We here at Willy’s Trucking Service we talk about liftgates a lot, and so we wanted to provide some serious clarity about what they are, when they’re used, and other bits of information you should know if you’re looking to use liftgates for your LTL.
What is a Liftgate?
It’s a lift on the back of trucks used in LTL shipping that moves the freight on and off the truck. Think of it as a freight elevator.
The majority of LTL shipments have a minimum weight of 100 pounds. You throw in that LTL shipments are commonly packaged on standard-sized pallets and you’ve got a heavy and unwieldy bit of freight.
This is where the liftgate comes in handy. If you don’t have a shipping dock available (where you can load and unload the freight using a forklift or other machinery), you’re going to need help getting freight that large off the back of a carrier truck.
While most shippers have access to a forklift and/or loading docks, there is a large group of customers that regularly need liftgates: LTL shipments picking up or delivering to residences.
There’s a lot to know about residential shipping, but suffice to say, a residential pick up or delivery will ALWAYS require a liftgate.
The good news is that most trucks used in residential shipping already have a liftgate on the back of the truck. We usually call these trucks “box trucks” or “straight trucks.”
The bad news is that, like residential shipping, there will be an additional charge for using a liftgate at both pickup and delivery. Usually the charge is under $50, however each carrier will have their own pricing.
So here’s 5 delivery botches you may be making. Perhaps you’re making one, possibly every one of the five, however tending to these cargo missteps will make your life simpler, and bring you one bit nearer to the magnificence of a fruitful LTL shipment.
1. You’re not using a dedicated freight carrier
This is not a shameless plug for Willy’s Trucking (even though we are the best if you’re into freight carriers. A dedicated freight carrier can offer you so many things that you didn’t even know you’re missing. Better rates. Customer service. Customized deliveries. The list goes on and on.
2. You’re not getting insurance
In life as in freight, not having insurance is a bad idea. It’s like my mom told me when teaching me the merits of defensive driving: “It’s not you I’m worried about…it’s everyone else.” She said that when I was 16, so she was clearly lying. I was a road-terror on par with Mad Max, but you get the point. Mistakes happen in life and freight. Get insurance. It will be well worth it in the long run.
3. You have crazy expectations
Don’t take it personally. All of us have crazy expectations from time to time. Remember that LTL shipping deals in estimated times of transit. Just because something is supposed to deliver on Tuesday doesn’t always mean it will deliver on Tuesday.
Sometimes it might be Wednesday (or later). But hey, maybe it’ll be Monday! If timing is your thing, take advantage of overnight and hot shipments. Set your expectations correctly, and you’ll be more flexible in an industry that requires it.
4. You’re not using pallets
LTL is not FedEx nor is it Amazon. It’s not a good idea to ship fifteen boxes, untethered, floating willy-nilly in the back of a semi-truck in not one, not two, but probably five different trucks from five different terminals.
One of those boxes will probably not make it. True story. Consolidate your freight on a standard pallet. It makes everyone’s job easier and gives you a better chance of a perfect shipment.
5. You’ve never heard of “The 2 Hour Window”
This is not some lost Alfred Hitchcock film. An LTL carrier requires a MINIMUM of two hours heads-up to make a shipment. That’s a minimum. In shipping, the more planning the better, so plan ahead in contacting your carrier for pickups.
If you call at 4 pm on a Friday and frantically need to have freight picked up, chances are it’s not going to happen, at least not without the help of a hotshot carrier, and those can be pricey.
After knowing these 5 common mistakes when it comes to shipping your LTL freight, have you made any of them? Are you making them know?
Are you new to this complex industry and this helped you gain insight on what you shouldn’t do? If so leave a comment down below and make sure to stay tuned for more.
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