The Need for Speed: Tips for Avoiding Charges on Expedited Shipments

A machine breaks down impacting construction. A retailer posts a 24-hour flash sale with guaranteed next-day delivery. A unionized automotive plant is missing a part that will stop production. Bottom line: a product needs to move – fast! Expedited shipments are expensive; but with a little preparation, they will not ruin profits or break the budget. Here are some tips for keeping costs low and service high when standard transportation timelines just will not work.

Know the Shipment Details

A shipment’s space requirements can impact the expedited price. Smaller loads may work on a sprinter van or straight truck versus larger shipments requiring a 53-foot trailer. These modes also come with different Department of Transportation requirements for driving. Know the dimensions and weight of the freight. Dispatching the wrong equipment creates significant delays and inaccurate price quotes.

Select the Best Mode

Shippers often associate expedites with same-day air charters, which are extremely expensive. There are many options for fast deliveries. Depending on the deadline, next-day air or truck transit may still meet the time requirements at a significantly lower cost.

Beware of Time Buffers

When receiving an expedited shipment request, determine when the freight is actually due. Critical shipments carry with them a no-fail expectation. As a result, all parties touching the shipment may shrink the delivery window to ensure on-time service. Let’s say a shipment needed for 6 a.m. production is ordered for a midnight arrival. As the delivery window gets smaller, the shipment costs grow larger. Give as much time for delivery as possible.

Blend Transportation Modes

High-speed service does not need to come from a single mode of transportation, which could be more risky. Lower the price of freight by bringing multiple types of equipment together. For instance, rather than sending an air charter to Mexico or Canada, land the freight in Laredo, Texas, or Detroit, Michigan, and truck the cargo across the border. Another strategy is blending different over-the-road transportation vehicles using cross-dock facilities.

Avoid Sky-High Costs

Even when flying freight, strategies exist for reducing costs. Size, weight, and distance largely dictate price. Reduce cargo dimensions by eliminating unnecessary packaging. For smaller parcels, use consolidation shipping services. This adds the package to unused portions of other shipments without paying higher prices for dedicated space. If a part of a shipment is needed early, with the rest eventually moving later, consider transporting everything together. Rather than paying two shipment charges, it may be more cost-effective to move the entire load expedited and maximize the size capabilities of the airplane.

Plan Ahead by Looking Back

Review data across months, seasons, and years to identify consumer demand patterns. Use the findings to create a forecast model that affords for standard transportation methods rather than relying on expedited shipments. Also, look for trends among past expedited freight bills and refine shipment patterns to avoid the need for high-speed, high-cost transportation.

Hire a Logistics Provider

When expedited shipments do occur, they are stressful. Managing the increased cost, communication, and time constraints is time consuming for even the most seasoned transportation manager. Whether it is one or 100 expedited shipments, leverage a logistics provider like Langham Logistics. 3PLs have more purchasing and negotiating leverage to lower costs. Our technology tracks critical freight and audits the bill. Most importantly, we not only have expertise across multiple modes but have built relationships with those transportation providers to ensure even the most critical shipments arrive on time.

Plan for the next expedite before receiving the “I need it quick!” call. Assemble the strategy and find the right partner. When time is money, look to Langham.

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