Are you using the right LTL freight carrier? Here's how to know!

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Many people think of different less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers as basically being the same - just with different colored trucks, but that's not the case!

Picking a carrier is a lot like deciding what you want for breakfast. Do you go with the basic option and eat some cereal? Do you go all out and get the eggs benedict (the Cadillac of egg dishes!)? All options are going to satisfy your need to eat, but some are going to make you happier and more satisfied. Like your breakfast choices, no carrier is exactly the same as the one that came before or after it. Picking one really depends on what you are looking to get out of the experience.

When looking at your options on the Shipwell platform, you get a full menu of options to choose from.

The Budget Options

Near the top of the list are your budget carriers who, like a bowl of cereal or a yogurt will get the job done, but won’t go out of their way to give you much more. These carriers are looking to get your business and make money. They are the best option if what you are shipping isn’t time sensitive, fits on a standard pallet and isn’t perishable. The carriers are great, cheap, but not always reliable. They tend to use 'Volumetric Pricing', and will charge for any space your shipment stops them from being able to use. They are not ideal for shipments that require a guaranteed delivery. They do their best to meet them, but guaranteed for them doesn’t mean what it means to some of the other carriers. All these issues lead to variances, which leads to headaches and you paying more for the shipment on the back end.

Middle-of-the-road Carriers

A little further down the list are your pancakes and bacon carriers, which are the middle-of-the-road carriers. They are high volume and fill up fast. These guys are better at fulfilling your accessorials, any delivery appointments, or guaranteed delivery dates. These carriers are usually easier to deal with, have better processes in place to deal with any issues that might arise. They are better at satisfying your needs. Like everything, there is a chance something goes wrong, it's a smaller chance, but still a chance. These carriers are worth the extra money if you have any kind of special needs for the shipment. The headaches are fewer and the returns greater.

Premium Service Carriers

At the bottom of the list are your heavy hitters. The big boys who cost a little more, but leave you delighted through the whole experience. These are your 'eggs benedicts' of the shipping world. They cover all the things you could want out of shipping freight. These carriers are well equipped to handle the special needs shipments, are not prone to charge for unused space, and have better customer service that can help with any issues that may arise. The price is generally not the cheapest, but like with breakfast foods, you get what you pay for. Whether you’re looking for something simple and cheap that gets the job done, or something a little more filling and decadent, there is surely the right option out there for your needs. Happy eating, I mean shipping.

If you have any questions about selecting the right carrier for your business, you can always email us or you can sign up for the Shipwell service and we'll follow up with you.

Navigating the ELD Mandate

ELD Mandate Shipwell

What exactly is an ELD? Does it even affect me? Am I compliant?

Let's take this trip together and hopefully answer some questions along the way.  ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device. They are used by carriers to monitor their driver’s hours of service.

The government regulates the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel of a truck. These rules are standard across the trucking industry, with a few exceptions, but for the purpose of moving freight, they ring true.

The regulations state that a driver can drive for 11 hours in a 14 hour period. Once they hit that 11 hour limit the driver needs to pull over and they can not get behind the wheel again for 10 consecutive hours. On top of the daily 11 hour requirement there is also a 70 hour rule that states that a driver is not allowed to drive for more than 70 hours in an 8 day period. This clock resets after a rest period of 34 hours. The newest addition to these rules is that a driver can’t drive more than 8 hours without stopping to take a 30 minute break.

So why the mandate?

Now that we know the parameters of how much a driver is allowed to drive, we can get into why the government decided to pass this ELD mandate. The ELD is designed to keep the drivers and carriers honest on their hours of service reporting. The hours of service restrictions were enacted to cut down on driver fatigue and potential accidents from tired and dozing truckers.

The ELD is the next step in the process to making sure those guidelines are met.  The ELD itself is a device that is located in the cab of the truck that the driver signs into when he is ready to start his/her day. It records the time the truck is in motion and alerts the driver when they are approaching their daily or weekly drive time limits.

What if I'm not a truck driver?

Now, if you are a shipper or broker with no trucks of your own, the mandate means a lot less to you than it does to the carriers. The only real effect you will see as a shipper or broker is a possible disruption in the normal supply chain times in the immediate aftermath of the mandate takes effect.

There is going to be a knowledge gap that needs to be bridged before these ELDs are truly effective and not more of a problem than a solution. Driver’s are going to have to get use to a new technology and adapt to more stringent guidelines.

What if I'm an owner operator truck driver?

The mandate is going to impact the smaller regional carriers, or the owner operators with one or two trucks more than it's going to affect the bigger nationwide carriers. The bigger fleets have been utilizing ELDs for a few years now. A lot of the smaller carriers see the ELDs as a hindrance to their business. They see them as an invasion of privacy and an attack on their livelihood.

How do I get started with an ELD?

If you are a carrier, and you are moving freight, you need an ELD. Lucky for you we have a few that work well with our Connected Freight Platform and we'd be happy to talk to you about. If you are allergic to phones or simply want to do some research on your own, there is a link below that can help you get started. Mandate can be a scary term, but it can also be an opportunity to take the next steps towards the future and make your business work better for both you and your customers.