ReTrans Freight: 3PL Provider of LTL Shipping & Technology ServicesWritten by Neal Willis
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping tends to be ideal for freight that’s too large and/or expensive to be shipped via parcel but doesn’t require full use of a trailer’s empty space. LTL shipments travel alongside other shippers’ freight, which is typically (although not always) placed on pallets and/or skids. Regional carriers and national/long-haul carriers are considered the main two different categories of LTL freight carriers that traditionally transport LTL freight shipments. In some cases, interline shipments involve both.
Regional carriers operate within a specific geographic region of the country and focus on providing service to and moving freight within that region. Because regional carriers stay somewhat local, shipment transit times tend to be a little faster when compared to a long-haul carrier, and shipments are generally handled less when traveling through a regional carrier’s network.
National/long-haul carriers move freight throughout the entire country. A long-haul carrier moves freight through a national network of regional hubs and local terminals spread out across the country. The freight is picked up at origin by the carrier’s truck and driven back to a local terminal where it’s offloaded and placed onto another truck with other freight traveling in the same general direction. It’s then driven to another hub or terminal where the process of unloading and regrouping and re-loading repeats itself until the freight reaches its destination.
LTL shipping is sort of like a big game of Tetris played by carriers with pallets of freight shipments too big to travel through the mail. Throughout the entire process, carriers are working to maximize their utilization of trailer space while simultaneously trying to minimize travel time and damages or loss.
LTL Freight Rate Basics
Several key pieces of shipment information are needed by a carrier to give an LTL freight rate estimate. Of course, specific addresses for the pickup and delivery locations will be needed by the carrier at the time of shipping, but the zip codes of each are all that’s needed for rating and billing purposes.
Along with the zip codes, carriers must know in advance of any special equipment and/or handling requirements necessary to make the pickup and/or delivery, and they also need to know the weight of the shipment, including:
- All packaging
- The dimensions of the shipment
- The commodity along with its corresponding National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®) freight class
With LTL shipping, the commodity being transported plays more of a significant role in determining the freight rate more so than with truckload and parcel shipments. The NMFC is the benchmark used to compare commodities being transported in LTL shipping, and it outlines the standards for acceptable shipment packaging and establishes the guidelines and procedures for handling claims.
Within the NMFC, commodities are grouped into one of 18 different classes ranging from class 50 to 500 according to four different commodity-specific characteristics: density, handling, stow-ability and liability.
Some commodities have several different sub-classes into which they can fall according to the density of each individual shipment. Depending upon each individual shipment’s characteristics (i.e., weight, size, packaging, etc.), two separate shipments of the same freight/commodity could be classed differently.
To further complicate matters, the NMFC is constantly evolving. The classification of commodities can change over time as the NMFC is updated several times each year. LTL freight classification can be somewhat confusing, especially to someone without much experience in the industry.
The third-party logistics provider arena is teeming with companies offering numerous services and shipment options ranging from small parcel and LTL shipping to full truckloads, containers, air and ocean freight. It could be a different business model or corporate culture, or maybe it’s only a different name and geographic location. Yet, every 3PL provider has distinct characteristics separating them from other players in the marketplace.
Most 3PL companies are known for the services they perform best. Although within the scope of their service offering portfolio, LTL shipping may be an ancillary concern for a 3PL provider who’s primarily focused on warehousing and order fulfillment. Likewise, a different 3PL provider may offer LTL shipping services exclusively. ReTrans Freight is a distinguished 3PL provider specializing in LTL shipping and technology.
About ReTrans Freight
Founded in 1982 as a 3PL provider of LTL shipping services, primarily LTL freight bill payment and audit, ReTrans Freight is synonymous with LTL shipping. From questions about the classification of a commodity to packaging and damage claim concerns, as a subscribing NMFC member, ReTrans Freight has the LTL shipping information you need, and we’ll help you navigate the challenges of the LTL shipping process.
After more than 38 years, our core area of expertise hasn’t changed. We’re now armed with Fortune 500 pricing power, still working with the operational flexibility of a small business, and we continue leveraging our unparalleled expertise of the LTL shipping industry along with technology to improve the customer experience.
We provide the tools and support that websites and businesses need to give their customers a satisfying online shopping and shipping experience without headaches or hassle. Our business model bears complete transparency of information between carriers and shippers, which enables us to facilitate seamless software and systems integrations between parties through cutting-edge technology.
We’re more than just another transactional 3PL provider. We engage both customers and carriers with a partnership approach and function as an extension of your business. Because of our partnership approach, we’ve built extensive relationships with customers and carriers over the years that most 3PL companies haven’t been able to develop.
3PL companies have come and gone throughout the years, and we’re still going strong without requiring customers to sign any contracts. With a strategic focus on customer satisfaction and the customer experience, we will handle your LTL shipping needs and make certain your customers are happy.