to the 3PL, the 3PL verifies rate and billing charges and invoices the shipper.
Using a 3PL effectively eliminates the in-house processes with all aforementioned full truckload concerns, and if necessary, a 3PL may be able to help procure warehouse space and packaging processes too. The best-laid plans for using full truckload fail without intense auditing and use of technology to automate processes, and this is why outsourcing is quickly gaining popularity.
Why Outsourcing Full Truckload Procurement Is a Top-Line Solution
Outsourcing full truckload to a 3PL or broker also dramatically increases the capacity and skill of managing full truckload freight for shippers, building brand value and trust with consumers. Additionally, shippers’ free their personnel from the constraint of staying in contact with carriers from loading through final delivery, reducing risk and enabling broad scalability.
4 Key Steps to Optimize 3PL Services
Optimizing 3PL services is a simple task, but each aspect of optimizing such services rely on respect for the 3PL and process. Shippers seeking to make full use of 3PL services should ensure all interactions are thorough and follow these steps:
- Shippers must fully communicate their preferences and information about freight to the 3PL, and all information should be as accurate as possible.
- Be specific. Avoid ambiguity when contacting 3PL’s about, and provided much information as possible
- Be considerate. Although logistics providers do have access to more resources than an individual shipper, shippers should still be considerate of 3PLs, granting enough time to find the best rate possible and schedule shipments accurately.
- Follow through. Shippers should follow through with 3PLs regarding any issues experienced during transit and complete payment to the 3PL appropriately. This will help prevent overlooked invoices and maintain the integrity of the 3PL-shipper relationship.
The Big Picture
Procuring a full truckload can be complicated, but a 3PL simplifies the entire process. Shippers seeking to break into the full truckload space can lessen risk and improve cost efficiency by partnering with a 3PL. However, shippers that do choose to manage full truckload in-house must face specific challenges, which will be explored in greater detail in the next post.