While the transportation marketplace continues to face unique challenges in general, one of the specific challenges of the less than truckload (LTL) market is longer than normal transit times. This is due in part to LTL carriers working through the surplus of freight, selecting and deselecting freight that contributes to yield.

In today’s market, knowing where to evaluate and adjust your LTL capacity strategies can feel overwhelming. But making faster, meaningful improvements to your LTL supply chain strategies and operations can be a seamless process that makes a positive impact on your business.

Use these five strategies to help navigate today’s market and improve shipment performance for your LTL freight.

Five strategies to increase LTL freight efficiencies and improve on-time performance

1. Diversify your capacity network

Finding capacity and meeting consumer requirements continues to be a challenge in the volatile transportation marketplace—especially when carriers are presented with more freight than they can manage. As carriers, specifically LTL carriers, look to be more productive, we’re seeing an emphasis on network optimization and yield management strategies.

With data, analytics, and tools like dimensionalizers available, LTL carriers are paying more attention to accepting the right freight in the right lanes at the right time. As the manufacturing industry continues to recover after the pandemic, LTL carriers are reevaluating the proper mix of freight accepted—to drive the highest profit and service.

Accordingly, carriers are signaling to shippers that their freight might not fit their network—based on commodities, origins, and destinations that optimize their networks—encouraging shippers to work with logistics providers like C.H. Robinson for additional capacity options and the ability to create a multi-carrier strategy where freight lanes are aligned with carriers’ priorities.

2. Create a pick schedule that carriers value

Like the truckload market, dwell time matters to both shippers and carriers. For LTL, the ability to get multiple picks and drops for freight out in a single day is key to service and yield.

Locations that offer variability in dwell time or tend to have long dwell times are deprioritized and removed from locations of interest. To minimize dwell time, consider prioritizing live loads to keep carriers moving forward to the next shipment or pick.

For example, an LTL carrier picking up five shipments once a week operates better than a carrier picking up one shipment every day. By creating a pick schedule with fewer days offers route optimization for the pick carrier across a portfolio of shippers.

Remember, yield and maximizing capacity are the key objectives of an LTL carrier. Carriers will prioritize freight that fits their network and improves efficiency so they can provide the best pricing and service for shippers, delivering predictability and employing tender strategies that effectively serve the carrier’s network.

3. Be accurate on tender details

Today’s high volumes and tight schedules have LTL pick routes tightly planned and accurate tender details can keep those routes on track.

LTL carriers should know what the actual shipment weights and cube are up front. Inaccurate information about shipment characteristics often leads to shipment delays. Carriers may even decline a shipment if the freight does not match the tender details provided, leaving you in the lurch when it comes to getting freight moved.

LTL carriers plan multiple-pick loads based on the tendered information and/or historical experience. If you routinely underestimate pallet counts or shipment weight, you’re more likely to have your pick missed because the carrier couldn’t properly plan for the space needed on the trailer. Keep in mind, accurate information also includes any special freight requirements; carriers can plan pickup routes more effectively with this information available up front.

4. Expect to add time to carrier’s published LTL transit times

With freight tonnage increasing regularly and a smaller capacity pool available, transit times have more variability than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply put, there is more freight than capacity. At times, shipments need to wait for the next day for inter-terminal and final delivery capacity.

In today’s marketplace, everything going to plan doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. A carrier’s published transit days only represent the best-case scenario, where everything in the schedule goes right. The recommendation for today’s market is to add at least one day to published transit times—sometimes more. If a lane is experiencing greater variability than one day, work with your C.H. Robinson representative on mitigation strategies with the current carrier, carrier options for the lane, or plan for an additional day.

5. Understand how your freight mix fits with market conditions

For shippers, it’s critical to know how to optimize your LTL freight to match current market dynamics. Collaborate with a logistics provider that has an information advantage. Relying on their expertise and knowledge can help you leverage more carrier and modal options to increase on-time performance and mitigate costs.

Whether it is consolidation, LTL, multi-stop truckload, or intermodal, providers like C.H. Robinson can provide insights you can use to modify supply chain strategies to ensure the best cost and service for the evolving freight and carrier marketplace. Through custom, flexible supply chain solutions, let C.H. Robinson experts match your freight to our extensive capacity network to improve supply chain performance.

Always focus on improving your LTL freight strategies

By following the above best practices, you can create a smarter, more resilient LTL shipping strategy. If things get off track, make sure you and your logistics provider have the expertise, technology, and data to manage any exceptions and provide optimal solutions.

C.H. Robinson experts are here to help apply our experience and suite of LTL services to your shipping challenges. Work with C.H. Robinson for smarter solutions that fit your unique needs, meet rising consumer expectations, and improve shipment performance.