Should Freight Shippers Worry About A Capacity Crunch in 2017?

The recession of 2008 did not treat anyone kindly, and that includes the logistics industry. The future at the time looked bleak, but now the industry has got up again and brushed the dust off and moved on. Don’t forget, the shipping industry saw a crunch in business back in the late 90’s. One of the biggest users of logistics is the manufacturing industry. In fact, they set the tone for the rest of the industry. However, manufacturing has rebounded in a big way and the trucking industry is booming again. Even railroad freight is at an all time high. But the trucking industry has some special advantages.

Nothing can beat the point-to-point capability of the trucking business. Not only that, if it is fragile, time sensitive goods, then a truck or a van is indispensable. The good news in all this is that out of all freight being moved, nearly 70% is with the help of trucks. And each year it is increasing. Even intermodal shipping is increasing each year, close to 5% by some estimates. This is good news for truckers also, because the freight needs to reach the customer’s doorsteps, after all.

One of the concerns lately regarding the trucking side of things is a shortage of drivers. But the truth is that ever since trucks were invented there has been a driver “shortage”. People cite the high turnover rate of drivers as an indication of a driver problem. This has more to do with a lot of people trying out the driving trade to see if it works for them. Rather than the core workforce leaving the industry. Today, with better than ever salary, bonus, and benefits, more and more people who otherwise might not have considered this job, are becoming drivers.

In conclusion, the trucking and shipping business has always moved and evolved with the times. The other side of the trucking business, known as the less-than-truckload, has seen an increase recently. Less-than-truckload is a fancy term for smaller trucks or vans. Railroad freight has been going at maximum capacity for some time now. But the trucking side of things has plenty of room to grow. Another side story to all of this is the IT side of things. The fact is, the industry as a whole has not fully taken advantage of information technology to help increase efficiency. Once all of the smaller issues have been ironed out, logistics will see a bright future.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

When to File a freight Loss or Damage Claim

Delays, losses and damages are unavoidable. When such events happen, shippers should file a claim, which will help them to recover the losses. If you are a shipper, you should understand how the claims process works as well as the application of the law, since the shipping industry tends to work differently. There are two main reasons why you should understand these claims. First, unrecovered claims have a huge financial impact on the bottom line of the company. Secondly, this knowledge is important for shippers since they are on their own especially when it comes to claims.

When to File a Freight Damage Claim

When Should You File?

First, you need to understand that a cargo claim mainly depends upon the breach of contract on the part of the carrier. Whether the carrier was negligent or not is a different matter altogether. When it comes to a transportation contract, the shipper and the carrier have two distinct roles.

The main role of the carrier is to move the cargo, from the pickup point to the agreed destination. On the other hand, the shipper should pay the carrier, on arrival of the goods, as agreed. There is a caveat to this contract. The cargo should not be tampered with or damaged, during arrival. This implies that if the cargo is damaged, delayed or even lost along the way, then the carrier has breached the contract.

However, shippers must prove their claim, in order for it to be successful. Moreover, shippers must prove that the goods were in good condition at origin and show proof of damage at destination, as well as the extent of the damage. The three scenarios must come out very clearly, for the claim to succeed. After these three elements have been established, the carrier has to shoulder the burden.

Determining the Rules

The method of transportation used mainly determines the legal principles to be applied. For example, domestic water, rail, domestic air, international air, and international ocean all come with different time and delivery limits for filing claims. This translates to the fact that different deadlines apply to different situations.

For example, goods moving through road will take a much longer time to arrive, than those transported through air. Therefore, when filing for claims, such issues must be considered, in order to make it fair for all parties involved. There is also the issue of timelines, which will be discussed below.

Watch the Timelines

When it comes to air carriage, rules apply differently, depending on the location of the goods. In terms of domestic shipments, the carrier sets time limits as well as limits of liability. Such limits vary, from seven days moving down.  These timelines will determine the amount of liability incurred by the carrier. The longer the delay, the higher the liability.

Bottom Line

Whichever transportation mode you chose, the first step when it comes to recovering a loss or damage, is filing a claim. As a shipper, you should file the claim with the transportation carrier, whom you have entered into a contract with.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

Five questions you must ask a prospective freight broker

A freight broker is basically an individual or company that processes shipments for organizations or individuals from one point to another. They play a very critical role between shippers and carriers. They come in handy especially when shippers face pain points like rising transportation cost, driver and rail shortages, limited ability to source for service providers, lack of expertise, constrained truckload carrier capacity, and lack of shipment reporting and visibility.

When choosing a freight broker, find the right broker that can help your business effortlessly and efficiently move shipments and ease some of the transport-related supply chain challenges. A good freight broker can also help you save lots of money and time, increase shipment visibility and speed, and reduce your risk. You need to choose an authorized, experienced and trustworthy Michigan freight broker that understands the trade and has the capacity to handle all your logistics needs.

Michigan Freight Forwarder

Now, with thousands of freight brokers in the market, and each of them claiming to offer professional and reliable operations, how do you choose a proven, reliable partner? When all is said and done, the two main factors to look for in a freight broker is integrity and financial stability. Here are the five questions you should ask when choosing your freight broker.

Is the broker and their contracted carriers, authorized, proven and reliable partners?

First, check that the broker and their contracted carriers are operating under the legal authority given by respective transport regulators and licensing authorities. They should also be your partners as well as partners with their carriers. Ideally, they should be vetting their carriers’ qualification process before bringing them on board. Additionally, though uncommon, check that your preferred freight broker is not brokering to another broker (double brokering)

Do they have the experience you need?

It’s fairly easy to start a freight brokerage firm, but the freight business has its own deep waters, and if a company doesn’t know what it’s doing, it won’t last for long. Years of experience means that your freight forwarder has the capacity and wisdom to deal with different situations such as port shutdowns, dockworker strikes, smoothing out customs, need for rerouting cargo, and handling warehousing issues.

Do they have compliance knowledge, networks and business partners in cities you are shipping to?

This is obviously very important for local handling of your cargo. Your freight broker should have networks and connections around the country, or at least in the cities that are the origin and destination of your freight. If you are shipping from New York to Florida for instance, it doesn’t matter how well connected your freight broker is in Texas.

They should also be well versed with trade agreements and understand customs rules, compliance requirements, duty rates and governments regulations of the countries you need to ship to and from.

Do they have regional offices in geographical regions of your interest?

Apart from connections and compliance, your freight broker should have sufficient knowledge of the cities that you intend to ship to. Ideally, they should be familiar with the infrastructure, local language, economy, tax laws, etc. Find out if they are a member of any reputable freight brokerage networks. If so, chances are they will handle your shipment with care and accountability.

Can they help you manage and reduce shipment risk?

Your preferred broker should be able to assess and manage cargo risk so that your company is protected against any unforeseen losses. Your freight broker and its carrier partners should have comprehensive cargo insurance whose policies can be extended to cover your shipments in the event of loss, damage or theft.  If you ask these questions and get the answers you are looking for you should be able to move forward with confidence that your freight will be in good hands.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

Red Flags to Watch Out for with your Carrier

Some carriers post quarterly losses every once in awhile, and much of this can be attributed to the overall state of the economy – however a string of consecutive losses may indicate a larger problem with your carrier. From a business standpoint, you don’t want your carrier’s inefficiency to hamper your investments.

Freight Broker Michigan

Bad rates

Your loyalty to your carrier may cause you to put up with unreasonable pricing structures and let’s face it; the hassle of taking up a new service provider puts you off. Your current provider may use their knowledge of your business and efficient customer service (or other skillset) as a counterbalance for high rates but the implications of this should be interpreted within your own corporate culture. Find out how much you’re comfortable paying your carrier and feel free to shop for market competitive rates if necessary.

Falling service standards

The nature of carrier services is that most of the major companies provide essentially the same services – however, what separates individual brands is the quality and scope of their services. If you notice a decline in quality of service, contact sales support and try to learn more about how that affects your business and when possible, extricate yourself from among poor performers.

Does your carrier lag behind in IT?

This goes without saying but if your carrier does not invest latest technology to support supply (e.g., GPS, Cloud-sync, etc.), they may be slowing down your business. Modern carriers need heavy support from IT in managing transactions and tracking of supply chains from one or multiple locations. If your carrier appears to lack the proper IT framework required to offer competitive service, then you might be forced to hire a third party to operate IT connectivity for your current carrier.

Rapid business expansion

Service requirements may vary as your company grows and it is important that your existing carrier grow with you. If your current carrier is unable to fill the orders coming in, then it might be time to look for a larger, more established service provider. As you plan to expand your business, make sure your partners can keep up with subsequent service demands.

Brand attribution

There’s value in knowing your true brand attributes and how existing business relationships influence each other. When building a brand, the quality and value of your products and/ or services is critical; and working with controversial brands may damage your own reputation in the industry. Is your carrier engaged in a public dispute over their services? It is more logical to replace the carrier than to maintain that alliance and risk social backlash.

Whatever the size of your business, your marketing strategy should facilitate brand attributes of association, awareness, and advocacy. From a purely business standpoint, if your carrier can provide a stable platform for you to operate your business (and take liability for any inconveniences caused by third parties), that would be ideal. But often times you need more collaboration and fewer affirmations.

Watch how your carrier performs under your own perception of successful business practices and find out whether their own model is compatible with yours.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

The Differences Between Less Than Truckload and Full Truckload

You need to know the clear cut differences between less than truckload and full truckload shipping services before you can effectively decide on which one is most suitable for your shipping plans. This article will help you with the information you need to clearly understand each shipping option, and also point out what to consider before settling for one or the other to meet your logistic needs.

Less Than Truckload Shipping

This kind of shipping service, which is often shortened as LTL, is the kind that requires shippers to pay for the trailer space that they use per shipment alone. These shipments are less than a full truckload. They may be made of about one to 10 pallets that weigh as much as 100 to 10,000 pounds. The LTL carriers operate by the use of a network of terminals that’s similar to a hub and spoke formation. The spokes, in that illustration, represent the local terminals while the hubs stand for the major centers of distribution. By the use of their various terminal positions, carriers can help with freights that are headed in a similar direction to cut down the cost of their shipping for shippers who don’t have the capacity to completely fill a whole truck.

Truckload vs LTL

Full Truckload Shipping

Unlike the less than truckload shipping, full truckload shipping, which is also shortened as FTL, is the conveyance of similar goods that completely occupy an entire truck or trailer. Some carriers are able to haul as much as 24 standard pallets that weigh as much as 42,000 pounds. Freight that is transported through FTL would normally convey goods straight from the take off point to the scheduled destination.

The Market Differences Between Them

One of the cardinal factors to consider when trying to decide on which kind of shipping to settle for is the market difference.

The Full Truckload Market Place

The full truckload market is almost incapacitated by the demand of more than 350,000 owner operators who are looking to fill up their trucks or trailers to transport goods around the United States. Carriers aim to keep their trucks full because empty miles result in the loss of revenue. So they use load boards, which is a software designed to aid carriers and shippers in posting their needs to transport freight or the availability of carriers to transport the freight in any given area.

This kind of market is referred to as the full truckload spot market. This is because rates aren’t determined beforehand. Instead, they’re decided on the spot by negotiations. In the spot market, a cardinal factor to consider is something called backhauls. Backhauls is another word, in the spot market, for return trips that are needed for a carrier to return home after a primary haulage. If the backhaul of a carrier is empty, there’s bound to be a loss of revenue and an unavoidable expense on the return trip. So, carriers consider their backhauls before embarking on a primary haulage.

See the following illustration for clarity: Carrier Company X is based in Houston, Texas. In order to be in profit while also avoiding any possible losses of revenue, they stick with shipment requests from within Houston in order to avoid running with empty trucks, which would unavoidably cost but not generate revenue, leading to a loss. For Carrier Company X to accept a shipment request from Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, for instance, there has to be a need for another freight in Oklahoma City to be hauled back to Houston, Texas. That way, Carrier Company X stays in profit.

The Less Than Truckload Market Place

This market is different from the full truckload market because it has fewer carriers to choose from. This is caused by the need for certain assets to manage the operation of an LTL business. The entire United States is served by only 10 national LTL service providers. A few of the LTL carriers are specialized for operations in certain parts of the country, which means they’re not available to others. The pricing of LTL services is also more complicated than that of FTL. With LTL, carriers offer diverse discounts that depend on density, distance, minimum charges, classification, and accessorial charges.

Furthermore, the LTL carriers evaluate the freight of the shippers before coming up with a price. They consider factors such as packaging specifications, product value, and pattern of shipping in order to determine a shipping cost. To find out more on LTL cost, visit

Their Capacities

LTL and FTL alike offer various kinds of capacity. FTL is likely to be influenced by erratic factors that can result in capacities either in the shippers’ favor or in the favor of the carriers. Think of it like a scale in which the carriers are on one side and the shippers are on the other. Factors like seasonal freighting needs, fuel, tonnage, and driver availability all determine where the scale tilts to in connection with cost. For instance, seasonal freight, like produce, can move the shippers’ freight expense to twice or thrice as much as the normal price, which gives the carriers an edge on the shippers. On the flip side, shippers would pay less if the overall market tonnage went down.

The capacity of LTL isn’t as closely related to the overall economy as FTL. Typically, pricing contracts can last as long as a year, which enables shippers to negotiate on annual basis. This is also in favor of the carriers because it allows them to account for levels of capacity by extrapolations. Both FTL and LTL serve most shippers well. If you fall into the category of shippers who turn out enough products to fill a whole trailer per shipment, then, FTL will serve you best. If, on the other hand, your shipment is sparse, go for LTL to avoid paying more than you should.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics
Michigan Freight Broker

Freight Management Tips To Ensure Timely Deliveries

As a player in the supply chain industry, you might have on several occasions been faced with issues of delayed shipment. This delays might have been caused by a number of reasons from traffic delays, weather issues to mistakes by the carrier that might make you feel like you have no control over the shipment process.

Freight Management Tips

This however is not the case as you play an important role in ensuring efficient and timely delivery of your shipment which will in turn help you avoid issues like having to deal with angry customers or disruption in the supply chain. Here are five freight management tips that you can incorporate into your freight management strategy to help you avoid late deliveries.

Always Be In Communication with Your Carrier

Being in constant communication with your carrier will help you plan better and be ahead of any issues that might result in late delivery of your shipment. Because the transportation industry is driven by supply and demand, constant communication with your carrier will help cultivate a good working relationship. Such a relationship is critical whenever there is tightened capacity in the transportation industry or you have emergency needs as your carrier will find a way to ensure your shipment is delivered on time.

Proper and Accurate Documentation of Your Bill of Lading

A bill of lading contains all important information about your shipment. Preparing a proper and accurate bill of lading is an effective way to avoid late deliveries. A BOL helps your carrier make proper and efficient logistical planning for the transportation of your shipment as it provides them with all information they need. A BOL should containing information on:

· Nature of shipment
· Commodity classification
· Weight of shipment
· Packaging of shipment
· Labelling information
· Contact details
· Any other delivery instructions

Having inaccurate information on BOL might result in unnecessary delays as your carrier will have to deal with issues emanating from an inaccurate BOL
Proper Labeling Of Your Shipment

Having properly labelled shipment is beneficial to both your carrier and consignee. In fact many consignees will not receive any shipment that is not properly labelled according to what you had agreed on. Furthermore, retail suppliers are likely to be fined with costly chargeback fines if they did not have right labels and in their correct positions on shipment destined for distribution centers. As a retail supplier, you might be interested in getting more information on best ways to reduce/avoid chargeback fines.

Have All Clearance Certificates Ready

If your shipment is required to have certain clearance certificates, it is important to ensure all the clearance certificates are prepared and approved on time. Clearance certificates can range from safety standards certificates to health certificates etc. Having clearance certificates processed on time will ensure no delays on your shipments during clearance by regulators.

Proper Packaging OF Your Shipment for Transport

Packaging plays a crucial role in determining whether your shipment will arrive on time or delay. Because your shipment will be handled many times and by different people before it reaches its destination, it is important to ensure that your shipment is properly and securely packaged.

Additionally, during transpiration your carrier should provide for proper stabilization a dunnage to prevent shifting of shipment while in transit. Shipment that is not packaged properly might not only get damaged but will also result in delays as your carrier will have to repackage it properly.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

4 Advantages of Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping

Many small and developing businesses are taking advantage of less than truckload (LTL) shipping. LTL shipping is the transportation of freight that is less than a full truck load for a standard semi-trailer. The weight requirement for LTL shipping starts around 100-150 pounds and can reach up to 20,000 pounds. LTL companies usually operates on a truckload pooling consolidation and distribution system where multiple LTLs are combined to make a full truckload. The most obvious advantage of a pooled distribution system is a much lower shipping rate, but there are several other perks of utilizing LTL shipping including minimized costs, reduced carbon emissions, fewer risks compared with parcel carriers, and technological innovation.

Minimized Costs

Numerous studies have shown that LTL shipping is cheaper and more economical than parcel shipping. When using LTL shipping, you’re only charged for the weight of your freight. In a truckload pool, the cost of the full truckload is distributed among the manufacturers so that each saves money. This is particularly advantageous for small and developing companies, giving them the flexibility in cost and inventory control. Businesses and organizations can move smaller loads of goods for less money. This also helps trucking companies by allowing them to fill trailers to capacity, earning them more money and making transporting materials environmentally friendly and efficient.

Reduced Emissions

LTL shipping doesn’t only cut costs for the shipper, it drastically cuts down on carbon emissions from diesel trucks. This is extremely beneficial for the environment considering the other option of a semi-truck driving cross country pulling a trailer that’s not even at capacity. Again, this is where the advantage of truckload pooling comes into play because there are multiple small loads of freight completely filling one semi-trailer versus several trucks on the road with loads below their capacities.

Fewer Risks Compared with Parcel Shipping

If your freight is too light for LTL shipping, you may have no other option than parcel carriers. But if your freight weighs in at least 150 pounds, it’s pretty much guaranteed you can take advantage of LTL shipping. LTL carriers are urged to take special precautions with LTL freight using travel-safe containers to protect packages from damages during handling and to reduce the chances of individual items being lost.

Technological Innovation

The shipping industry has not fallen behind in technological advancement which has improved the efficiency of the shipping process. Innovations in application programming interface (API) and electronic data interchange (EDI) have made it easier for LTL companies to seamlessly automate workflow. Ritualistic tasks like automated pick-up requests, API quotes and responses, document retrieval, tracking notifications, and automated batch invoicing have become much more user-friendly and intuitive.

As you can see, there are several benefits of using LTL shipping if the freight falls within the required weight range. LTL shipping is a win-win agreement, preferable to the shipper and the trucking company in most scenarios. This information should help you determine whether LTL shipping is a good option for your needs.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics