If you remove the baffle-gab about weight, cube, lineal feet, classifications, etc., the LTL freight business is entirely about density as the foundation of rates. A 53-foot trailer theoretically holds 3816 cubic feet of air (8’ wide by 9' high by 53' long). If we loaded air, 3816 cf would be a full load. But we load a wide variety of shapes and sizes, some square, some rectangular, some round, with many pieces irregular in shape which create air pockets, no matter how well the trailer is loaded. So we accept 64 cu. ft. (8’ x 8') for each lineal foot of trailer as being the practical maximum loading. Therefore, a load with 3400 cubic feet is about as perfect as anyone can get.
The economics are based on the following expectations:
48 foot trailer: 3000 cu. ft. or 30,000 lbs
53 foot trailer: 3400 cu. ft. or 34,000 lbs.
This explains the "conversion factor" of 10 lbs. per cubic foot. This is called density, and is very important in determining freight rates or charges. Most office furniture moves on cube rates, so the density is not a big issue. However, some products are heavy with little cube, so weight (density) is a factor, and we will charge on weight. We treat each lineal foot of trailer deck (floor) as equivalent to 64 cu. ft. (8' x 8' x 1’ = 64 cu. ft.) or 640 lbs. This works out to 3392 cu. ft. for a trailer. Sometimes skids are so irregular and awkward that nothing can be loaded on top, so the tariff has a rule for that. When factories load head-loads, they cannot be touched, so rates are based on lineal feet used, and converted to weight or cube, as noted above.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rates:
Q: How do your rates compare with other carriers?
A: We are very competitive on rates, which is why we rarely lose a customer, once they start with us. One thing we can say without hesitation: Western Logistics will give you the best value for your transportation dollar. We earned our reputation serving the difficult and competitive office furniture industry. When you take into consideration the benefits of advance notification, absence of damage, reliable service, lack of hassle -- those are further benefits that are not reflected in our rates.
Q: What about truckload rates?
A: Western Logistics is a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier. There are great differences in set-up between truckload carriers – which have only trucks and drivers – and LTL consolidators like Western Logistics which have full-service facilities at all locations and a complete menu of service options for product moving within our system. We handle truckloads only when we can add value somehow, such as site delivery, interim storage, distribution, and so on. Our Maximum rates are not really truckload rates; they are "caps" on LTL charges.
Q: How do you approach rate increases?
A: We are very proud of the fact that we have used great restraint in asking for rate increases, and we have used growth to create efficiency in restraining our costs and therefore a need for major rate changes. If we track changes since our inception in 1990, our total rate increases are far below the CPI or industrial indices.
Q: What about Minimum Charges? We don’t like to pay minimum charges.
A: Nobody likes minimums, especially carriers, who lose on almost every minimum shipment they handle. The reason is simple. Trucking costs are heavily related to fixed costs. On a pick-up or a delivery, it costs only a little more to make a delivery stop with 1000 lbs than it does 100 lbs. It’s a function of time and distance, and it cannot be made more efficient by driving fast, or loading 50 deliveries on a truck, etc., because the work would never get done. You will find Western Logistics has very fair and competitive minimum charges. We recommend that you combine orders, so your small orders ride together with larger ones, or several small orders together as one, to avoid minima.
Q: What about fuel surcharges?
A: Unfortunately, it looks as though these will be with us for a long time to come. The carrier has no choice when a large element of cost doubles or triples, with no end in sight. We think imposing surcharges is a fairer and more practical approach than changing freight rates every month. Fuel costs now greatly exceed personnel costs on inter-city work, a shocking reality that is completely out of our control. And the aggressiveness of oil companies in getting paid immediately puts constant pressure on cash flows, and requires quick collection of our freight charges, too. Incidentally, we use the FCA formula in Canada, and the NATC formula in the US, both of which are lower than alternative indices used by some carriers.