A lot of companies – from small businesses to sprawling corporations – are continually searching for freight transportation services that can keep up with growth. The problem? Logistics and supply chain management can be confusing, and what you don’t know can cost you. This guide to freight transportation fills you in on everything you need to know about freight services so that you can make the best possible decisions for your business.
- 4 Basics (logistics, trucking, distribution, intermodal)
- Minimizing Freight Damage
- Difference Between FTL and LTL Shipping
- Efficiency in the Supply Chain
- Do You Need a Freight Services to Grow Your Business?
4 Basics of Freight Transportation & Logistics
Domestic and international shipping can be complicated, even for experienced business owners. There are dozens of variables at play – and that means hiring the right freight transportation service is essential. You need to work with a third-party logistics provider that handles:
Third-party logistics companies, commonly called 3PLs, are companies designed to handle a business’s distribution and fulfillment services. These firms allow businesses to focus on more important things – like growth and customer service – rather than filling orders, vetting for-hire trucking companies, or researching transpiration data which typically takes extensive resources. A general rule of thumb: If you’re fulfilling dozens of orders per day and you’re running out of space to store your inventory, you may need to consider working with a 3PL.
A good 3PL can handle freight shipments between your factory and your warehouse or your warehouse and your buyers – or both. Pricing for these types of services usually depends on:
- The origin location
- The destination location
- Shipping method required
- Delivery time required (expedited freight usually carries an additional cost)
As your business grows, you’ll most likely need a 3PL that handles warehousing and distribution. This type of 3PL will take care of storage, shipping service, and returns. The 3PL you choose should provide end-to-end tracking that shows you where your products are every step of the way – even tracking down to units of measure if necessary. It should also provide customers with delivery data based on what’s recorded in a complete warehouse management system, or WMS. Here’s what to look for in a distribution and warehousing service:
- Compliance reporting and labeling
- Online inventory and order visibility
- Lot and serial number tracking
- Pick and pack services
- Order fulfillment
- Light subassembly
Intermodal shipping is a must for many companies. If your intermodal shipment arrives in one location by ocean freight, waterways transportation, air freight or train, it still needs to go to a warehouse or distribution center by truck. In cases like these, you need a 3PL that provides freight transportation services such as:
- Container drayage
- LCL consolidation
- Kitting and packaging
- Container stripping and stuffing
Minimizing Freight Damage
Suppliers, retailers and other shippers spend a lot on freight damage, which is another reason it’s so important to work with a 3PL that has a solid reputation for excellence in freight services. Damaged freight costs more than money, though – it costs you relationships with your customers. While it’s not completely preventable, there are things that good freight transportation companies can do to minimize freight damage, including:
- Top-quality packaging. Packaging is an area where you get what you pay for – spending the right amount on protecting your items can prevent bigger loss costs in the future.
- Proper palleting. Pallets have to be structurally sound, and the weight has to be distributed evenly on each pallet – and then, everything has to be secured properly.
- Accurate labeling. Labels have to be clear, informative and easily visible, and each shipment has to have a complete bill of lading that outlines special instructions such as “non-stackable.”
Full Truckload Shipping vs Less-Than-Truckload Shipping
Difference Between FTL & LTL
When you choose a freight service, you need to know the difference between full truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. Both have appropriate uses, but they’re very different. Let’s compare them:
Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)
Full truckload shipping, or FTL, is a good method if you have a large shipment that will fill an entire trailer. Typically, if the freight weighs more than 15,000 pounds or the shipment includes more than ten pallets, FTL is the way to go. However, it costs more than less-than-truckload shipping does. The benefits of FTL might outweigh that cost, however – FTL means that the truck goes directly from Point A to Point B without any stops, and there’s no chance of goods being offloaded at the wrong location.
Less-Than-Truckload Shipping (LTL)
Less-than-truckload shipping, or LTL, is ideal for use when you don’t have a shipment large enough to fill an entire trailer. If your freight weighs less than 15,000 pounds, or your shipment is under ten pallets, LTL may be the right choice. In LTL, several small shipments – including those from other manufacturers – share space in a truck.
Sometimes LTL increases the chances of damage during transport; that’s because cargo is loaded and unloaded around your items, and sometimes your items are taken off and put back on the truck multiple times. Because LTL trucks stop at multiple destinations, transport times can be a little longer. However, it’s often cheaper than FTL shipping, because you only pay for the space your freight takes in the truck.
Efficiency in the Supply Chain
It’s essential that you work with a freight service that keeps your costs as affordable as possible – and one of the biggest drains on a company’s profits is inefficiency in the supply chain. Every process that operates below the standard costs you, so you need a 3PL that streamlines everything from warehouse layout to freight tracking.
Do You Need a Freight Service to Grow Your Business?
Supply chain issues are some of the biggest constraints businesses face, but working with the right 3PL can alleviate them – and enable you to grow your company.
If you need a freight service, we’ll be happy to answer your questions, explain our processes, and show you how we can save you money as your business branches out. Call us at (256) 831-5580 or request a free quote online to discover how we can help you.
Freight Transportation FAQs
- How do I choose the right freight transportation service for my needs?
To choose the right freight transportation service, you should consider the type of shipment, the distance it needs to travel, the required speed of delivery, and your budget. You may also want to look for a 3PL with a solid reputation for excellence in freight services.
Learn more about basics of freight transportation services
- What are the types of freight transportation services available from BR Williams Trucking and BR Williams Logistics?
There are several freight transportation services available: including full truckload shipping (FTL), short haul, long haul, day cab delivery, high value transport, refer, less-than-truckload shipping (LTL), intermodal shipping, and Alabama local freight transportation.
- Is there a difference between LTL and FTL freight transportation?
Absolutely. LTL shipping is used when a shipment only partially fills an entire trailer and is combined with other shipments to fill the trailer. FTL shipping is used when a single shipment fills an entire trailer and is transported directly, due to being the trailer’s only cargo, from fulfillment center to destination without requiring any other stops.
Learn more FTL/LTL shipping and more
- How can freight transportation services help my business grow?
Freight transportation services can help your business grow by enabling you to reach new markets, expand your customer base, and increase your revenue. By providing faster, more reliable delivery of your products, you can improve your reputation and gain a competitive advantage in your industry.
Get the details on using freight transportation to grow your business here
- How can a 3PL help my business with distribution and fulfillment services?
A 3PL can help your business with distribution and fulfillment services by providing warehousing, order fulfillment, inventory management, and other services that improve the efficiency and reliability of your supply chain.
View our checklist before using a 3PL partner to grow your business here
- What is intermodal trucking and drayage, and how does it relate to freight transportation and logistics?
Intermodal trucking and drayage refer to the transportation of goods by truck between ports, rail yards, and warehouses. This service is essential for companies that use intermodal shipping, as it enables them to move their products from one mode of transportation to another.
Get more information about freight transportation basics here
- What services do 3PL companies typically offer?
3PL companies typically offer a range of services, including transportation management, warehouse and distribution services, freight forwarding, customs brokerage, and supply chain consulting.
- What is intermodal shipping, and why is it important for many businesses?
Intermodal shipping is a method of transportation goods using multiple modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, and ships. It is important for many businesses because it enables them to move large volumes of freight over long distances more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Get more information about the basics intermodal transportation here
- What is container drayage, and why is it a necessary service for businesses that use intermodal shipping?
Container drayage is the transportation of shipping containers by truck between ports, rail yards, and warehouses. It is a necessary service for businesses that use intermodal shipping because it enables them to move their products from one mode of transportation to another.
Get more information about freight transportation basics here
- What is breakbulk, and how does it relate to freight transportation services for intermodal shipping?
Breakbulk refers to cargo that is not containerized and is loaded and unloaded individually. It relates to freight transportation services for intermodal shipping because it requires special handling and can add complexity to the transportation process.
Check out the basics of freight transportation here
- What can a good 3PL do to minimize freight damage during shipment?
A good 3PL can minimize freight damage during shipment by using top-quality packaging materials, proper palletizing techniques, accurate labeling, and effective freight tracking systems.
View our list of what you should look for in a 3PL partner here
- How does packing play into minimizing freight damage, and what influences the selection of packaging materials?
Packaging is essential when it comes to minimizing freight damage, since packaging materials that are appropriate for the weight and proportions of the shipment plays a role in ensuring quality of goods being transported.
Factors such as shock absorption, compression strength, and puncture resistance should be taken into consideration when choosing packaging materials. The packaging should also be properly labeled with clear and informative labels to ensure proper handling during transit. Investing in quality packaging may initially cost more, but it can ultimately save money by reducing the likelihood of freight damage and the associated costs.
Get more information on how shipping decisions get made here
- How can inefficiency in the supply chain affect a company’s profits?
Inefficiency in the supply chain can have a significant impact on a company’s profits. Any process that operates below the standard can drive up costs, extend lead times, and reduce customer satisfaction.
Inefficient supply chain processes can also cause excess inventory, which ties up capital and increases carrying costs. By working with a 3PL that streamlines supply chain processes, companies can reduce costs, improve lead times, and increase customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher profits.
Get more information about freight transportation basics here
- What type of tracking and visibility should a 3PL, trucking and transportation company provide?
One that allows business owners, and customers track packages from time of order to time of delivery.
We use Samsara tracing devices on all of our trailers. Every customer can track the trailer from pick up to delivery. and we have a portal through McLeod Software where they can log on to: and track their shipment. Load Tracking
- What are some logistics and supply chain pitfalls companies face, and how can freight transportation services help avoid them?
Not using a safe and certified carrier is the largest stumbling block for small businesses. Our fleet was recently awarded first place by Alabama Trucking Association General commodities linehaul and general commodities combined 5-10 million miles ATA Awards BR Williams is ISO 9001: 2015 Quality System Registered, Smart Way certified and our logistics brokers are CTB certified and our Ansonia Score is 97% in our logistics department