How to develop an LTL transportation strategy?

Trucking Industry

This is how UTB Logistics helped a well-known cosmetics multinational in the United States develop its distribution strategy using LTL (Less Than Truckload) transportation. Developing a transportation strategy to expand the distribution of your products and reach new markets is easier than you think if you work with the right logistics providers.

In early 2024, our company was approached by a well-known cosmetics multinational based in the United States. After contacting us, they entrusted us with a massive project: distributing 199 display shelves to various points of sale throughout the United States.

This opportunity represented an exciting and significant challenge for our team. It involved coordinating the transportation of a large quantity of shelving and ensuring its timely delivery in perfect condition across the country. 

To provide an efficient transportation and quoting strategy, three of our most experienced logistics agents gathered in one of our boardrooms, ready to take the first step in this project and answer the question: How can we successfully distribute these 199 racks across the United States?

Distribution strategy and quotation calculation

One of the first factors to consider was that the shelves would enter the United States from Canada, crossing the border through the state of New York and being stored in a warehouse in the borough of Queens. This was the starting point for the carriers that would distribute the shelves to the different points of sale in the country.

The most convenient option for the cosmetics company was LTL (Less Than Truckload) transportation. This modality allows us to consolidate the shelves in a shared truck with goods from other shippers, optimizing the distribution routes. Thus, we could plan an efficient itinerary covering multiple destinations, avoiding the high costs and inefficiency of individual shipments at each point of sale.

In addition, the LTL mode of transportation offered greater flexibility and delivery frequency, facilitating inventory management and reducing waiting time at each point of sale and the warehouse in New York.

The consolidated transport modality or LTL (Less Than Truckload) represents one of the most cost-efficient options within the freight forwarding industry. This modality allows the shipment of loads sharing the same space in a truck, which not only means significant savings for your company by not having to assume the total cost of transportation but also facilitates access to this service for those companies whose cargo volumes do not fill an entire truck.

Usually, from the perspective of outsourced logistics companies or 3PLs, such as UTB Logistics, and for carriers, this shared transportation of goods involves a great deal of management, planning, and cargo tracking.

One of the biggest challenges in this process was getting suitable carriers and transporters. Convincing them to send their empty trucks from other locations to New York to transport as many racks as possible required strategic planning and persuasion skills. Plotting optimized routes that would save time, money, and resources was crucial.

For the transportation quotation process, we considered important factors such as the distance to be traveled, the weather forecast for the territory through which the cargo was to pass, and the estimated transit time. Once everything was ready for the quotation, we shared these rates and strategic planning with our client, who was quite satisfied with the preliminary work carried out by our agents. That’s how we got to work and began to deploy the entire strategy for transporting the racks throughout the United States.

Transportation and storage strategy from Canada

199 racks were to be transported from Canada to the United States, where they would arrive to begin the long distribution process throughout the country.

Within the multinational cosmetics company’s supply chain, the passage of the cargo between the Canadian and U.S. border was not on our account, as they were in charge of the journey to the warehouse in New York. Once there, our drivers would carry out the cross-docking process.

However, the warehouse had limited space to store the racks, which had to move in and out constantly. This required a continuous loading and unloading flow that allowed goods to enter and exit almost simultaneously. Otherwise, the cargo had to wait to be loaded or unloaded in the warehouse, as they did not have sufficient capacity to ensure more space for the racks.

As soon as each truck arrived at the storage warehouse with the racks, each occupying one pallet, UTB Logistics came in to work its operational magic, as did the carriers we had contracted to move the cargo.

How did we successfully distribute the cargo throughout the United States?

The storage warehouse in New York had only one gate for loading and unloading, meaning every time a truck with new racking came in from Canada, an equivalent amount had to go out.

For this reason, the communication and planning process in this first step of the transportation strategy was critical. There had to be constant communication with the carriers distributing the shelves throughout the United States and with the other carriers from Canada involved in the process. Convincing many carriers to send empty trucks to New York required excellent persuasive skills and a solid commitment to all involved.

In addition, it was essential to maintain close collaboration with the storage warehouse staff, who had to constantly inform us about their capacity and the times our trucks would be loaded.

Since the storage warehouse had only one gate for loading and unloading goods, how did we ensure that none of our carriers were simultaneously waiting in the warehouse?

In the transportation industry, time is money, and waiting time increases operating costs. Knowing that our team had to be highly efficient, we assigned specific time slots to each truck driver. This avoided increases in operating expenses, dissatisfaction, and delays in delivery times.

Once the carriers were dispatched one by one from the New York warehouse, they began their journey to other states. As a logistical team, and due to the wide variety of states where the multinational cosmetics company has outlets, the transportation routes varied according to each driver.

One particular route departed from New York to Anchorage, Alaska, making nine stops in different states and taking fourteen days. This route crossed the country almost end to end, then crossed the border into Alaska.

The journey from New York to Anchorage covers 4,606 miles and 76 hours of driving, not counting stops, rest times, and sleep periods. In the United States, regulations dictate that a truck driver cannot drive for more than 11 consecutive hours, a factor that must always be considered.

To give you a clearer idea of what this journey looked like, this was the route the shelves followed traveling from New York to Alaska:

Transportation strategy

Each truck typically carried between 25 and 28 pallets, meaning most journeys required many stops.

Our logistics agents constantly updated our client on the status of the cargo, providing details on the transit, estimated delivery date, and dispatch of the Proof of Delivery (POD) upon completion of the delivery. This detailed tracking was crucial to the project’s success, as it also allowed for considerable efficiency in the unloading process at the cosmetics company’s points of sale.

In this way, we successfully completed the project, ensuring that each shelf arrived in excellent condition at its destination within optimal transit times.

The multinational cosmetics company was so satisfied with our services that, barely a month after completing this project, they commissioned another similar shelving distribution project from us. This time, it involved 205 racks that, like the previous ones, had to be transported and distributed throughout the United States.

One of the highlights of these projects was that there was no single damage claim. All loads were successfully delivered, and we demystified that LTL freight has many damage claims. At UTB Logistics, we work so that everything is carried out in the best possible way.

What did we learn from this LTL transportation strategy?

Precise coordination and constant communication with all parties involved were vital in overcoming logistical challenges. We learned that anticipating and planning every detail, from pickup to delivery, is fundamental to avoid problems and guaranteeing customer satisfaction.

Alternatives for any possible mishap or inconvenience are essential to coordinating any logistics process. If we had not foreseen, for example, that the racks in the storage warehouse would load slower due to the limited number of loading gates or that the warehouse would exceed its storage capacity without meticulous coordination, we would have faced a much less satisfactory process, with delays, possible claims for improper cargo handling, and loss of confidence from our logistics network.

In addition, carefully mapping and planning the various shipping and distribution routes was crucial to optimizing time and reducing costs. In this type of project, weighing every detail, maintaining direct and constant communication with the client, and meticulous record-keeping within the supply chain are essential practices.

Finally, if you want to work with logistics partners with years of experience in the industry and extensive knowledge in different modes of transportation of goods, UTB Logistics is the right one to help you navigate the world of logistics with your own transportation strategy. Quote your freight rates now by writing to info@utblogistics.com.

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