When it comes to moving freight, the first question customers often ask is “how long will it take to ship?” The truest but least satisfying answer to this would be, how long do you want it to take? If you need the shipment delivered urgently, it might end up costly. If there’s some leeway with delivery time, you could get it more done affordably.
But how long does freight take to ship, objectively speaking? What are the factors that determine the shipping speed? Are they all tied to the cost of shipping? Let’s look into that more closely.
This one’s obvious — the longer the route, the more time it takes to cover. When listing your shipment, keep in mind that the average transporter might cover about 500 miles per day. Try not to have unreasonable time constraints in place. No one will move freight 1,500 miles in a single day, even if they tell you otherwise.
If unsure what shipping time to request, you can always consult the drivers that send in their quotes. If they offer to deliver in three days, for instance, see if they can make it in two. (But expect them to adjust their quote if your demands are stringent.)
One thing that customers often fail to consider is the drivers’ allotted hours of service (HOS). State and federal regulations restrict the number of hours one can spend behind the wheel. This, in turn, extends the shipping time beyond what you might expect it to be. Some freight companies circumvent these restrictions by offering multiple drivers to handle your shipment in shifts. But this, of course, comes at an increased cost.
With independent transporters, solo deliveries are the default. If faced with delays on the road, the drivers can be tempted to extend their hours and make up for the lost time. As a customer, just keep in mind that pushing them to do that may be tantamount to asking them to break the law.
Depending on what you’re shipping and where to, it might take a while to load/unload the stuff. Drivers try to take this into account when estimating how long the freight takes to ship. Still, it’s not always easy for them to give you a precise estimate, so just keep that in mind.
To accommodate the transporter, try to make sure that the pick-up/delivery area is easily accessible. If the freight requires additional personnel or machinery to load/unload, it’s up to you to provide it. Speeding up these procedures makes sure the shipment will get to where it needs to be quicker.
Finally, “freight” is a kind of loosely defined category. If you’re moving dog crates or decking boards, there should be no special equipment required. (Not any that affect the shipping time, at least.) But if your shipment requires, say, heated tanks or pressurized gas canisters… there might be complications.
Any rare piece of equipment that your freight requires may not be immediately available. Whether you’re going through a broker or hiring a driver directly, these special requirements add to the waiting time. While waiting for the required gear to become available, you might pay extra to get moved up the cue, but there’s no guarantee this will work.
Know what to expect
Outlined above are just some of the factors that influence the shipping time. If you’ve been wondering “how long does freight take to ship”, this hopefully gives you an idea of what’s involved.
The key takeaway here is, don’t let yourself be blindsided. Try to get reliable time estimates, but be on your toes anyway. With the weather and traffic being what they are, surprises are bound to happen. Keep your plans as flexible as you can, and they won’t get too messed up.
Stay safe, and happy shipping!
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