Most common mistakes in LTL freight shipping?

So, let me tell you about the time I had to fire my wife. Early on in the life of my small business my wife was helping me out. She had a big heart with a small amount of experience. She was running a freight quote and selected the wrong freight class. This turned out to be a costly mistake. Don’t worry, we gave her a nice severance package! Truth be told, over the years I’ve made many more mistakes then her and I’ve learned a lot from them.

Poor stacking or packing of a pallet.
The wrong type of packaging or a poor stretch wrap job can leave the product unsecured and susceptible to damage. Most shippers do a good job of selecting a boxing solution and internal packaging to keep the product safe. Where we see most of the issues with with the way the product is stacked. Sometime with the way it is stretched wrapped.

Incorrect of labeling of freight
Labels are really important. They help the dock worker identify the shipment a driver is asking for. Labels tell the warehouse person in the break bulk terminal where that “rogue” pallet is supposed to go. Labels help a consignee confirm he freight is there an match it with a purchase order. This is very important in LTL freight shipping because your shipment will likely transferred between terminals as it travels in the carrier’s hub and spoke network.

Wrong information on bol
The Bill of Lading (BOL) contains all of the information about the shipment. It tells who the shipper is, who the consignee is, who the payor is, what the commodity is and any special services required. If the bill of lading has the incorrect shippper, you could get an attempt fee. If the bill of lading has the incorrect consignee you could get a reconsigment fee. Either of these could cause a delay to transit. Getting the bol fixed after pickup will result in a Corrected Bill of Lading (CBOL) fee. If the weight is wrong or the freight class is wrong a billing correction or “rebill is likely.”

Reference number issues
90% of issues with LTL freight shipments are related to a incorrect or incomplete reference number. Reference numbers are what link the shipment to back office, warehouse and accounting systems. When a carrier goes to pickup an LTL freight shipment it is very common that the driver will need to provide a number of some kind. Often this is the purchase order number (a.k.a. PO number). This tells the warehouse person which shipment the carrier is there to pickup. Some warehouses use the reference number as a part of their security measures. If this is the case it is normally referred to as a “release number.” Sometimes consignees will need a reference number to receive a shipment and often will assign a reference number called a dock receipt number or DR Number.”

Expecting the carrier to notify you of an issue
This may sound surprising but carrier’s will generally not notify you of an issue. Most, if not all carriers, expect that you are going to monitor your shipment. There are several different issues that can come up in a shipment. Unfortunately these can cause delays and happen more often then you’d think. The best way to avoid these kinds of issues is to make sure you have all of the correct information on the bill of lading and that the carrier has any reference numbers the shipper or consignee may need to require the shipment.

These common mistakes can result in delays, damage or loss of your freight shipments. When these unfortunate issues happen no one wins. The best thing you can do is have processes in place that safe guard your business from these errors.

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Dave Stevens

Dave Stevens

Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.

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