How to Save on Temperature Controlled Transportation and Other Winter Protection Services

Last year’s series of winter storms left cities motionless, halted government operations, grounded airplanes, and brought ground transportation to a screeching stop. For shippers of temperature-sensitive freight, 2014 will go down as one of the most problematic winters in recent history. With temperature controlled transportation capacity being severely limited and shipping in a dry van being a very risky decision, unprecedented challenges were brought into focus.

In order to avoid catastrophe this year, many businesses have focused their attention on protecting their supply chain against potential problems and delays. This will be especially challenging for businesses that ship and receive water-based products throughout the Northeast region. Luckily, shippers can purchase a comprehensive winter protection service that protects their cargo from freezing temperatures.

What is “winter protection?”

Winter protection services are used by many carriers to ensure goods are kept at a constant temperature and do not go outside their ideal range. It is mostly used for liquids or water-based products such as paints, glues, alcohol, food items, batteries, and other chemicals that have the potential to freeze when the outside temperature falls below zero. Depending on the specific needs of your shipment, winter protection services can include one or more of the following:

  • 24/7 all-weather capabilities
  • Temperature controlled transportation
  • Temperature- controlled storage facilities
  • Thermal blankets or quilts
  • Snow chains for transportation units
  • Snow removal equipment
  • Emergency power sources
  • More

Most shippers will naturally select the best protection their budget can afford. When heated or refrigerated units are too expensive to justify, passive insulation is often the best solution.

How does passive insulation work?

Many shippers choose to use a passive insulation service as it is more economical and does not have the same capacity limitations as heated and refrigerated transportation.  Passive insulation utilizes thermal blankets for shippers who can’t transport their product in dry equipment, but don’t require a heated unit. The mechanics are fairly simple: the core material of the blankets traps the air coming off the product while a layer of foil directs ambient air away from the surface to reduce the amount of heat exchange that occurs between the product and its environment.

The blankets are usually placed over the palletized freight to create a buffer between the product and the outside air. The product(s) are packed closed closely together reduce surface space and minimize the amount of heat transfer that occurs. For example, a large container of liquid will freeze much slower than several small containers of liquid. This means that smaller containers should be stored as close together as possible to maintain a large thermal mass.

Passive insulation works by sheltering the cargo from outside conditions by using special blankets or quilts to limit the products interaction with it’s environment. Other benefits of winter protection such as temperature controlled transportation and storage units, as well as snow chains and snow removal equipment can be used to ensure freight is not exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods.

Is it right for me?

The technology behind passive insulation has been used by shippers since the early 1990’s to save on the cost of reefer trailers or for extra peace of mind when shipping temperature-sensitive products. Unlike temperature controlled transportation, passive insulation does not stop temperature change by replacing air. Instead, it simply resists temperature fluctuations by shielding the product from its environment. Whether this is a relevant concern can be determined by a risk assessment based on the cost of replacement versus the risk. To learn more about passive insulation and other winter protection services, contact FreightCenter by emailing or by calling our customer service line at 800-716-7608      .

“Made In Rural America” Export Initiative

Within the next nine months, President Obama plans to roll out a seven-step investment, education and promotional strategy to help U.S. rural farmers and business owners to export more goods to foreign nations. Last year, these businesses generated more than $140 billion dollars and the White House plans to increase this amount in a push to boost the nation’s economy. If the plan succeeds, 1% of Americans could become less reliant on food stamps.

“Made in Rural America” will put a spotlight on U.S. exports and, in turn, provide an economical boost that will start in rural areas and spread throughout industries such as transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, energy and more.

Sustained by a comprehensive strategy that connects rural businesses with investors, the initiative includes the following specific commitments:

  • Host five forums throughout rural areas that provides rural business owners with access to resources and information.
  • Host an “Investing in Rural America” conference that connects investors with rural business owners.
  • Training for local USDA staff in all 50 contiguous states.
  • Counseling rural business owners on how to connect with foreign buyers.
  • Promote rural-goods at trade shows and events.
  • Educate leaders throughout the nation on the importance of rural exports.
  • Extend the BusinessUSA online platform to allow rural business owners to connect with export and investment resources.

On Friday, the White House released a fact sheet that outlines the full strategy.

How To Get A Freight Quote

Step By Step Instructions

Step 1:

Enter your contact details. We need to know the zip codes for the pickup location, as well as the destination location. This information allows us to determine the distance your freight needs to travel, and which carrier has the best rate in that “lane” or shipping route.

Step 2:

Next we need to know a bit more about these locations. A business with a dock usually pays less for shipping that a residential customer because it’s easier for the truck to load and unload shipments.

Step 3:

This step is by far the most important part of getting a freight quote. Exact weight, dimensions and freight class are crucial to obtaining an accurate quote. It’s important not to guess or underestimate weight and size. The carrier will measure your freight and if it’s over the quoted amount than you will be billed for any overages. Avoid the headache and overestimate if you don’t have the manufacturer’s specs for your item.

Step 4:

Next, we ask that you register for an account so we can communicate all the details for your shipment. Freight or non-parcel shipping is much more complicated than standard mail or parcel shipping, so it’s imperative that we’re able to confirm details of your shipment, as well as assist you with setting pickup and delivery appointments. Our goal is to serve you and handle everything from start to finish so you have just one point of contact.

Step 5:

We will use your registration information to give you a call or send you an email. Once we speak with you, we’ll be able to give you the best freight quote that meets your budget.

Limiting Drive Time & The Freight Shipper

How do the newly enforced Driver Time Restrictions affect you, the average freight shipper?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the following changes to driver schedules will impact freight capacity and transit times:

“Truck drivers will be required to take a 30 minute rest break every 8 hours and will be able to restart their hours of service clock only once a week by not driving for a 34 hour stretch that includes two 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. periods.”

A good comparison on this topic can be drawn from the airline industry. Since restricting pilot and aircraft crew flight times and schedules, passengers have noticed not only an increase in the cost of flights but also a decrease in the amount of service. Cancelled flights, delays, reduced routes, etc. have plagued the industry. Some would argue that it’s made flying more safe and beneficial to the crew, which can hardly be a bad thing. However, due to budget restraints most airlines haven’t committed to maintaining a consistent level of service by hiring new crew members. Instead, cuts like the aforementioned have become a mainstay.

Taking that example illustrated to us by the airline industry is it not likely that the same reduction in service would occur in the freight and transportation industry? While I for one am a proponent of rewarding hard-working truck drivers, I can’t help but assume the position that regulations almost always create a gap in service. The intentions are usually good, but the drawbacks are sometimes not measurable for quite a length of time.

As a freight shipper, which of the following effects of new driver regulations will affect you the most? Freight Shipping 

Texas Freight Shipping Companies

The Lone Star State is a popular hub for freight transportation. Large amounts of goods are transported via road, rail, ocean and air freight. Texas Freight ShippingTexas is also home to the second largest airport in the United States, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Additionally, the Port of Houston is a busy transit location for both international and national carriers. The port is ranked first in the United States for foreign waterborne tonnage, first in U.S. imports and second in U.S. export tonnage. Intermodal – using a truck and train – freight is widely used to transport freight from this Houston port to various locations in the United States. has spent years gathering the most trusted, knowledgeable, dedicated Texas freight companies. With our vast network of carriers we are able to match you with the perfect Texas shipping company at the most competitive price. Shipping from Texas to New York or Florida to Texas? ships freight to and from anywhere in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Our dedicated freight agents are also experts in international shipping.

Shipping to and from Texas has never been easier with our freight shipping calculator. Just take a few minutes to fill out your destination, dimensions and freight class. Our system will compare hundreds of carriers and find you the best Texas shipping company in a matter of seconds.

Get a free freight shipping quote today!

Freight Shipping Made Easy

  • 24/7 freight quotes
  • Online paperwork delivery
  • Personalized freight agent support
  • Door to door delivery options
  • Packaging and shipping tips from freight shipping experts
  • Manage all past and current shipments, retrieve and save quotes in one easy place

What Causes Your Freight Rates To Rise?

If you think the cost of fuel (specifically diesel) is the only driving factor behind freight rate increases, think again. There are countless variables to the rise in freight shipping costs. While the cost can be offset at the asset-based level by carriers, most shippers will have to come up with creative solutions to deal with the flux of freight rates.

Regardless whether the items are being shipped at the manufacturer level, distributor level or retail level, ground freight or long haul trucking is usually involved. Therefore, operational factors that affect the trucking industry have the most impact on general freight rate increases. The four main factors are fuel increases, labor costs, equipment prices and Federal restrictions.

Fuel Fluctuation

Fuel prices, like most commodities, are influenced purely by supply and demand. When the demand for fuel increases, so does the price. The  highest crude oil price struck in 2008, marking the most recent financial crisis. Since that time, the demand for crude oil decreased (due to a shrinking economy) and the price has leveled to pre-2008 prices. Keep in mind, any time a global or local disaster happens the cost of fuel skyrockets. These unforeseen disasters – whether natural or man-made – can cause a spike in freight rates at any time.

Labor Costs

Why would labor costs affect the fuel bottom line? Many different factors contribute to the rise in labor costs. We know the main cause is a shortage in drivers, but why is that the case? Issues like a high number of retiring drivers, recruitment and retention hurdles and Federal regulations that monitor driver schedules all affect labor costs, which ultimately impact freight rates.

Equipment Costs

New regulations that monitor carbon footprint and fuel usage have caused a need to modernize engines and trucking equipment. Since new equipment costs are now on average 40% more than they used to be, this cost gets tacked onto the freight rate. We can expect these costs to be a factor over the next 5 years, driving the cost of freight shipping skyward.

Federal Regulations

Beginning next month (July 2013), new regulations will limit drive time from 11 hours to 10 hours in a 24-hour period. While it doesn’t seem like that much of a break, it will certainly create the demand for more drivers and equipment.

One of the ways a shipper can combat rising freight rates is to always receive the best price available. Compare your freight rate from multiple carriers. Sometimes the national carrier you may use could be more expensive than a regional carrier for a shorter haul.


Infographic: Shippers and 3PLs

Shippers & 3PLs Opinions Differ:

As a 3PL, we’re always looking to bridge the gap between the services we provide and shippers‘ expectations. This is why we found the infographic in the new issue of Inbound Logistics to be both very helpful and enlightening. It’s not a big surprise that the most important issue for shippers is cutting transportation spend; however, it is interesting to see how much more importance a 3PL places on the cost of shipping. To the contrary, the least important challenge for shippers is “reducing assets and/or infrastructure”.  You can tell by the gap in opinion that 3PLs place this concern pretty high on their list of perceived challenges. In a world where technology frequently erases the need for operational space (think about the news concerning 3D printing), it is surprising to hear that shippers are not in the business to drop the additional weight and responsibility. As a technology provider and 3PL, we frequently tout our transportation management software as having the ability to do more with less. Less labor, less space, less time and less money.

Logistics data
from Inbound Logistics July 2013 issue

Three other challenges strike us as surprising as well: business process improvement, technology strategy and security and compliance issues. These challenges fall hand in hand with the way freight technology providers market their products to shippers. How will we overcome these misconceptions now that we really have a grasp on what shippers need and want? Will you change the way you market your technology? Are you planning to use this information to reform the benefits and features of your product? These are all questions we’re asking ourselves and plan to answer over time.

Are you a shipper that disagrees with any of the challenges listed above? If so, leave your unique challenge in the comments section.

Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal Benefits Breakdown

1. Intermodal transportation is 3 to 5x more fuel-efficient than moving freight solely with the use of trucks. Because trains can continue at the same speed without frequently stopping for red lights and stop signs, they are generally more effective at burning fuel.
2. Trains can move over 450 miles on a single gallon of fuel. In comparison, the average semi truck can merely travel less than 10 miles on one tank of diesel.
3. One intermodal train can carry the load of more than 280 semi trucks. For example, a truck can only carry one coil of steel due to road weight restrictions while a single train car can transport up to five coils of steel. Additionally, the average freight train has the ability to carry 50-60 cars depending on the load, seasons, etc.
4. Each bulk train can transport the loads of more than 500 trucks. A single semi truck holds up to 26 pallets of goods. That’s the equivalent of 13,000 pallets of merchandise.

How To: Benefit from the Freight Quote Process

The Perks of an Accurate Freight Quote

How businesses can obtain an accurate freight quote. Tips and tools of the trade. If you own or operate a business or you’re just in charge of the freight quote process for your company, perhaps you can benefit from these suggestions regarding freight shipping. Freight shipping is used when shipping items that weight over 100 lbs.

Why Businesses Ship Freight

Businesses use freight shipping because it saves them time and money. When shipping items in bulk, no other option comes close to the services and discounted rates a freight carrier provides. The goal is to find a reputable freight company you can work with that has a vast network of top carriers, exclusive discounts, and equipment options. As an additional bonus, most places let you compare rates, submit completed orders for pickup, manage billing, and track shipments online in just a few clicks.
I’ve simplified the process below. By following these suggestions, you can save time and money on your next freight shipment.

Pack and Weigh Tips

Packaging and weight are the two most important parts to freight shipping. Exact measurements and secure packaging taking the guessing game out of the quote process. It is important to properly pack your item for freight shipping to prevent damage. The ultimate goal is to be able to shake the box without re-positioning its contents. The shipping contract between you and the carrier usually stipulates that the items be packed and properly secured to minimize the risk of damage during transport. Carriers can waive their liability if the proper guidelines for packing are not followed.The weight of the item should be exact and must include packing materials like crates, pallets, bubble wrap, and straps. Provide the true weight of each shipment in order to receive the most accurate freight quote. Most businesses are equipped to weigh heavy loads, but certified weight scales are available locally.

Paperwork is Important

You will need to read and complete specific paperwork for each freight carrier or shipping company you choose to prepare your shipment. Freight documents outline special instructions or shipping guidelines that can save you a headache. These documents are typically called BOLs or bill of lading forms. You will need to use the appropriate bill of lading forms in order to receive discounted rates. If you don’t use the correct paperwork, your shipment could be delayed or you could be charged additional fees.

Be Ready for Delivery

When claiming your freight, whether at a terminal or at your business, be prepared to show BOL paperwork and identification showing that you are the actual recipient of the freight. The carrier will not just drop off your freight at your loading dock or office door without a signature, so make sure to make the proper arrangement on the day of your delivery.

More You Should Know

Commercial shippers use freight shipping because their businesses generally have stock to move in bulk. With every repeat shipment, carriers and freight companies are more likely to give you discounted freight quotes. So if your business makes frequent daily, weekly or monthly shipments, there’s an added bonus in it for you. Establish a relationship with a reputable freight company so you can quickly and easily compare freight quotes, track shipments, manage paperwork and speak to a designated account manager.
If you are looking for a freight company to help you through the process, can be a smart choice. They have been in the freight shipping business for years, and let you instantly compare rates and choose the best discounted price from all the top carriers. You can also use their RFP or request for pricing tool to get specialized handling of your quote.I hope this article makes it easier for you to take advantage of all the benefits of freight shipping.

Top 5 Freight Shipping Tips

Innovative technology and customer service-oriented 3PLs eliminate concern.

Easy tips to make the best out of the freight shipping service selection process. Why working with a freight brokerage or third-party logistics company (3PL) is a great option to alleviate headaches and save time or money.Compiled below are the five most helpful tips for any company or individual considering the task of shipping freight. Freight transportation can be complicated, but not after you read about the ways a good third-party freight shipping service provider can simplify and optimize the laborious process.

1. Make sure your items are in fact freight, weighing a total of at least 100 lbs. Once you’re sure of your items’ weight you can classify the shipment. There are a handful of specific freight categories as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Some first-time freight shippers may find this first step to be the most difficult because it’s not always convenient to weigh freight before it gets picked up. There’s always a chance that the driver has to weigh your shipment and any difference could result in what’s known in the industry as a re-bill. A re-bill is a payment owed to the carrier for any weight and freight class discrepancies between actual and what was listed on your bill of lading (BOL). The best way to avoid a re-bill is to have your freight pre-weighed at a freight terminal near you. You can lookup freight terminal locations online by searching for your city and the keyword “freight terminal”. If you ship freight more often, you may want to invest in a freight scale. Freight scales can cost as little as $100 up to thousands of dollars and can be purchased online or through a heavy-duty tool store.

2. Make sure your items are properly boxed, crated or palletized prior to pickup. The more securely your shipment is strapped down or contained, the less likely it will be damaged during shipping. Most carriers won’t pick up shipments that aren’t in compliance with these standards. If you aren’t sure about the packaging requirements for your freight and from your chosen carrier, you should contact your service provider should excel at assisting you every step of the way.

3. In addition to weight and freight class, it’s important to know the pickup and delivery destination for your freight, as well as the overall size or dimensions of your packaged shipment. Some freight shipping service providers may overlook dimension and use only the distance between zip codes to calculate your total cost to ship. To get the most accurate freight quote, have the two addresses (point of pickup and desired destination), weight, freight class and dimensions on hand before you request a quote.

4. Before you enter your shipment details on a freight shipping provider‘s website, make sure you are working with a reputable company that offers expert assistance in case you have additional questions or need one-on-one help from a friendly agent. Make sure your freight provider is licensed and bonded to arrange freight services on behalf of reputable and trustworthy carriers. Look for Motor Carrier (MC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers that identify legitimate service providers. A service provider who doesn’t display their MC or DOT numbers may not have one and may be scams or a sign of a financially-insecure company.

5. Make certain the company is only partnered with top carriers and trucking companies – not all carriers are created equal. Some 3PLs or third-party freight shipping service providers may have only a handful of carrier contracts, which ensures shippers will receive a service with the most value-adds available to them. They also offer the fastest way to search among hundreds of carriers for the fairest balance of price, transit time, equipment options and mode.

And remember, dimensions are important to accurately pinpoint your freight class and optimal mode of transportation. It’s not just about weight and freight class!

Helpful Links

spyglassFreight Class Lookup Tool

It’s important to properly classify your freight.

trucking icon   U.S. Department of Transportation

Make certain that the carrier you choose is reputable.

questions icon Freight FAQs

Find answers to your freight shipping questions.