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Bills of Lading, also known as BOLs, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but should all have similar information. This guide will break down the parts of the BOL so that you can be positive that you are looking at the correct information when you pick up a load.

  • Date: The date of the BOL is almost always the date the paperwork was printed. While most often this date is the same as the pick-up date, sometimes, it can be the day before.

  • Bill of Lading Number: This number is usually for the shipper reference to that they can keep track of the freight on their dock. This is often used as a pick-up number as well.

  • PO Number: This is the purchase order number and is used by the shipper and consignee to reference the shipment in their inventory system.

  • Shipper: This will be the address of the company you will be picking up from. Sometime there will be a phone number for this location as well but is not requires and often not on the BOL. Also can be noted and the “Ship From” or “Pick Up”

  • Consignee: This will be the address of the company you will be delivering to. Sometime there will be a phone number for this location as well but is not requires and often not on the BOL. Also can be noted as the “Ship to” or “Delivery”

  • Freight Charges: There will be 3 options checked here. The shipment will be marked:

  • Prepaid: Shipper is paying the freight charges

  • Collect: Consignee is paying the freight charges

  • 3rd Party: A third party is paying for the freight charges

PLEASE BE AWARE! If the company giving you the freight is a broker, the freight charges could be marked for any of these options. You will be sending your invoice to the broker unless they tell you otherwise.

  • Quantity: Be very careful when reviewing this part of your paperwork. Shippers can put the number of pallets, the number of cartons, or both. Also, just because a BOL will have a number of pallets on it, that doesn’t reflect how much space it takes up on the trailer. The skids could be stackable or oversized, and that will change how much space the freight actually uses on your truck.

  • Weight: The total weight of the shipment. Some BOLs will have several weights on it for varying item numbers but there should be a total weight on the BOL. Usually at the end of the item list.

  • Description: This should be a generic description of the product. The shipper might also have an item number listed here. Pay close attention to this. If you are told to pick up a load of steel and they load you with light bulbs instead then the shipper might be giving you the wrong freight.

  • NFMC: In the United States, each commodity or type of product is assigned a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). This code indicated to the DOT what type of freight you are hauling.

  • Class: The class of a piece of freight determines the overall density of the freight. This is commonly used by common carriers to determine how much space something takes up.

  • Signature lines: There should be 3 signature lines on the paperwork:

  • Shipper Signature: Signed by the shipper who loaded the truck. Will be dated with the date it ships. This will verify the freight shipped. If the driver is picking up at a location other than the shipper, this date might vary.

  • Driver Signature: The driver will sign this to verify they picked up the freight.

  • Consignee Signature: The consignee will sign and date this to confirm that the freight is delivered. The consignee is also responsible for added notes about any damaged or missing items on the shipment.

This is the basic information you can find on your BOLs. Keep in mind that BOLs are not all standard and come with a variety of information. If you don’t see at least this information on your BOLs then you should contact the company that gave you the freight and try to...

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It doesn't matter if you're a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, you're impartial to politics in general, or you're somewhere else on the line; there is a divisiveness in this country that is almost palpable. We see it a lot in the trucking industry, but we also see it all over TV, social media, and newspapers (for the few of us that still read newspapers). There is a racial divide, a political divide, a religious divide, and a gender divide. At what point do we, collectively as a society, decide that we've had enough? When do we embrace our neighbors and say "I accept you for who you are"? When do we stop letting the media control who we interact with? When do we stop posting and re-tweeting with knee-jerk reactions and stop to thin...

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I was gone for my mandatory annual training that I am tasked with doing every year while enlisted in the military. Typically, this is a 2-week stint. However, our mission this year was unique, so I was forced to be on the road for 3 weeks. Our mission was to leave Iowa City, IA head to NC and pick up cargo and then take it over to Nevada. Upon completion, we were to head back to Iowa City, IA. The plan was for me to help Charity (my wife and co-worker) work from the road as much as possible without really knowing what to expect and how things would work out. With the technology we have been provided, I was able to work remotely right off my iPad, cell phone and mobile hot spot. I will admit all the noise in the truck made things difficu...

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In honor of Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I tried to start a movement to Hug A Trucker, but it made the drivers rather uncomfortable.

So, instead I want everyone to take a quick look around you. Look at each thing you see.

Here…I’ll go first.

Door – Name Plate – Light switch – Electrical Box – Heating Vent – Windows – Drywall – printer – laptop bag - chair – desk – phone – computer – 5 hour energy - shirt – shorts – shoes.

What on Earth do they have in common?

ALL OF THEM were on a truck. Let that sink in.

In fact, nearly everything in our lives would not be in our lives if it weren’t for trucks.

I am fortunate to work with a great g...

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National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is really a thing, and it's really important. Take a look around you. Chances are, from the food you eat to the furniture you're sitting on, a trucker brought it to you. This isn't a glamorous job. There's not a lot of glory in driving a truck. Truckers don't get a lot of recognition. But the fact is, it's the backbone to our country. Truckers are literally delivering us EVERY SINGLE THING we could want or need. I personally feel like the whole team should get recognition; from the dock manager to the dispatcher, the salespeople to the owner of the freight brokering company, it's important to acknowledge ALL OF YOU. You all are making dreams come true and sustaining a level of comfort for every si...

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Have you ever heard of a company being "too flexible"? We haven't, either. Yet, we found out that's exactly what we are. Let me explain. We are always looking for opportunities to grow. We have such an incredible team of people working with us that we KNOW there are other people that would be a great fit and will share our vision. We want to get our philosophy out to as many people as possible, nationwide. We've run a few ads this past year, but we didn't think we were getting the word out to the maximum amount of freight brokers and sales agents. So we decided to use a recruiting company that specifically works with people in the freight brokering industry.We were told that 1., it's almost impossible to land a "unicorn". A unicorn being...

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Human trafficking is a very real threat in the United States. There are at least 17,900 people that are victims of human trafficking a year, and the majority of them are children. The human trafficking industry is also very lucrative, making upwards to 270 million PER CITY. As a trucking company, and as parents, we feel it is our OBLIGATION to help end human trafficking. There is so much we can do to bring awareness to this cause and to make our drivers aware of the signs. Although truckers are in the areas that human trafficking is most prevalent (truck stops), ANYONE can keep an eye out. There are some great non-profits that educate every day people to ensure that they know the signs of human trafficking. We personally are big advocate...

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I read an article yesterday that stated "The trucking industry could have a shortage of drivers in the next ten years" because baby boomers will be retiring, automated trucks aren't being developed quickly enough, e-commerce is up, and there aren't enough younger people getting into the trucking industry. While all of that may very well be true, there is another factor: No one wants to work anymore. Our headquarters office is in Brook Park, Ohio. We're bordering Cleveland, Ohio, for those of you that aren't familiar with the area. The owner of our company does a great job of keeping the building up. A few weeks ago, he decided he wanted to replace the roof. I called several companies, and only two called me back. When they were here, the...

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How shipping a new or used forklift with third party logistics (3PL) can help your business.

Shipping a forklift seems like a complex process but, it is not as problematic as one may think. Sure, everyone can ship a package in a box, but when it comes to shipping a forklift many people are left scratching their heads.

Most businesses have some type of material handling machine like a forklift they may need to move to other locations and since many companies use these machines it is important to know how a 3PL can help. A 3PL company can be an asset to any forklift company, equipment dealership, or business that uses forklifts and needs to move them for the following reasons.

Expertise

  • A 3PL company solely focuses on transportation. Their representatives will know which questions to ask about your forklifts to accurately gauge the best way to transport them. A 3PL will set up all permits and details to move the forklift, and associated attachments, and batteries from point A to point B. A 3PL will also know how to correctly ship an electric forklift with an industrial battery installed or on its own. Forklifts can be oversized at times, either too tall, wide, or heavy and a 3PL can advise on how to best move that type of machine. The 3PL company will handle the pickup and delivery of the forklift and will ensure on time delivery.

Costs Management

  • According to Steve Syfan of Syfan Logistics most companies who manage their own shipping departments can reduce their transportation costs by five percent, and as much as twenty-five percent in some cases by switching to a 3PL. The company switching would not have to burden the costs of fuel, salaries, maintenance, and any overhead of owning their own fleet. A 3PL company can reduce their shipping rates due to shipment volume and economies of scale.

Managing Risks

  • A quality 3PL will be able to mitigate risks for a business interested in transporting forklifts. 3PL employees are well trained and experienced in the industry. Everyone from customer service, administration, to the drivers will know how to do their job effectively. Experience is the main factor here. Drivers and dispatchers will know how to safely secure the load, how to properly drive a forklift on and off the trailers, and complete all necessary paperwork for overweight permits and hazardous materials. However, some 3PLs may not be as familiar with shipping forklifts as others. If this is the case make sure the 3PL transporting your forklift asks these important questions. What is the weight? What are the dimensions? And what other materials will be shipped (batteries, LPG tanks, attachments)? These questions will make sure the company provides the correct truck from their fleet to safely ship your forklift.

How to deci...

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Early this morning, I received a text message from one of our sales people who said that a company had called in and that we were supposed to have 2 trucks at their location and no one showed up. This wasn’t a normal customer of ours, but I went into panic mode anyway. I flew into the office with reckless abandon, worried that I somehow had forgotten about a shipment. On the way in, I called the company who was expecting us so I could try to get some more information and I quickly realized they had contacted the wrong company. We have a similar name to another company and they called us by mistake. Once I explained to the person that we were not the company she was looking for, I took the opportunity to turn the call into a sales...

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