What does on-time performance mean in shipping today

Image of trucks lined up in a parking lot

What does on-time performance mean in LTL shipping today? 

The unprecedented conditions facing the LTL shipping industry in the last year and a half have led to a number of unique challenges for both shippers and carriers alike. One of the most significant areas affected by the increased demand, limited capacity, and labor/equipment/driver shortages prevalent in the industry has been transit time. The excess of freight and resulting congestion has made it nearly impossible for shippers and carriers to meet the standard transit times of the past, causing freight network backups and supply chain disruptions worldwide.

 

What affects on-time performance

Even under ideal market conditions, there are a variety of factors that can influence on-time performance in LTL shipping. A shipment’s attributes, from shipment size and weight to geographical distance, can all impact the transit time of LTL freight, particularly in today’s environment where the rise in e-commerce has increased expectations for fast and consistent on-time deliveries. 

Whether a shipment can achieve its intended transit time starts with on-time pickup performance and ends with on-time delivery performance. The shipment’s size, the number of pallets in a shipment, the distance between the shipment’s origin and the first terminal hub, and any inaccurate information that influences a carrier’s expectation or preparation can all affect on-time pickup and delivery performance. To combat these variables, it is crucial that shippers understand the characteristics of their shipments and recognize potential transit time issues that may arise before they happen so they can optimize loads or adjust their expectations accordingly.   

 

Strategies to improve on-time performance 

Now that the LTL freight carriers are immersed in a more volatile transportation market—and becoming more strategic regarding what mix of freight, lanes, and times they accept to ensure the highest profit and efficiency—it is more important than ever to shippers’ transit times that they optimize their freight and shipping methods to guarantee their cargo is accepted and moved as quickly as possible. Here is a list of strategies that will help shippers improve the on-time performance of their shipments:

 

Expand your carrier network

In an effort to streamline operations, many carriers are narrowing their scopes surrounding certain commodities, lanes, and origin and destination locations that may not meet their new efficiency standards. Because of this, shippers must be prepared to utilize multiple carriers for different types of shipments, making freight brokers and third-party logistics more important than ever to coordinate a multi-carrier strategy.

 

Optimize pickup schedule to meet carrier needs

Any time spent waiting for shipments or working around variable schedules is time wasted for carriers trying to maximize capacity. When possible, create predictable schedules, optimize routes and pickup times, and minimize driver dwell times to ensure carriers can move efficiently and will prioritize your freight over less efficient options.

 

Make sure documentation is accurate

Accurately filling out your paperwork will make certain there are no discrepancies that can slow down the processing of your shipment. Making sure the dimensions, weight, class, special requirements, origin, and destination are clearly and accurately filled out and displayed where they need to be can avoid any miscommunications that may lead to delays, additional charges, or missed pickups.

 

Add additional lead time to expected transit time

Freight tonnage has increased dramatically, and capacity is more constrained than ever over the last couple of years, resulting in unreliable and shifting transit times in both local and national markets. There is more freight than carriers can handle, plain and simple. In order to account for these market conditions and manage customer expectations, shippers must add additional time to the published transit time for their particular shipment or route. Planning for a day or two of lead time added to the expected transit time can help shippers avoid becoming backlogged and overwhelmed themselves.

With the holidays in full swing and continued congestion looming in the freight market for the foreseeable future, it is up to shippers to adapt to market conditions in order to keep their freight moving efficiently. Utilizing these strategies will help shippers adjust to the obstacles facing the LTL shipping industry and keep their supply chains running as smoothly as possible.


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