Archive for November, 2009

Dr. B’s Truck Glossary-Flatbed, I Like Big Loads

Monday, November 30th, 2009

One of the terms that I see discussed in the trucking literature is flatbed shipping. That’s when you have a simple trailer without any sides or top, just a … flat … bed. That’s used for any number of things that either don’t fit into a standard trailer or don’t need to fit into a standard trailer.

Small construction vehicles like bulldozers or back-hoes might be shipped via flat bed. You could put them inside a covered vehicle transport, but such rough-and-ready items don’t need dainty treatment, and it will be cheaper to use a flatbed, since they are less expensive to buy, maintain, and pull; remember that those sides have weight to them and will require extra gas to pull around.

Bulky items like concrete pipes or girders will fit into the flat bed category. They’ll often be bigger in one or more dimensions than your standard trailer and thus need a flat-bed ride and generally don’t mind being out in the elements for the duration of the trip.

If the cargo goes above certain dimensions, they will fit into the oversized or wide-load category and require extra handling and usually a wide-load labeled pick up riding behind the trailer; one of my MBA students from my teaching days worked driving one of those wide-load escort trucks and occasionally had to miss a class if a trip got him away from town on a class night.

Flatbeds are part of Momentum’s stock in trade as a freight company; they can handle just about anything you can think of moving.

A La Intermodal, Passing the Shipping Baton

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Intermodal is a word that you see in the logistic universe, but it’s not a scary rocket science; it’s just using more than one mode of transportation to get something from point A to point B. For long trips over land, trains are often more efficient than trucks, so a shipment might start out on a truck, then put on a train, then placed on another truck once it’s gone cross-country.

If you’re going overseas, trucks and trains can’t do the complete job, so you need yet another mode; ships are the mode of choice for most international transport, but air freight can be used as well if the items being shipped have a high value-per-pound or are very time-sensitive. Modern intermodal systems, such as standardized shipping containers, make the transition from truck to train to ship and back again much more efficient than in years past.

Intermodal transport is like a relay race, and the pass of the baton is often the toughest part of the race; the US usually has the fastest four runners in the 4X100 relay in international meets, but they often lose because they drop the baton or otherwise screw up the pass. It’s not enough to run each leg fast, you need to pass the baton cleanly in the designated area.

Thus, intermodal logistics requires a lot of coordination and timing; if a train is leaving at a given time, the truck handing off the load has to be their in time to load it on the train, and if the ship is pulling out of port at 4PM, the container you want on it had better be there before then. Such coordination is one of Momentum’s stronger suits.

Dipatchers and Drivers, Communication

Monday, November 30th, 2009

From the dispatchers seat,
Bill Archer| November 2009

A dispatcher can be your best friend or your worst enemy, and communication is the key element. Drivers rely on dispatchers to get them the next load, but if the driver isn’t communicating to the dispatcher, the dispatcher can’t assign the load as need be, which results in rejecting a shipment or assigning the load to another driver.

Dispatchers are not just sitting waiting for a driver to call they are fielding customer calls and taking new orders. Customer service is in the eye of the customer. A driver is a representative of the company they are delivering for whether it’s Over-Sized, Tankers, Flat Beds, Vans, LTL, even hotshots a dispatcher is the liaison between the two.

If there is any issue a dispatcher must be notified in order to keep the piece with the customer. One thing I have learned from my mentor and that I will share with you now “It takes days, months, even years to get a customer and it only takes minutes to lose them”. The ground work takes a long time but a missed pick up or delivery, late shipment or damaged shipment can be enough to lose that account.

All companies are in business to make money, all drivers are trying to make a living and all dispatchers are caught in the middle. Dispatchers are counselors (both work and personal), CSR’s, friends, enemies, and liaisons between customers and drivers.

Help make your dispatcher make your job easier just call in often so your dispatcher isn’t wondering when he can put you on your next load.

Call Momentum Transport of all your freight transportation needs.

Freight Brokers

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Freight brokers are agents who facilitate delivery contracts between two parties. They are usually hired by the shipper and paid a commission for their efforts. These brokers are not the same as freight forwarders because they do not make the actual transfer of goods. Instead, think of them as mediators who negotiate with transport companies to get you the best options available for your shipping needs. At the same time, they assist carrier companies by connecting them with shippers and maximizing their truckload. They are the middlemen of freight transportation.

Although freight brokers never take possession of the cargo, they are usually insured to protect their clients on the shipping and receiving ends. In the United States, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) license must be obtained before legally offering freight broker services, although this license is not needed for freight broker agents.

In addition to finding the most suitable transportation options for their clients, freight brokers also help carriers fill their trucks for optimal delivery. Many brokers gain their knowledge of the industry from previous experience as drivers or working with carriers, and this is how they build their connections and expertise.

Brokers may also have agents who can perform many of the same tasks, even from home. The important thing is, freight brokers and broker agents are part of a network of carriers and shipping services. Since they have such a large interest in this network, they would ideally know the best routes for freight shipping services.

CIP and CIF, Freight Insurance

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

CIP and CIF are common terms regarding insurance coverage in freight delivery agreements. Although they are similar and often used in the same way, CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid to) is not to be confused with CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight).

Carriage and Insurance Paid to, or CIP, may be used to refer to any mode of transportation where the seller is responsible for insurance coverage until the cargo reaches an agreed-upon destination. Only the minimum coverage is required, so the buyer must make arrangements if more extensive insurance coverage is desired.
If multiple carriers are involved in a delivery, CIP typically indicates that the cargo is insured up to the first transfer of carriers. After that the next carrier is responsible for the load.

Cost, Insurance, and Freight, or CIF, is used in sales contracts when cargo is delivered overseas. If you are not transporting goods over an ocean or through inland waterways, then use the term CIP. In CIF, the seller is responsible for getting the load to a designated carrier and destination. However, the risk is passed on to the buyer after such cargo leaves the port of shipment.

If you are selling or buying overseas, be sure to clarify the terms in the sales contract and know exactly when you assume risk of your shipment or purchase. Many freight carriers offer insurance of about $0.08-$0.10 per pound of cargo, so if you need more coverage than that, be sure to get plenty of free quotes from multiple insurers.

Shipping Overseas, Tips for International Freight Transport

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Let’s pretend you have a rich Aunt Victoria who willed you a hefty sum and some valuable items. The inheritance is a nice size, enough to buy your dream villa in Tuscany, but before you can say arrivederci to the States, you need a safe and efficient way to ship the HEAVY antique bedroom furniture she left you in her will. What do you do? Keep the following tips in mind when moving to another country and choosing a freight service to transport your bulky personal effects overseas:

•First, get accurate measurements for the items you want to ship. International transporters typically charge per cubic foot of space.

•Keep an inventory of all items to be shipped, complete with pictures and proof of ownership documents.

•Shop around. Ask any friends abroad if they can recommend trustworthy transportation companies. Visit the Better Business Bureau and transportation-related trade organization websites for additional tips and lists of recommended movers.

•Ask prospective carriers about their shipping processes and options. Some companies offer amenities like door-to-door transport so you do not have to drop off or pick up your goods at a terminal.

•Be present when the movers prepare your items for travel. Make sure each item will be protected with adequate padding, fasteners, or other packaging materials.

Admittedly, most of us don’t have substantial inheritances coming our way, but moving overseas for work or pleasure is still a very real option in this age of international corporations and an expanding global marketplace. Don’t get caught off-guard. If you or your business might need international freight services, call Momentum Freight today for more information.

Heavy Hauling and Oversized Loads

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Heavy haul shipments refer to shipments that are considered over-weight. These shipments pose a challenge when it comes to coordination, routes, and permits that may be required to reach it’s destination. Most trailers have the capacity to handle things exceeding their “max freight weight” and dimensions, but they require state permit authority prior to the shipment of your vehicle(s) and/or equipment. This can include an extra charge, and you may need to acquire permits for every state the shipment travels through. The approximate cost for such a permit is $70 per state.

There are a few other things that may alter the availability and costs of a heavy haul shipment. If your shipment happens to include an inoperable vehicle, it may need to be loaded and unloaded by crane. This can get expensive, and cranes are usually booked by the hour. This may require some close coordination on the arrival of the crane and the truck to limit expense. Heavy haul shipping also may require the truck to travel only on highways that permit vehicle weights that accommodate your shipment.

Sometimes heavy haul shipments may also have a special escort car to follow the truck. This is to ensure that other drivers on the road are well aware of the potential danger this shipment may present. These cars usually have flashing lights, which makes them easy to spot.

As you can see, heavy haul shipping can pose a special challenge for shippers. Here at Momentum Freight, we get the job done. Our team has experienced heavy haul carriers at our disposal. Whatever you’re shipping, you can rest assured that your shipment will arrive safely.

The Art of Hauling Heavy Freight

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

You’d think that since a truck is so massive, there’s no limit to what it might carry, but sadly you’d be wrong. Just because a flat bed truck seems to be made from the sturdiest of steels doesn’t make it impervious to weight. Sometimes you have to get an upgrade, and go for a heavy haul freight solution. I know you look at a big flat sheet of metal attached to a few wheels on each side and think, “Hey, my steam roller can fit on there just fine and dandy”, but my friend, you’ve missed the target. There are a couple of things to consider when moving incredibly heavy object x from point a to point b without it crushing its carrier halfway through the trip.

First and foremost, is your carrier equipped to handle a heavy load? There are many different types of suspension supports to keep the top of the wheel from grinding against the bottom of the bed on the trip, make sure you’ve picked a truck that can handle the weight of your load.

Second, is it invulnerable to precipitation, whether it be frozen or lukewarm? While most heavy machinery can weather the weather, some have interiors or vital parts that may be susceptable to rain or snow damage, and you need to take that into consideration when on that long haul. Decide whether or not an enclosed transport is the right choice for you.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, make sure you’re going with a company that has a good track record. I know it sounds obvious, but many potential clients will waver on the choice between quality versus cost. As always, do your research, and ensure that you’ve made your best option for heavy haul freight.

Trucking a la Flatbed

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

You are the proprietor of a freshly crafted small-scale iron replica of the Statue of Liberty, handcrafted by the finest of artists that New York has to offer. It’s sturdy, it’s beautiful, but more importantly, it’s heavy and awkward, not to mention in New York, while you’re in California. You need it here, and you need it fast.

Transporting a large and lumbersome load and be tedious and cumbersome, and the options for transporting such an abnormally shaped piece of art are on the limited side. It’s not often that you’ll find an enclosed carrier that can safely hold such a miniature monument, and the time it takes to plan a safe way to fit all that in there will surely cost you both your time and your money. Rather than stuff your treasure into an enclosure, why not try a flatbed truck to quickly alleviate your stresses?

Flatbed trucks are, well, simply put, trucks with big flat beds. It’s a simple solution to the transport of an awkward load such as the iron giant you’re trying to ship. Think of a flatbed truck much like strapping a mattress to the back of your friend’s dad’s pickup to haul to your first apartment, but on a much more grandiose scale. Just like then, you deal with the same issues; is it capable of being strapped down securely? If it rains, is your delivery going to be damaged? Is too much sun exposure an issue? If these problems aren’t apparent, then you also get to reap the benefits of a flatbed solution, such as quick and easy loading / unloading, as well as a much cheaper and cost-efficient method of haul.

The next time you’ve got an out-of-the-ordinary package to ship, weigh your options, and you might just take a load off of your watch and your wallet.

Unscrupulous Brokers

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Due to the sky rocketing failures of freight brokers and the recession there is a rise in questionable freight broker activities. The new trends are double brokering. Many brokers are having difficulty with other companies double brokering their freight.

Many unscrupulous companies are being start just for this purpose. They double broker loads and not pay the carrier. Soon after they accumulate enough revenue the will go out of business.

A freight brokers bond, $10,000.00, will only cover a few loads. At this moment this no penalty to the freight broker how intentionally closes their doors and re-opens under a new name and address.