Category: routes

The Pros and Cons of LTL Shipping

the-pros-and-cons-of-ltl-shipping

When a truck is referred to as LTL, it is carrying Less Than Load as opposed to FTL which is a Full Truck Load.  LTL shipping is a way for shippers to ship goods without waiting for a full truckload of freight that needs to be sent or paying for a small amount of freight on a big, empty truck.  An LTL load has multiple loads from several shippers going to different places.  

The Pros

LTL shipping has its advantages and can be a cost-effective way to ship freight.

It’s usually cheaper.  Because the shipper is only paying for a portion of the trip, he only pays a portion of the shipping costs.  The costs are shared with the other shippers who are sharing the space.

It’s better for the environment. Sharing space means there are fewer emissions than if you’d sent a less-than-full truck.  

It’s more secure than parcel.  Shippers who can’t fill a whole trailer often turn to parcel services like UPS or FedEx to ship their freight. With LTL, shippers are encouraged to put their goods on a shrink-wrapped pallet which will keep the items together, making them more secure.

It can have more options.  Some LTL carriers do pickup and delivery, liftgates, and non-commercial delivery to residential neighborhoods which is something FTL shippers do not.

Distribution can be easier.  If you’re a retailer shipping to several storefronts, LTL is convenient and faster than shipping large quantities to a warehouse.  

Cons

LTL shipping has its drawbacks as well.

It can take longer.  Because you’re dependent on the pickup and delivery times for those who are sharing the load, it can take a lot longer for your freight to reach its destination.  This is especially true of cross-country shipments that have to make stops along the 3,000-mile journey.  

It can be less predictable.  You’re relying on delivery going off without a hitch with many different stops depending on how many other customers are sharing the trailer, making it less predictable than FTL which is usually a straight shot from shipper to its destination.

It’s less secure.  While it’s more secure than parcel, it’s less secure than FTL.  With FTL, your freight is loaded on the trailer, secured, and the trailer can be sealed and not opened until it reaches its destination.  LTL must make many stops which means that others have access to your freight. It also increases the odds of losing your entire shipment along the route where this wouldn’t happen with FTL (unless the entire truck went missing!).

Your freight can be damaged.  Of course, freight can be damaged no matter how you ship it but with LTL, your freight may be removed from the truck several times to retrieve other freight, increasing the odds of it getting damaged.

Which is Better―LTL or FTL?

LTL is not better than FTL, nor is the reverse true.  The decision to use one over the other depends on the type of freight and your flexibility in scheduling.  LTL is better for items that have some flexibility in their deadline, fit easily on a pallet, there are less than 12 pallets, and the products are durable.  FTL works better for more than 12 pallets of freight, products that have an unusual shape or are oversized, are of high value and/or are fragile, or are under a strict delivery deadline.  While LTL is generally a more cost-effective solution, shipment methods should be looked at on a case-by-case basis to see if LTL or FTL is the right way to go.    

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner-operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

Winter Blend Fuel, What You Need To Know

winter-blend-fuel-what-you-need-to-know

As the colder temperatures set in, most chain truck stops begin adjusting their fuel mix to protect engines from seizing when it gets so cold that fuel begins to gel.  The cold causes the paraffin wax in diesel to form crystals that won’t go through the fuel system―the tanks, fuel lines, or the fuel filter. The truck won’t run, nor will it be able to heat your cab which could be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things begin to freeze.

Summer and Winter Blends

Diesel comes in winter blend and summer blend.  Summer blend is straight diesel or 2-D which is what most trucks use under normal conditions.  Winter blend or 1-D should be used in the winter. Its ingredients keep it from becoming gel during colder temps but it has a lower butane content which causes it to not perform as well as 2-D.  This, and the fact that it’s more expensive than summer blend (as much as 50¢ per gallon more) is why it’s only used when necessary.   

In very cold weather, drivers use as high as 80% 1-D but usually a 75/25 mix is used in colder temps and a 50/50 blend for near-freezing areas but usually, you won’t know what you’re buying at the truck stops as they mix it for the area where they’re located.

Additives

There are fuel additives that can be used instead of 1-D that help reduce freezing in the fuel line in and in the fuel filter and they’re also cheaper than winter blend, costing 1.5¢-3¢ per gallon.  Some additives can be used year-round and can also improve the truck’s fuel efficiency which can save money but generally, the colder the weather, the more additive is used.  

Additives can thaw your diesel after it has begun to gel but by the time you start to feel like your truck’s fuel might be gelling as it begins to cough and sputter, the gelling has already begun in the fuel line and fuel filter too.  Putting in additives at this time means you need to remove the fuel filter to do it, sometimes changing it more than once, which can be difficult to do in freezing temperatures(especially if you’re broken down on the side of the highway).  Many of the bigger chain truck stops in colder regions winterize their own fuel as the season gets colder, and in some places fleet owners supply their drivers with an anti-gel agent to use on the road. If you’re going to travel in colder regions, carry additives with you before going into colder regions in case of an emergency.   

Additives can have their problems as well.  If additives are overused, the fuel lines can become clogged.  This is why truck engine manufacturers put out recommendations on additives and trucking companies may have their own policies on fuel additives so be sure you know what they are in advance.  A winter blend of diesel is the most effective and safest treatment against gelling.   

Other Options

Truck manufacturers have been looking for ways to protect their trucks against gelling such as systems that prevent gelling like recirculating the fuel, fuel filters with an electric heat option, and in-tank fuel heaters.  These options can keep you from breaking down in dangerous, freezing temperatures and keep your load on schedule.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows shippers and brokers to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and the latest weather conditions so you can be prepared for cold weather conditions. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.acuity.com/acuity-focus/2015/trucker-focus/changing-weather-calls-for-changes-in-diesel-fuel

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/fleets-fight-fuel-gelling-winters-chill-tricks-truck-maintenance-trade

DF: Top 7 Scenic Routes For Truckers

top-7-scenic-routes-for-truckers

Driving a truck is a popular occupation for many reasons.  Some come for the good pay with job security and high demand for drivers.  Others choose the driver’s life because the road calls to them.  The vastness and the ability to see this beautiful country of ours every single day draws them in.  

Whether driving long hauls or short routes, drivers get to see it all.  Here are some of the most scenic routes for truckers:

  1. US Route 89

This road stretches from Canada to Mexico, taking drivers through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona and through an abundance of national parks, monuments, and heritage areas.  Taking this route will bring you across the Rockies, through the wild Yellowstone National Park, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway

Running along the coast from Northern California to Southern California, the Pacific Coast Highway shows some of the best views that California has to offer.  If you’re looking for an interesting place to stop, this route has Venice Beach, the Queen Mary, the Bixby Bridge, Hearst Castle, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Glass Beach to name a few.  Your big rig may not fit through a redwood tree but a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is a must-drive, especially if you’ve got time for a little fun.  

  1. US Route 2

If your route takes you into NH in the fall, you’re in for a treat.  New England is awash in reds, yellows, and oranges as the trees burst with vibrant colors.  US Route 2 goes from Northern Maine through the White Mountain National Forest in NH, home to Mount Washington which boasts the second coldest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world, and through quaint towns in Vermont.  After popping up through Canada, Route 2 picks up in the U.S. again in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and continues across the upper U.S. through Montana and ending in Washington.    

  1. Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway

Also known as the “Appian Way of America”, the PP-OO highway is a historical gem.  It was built before the national highway system was put in to bypass small towns.  This road takes you through farmlands, hills, and nearly-forgotten towns.

  1. Interstate 77

This route travels from Cleveland, Ohio to Charlotte, South Carolina.  It takes you through the dramatic Blue Ridge Mountains and into downtown Charlotte where you can take a break and check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

  1. Scenic Byway 163

Traveling along this scenic route through Monument Valley on the Utah and Arizona border, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the set of a movie about the Old West with a huge rock formation backdrop.  You’ll definitely want to stop for photos on this one.

  1. The Swiss Alps of Texas

 

Yes, The Swiss Alps.  Of Texas. If you can squeeze part of this loop that spans Highways 337, 187, and 470 into your route, you will be rewarded with picturesque hills and deep canyons and rivers.  It may not be exactly like the real Swiss Alps but it’s a beautiful drive just the same.

Incorporating a scenic route into your drive can make any ride more enjoyable and can break the monotony that sometimes comes with driving a regular route.  If you’re looking for loads that may take you along some of the more scenic routes of the U.S., Direct Freight Services can help. Our full-service load board can help you find loads all over the country and has numerous useful features such as full credit reports, credit scores, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information as well.  Check out the Direct Freight website to find out more. 

 

Sources:

https://usroute89.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_101

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/us2.cfm

https://www.wmur.com/article/mt-washington-tied-for-second-coldest-place-on-earth-saturday/14769919

http://www.ppoo.org

https://utah.com/scenic-drive/monument-valley

https://www.texasoutside.com/texas-scenic-drives/