Carrier Manager

3PLCarrier ManagerIndustry NewsShippersThird-Party Logistics

By Erik Jensen, CTB If you’ve worked in the transportation industry long enough, chances are you have participated in many RFPs (request for proposals).  If not, I’ll do my best to explain one quickly. Typically, a customer sends out a list of lanes and the number of times they expect these lanes to ship during a specified time-period. Our job is to give our customers rates we can hold for this particular time-frame along with committed capacity. Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast… In an ideal world where the market stays the same and fuel prices never change—which is relatively close to what we’ve seen over the past couple years--this can be accomplished somewhat easily. Rates would stay the same and nothing would ever change. But with events like hurricanes occurring and mandatory ELD Implementation dates approaching, this creates a level of uncertainty. To be quite honest, there might not ever be a more difficult time to participate in an RFP than now. Carriers that have implemented ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) have stated we can expect a 4-7% reduction in fleet utilization as they learn to operate under the new technology, and some industry experts think that number might be too low. Many carriers are waiting until the last second possible to install these devices. Some of these carriers, for all intents and purposes, would rather just hang up the spikes than install ELDs, while another group of carriers that have actively been “fudging” their logbooks will be put out-of-service for a short period of time and might not have the resources to get back in the game. It’s safe to say that capacity will be harder to come by in 2018 and beyond—which means higher rates. Some industry experts expect rates to increase by at least 10%, and possibly even more. But then again, who really knows?  We can only predict what we’re going to see based on extensive conversations with carriers and our knowledge of the industry. What we can predict with ALMOST 100% certainty is that rates will increase and capacity will decrease, your guess is as good as mine for how long though....
3PLBest PracticesCarrier ManagerintermodalSales

By Joel Carey, CTB While in recent months much of the news in the transportation industry has been a clamor of who’s crafting which latest future-rattling technology applications, some shippers may find great benefit from a step back for fresh consideration of the original transportation game-changer. Intermodal rail transportation has evolved in the past several years from a perhaps well-deserved reputation for unreliable service, poor communication, and tracking, and damaged freight, to a level of operational efficiency and customer service that rivals most over-the-road trucking options - often at substantial savings. Though OTR dry van truckload has been firmly a shippers market for some time, upcoming industry changes such as the electronic logging device requirements that take effect at the end of the year are likely to put pressure on OTR capacity and begin to nudge truckload rates back uphill. Many shippers are already testing the waters of Intermodal as this potential TL capacity crunch approaches – some entirely new to the idea, and others who are taking a second look. Shippers with relatively durable palletized freight that can be limited to a gross weight of 42,500 pounds and loaded at facilities in reasonable proximity to a primary rail ramp can readily garner savings of 10-30% over TL rates in certain lanes. Lanes from the Midwest to the West Coast and the Midwest to the Northeast are prime examples where current Intermodal rates are well below OTR. To enhance shipper’s options that might encourage the shift to Intermodal, the major railroads have recently opened new service in lanes from the lower Midwest to the Northeast and Florida which also offer competitive pricing. With the exception of ensuring thorough bracing and an extra day in transit on most routes, a shipper might otherwise not even notice these days that their freight is riding the rails rather than the road.  The Class I railroads have made excellent use of Internet technology to provide effective communication of shipping orders and appointments, as well as 24-hour position tracking and notifications.  The Intermodal specialists at AM Transport closely monitor all shipments and can provide any level of detailed reporting that our customers might request. Spot market Intermodal capacity is readily available for next-day pickup or beyond, so why not do your shipping budget a favor and consider a solid and cost-effective alternative?  AM Transport is ready and able to discuss the benefits and options that Intermodal might present to your shipping operations....
3PLCarrier ManagerCustomer Service

By Justin Hatten, CTB As a carrier manager at AM Transport Services, communication is key when dealing with issues on a daily basis. AM Transport prides itself on customer service and when a carrier is running behind for a pick up or delivery, it is vital for a carrier manager to gather information so they can pass that on to the account managers, who quickly alert the shipper and receiver. If a delay occurs during the transportation of a shipment, a carrier manager’s responsibility is to follow up with the driver and/or dispatcher to find out why, whether it be hours of service, a flat tire, a mechanical breakdown, an accident, heavy traffic or inclement weather. Once this information is relayed to the account managers, they reach out to the customer and provide a detailed explanation and an updated ETA. As soon as a load is booked, a carrier manager should begin an e-mail chain with the carrier confirming that they received the rate confirmation and understood the terms of the shipment. Although this can be done over the phone, an e-mail serves as an important line of communication in writing and a search tool. While delays are the most common problems carrier managers handle, in certain instances, a customer may ask that a load be returned due to damages or the wrong product being loaded on a trailer. When that situation arises, a carrier manager contacts the carrier to see what rate they would need to take the load back to the shipper. If that isn’t an option due to capacity or cost, locating a warehouse where the product can be stored until an available truck is found to return it is another possibility. After a load is delivered, carrier managers follow up with the carrier to make sure there were no shortages, damages and overcharges or possible detention at the shipper and/or receiver. If damages are reported, carrier managers immediately request photos and paperwork from the driver before the account managers contact the customer to make them aware and confirm that there will not be a claim. In a fast-paced environment at AM Transport where the phone is constantly ringing and e-mails are piling up throughout the day, mistakes can happen, but these can be minimized by constantly communicating with co-workers, carriers and customers via phone and e-mail. After covering a load, it is important for a carrier manager to make sure the carrier sends back a signed rate confirmation, which includes carrier pay, the AM Transport load number, the commodity and weight, equipment type needed, a pick-up/reference number, addresses and hours for the shipper and receiver and special instructions, such as pick-up/delivery appointments, possible lumpers and driver assist. Once the rate confirmation is received, it is imaged into the AM Transport load along with other documents pertaining to the shipment. Before heading out for the day, a carrier manager should carefully check over all the loads on their dispatch screen to make sure everything has been picked up and delivered or are on track. If a load is picking up or delivering in the evening/overnight or on weekends, the after-hours team or Saturday-morning worker needs to be provided with a carrier contact and ETA along with possible lumpers. While not every shipment goes smooth, communication is the one thing we can control at AM Transport....