In a recent shipment, an Ascent client ran into a costly shipping mistake that we often see. In this situation, the shipper faced additional carrier charges due to miscommunication. The freight was called into the carrier and reported on the BOL with the dimensions of 40″x48″ (13.3′); however, they loaded their freight on the truck as 48″x40″ (16′). Since the shipper loaded their freight in the truck differently than they originally noted on their shipping paperwork, they exceeded the designated linear foot rule, resulting in additional charges. How does this happen?
First, the linear foot rule refers to the predetermined parameters of space or weight that a truck can hold. It is stated in many freight contracts that the carrier is not responsible to pinwheel the freight. Pinwheeling refers to turning a pallet 90 degrees so two pallets can fit next to one another in the truck. Although this may seem mundane, it’s crucial that shippers properly communicate how their freight will be loaded onto the truck since it directly affects how shipments will fit in the space available. Unless special arrangements are made with a carrier, the shipper is responsible for loading their freight onto the truck exactly as specified. Below are 3 tips to avoid breaking the linear foot rule:
This is the most common way shippers face additional charges. Often shippers will measure the dimensions of the product, then multiple that by the number of products that fit on a skid. However, you are not taking into account the weight and size of the pallet itself, or the packaging to keep the shipment in one piece. Regardless of how much calculating you do, measure each shipment individually as accurately as possible before you call in the shipment and complete any bill of lading paperwork to avoid disagreements and rebills.
Not only do you need to be accurate and specific when calling in a shipment to a carrier, but also to your team. The person who will be loading your freight onto the truck needs to know exactly what the carrier was told to avoid surprises and disagreements. In the client case above, the shipper would have avoided the additional charges, if they had known what was originally called in. Likewise, when calling to schedule shipments, make sure to communicate with your vendor or carrier exactly how the shipment will be loaded so they can help optimize your freight.
The easiest way to avoid confusion is to understand what type of trailer your freight will ride in. Depending upon the carrier and truck, you will be working with different dimensions. For example, some carriers use two different size trailers for LTL shipments. Knowing exactly which size trailer you will be using, will help you determine your available space.