Top 10 Miscommunications Between Shippers and Carriers that Impact Service

Over many years in the transportation industry I’ve come to recognize that the biggest issue to impact service in terms of cost and/or on-time pickup and delivery is miscommunication between the carrier and the shipper.  Here’s my top 10 list of common miscommunications that impact service.

1.      Freight Weight and Size

Accurate freight weight and size is critical for both Truckload and LTL carriers to make sure that the freight both fits on the truck and doesn’t put the trailer over weight, or out of balance.  Planning a load, particularly for LTL is an arduous task.  Inaccuracies in the weight can make an entire shipment plan no longer work.  One miscommunication about freight weight/size could potentially impact several customers.

2.      Wrong Address

Either the wrong address or a change of address can adversely affect a shipment.  Sometimes the mailing address of shipping point is communicated to the carrier when the warehouse could be located blocks away.   The second type of wrong address miscommunication is where a regular shipper moves and neglects to tell the carrier or their suppliers.  Sending the carrier to an old address not only results in extra charges for all involved, but may impact the delivery if the driver runs out of hours driving to the new address.

3.      HAZMAT Freight

The miscommunications that can happen with a HAZMAT shipment could almost be their own top 10 list!  It’s critical to get the right HAZMAT information to the carrier prior to pick up.  The driver must be HAZMAT trained in order to pick up the shipment.  The carrier has to specifically make sure a HAZMAT driver is assigned to the shipment.  If the shipment is LTL, it cannot be mixed with certain other classes of HAZMAT or commodities.  That’s why it’s important to know the class before pick up.

4.      Temperature Requirements

Temperature requirements are another area of great miscommunication.  “heated”, “protect from freeze”, “keep above 10 degrees C” and “must maintain between 10 and 15 degrees C” mean completely different things to a carrier.  Different equipment may be used in each case and it also impacts what other LTL can ship with a particular product.  Make sure you let your temperature controlled carrier know the exact temperature requirements so they can plan your pick up.

5.      Value

In many cases few shippers even consider shipment value when tendering a shipment to a carrier.  However, if your shipment is valued at over $2.00 per pound, a carrier may think twice about wanting to take the shipment.  There is great risk for a carrier transporting high value goods.  If you have high value freight, this should be communicated in advance to a carrier.

6.      Dock Facilities and Pick-up/Delivery

Carriers generally expect to have a dock facility at truck height to load and unload the freight.  If your pick up or delivery doesn’t have a dock, the carrier needs to know.  Your shipment may have to be re-delivered on a flat-bed, or straight truck with a power tailgate.

7.      Loading/Unloading Practises

If your facility practices live load vs. drop trailers, the carrier needs to know in advance.  In many cases it may not be possible to spot an empty trailer on short notice.  Loading time is also another key factor that should be communicated to the carrier in advance.  A long loading/waiting to be loaded time may eat up the hours a driver has left to drive and result in your freight being delayed by a day while the driver is legally off duty.

8.      Transit Time.

Required transit time is an important piece of information for the carrier.  It could impact whether they send a driver at the beginning of his shift vs. end of his shift.  The carrier may have to dispatch a team of drivers to meet the delivery requirement.  In some cases, the required transit time may not even be possible while adhering to the speed limit and hours of service regulations.

9.     Customs Information

Having the customs paperwork filled out correctly, the name of the customs broker, who the clearing customer is for clearance purposes, and the border crossing point is critical to prevent shipment delay for shipments crossing the border.

10.    Appointments vs. First-Come-First-Served

The carrier may not be aware they need to book an appointment, or have the hours to wait in line to get loaded.  Letting the carrier know in advance allows them to plan accordingly.