delivery time

Top 4 Factors That Impact LTL Delivery Time

By far the biggest questions our customers have about their shipments are about estimated times of arrival and tracking—probably because these are the biggest uncertainties after freight leaves their hands. We thought it would be worth sharing the four biggest factors that affect delivery time frames.

Some delays are beyond anyone’s control, but choosing the right shipping options for your freight can mitigate other delay factors. That’s why it always pays to be informed about your choices! With that in mind, here are the four biggest factors affecting less than truckload (LTL) delivery time and what, if anything, can be done to limit their impact:

Factor No. 1: Terms of Delivery

Did you select “call before/appointment delivery” as your preferred method of shipping? If so, that delivery could take an extra day because of the added logistical step of establishing contact with the consignee to coordinate and confirm a delivery appointment before dispatching the item to a driver. Delays can easily develop if there are difficulties reaching or coordinating with the consignee. The good news is that not selecting this option is an easy way to speed up deliveries where it is not necessary.

Factor No. 2: Partner Carriers

Shipments can usually go out the day after they’re received at a hub terminal. For freight without delivery appointments—especially if it’s pickup, destination, or both, are near a major hub, such as Wadhams’ terminals in Geneva, N.Y. and Carlstadt, N.J. This means that, more often than not, next-day delivery is possible.

When it comes to shipments that involve partner carriers it get more complicated. More often than not, next-day delivery is possible; however there are some partner carriers that RIST works with that can add a day or days to transit times. After the freight is handed off to carriers, it makes it more difficult for the original carrier because they have less control on linehauls and delivery days. If another company is involved with either pickup or delivery, this usually adds a day to transit times because the freight must be line-hauled between distant cities’ terminals.

Factor No. 3: Weather

As residents of northern states know, weather can have a huge effect on transit times. One consideration that often gets overlooked, though, is the fact that shipments traveling across greater distances often pass through different weather conditions between origin and destination. While the weather may be lovely in upstate New York, snowstorms may be causing delays on the other side of state lines. Weather delays often affect ETAs—especially for longer distance and line haul transport, as they make it difficult to drivers to move at their regular pace without compromising safety.

Factor No. 4: Road Construction and Traffic

Like weather, road construction and traffic are sources of unpredictable delays. Dispatchers and drivers do their best to stay informed about areas to avoid (and for how long) when roadwork is underway, but unfortunately there’s only so much that can be done to avoid being re-routed around areas of congestion. Drivers that need to go over the bridge into New York City, for instance, can encounter very unpredictable traffic slowdowns.

Behind the scenes, a great number of people—so many more than most customers expect —are involved in ensuring that shipments get to their destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. Knowing what can be controlled or modified to improve transit times is half the challenge. The other half, unfortunately, is being patient when delays are outside of everyone’s control—and sometimes that half is the most important variable.

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Christine McGhan

Christine McGhan

Christine is a team leader in RIST's less than truckload (LTL) Customer Service department. She has many years experience providing top quality customer service for RIST.