Please return to this site as it will be regularly updated to reflect current events as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to evolve.
COVID-19 has continued to have a significant impact on operations in the LTL transportation sector. While the overall economy has yet to return to pre-COVID levels, we are starting to see many carrier networks begin to strain as they adapt to rising volumes. Some of the challenges carriers are facing are unpredictable and many are impacting service levels and likely will also affect future costs. To help keep you inform, TranzAct has summarized the information shared with us by the carrier community. Not every carrier is currently experiencing significant service issues, but some are and as volumes continue to rise toward pre-COVID numbers, the inefficiencies that have entered the system to cope with COVID are having a greater impact on operations. Some examples of the challenges carriers are facing include:
We would advise allowing for extra lead time into and out of the west coast as well as any current COVID hot spots. Additionally, anything you can do to limit driver wait time and keep carrier operations as efficient as possible will have a positive impact on carrier capacity. We will continue to pass along additional information as it becomes available and as always TranzAct is always ready to assist in any way we can.
Below are some frequently asked questions.
Q: Which states currently have some kind of “shelter in place” order in effect?
A: Currently the states of Alaska, California, Colorado (major metro areas) Connecticut, Delaware, Florida (only Miami Beach and Leon County), Georgia (Atlanta only) Hawaii, Idaho (Blaine County), Kansas (numerous counties) Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri (major metro areas), New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina (major metro), Ohio , Oregon, Pennsylvania (numerous counties), Tennessee (major metro areas), Texas (numerous counties) Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin are under statewide orders. Commerce in these states is generally restricted to essential businesses, which with some variation focus on these areas:
Supermarkets and grocery stores
Big box stores
Discount stores, mini-markets and non-specialized food stores
Laundromats and dry cleaners
Veterinary clinics for domestic pets and pet stores
Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure, can also be found at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19
Q: Are LTL Carriers still delivering within their defined service areas?
A: Currently, we are hearing that carriers are making deliveries to their entire service areas. For freight moving into or out of an area or state with a “shelter in place” order, the shipment needs to qualify under the appropriate essential business provisions. Also, please keep in mind that many businesses not under one of these orders have either ceased taking deliveries or are operating with a reduced workforce during this time. If you are shipping to a customer who is unable to receive the delivery, this creates a logjam at LTL service centers across the country, as they do not have storage capacity. In fact, some carriers are utilizing additional warehouse facilities for refused shipments. Refused deliveries run the risk of storage charges and re-delivery charges being applied. It is recommended to confirm with your consignee that they will be able to receive prior to shipping for the immediate future.
Q: How will service be impacted?
A: Unfortunately, our advice is to plan on service disruptions. LTL networks are very interconnected and special requirements and overall challenges navigating local orders and changing processes to ensure transactions are handled in the safest manner possible will slow down the entire system. Shipments into and out of “shelter in place” states will present the biggest challenge, but plan on extended lead times for all LTL shipments.
In addition to the current challenges, it is possible that tightening truckload capacity will impact the LTL market as shippers may look to move their truckload freight via LTL. After the “perfect storm” of 2018, LTL carriers began to implement measures to try and make this practice cost prohibitive. If you find yourself considering this option, we recommend you contact our Capacity & Service Solutions group here at TranzAct (630.239.8471). They can work with you to find truckload capacity and if needed secure a spot quote from the LTL carrier to ensure you are not subjected to unanticipated costs shipping larger than traditional LTL orders.
Q: Are there any changes to normal processes that LTL carriers are implementing that we should be aware of?
A: In addition to the challenge of compliance to “shelter in place” type orders the main change that has popped up is in regard to inside deliveries. Estes Express and Pitt Ohio are the first carriers to cease performing inside deliveries. Currently we are getting the feedback that other carriers are leaving the decision on an inside delivery to the delivering driver, and his perception of the safety of the situation will govern if the inside delivery is executed. We anticipate there will continue to be pushback on inside deliveries and other carriers will eventually follow suit and limit them or cease to execute them, so we recommend taking proactive steps with consignees to ensure drivers feel safe and/or eliminate the need for them to go inside to avoid future problems.
Many businesses are changing their delivery or pickup process. Many of these changes require more time to be spent to ensure everyone’s safety. The result is that LTL carriers will be having a harder time projecting how long it will take them to complete their stops both at pickup and delivery. Please plan on extended shipping and receiving windows and communicate any changes in your process during the dispatch to minimize the impact on the driver.
Many carriers are foregoing receiving signatures on delivery receipts and instead, obtaining the receiving person’s name.
Fed Ex and YRC have made the decision to suspend money-back guarantee for all guaranteed services effective immediately until further notice. These carriers will continue to apply the upcharge/charges for the guaranteed services, they will not reimburse for failure.
Q: How are carriers determining if my shipment qualifies as an essential good?
A: What we are currently hearing is drivers will inquire of the shipper if the consignee has been confirmed as being open. The will be no certification necessary that the consignee has been verified. However, if the consignee is not open, or is open but not accepting shipments, the carrier may send the shipment back to origin or put the shipment in outside storage at shipper’s expense.
To err on the sage side, we recommend ensuring your consignee will be open to accept the shipment, and if there are special instructions to notate them on the bill of lading. In addition, notating that the shipment is in support of an essential industry would be good practice moving forward.
Beyond the above guidance, most carriers are operating business as usual in other areas and are anticipating continuing to operate. In general, they have made the necessary changes to hygiene policies to curb the spread COVID-19 as much as possible. We will post more information as it becomes available. Specific carrier information is available at the links below:
Phone: (630) 530-3132