AMTR has been on the road again, traveling to conferences across the U.S. One of our recent stops was at NITL2018 (National Industrial Transportation League), held in Dallas, Texas. At the conference, there was significant focus on trucking industry issues. One of the biggest themes was capacity. Whether it was hours-of-service regulations (which are limiting […]
Recent months have seen a number of announcements regarding significant leadership changes in the railroad industry. To begin, Ron Batory was sworn in as the Federal Railroad Administration’s 14th administrator on February 28th. Batory has had a long career in railroading, having come most recently from his position as COO at Conrail. Another announcement involves […]
For shippers, getting goods to customers in a timely manner is of critical importance. The process is often so time-constrained that a “ship first and ask questions later” approach may be used. Diversions, reconsignments, contract renewal delays or simply shipping to a new destination can create questionable billing. The problem is, however, that such questions […]
At AMTR, human knowledge plays a central role in our business model and defines our competitive advantage. As such, efforts to improve and challenge our minds are a key focus and always a strategic consideration. Recently, we added four employees to the ranks of Mensa, bringing the company total to five! Mensa describes itself as […]
The year 2018 is near, and with it will come rate increases for some carriers. Shippers are paying premium prices for freight, as there are high volumes of shipments coupled with reduced capacity. These factors are causing an increase in rates for shippers and some new record highs for those in the transportation industry. The […]
Unnecessary repairs mean criminal fines for United Industries, the Progress Rail Services unit out of Long Beach. Federal investigators determined employees had chosen random cars for repairs in order to increase revenue, and later dumped the parts to conceal the evidence. United Industries has agreed to pay a $5 million fine after admitting to these […]
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is currently investigating the safety impacts of operating increasingly long freight trains on U.S. railroads. Due to a number of accidents and recent derailments, the FRA is increasing their inspections, and the Government Accountability Office will launch a study on the impacts of longer trains. CSX, in particular, has increased […]
American Truck and Rail Audits, Inc. (AMTR) is proud to announce that it has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance. “As a company that provides a service that sits at the intersection of both shipper and carrier data, we are excited to get in on the ground floor of the blockchain standards setting and adoption […]
On November 19, AMTR lost our beloved leader and CEO, Shan Scott, to pancreatic cancer. He fought the illness like he ran the business—with all his heart. He came to work until he could not any longer; this company was his second home, and we were all his extended family. Shan’s first job out of […]
Railway Gazette reported recently that Chief Operations Officer (COO) Cindy Sanborn, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson, and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Ellen Fitzsimmons left CSX on November 15th. Former CN executive James Foote will join the company as COO. Nathan Goldman will step up from his current role as VP of Risk […]
Chicago, Illinois is the busiest rail interchange in North America. Fox Business reports that, in an effort to relieve congestion, Canadian National and Norfolk Southern railroads have brokered a deal to interchange some traffic at Elkhart, Indiana, bypassing the Chicago network. The resultant savings of transit time should be a boon to shippers, providing additional […]
Raymond P. Martinez was chosen by the Trump administration late last month to become the newest leader of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Martinez, former Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission since 2010, vocalized his support of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate in the early days of his FMCSA […]
In trucking, the transport of hazardous materials is highly regulated. A shipper is required to notate several things on a bill of lading if a chemical being transported is explosive, flammable, corrosive, combustible, toxic, poisonous or otherwise dangerous. The specific type of hazard must be indicated, as well as the packing group to which it […]
The rail industry is working hard to implement a number of new technologies that will improve operations and competitiveness. A recent article by Forbes contributor Steve Banker states that rail freight market share has slipped somewhat over faster, more reliable modes of transportation, such as truckload and parcel services. Although moving freight via rail is […]
According to the 2017 Trucking Perspectives report published in a recent issue of Inbound Logistics, the number one challenge faced by shippers is “reducing transport[ation] costs.” Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the Trucking Survey respondents stated that this is their greatest challenge, up from 71% in 2016. Rail shippers are similarly concerned about costs. As reported […]
The Trucking Conditions Index (TCI), published monthly by the freight transportation consultancy firm FTR, tracks the changes representing six major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fleet bankruptcies, fuel price and financing. The TCI is focused primarily on contract markets, not spot markets; however, the markets do interrelate. As […]
West Memphis, Arkansas broke ground recently on a major port upgrade that will expand freight rail handling capacity. This $10.9 million intermodal project will connect two major interstates, two Class 1 railroads (BNSF and UP), and the city’s deepwater port. It is expected to be completed in March 2018. This port, which previously supported only […]
Canadian Pacific (CP) is making plans to introduce new environmental surcharges to other Canadian provinces, in addition to those already established for British Columbia and Alberta. CP currently recovers these surcharges through the application of intermodal and carload surcharge rates. The plan is to expand the CP 9800 tariff to include added carbon taxes for […]
Shippers and carriers share a greater amount of digital communication and connectivity than ever before. Emails, electronic load booking and cell phones are replacing faxes, phone calls and CB radios. This increasing “connectedness” should leave shippers and carriers alike contemplating how vulnerable they are to data breaches and what the implications of these breaches might […]
In the U.S., the recent presidential election has sparked new thinking regarding supply chain strategies in what may be a new era of Protectionism. Protectionism—an economic philosophy that centers on shielding a country’s industries from foreign competition—has many companies re-evaluating their supply chains. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Rethinking Your Supply Chain in […]
CSX begins operations at Pittsburgh Intermodal Rail Terminal– A new intermodal rail terminal located in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania began operations September 11th and provides shippers new transportation options to and from the area. CSX promises the new facility will expand markets across the country and the world, improve supply chain flow and reduce transportation costs. […]
FedEx and UPS recently announced their 2017 holiday surcharge schedules. While both companies will institute surcharges over the holidays, they are each taking a different approach, giving customers a choice to make. The good news is that FedEx will exempt customers from most holiday fees. Based on a statement released by the carrier on August […]
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast at the end of August, quickly followed by Hurricane Irma moving in on Florida and Georgia. Now that the hurricanes have passed, FTR Transportation Intelligence has predicted that 25% of Gulf Coast trucking operations will remain impacted until the end of September. Natural disasters and their effects […]
The southern U.S. has suffered a one-two punch with the landfall of two major hurricanes within weeks. Rail freight has ground to a halt on the Texas Gulf and lower Atlantic Coasts, with embargoes being placed on traffic into major hubs and ports. As with any service disruption due to weather or other circumstances, such […]
In one of psychology’s most famous experiments, Harvard researchers Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris popularized the idea of the “Invisible Gorilla.” The idea stems from the result of an experiment wherein students were asked to watch a one-minute basketball game video and count how many passes were made by the team wearing white, while ignoring […]
In a July 17th meeting of the U.S. Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, an Amendment which would allow twin 33-foot trailers to operate on the nation’s highways was voted on and pulled. The Amendment, which has been put before the Senate over the past two years in various incarnations, lacked the necessary support […]
On July 1, a new tariff was published by the UP which differentiates between rates for CPC 1132 and DOT 117 tank cars. Please be sure to subscribe to this new tariff if it affects your rail freight. Additionally, tank shippers may want to read up on the Next Generation Tank Car Project (NGRTC) on […]
Recently, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) released Supplement 2 of the STB NMF 100-AQ classification book. Although awareness of all supplement changes is important, it is imperative that shippers note the change to all 11-subprovision density scales. It was noted in the Commodity Classification Standard Board (CCSB) Docket 2017-2 Section 1 Subject 16 […]
Many shippers might think rules tariffs do not apply to freight rates. Sometimes they contain accessorial charges that end up on invoices. However, these rules that rail transportation carriers use are also there to help you as the shipper! These documents are very often overlooked as a whole when programming rates or reviewing invoices for […]
Since the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015, we have seen a resurgence of new activity that will ultimately benefit shippers. From addressing issues such as public online access to Ag and Fertilizer tariffs, to proposing new competitive reciprocal switching rules, we are excited to see what changes are in store for the […]
On June 30, 2017, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced that it is updating its regulations regarding how Class I railroads publish common carrier pricing and service terms for shipping agricultural products and fertilizer. The ICC Termination Act of 1995 previously imposed a requirement that railroads make their common carrier pricing and service terms for […]
An estimated half a billion Americans traveled at least 50 miles for the 2017 July 4th holiday. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), this is an increase of over one million travelers compared to the same weekend in 2016. Bill Sutherland of AAA attributes the rise to “strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer […]
‘Tis the season for those bright and beautiful explosives. Consumer fireworks are shipped via ground within the United States and are deemed Division 1.4G explosives, and therefore, considered hazardous goods. It is vital that these products are transported in a manner that is safe for shippers, receivers, drivers and the general public. Transportation of fireworks […]
In July of 1776, the United States officially declared its independence. Over 50 years later, the first US railway, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, opened for commercial transportation of freight and passengers. Over the next several decades, rail lines grew from 23 to over 3000 miles of track, and by 1860, began connecting west beyond […]
As we travel the country meeting potential clients, we are often asked about our compensation model. While many of our competitors base their compensation on leveraged potential future savings, our compensation deals exclusively with freight dollars that have already been spent. Our fees are based solely on actual recoveries we collect on a client’s behalf, […]
Summer may bring a slower pace for some, but the rail freight industry is picking up steam, continuing the momentum of the first quarter of 2017. U.S. rail freight traffic continues its growth for a fourth straight month over 2016 carload numbers. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports an 8.4% increase in rail traffic […]
The growth of e-commerce is driving the convergence of retail and distribution space. As e-commerce gains market share from brick and mortar stores, it is also increasing the demand for last-mile delivery service and public access pickup locations. Existing malls and shopping centers may provide a solution to more efficiently move goods to consumers, perhaps […]
AMTR has helped recover hundreds of thousands of dollars for shippers, even when the bills have been correct! Many shippers know the difficulty of dealing with multiple railroad carriers for a single shipment; either each railroad is paid separately, or one carrier is paid for the full interline move and is responsible for distributing the […]
This is the time of year to keep it cool, including shipments of heat-sensitive products. Shippers are hiring refrigerated trailers (reefers) or requesting temperature control services from LTL carriers in order to protect their products during transit. However, these specialized trailers come at a price, and carrier accessorial costs are steadily rising. According to DAT.com, […]
At AMTR, the core of our business model rests on human knowledge. In addition to our in-depth proficiency with our customers’ freight operations, we also pride ourselves in the recognition of current industry “hot” topics. Whether it is industry happenings, announcements or trends, it is our job to stay on top of it and, moreover, […]
Shippers should become aware of the change to the mileage scales in UP Agricultural product tariffs. UP has announced that, in their efforts to simplify prices for mileage scale movements, as of July 1, they will expire the scale items within UP 17, UP 2028, UP 4050, UP 4051, UP 4053, UP 4427, UP 4907 […]
A potentially powerful lobbying group called Americans for Modern Transportation was recently formed to “actively work to improve transportation infrastructure and policy to reflect, and meet, the growing needs of modern businesses and consumers,” according to trucking industry and supply chain expert Clifford Lynch. One of the group’s primary goals is to seek approval for […]
With over 35 years of auditing success, AMTR LTL freight audits are based on a high percentage of classification errors. Classifications can be difficult to decipher and assign. To better understand classifications, their purpose and the history, you first have to understand the entity that creates LTL classifications. The Commodity Classification Standards Board was brought […]
Commodities are sent to destinations for unloading repeatedly, usually with the emptied car returning to the origin. The return may occur within days, and other times, long afterward. Normally, these empty cars will return free of charge. However, exceptions do occur, and when they do, should this movement be chargeable? All Class I’s and various […]
SMART Auditors to the Rescue At AMTR, we address the complexities of freight costs for our customers on a daily basis. These complexities are many and varied and consistently impact the movement and subsequent invoicing for freight. From billing errors, to innocent typos, to inaccurate interpretation of contract wording, no company is immune. Even the […]
The Association of American Railroads reports that U.S. carload and intermodal traffic is continuing its upward trend in 2017, surpassing 2016 numbers by approximately 4.5%. Coal, grain and nonmetallic minerals all saw upticks in volume; however, petroleum and related products, motor vehicles and parts, and forest products fell somewhat over last year’s numbers. Canadian and […]
Asking Congress for funds to increase the highway infrastructure is a top priority for trucking companies. Economic growth and increased job opportunities are necessary and important to these companies and their drivers. Mike Ducker, CEO and President of FedEx Freight, and Derek Leathers, CEO and President of Werner Enterprises, both recently testified before a Senate […]
Have you ever given someone a task and come back later to find it was done differently than expected? This happens everywhere, from large projects like home remodeling to smaller office requests such as an email. Regardless of where the disconnect occurs, it can be frustrating—not to mention time-consuming—to redo what is necessary. Another option […]
Multiple times per year, the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) manual is revised through the issuances of supplements. Some of the most impactful changes made by these updates are the cancellation or alteration of article classifications. Most supplements issued by the NMFC contain dozens of items which are canceled, added or altered. It is critical […]
As a knowledge-intensive company, AMTR has to be aware of what constitutes our mission-critical knowledge, as well as the nature of it—explicit or tacit. Explicit knowledge is defined as the kind of knowledge that we can write down and share with others in instructions, manuals or databases. It can also be easily captured, stored and […]
Genesee & Wyoming (G&W), the US railroad holding company that owns or leases 122 freight railroads globally, has signed an agreement to acquire Atlantic Western Transportation, the parent company of the Heart of Georgia Railroad (HoG). HoG operates across 219 miles of track in Georgia, linking with G&W’s Georgia Southwestern Railroad at Americus, and Georgia […]
Mid-January through the end of February is typically the slowest time of the year for motor carrier transportation. As we move forward into spring, carriers can expect increased volumes and shippers may experience higher rates and longer wait times. AMTR has compiled a list of tips that will both help save money on freight and […]
AMTR’s forte is discovering and recovering overcharges during after-payment freight audits. With our vast knowledge and experience with overcharge claims, we can also provide crucial insight about unidentified or duplicate payments and undercharges—information that can save shippers money! The statutes that apply for overcharge claims apply to all of these, as well. While carriers start […]
Rate engines are a necessity in the shipping industry. However, it is also crucial to do some cleanup of these systems regularly, especially when changes are made to your route options. Recently, during a freight cost audit, our team discovered an error that cost a shipper over a hundred thousand dollars due to an old […]
Spring is in the air, which often brings on the motivation to tidy up our spaces and take on other projects which just did not seem right during the long winter. Spring cleaning, whether at work or home, can be a time to look at problems anew and to try different things. With regard to […]
The city of New Orleans is seeking a private operator to purchase the NOPB Railroad in order to provide help with capital improvements and maintenance costs. According to New Orleans officials, it is hoped that the new agency will help improve commerce, as well as “maintain a competitive rate structure” to attract new customers. The […]
Increased Rates Likely Many larger less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers emerged from 2016 with much lower profit margins than anticipated. However, things are looking up in 2017. As of February, LTL volume has grown to the point that carriers are confident that rates may be raised soon. A recent joint survey by NASSTRAC, Journal of Commerce and […]
Freight that is incorrectly described on the bill of lading or misclassified on an inspection is the single largest driver of overcharges on less-than-truckload freight. Regardless, the issue can be mitigated with knowledge and preparation. When a shipper is preparing a bill of lading, they should research the product in question to ascertain its true […]
An issue which AMTR has consistently observed to produce billing errors is the disparity between what a shipper thinks happens versus what actually occurs. This can manifest in many different situations. Sometimes carriers reroute shipments for the convenience or needs of their operations. Contract rates that take longer than anticipated to negotiate are not applied […]
February is often regarded as the month of love and a perfect time to reflect on ways we can avoid losing love for our jobs. Factors such as long work hours, assignment overload and tight deadlines can lead to stress and burnout. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Why Some People Get […]
In accordance with the Climate Leadership Act of 2016 and effective January 1, the Canadian Pacific will apply an AB Carbon Levy Surcharge, either per mile or per container (CP 9800). Also adding carbon surcharges is the Canadian National Railway. Effective in April, a tax will apply to shipments traveling to, from or within Alberta. […]
One of the many tasks performed at AMTR is the investigation of all available rates. Most companies who say they audit freight invoices are only running customer-specific criteria through a rate engine that is preset with rates the client has provided. At AMTR, there are several layers of investigation performed when reviewing a customer’s lanes. […]
As shippers and truck carriers continue the negotiation of contracts for the new year, many industry analysts predict that conditions moving into 2017 will generate higher costs for carriers, and therefore, higher rates for shippers. The trucking industry experienced an increase in volume during the fourth quarter of 2016. This trend is expected to continue […]
A shipment’s lineal foot measurement is the amount of floor space occupied from the nose to the door axis of a trailer. Lineal foot charges are assessed by carriers on shipments where the lineal footage exceeds the limit set in the carrier’s rules tariff or their contract with a shipper, with height and width thresholds […]
Overcharge claim filing statute of limitations vary depending on transportation mode. In 1994, the Transportation Regulatory Reform Act relieved motor carriers from having to file their rate tariffs with the Interstate Commerce Commission and the time limitation for filing claims was defined as 180 days from the issuing of the original freight bill. Over a […]
The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) recently announced that an injunction was issued on their lawsuit against California’s Senate Bill 84, which mandates a $45 per rail car fee for hazardous material commodities entering the state. The BNSF and the UPRR maintain that this new fee is anti-competitive and unlawfully interferes with federally protected interstate commerce. […]
Motor carriers based in Mexico may now lease equipment to carriers based in the United States. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), who finds the law against this type of leasing to be invalid and inconsistently enforced, issued a notice on November 21, 2016. As a function of this notice, carriers who assume complete […]
Having a good working relationship with your carriers is vital. For instance, a shipper starts routing freight to a new destination. After the first invoices are received, questions arise about the rate being billed. The shipper may reach out to their carrier contact and request a reduced contract rate to be put into effect for this […]
As the year draws to a close, AMTR is proud to reflect on the successful accomplishment of key strategic goals directed at improving internal operations and, more importantly, better serving our customers. In 2016, we tackled improvements and changes across the board with initiatives focused on people, processes and technology. People The AMTR employee base […]
Several of the nation’s largest trucking companies are shrinking the sizes of their fleets in an attempt to create a balance with the below average truck demand seen over the last several months. Swift, the largest U.S. trucking company; Covenant Transportation Group; and Werner, the fifth largest, announced last month that a combined total of […]
In a recent article published by Progressive Railroading, editor Pat Foran comments on a recent survey of transportation and logistics executives on the effects of digitization on the industry. According to the survey, it is expected that transportation and logistics companies that have reached an advanced level of digitization will increase from 28% today to […]
The bill of lading is the legal documentation of goods being shipped. Within the information provided on a bill of lading is the classification of these goods. These details may include a piece count, packaging details, dimensions, noun description, weight, NMF classification number or any other specific information. The information listed on the bill of […]
How does your company pay your freight invoices? Shippers often have a variety of unique numbers associated with their loads, as do carriers. Do shippers know how they connect? Are they able to connect them accurately? At AMTR, we have seen shippers pay for freight invoices using a variety of internal reference numbers, including bill […]
There is a phrase we repeat often at AMTR—if you are not asking questions, then you are not auditing. There are a multitude of reasons to question every notation and charge on a freight bill. There are often areas of interpretation and contingency that must be explored in further depth to execute a complete and thorough […]
This month, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) will be considering a petition filed by the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) seeking revised reciprocal switching rules. This issue is most important to captive shippers that, because of location, do not have access to multiple railroads, and thus cannot enjoy the benefits of market competition. If the […]
As the end of the year quickly approaches, many national and regional LTL carriers are announcing yearly general rate increases. Among these carriers are UPS Freight and FedEx Freight, who have each announced 4.9% net increases to go into effect December 26, 2016 and January 2, 2017, respectively. FedEx will also be adjusting their fuel […]
As cooler weather approaches, shippers of temperature-sensitive products will have to decide which commodities will need to be protected, how to get it accomplished and when. Most trucking companies offer services designed to keep materials from freezing by utilizing warm rooms, sheltered areas, heated trailers and insulating materials. However, ensuring that the shipment qualifies for […]
At AMTR, we have seen dozens of examples of how these departments sometimes cause inconsistencies with invoicing. In order to operate efficiently, there must be established rules about car contingency and power, routing protocols, track capacity, railhead points and more. However, marketing will negotiate private rates or publish tariff rates based on such aspects as […]
Although the word “noise” may first bring to mind the idea of train whistles or truck horns, at AMTR we think about it differently. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Daniel Kahneman, et al. described noise as “the chance variability of judgments.” Humans are often unreliable decision-makers influenced by unrecognized factors such as […]
BNSF Railway has announced a new service option to allow intermodal customers to transport freight between Texas and the Pacific Northwest beginning September 12. With extended access to the largest markets in Texas, this new service will be available for domestic containers, trailers and temperature-controlled freight and is part of BNSF’s continued focus on expanding […]
On August 4, 2016 the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released the newest edition of the only existing trucking almanac–ATA American Trucking Trends 2016. The report concluded that there was positive growth in employment, number of drivers, trucking revenue and truck sales in 2015. According to the ATA report, trucking accounted for $726.4 billion in gross […]
We do! Increasingly, tariffs and contracts are created either automatically or by copying and pasting bits and pieces. Either way, AMTR’s expert auditors spend a great deal of time auditing the contracts and tariffs themselves, in addition to auditing freight bills and freight bill data. There are instances where errors in the actual contract or […]
If you’re versed in the transportation industry’s current state, you have likely heard the phrase “capacity crunch.” With the experts predicting that there will continue to be significant increases in goods moved by truck, carriers are monitoring and adjusting their shipments to ensure that the capacity available is strategically being used. When it is not, […]
What does “value” mean to you? Lowest price? Highest quality? Something else? If you are not exactly sure, know that you are not alone. Recent conversations with some of our current and prospective customers remind us that the value of an After-Payment Freight Audit, especially an AMTR Audit, is not always well understood. To explore […]
AMTR is in full support of The Transportation & Logistic Council (TLC) and the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) efforts to address the unreasonable bill of lading changes as set forth in the Supplement 2 to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) version NMF 100-AP, that became effective on August 13th. Included in this […]
On July 27, 2016, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision on the petition to revise competitive switching rules and opened a comment period through September 26, 2016. The board has also invited stakeholders to request ex parte meetings with board members to be conducted between October 25 and November 14. Currently, reciprocal switching […]
In May, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) completed its annual unannounced brake check day that lead to removing 12.4% of trucks investigated out of service. This is all part of a North America program called Operation Airbrake, which is dedicated to brake system safety through carrier compliance and awareness. The random inspection consisted of […]
Rail vs. Private Cars The Official Railway Equipment Register, published quarterly, provides all data from the UMLER system in tariff format as mandated by the government. The two main sections contain the car specifications of railroad owned reporting marks in the front and privately owned reporting marks in the back. The reporting marks should be […]
Contract Rates vs. Quotes A common carrier’s rules tariff usually specifies the hierarchy of rate applications when it comes to tariff, contract and quote pricing. However, this has not always been–and is still not always–the standard. So for shippers, this should beg the question of which one should apply. Customer-specific pricing will come in the […]
In business circles, the conversations about “data” seem to be all the rage these days. Whether the topic is big data, data analytics or data mining, it is easy to get the impression that more data is better. With the right software tools, meaning can be derived from any data easily and quickly. Voila! Undoubtedly, […]
In order to enhance Food Safety for the millions who suffer from peanut or tree nut allergies, Union Pacific has taken action. Given that individuals afflicted with peanut and/or tree nut allergies can experience significant health problems from just being exposed to residue from these products, Union Pacific will no longer allow shipments of bulk […]
Infrastructure Repair an Important Issue It has been a pothole-filled, rough ride on the road to transportation infrastructure repair in the U.S. It took over 10 years and 36 short-term extensions to get a long-term transportation bill passed. With the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), which was signed into law on December 4, […]
Got a rail car that needs some work? Is your fleet of tank cars up for the DOT-mandated safety retrofit? All railcar owners have to send cars to the shop at some point and moving empty equipment around is just not profitable. With a little planning, however, you might be able to save your company […]
Do It Right, Save Money It should be no surprise to any shipper that misclassification of articles is a leading cause of overcharge claims in LTL shipments. In the NFMC there are 18 applicable classes ranging from 50 to 500. The first challenge is to find a description that best fits the article being shipped […]
The AAR recently released its second State of the Industry Report for 2016. This year’s report titled, “The Ripple Effect: Freight Rail Delivers the Economy,” for the first time ever shares data that begins to quantify the freight railroad sector’s economic and fiscal impact. Furthermore, it features chapters that focus on the impact of the […]
California Compliance Surcharge Thinking about California often brings to mind thoughts of sunshine and surfing; however, if you’re in the business of shipping goods, the new California Compliance Surcharge being billed by some LTL carriers is probably first and foremost in your thinking. As of May, two prominent LTL carriers, Old Dominion Freight Line and […]
When a tariff is replaced by a completely new tariff errors can and will occur. As an example, in a recent audit of one of our client (shipper) accounts, it was discovered that a tariff which had been used for many years had been reissued into a new tariff. The new tariff was published and […]
Let’s say you have had a long-standing contract involving many carriers for a through rate. One of the carriers has informed you that they are no longer able to be a part of that through rate. As such, your product and marketing managers must begin to negotiate new rates for that carrier’s portion of a […]
The latest transportation funding bill, spearheaded by Sen. Susan Collins, includes a set 73-hour, seven-day work week limit provision for truck drivers. According to logisticsmgmt.com, “the legislation’s 73-hour cap does not make any changes to the current maximum mandatory hours a commercial truck driver can drive in a given week without taking a restart: 60 […]
The Heart of Texas Railroad, running 68 miles of track from Lometa, Texas to Brady, Texas is being purchased by an unnamed OmniTRAX, Inc. affiliate. The new name of the line will be Central Texas & Colorado River Railway, LLC and it plans to focus on aggregate, sand and cement customers. According to Kevin Shuba, […]
The LTL trucking industry faces many changes on a daily basis. Some of these changes involve the classification or re-classification of products, as governed by the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB). The role of the CCSB is to evaluate proposals for establishing or amending the classification of commodities, commodity descriptions, classes, rules, packaging definitions, specifications […]
Big Impacts of Small Data Errors At AMTR, we view millions of freight bills every year. Given our 35+ year history, there is probably no billing mistake that we have not seen. Every section of a freight bill can contain incorrect data, and no carrier is immune to making such mistakes. As an example, we […]
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Shippers spend a significant portion of their time planning for and projecting freight costs. Rate engines will predict accruals; however, despite detailed planning on the front end, accessorial charges often creep in at the back end and create a surprising increase to overall freight spend. Some common examples of unpredictable accessorial charges […]
About More Than Just Recovering Money As companies work hard to achieve supply chain efficiencies, they don’t always recognize the idea of a freight cost audit as a valuable part of a broader solution mix. Of course, one of the primary outcomes of a freight cost audit is the recovery of freight overcharges for the […]
Last year during a Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee hearing, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated a rule proposal requiring that heavy duty trucks be equipped with speed limiters would be forthcoming in Fall of 2015. Given recent concern about the delay in this rulemaking, Secretary Foxx has now stated that the rule proposal is scheduled to […]
Verbiage contained within the spending bill signed by President Obama in December may render the current hours of service law invalid. The bill was supposed to merely reverse the earlier provision that overnight drivers take at least two half-hour breaks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, the spending bill’s Section 133 […]
Our agricultural clients ship a multitude of commodities produced from the humble corn plant, not the least of which is the fuel additive ethanol. With the growth of the ethanol industry, rail freight traffic of this valuable commodity has increased dramatically over the last few years, accounting for 60 – 70% of all ethanol transport. […]
Many commodities ship in unit trains of 115 cars or more; however, some smaller rail stations may only be able to handle 65 or 85 car units. Marketing departments use factors such as these to set rates, but generally, the more cars shipped, the lower the rate. As a shipper, if you have a contract […]
The word “audit” often gets a bad rap. For many, it has a negative connotation, as it elicits images of a process focused on finding things that have gone wrong rather than right and further extrapolated to imply someone will be in trouble because of it. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, however, an audit is […]
In the wake of year-end financial report rollouts for publicly traded trucking companies, an assessment of 2015 was possible. According to truckinginfo.com and John Larkin, managing director of equity research of transportation and logistics at the investment banking and financial services firm Stifel, “2015 was probably characterized as disappointing on the heels of a very […]
According to 3PL provider IDS, U.S. railroads are getting more competitive with trucking companies by lowering domestic intermodal spot rates across many of the major lanes. The strategy may be working as several Class I railroads, especially BNSF, have seen strong growth in the first months of 2016. Shelli Austin, president of IDS transportation, tells […]
Are you familiar with the Railroad Freight Tariff RIC 6007? Most consider this document the “mileage payout” tariff; however, this regulation also contains rules for the movement of empty cars. Many changes were issued last year with regard to the movement of empty cars. Most notably were some new rules from certain carriers stating that […]
The rules that govern rail transportation rates are vast and complicated. The myriad factors involved in figuring a rate to move your freight can be mind-boggling. Take, for instance, the rules surrounding the issue of switching. Let’s say your commodity is moving from point A to point B, and point A and point B are […]
Do you have a great TMS (transportation management system) that accommodates all your lanes and rates? It is true–such systems can generate significant time and money savings as they can quickly process a large volume of invoices, saving payroll time on your end and finance charges at the carrier’s end. However, do you encounter “exceptions” […]
Given that transportation is the largest variable cost in the supply chain, freight cost management is understandably an important focus for shippers. Freight cost determination and problem resolution is increasingly impacted by what AMTR identifies as freight cost complexities. Freight cost complexities include automated technology, transportation knowledge loss, governing document content, decentralization of transportation functions […]
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) released its first “State of the Industry Report” in late January.
The driver shortage has been the topic of many conversations in the trucking industry lately.
The month of February often brings to mind thoughts of hearts and cupids.
As a result of the passing of the FMCSA Final Rule on Electronic Logging Devices, carriers should begin to add these devices to their vehicles in 2016.
Fuel was the big money saver in 2015 and that will continue in 2016.
According to Zvi Schreiber of Freightos, the freight sector will reach a recognizable ‘tipping point’ this year.
AMTR Implementation Team Makes It Easy!
Most are aware of XPO Logistics’ recent buyout of Con-Way Freight/Con-Way Truckload/Menlo Logistics. Additionally, ABF Logistics acquired truckload brokerage firm Bear Transportation and Transport Corporation of America acquired an undisclosed majority of truckload brokerage firm Optimal Freight.
Effective January 1, 2016, YRC Freight will be charging a $2 per shipment fee to customers receiving paper invoices via USPS. Impacted shippers will need to change processes to receive invoices electronically or pay the price.
This question can be a source of confusion for many in freight payables. Even if you know what a switch is, do you know if you should be paying for it? Is it just another supplemental bill or not?
Something we hear shippers say all the time is that they “always verify the rate” before paying freight bills. Of course, this is an important first step in paying freight bills correctly, but the bigger question is how was the rate actually verified?
A June 2015 Harvard Business Review article on the impacts of smarter machines on human labor highlighted the important contrast between “automation versus augmentation of human work”.
On October 22, 2015, U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a draft of the National Freight Strategic Plan.
September marked the beginning of the high volume shipping season that typically occurs ahead of the holidays.
You have been negotiating rates with a carrier for weeks or even several months. You have finally agreed on all the new charges, and you are now prepared to review the draft contract to make sure the rates are correct and to sign.
Do you know what CFR, Title 49 is and what it addresses? If you deal with transportation and/or freight payables, it should be something with which you are very familiar.
On Thursday, October 29, 2015 President Obama signed into law a bill that extended the highway spending bill deadline.
Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway, who together account for most crude-by-rail shipments, are cutting rates by as much as 25%.
At AMTR, our process of freight bill auditing is very different from that offered by pre-audit and pay firms. The sole focus of our business model is what we call Smart Auditing®.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) ruled this September that four class I railroads—the BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and U.S. affiliates of Canadian National—were “revenue-adequate” for 2014 which means they have achieved a rate of return on investment that is at least equal to the average cost of investment capital. Although the “revenue adequacy” discussion is […]
Pricing documents are complex and contain a multitude of information. For those who think contracts or tariffs only contain the rate from point A to point B, think again.
Pallet rates can be a very cost-effective alternative to regular LTL rates. Most programs provide a flat fee per pallet and are usually subject to weight or pallet size restrictions.
Sonia Straface from Trucknews.com reports on the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s conference, and a talk by Jamie Trull on the dangers of distracted driving.
Union Pacific is about to change the way it categorizes train size. How will this impact your business?
The National Motor Freight Classification manual contains many density-based classification items. When the density of a shipper’s product is not indicated on the bill of lading or when there is insufficient information provided, the highest class found under the item heading will apply.
A long-term solution for transportation funding is still needed. U.S. roads, bridges and highway infrastructure are in great need of repair. Pending a solution, the infrastructure continues to crumble all around us. This will start a wave of negative impact, beginning with transporting carriers, back to the manufacturers and eventually drowning customers in an unstable […]
The Surface Transportation Board held a very important hearing for rail shippers—especially captive shippers—last month. The hearing lasted two days regarding Ex Parte 722 on railroad revenue adequacy and Ex Parte 664 on calculating the railroad’s cost of equity capital.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) projects a 28.6% freight volume increase through 2026 for all modes of transportation. Trucking will continue to be the dominant mode of freight transportation. Pipelines are projected to benefit more than other modes due to the growth in energy production in the U.S.
How familiar are you with the history of rail, or how familiar is your transportation department with the history of this large industry?
Long-term solution for transportation funding is still needed. U.S. roads, bridges and highway infrastructure are in great need of repair. As we await a solution, the infrastructure continues to crumble all around us. This will a start a wave of negative impact, beginning with transporting carriers, back to the manufacturers and eventually drowning customers in […]
On July 17, 2015, it was announced that Research and Market—a firm which offers solutions in company and research reporting, journals, conferencing and more to provide marketing data and insights—will now offer a new report titled “Domestic Freight Market in the US 2015-2019.”
The US Senate has unanimously voted to reform the STB, which should help to better address rate complaints and improve competition between railroads.
Data entry is a must in almost any company today. However, how do you know for sure what you see is accurate?
U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski introduced new legislation June 25, 2015 regarding improved freight mobility through transportation research and planning.
Summer is almost here, and temperatures in many areas of the country are already high. Freeze protect season just ended a couple of months ago and has given way to heat protect season. Shippers who routinely dispatch refrigerated or frozen goods are likely quite familiar with this concept. But is your company taking all of […]
Time critical guaranteed delivery service can be an invaluable tool for shippers. Guaranteed service offered through a motor carrier allows a shipper to dispatch freight to a customer who is in need of product quickly and provides a less costly alternative to air freight. Most major LTL carriers offer some type of program for time […]
New tank car rules effective May 1, 2015 were announced by the Department of Transportation.
We are amazed by our computers, and we should be. But we shouldn’t let our enthusiasm lead us to underestimate our own talents. Even the smartest software lacks the common sense, ingenuity and verve of the skilled professional. In cockpits, offices or examination rooms, human experts remain indispensable. Their insight, ingenuity and intuition, honed through […]
On May 21, 2015 the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 was placed on the Senate Legislative calendar under General Orders.
Transportation and Housing Spending Bill Approved.
How can you protect yourself when being overbilled for Less Than Truckload shipping? AMTR gives you 5 ways.
Announced on June 3, 2015 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized the rule regarding the requirement of electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy duty trucks and buses.
Obtaining a quote before shipping can be a great way to save money on a potentially costly load. Quotes are often used for shipments with certain special characteristics, such as time critical moves, low-density products and high-volume loads, to name a few. Sometimes shippers also request quotes on regular LTL shipments under the assumption that […]
Map-21 Funding to Expire May 31st The current highway investment bill, Map-21, is set to expire on May 31st. This bill was signed into law in July of 2012 to provide $105 billion in funding for surface transportation programs for fiscal years 2013 & 2014. Map-21 was originally set to expire in September of 2014; […]
An incomplete bill of lading can make your freight charges significantly higher. The bill of lading is probably the most important document associated with motor carrier shipping. The three main purposes of a bill of lading are to act as evidence of a contract of carriage, document of title to goods shipped, and receipt of […]
The Surface Transportation Board this month approved letting CSX share a 106-mile line north of Louisville owned by Louisville & Indiana Railroad Co. The planned improvements will cost the CSX $100 million, with $90 million for track improvements and $10 million to L&I for the rights to use the tracks.
Driver/Equipment Shortages are Creating a Capacity Crunch that is Increasing Rates: A Truckload of Reasons Why You Need An Audit
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), it is estimated that the there is a shortage of 30,000 truck drivers in the U.S. There are many factors contributing to the loss of drivers including retirement of former drivers, small owner/operator trucking companies being forced out of business, increased monitoring and reporting, stricter regulations for CSA […]
On March 19, 2015, Senators John Thune and Senator Bill Nelson have introduced the S. 808, known as the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015. Previously in 2014 a similar bill was introduced to Congress by Jay Rockefeller and John Thune. Due to its late introduction to Congress, the bill did not move further […]
Now that the labor dispute on the West Coast has been resolved, how will import and export shipments be handled moving forward? Is your company one that is considering making changes? It appears that many are weighing their options in hopes of preventing the same scenario happening in the future.
Railroad profits have steadily risen over the last decade in part because rates have been increasing, often in excess of the inflation rate or the actual cost increase of moving cars. And every time rates go up or change in any way, there is an elevated likelihood of incorrect billing.
The National Industrial Transportation League held a Webinar in response to the BNSF’s statement that they were eliminating their fuel surcharge program for carload traffic. The change was set to take affect this month, and Sandra Dearden, President and CEO of Highroad Consulting, Ltd. offered suggestions for shippers when negotiating new rates. Also interesting is […]
What is the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2014, and why is it important to shippers? This bipartisan legislation was introduced on September 7, 2014 to improve the operation and effectiveness of the Surface Transportation Board. It asks to remove the STB from the Department of Transportation to establish it as an independent US agency.
An article at US News and World Report outlines the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, allowing Alabama to apply a fuel sales tax to rail but not to truck or barge. Shippers are likely to see an increase in rates for movements through Alabama to make up for the new state sales tax on diesel fuel. […]
Look in any contract or rules tariff and you will probably see this phrase defined. It is a French term literally translated as “greater force”. When invoked, it frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. Some scenarios included in […]
There’s not just one thing you can do to save on your transportation costs – but in this article from Inbound Logistics, there are suggestions on how to tighten up on a few things that may be costing your company. Specifically #7 could be one of your biggest sources of savings. Ultimately, it is common […]
The U.S. Business Coalition for the Trans Pacific Partnership posts a great infographic regarding Agriculture trade. Many of these products are still regulated by the Federal Government. Rules regarding rail shipments and federal statutes may affect how shippers are invoiced for freight. At AMTR all our auditors have passed courses in Transportation Law. Knowledge makes the […]
Article at Manufacturing.net has tips on saving money on your LTL shipping. Unlike truckload shipments which are typically rated at on a flat or per mile rate based purely on distance, LTL shipments take into consideration many different facets. In addition to distance—weight, NMFC classification, accessorial charges, and negotiated discounts and FAK structures all contribute […]
Every year, more shippers implement increasingly complex and comprehensive computer systems to handle freight planning, tracking, and payments. The business world has come to rely on computers to reduce paperwork and staffing and to automate repetitive tasks that do not necessarily require constant human intervention. In the process the potential for errors has been eliminated. […]
The recent news regarding ILWU Labor negotiations sparks further examination. Shippers have moved up orders, asked customers to take on more inventory, and routed cargo through ports in Canada and the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. According to a Journal of Commerce survey, two thirds of shippers who participated plan to divert some cargo away from […]
A new article at Logistics Management outlines some significant changes to how shipments are rated and priced. This year, UPS and FedEx have begun billing ALL ground shipments based on dimensional weight. Some experts are also predicting that shippers will soon be asked to disclose freight dimensions on all LTL bills of lading. Contracted discounts and […]
The Association of American Railroads has recently published its newest version of the AAR Railway Accounting Rules. Keep your company current on the most recent changes. To download a copy, please visit railinc.com.
CSX projects increases in rail pricing; with increased rail rates, a freight audit is more valuable than ever: More freight dollars spent means more possible dollars in billing errors, and when changes are made to tariffs or contracts there is more margin for error when the new rates are published. Bloomberg.com has the full article.
10News in Tampa Bay reports that the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, has released its list for most wanted improvements for 2015. Increased regulation could worsen the current driver shortage, impact service times, and affect shipping costs. With less drivers available to move freight, shippers are looking for ways to continue to get shipments to […]
Cerasis.com reports on some ways to improve your inbound freight management. As a manufacturer, you will most likely be involved in inbound freight movements. That puts a lot of pressure on you and maybe even your freight costs. Having a discussion with you vendor and/or carriers can provide opportunity for understanding how your freight is […]
A Logistics Management article from early this month reported on the decline of diesel fuel prices – at the lowest it has been since November of 2010. Prices have been on a steep decline since the end of October. This is a positive for shippers as the cost of FSC, or Fuel Surcharge, on their invoices […]
According to the Soy Transportation Coalition (as reported by the Ohio Country Journal), Union Pacific is the best rail shipper in the grain industry, rated by on-time performance, customer service and cost. If a choice of carrier is available, it is important to know which company provides the highest levels of service. AMTR keeps abreast of […]
The Wall Street Journal reports on a shortage of rail cars, impacting a multitude of industries. Railcar shortages are forcing railroads to lease from private industries and vice versa, is your company paying correctly for your shipments? Only the experts at AMTR can help make sense of these trends and ensure you are paying the correct […]
For LTL (Less than Truckload) shipping, billing is determined by a few key factors, including the classification of the product(s) shipped. The classifications and the associated classes can be found in the National Motor Freight Classification book. The current version is NMF 100-AN and is set to expire 2/7/15. All of the supplements published over […]
Are you 100% sure your Automated Freight Payment System is 100% accurate?
JOC.com reports on Union Pacific’s New Mexico hub expansion, and what this means for freight shipments across the border.
An article at JOC.com was posted recently regarding the return of US rail traffic to normal after this cold winter.
Shippers and carriers get on the same page when it comes to calculating shipment weights.