Optimizing your full truckload (FTL) shipments costs in the United States of America can be a tricky thing to do, taking into consideration that rates can fluctuate by as much as 50%. The truckload shipment rate structure can be represented simply in the form of a “cost-per-mile” or “door-to-door” rate. However, the actual calculation of the rates is usually a little bit more complicated and may be affected by a variety of factors.

Of course, FTL deliveries are the most preferred in the event that a shipper required specialized shipment, intends to utilize the entire weight capacity or space of a truck, or does not wish to share a truck with another shipper. To understand or predicts your next FTL shipment rates, here are some of the factors that you must pay attention to:

1. Fuel prices

This one is quite obvious. The fluctuation of fuel prices is expected to have an impact on truckload rates. In addition to the rate charged for transportation services, you can expect a fuel surcharge which varies from time to time and from one carrier to the other. These varying rates will obviously affect the overall truckload rates.

2. Changes in demand and supply

A couple of factors such as changes in the import and export volume at ports, driver availability, and the global economic state all cause fluctuations in truckload capacity. Besides, seasonal changes that cause fluctuations in the overall capacity demand will also lead to changes in truckload rates.

3. Weather

Inclement weather elements such as storms, flooding, heavy snowfall, and others can lead to unavoidable interruption to normal supply lines. This often results in adverse effects such as additional stops, delays, and even re-routes, all of which can increase the shipping cost.

4. Efficiency

If you become a shipper of choice to truck drivers, one thing you are almost guaranteed of is getting a reliable capacity at competitive rates. This depends on your efficiency when it comes to reducing the loading and unloading time to ensure that the drivers have enough time left to be on the road. One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to use drop trailers to reduce the time wasted.

5. Specialty services

The use of specialty services such as driver assist, lift-gate services, oversize load handling, load straps/locks, and other specialty services can attract additional fees. If possible, you should do your best to reduce the number of times that you use specialty services. That way, you can keep your FTL shipment rates on the lower side.

6. Deadhead miles

It’s almost obvious that the actual hauled mileage is the main determinant of shipment rates. However, shippers should never overlook deadhead miles as these too can impact the overall rates. The proximity of the delivery or pickup point to the next load can affect the total amount charged. That’s in consideration that empty miles are a major factor in overall rates.

7. Backhaul vs head haul

Freight flow can affect the pricing on a direct basis. When shippers are competing to increase their overall capacity, the rates will typically be high. On the other hand, when truck drivers are trying to do their best to lower empty miles, the rates should be lower. The probability of getting re-loaded after making a delivery as well as the load-to-truck ration at delivery and pickup points are all factors that can affect the overall rate.

8. Regulations

The transport industry is a highly regulated one. Some regulation changes, especially the ones that touch on emissions, safety, driver hours of service, and others, can affect the truckload rates significantly. In the majority of cases, the bloated rates are passed on to the shippers.

In summary

Understanding the factors that affect the overall FTL shipment rates can go a long way towards making it possible to optimize your shipping costs. By paying attention to the factors discussed above, you will be in a better position to determine the best rates for your shipment, making it possible to control how much you spend: