Cost-Effective Alternatives for LPL Shipments Offered by UPS and FedEx

Are you a good candidate for UPS Hundredweight or FedEx Multiweight?

For shipments that exceed 1,000 lbs.`, less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers are the obvious choice. But when shipments fall below full pallets of stock, there are other options to consider. Many businesses are unaware of how much they could save by choosing UPS Hundredweight or FedEx Multiweight when sending merchandise on partial pallets, or less-than-pallet loads (LPLs). High costs and the increasing risk of goods becoming lost or damaged are common issues that businesses face when sending LPL shipments. But using UPS’s or FedEx’s services for non-palletized shipments can save you both time and aggravation.

Operating via a hub system, LTL carriers pick up packages from a variety of customers in a given geographic area and transport these items to a local terminal. From there, the packages are consolidated according to the delivery route for each truck. Because LPL shipments are uneven, carriers break these pallets down and rebuild them with other uneven pallets to maximize truck space and increase load efficiency. Once the packages arrive at the delivery terminal, the mixed pallets are then reassembled.

The problem is that there is a greater risk that these packages will be lost at the time of reassembly. Some packages will not have a label when they are sent on a pallet, because they are part of a series of packages that are to be sent together. Without a label on every package, reassembly can be extremely difficult and packages can easily be lost. But Multiweight and Hundredweight services track shipments at the package level, rather than using a pro number that indicates shipment level detail only.

Packages sent through LTL carriers are also subject to interlining. That is, when shipments are sent to a location outside the delivery area of the original LTL carrier, the trucking company will transfer that shipment from the border of its service area to another LTL carrier for final delivery. Interlining means that packages are subject to additional handling; therefore, you will be subject to extra charges. There is an increased risk of loss and damage to these packages as well. UPS’s and FedEx’s delivery areas, however, are located across the continental US. So, with Multiweight and Hundredweight services, typically no interlining is involved.

The savings that businesses realize when switching to FedEx Multiweight or UPS Hundredweight can be substantial. Because these services are equipped to accept LPL shipments, shrink wrapping, palletizing, and so forth are not required. Pallets not only cost money, but they can also add a substantial amount of billable weight per shipment. What’s more, additional surcharges that LTL carriers typically bill do not apply with these alternative services. Minimum surcharges are much lower and accessorials, such as inside delivery, congested area deliveries, and single shipment pickups, all contribute to savings when sending LPL shipments.

Todd Benge and Bill Wolski are senior partners for Andover, MA-based parcel shipping optimization service provider Birddog Solutions.