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How to Book Overnight Freight

Need to get it there fast? Learn how to book overnight freight and get answers. R+L Global Logistics will give you an expedited freight quote today!

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Jon-Michael Soracchi
September 22, 2020
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A part needs to be shipped immediately or incorrect fulfillment on an order leaves a valued business partner without a crucial item. These are just two of quite a few instances where overnight freight needs to be transported. But maybe you’ve never had to schedule an urgent freight shipment before and are daunted because you’re unsure of the ways it differs from a normal freight delivery.

But in actuality, as long as you provide necessary information to the logistics company, booking overnight freight should not be a hard proposition for you. In fact, besides the speed of the service, there are many similarities between overnight freight shipping and regular freight shipping. Find out more by continuing to read below. 

What is Overnight Freight Shipping?

What is Overnight Freight Shipping

In this case, the description is in the name. This is a specialized service offered by logistics companies that is by design meant to be able to ship freight within 24 hours or less from making the agreement. How this is accomplished is very dependent on the distance the freight must travel.

For example, if a load is picked up in the early morning, it should be able to arrive the next morning with overnight freight service. The transportation method will travel through the night in order to make sure the delivery happens by the time you need it. This is not limited to just 18-wheelers — actually far from it. A third-party logistics (3PL) can also use a van for smaller shipments where a full trailer load is not needed or employ aircraft to make overnight shipments over much greater distances than a road option could ever cover.

The logistics company you’re working with should be able to give you flexible options and might even use multiple modes of transportation to complete the shipment, like using aircraft and then a truck or van once it lands to travel the final leg. In fact, when determining which method of shipment is the best, the type of commodity, the distance, and the origin and final destination should all be taken into account.

Is expedited shipping worth the cost? Learn more about the process.

Times To Book Overnight Freight

Overnight delivery is not meant to be used as the regular method of transportation except in very specific situations where you don’t have another option. The reason for this is overnight freight shipping can cost a lot more than the normal delivery rate, so if time is not of the essence, there’s no real need for it.

However, there are several different scenarios where overnight freight shipping transcends being something that would just be nice to have and becomes a necessity. 

Shipping time-sensitive or crucial medical supplies. This can be something like medicine or vaccines that people are waiting on or have very short shelf lives. This can also cover equipment that hospitals need to replenish fast like ventilators, N95 masks and even hand sanitizer.

Learn more about freight shipping surgical masks, how to ship isopropyl alcohol or shipping medical equipment.

Another key time that overnight freight shipping could be of great value is for the replacement of major equipment. For example, an offshore oil drilling operation could see their main drill become inoperable. Every day they are unable to extract oil could mean millions of dollars worth of losses. So getting the new drill.

On a more relatable scale, it could be a car dealership needing a bunch of parts to quickly fill customers’ orders where a turnaround time of several days just won’t cut it. But this can be any situation where time is of the absolute essence, so it’s definitely not limited to these examples.

One more instance where overnight freight shipping might be necessary is if you shipped out an order and an important part is missing, so the customer’s product won’t work until they receive the missing part. Also a well-established logistics company has security measures in place to enhance the value of their service since your freight should be less likely to be compromised while en route.  

Other Services With Overnight Freight Shipping

Other Services With Overnight Freight Shipping

With the quick turnaround, one could be forgiven for thinking that corners could be cut in order to get this valuable merchandise where it needs to go. But that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Overnight freight shipping as far as its features is no different than normal shipping. You still get transportation for your items between two points, real-time freight visibility from most companies, a certain level of cargo coverage for your goods and readily available customer service.

One thing that a business might be concerned about with such a quick turnaround is the ability to purchase freight insurance. Being unable to shouldn’t be a concern though, since you can purchase additional cargo coverage at the time you book the load. Some of the peripheral benefits that you expect — your commodities to show up undamaged, on time and to the correct place — are of course included. 

How Does Overnight Freight Compare To Expedited?

In a general sense, overnight freight shipping can be considered a type of expedited shipping. This is because both are special services that refer to deliveries that are not the same as a regular truckload shipment. Yet there are some specifics that differentiate overnight from expedited.

The first is the actual frame of time the delivery can take place in. For expedited freight shipping, depending on the distance, a truck can be used the entire way even for long routes and will shave a day or two off the freight time at most. This is a service used where additional speed is needed on the delivery but it’s not necessarily needed the very next day.

As previously mentioned, where overnight freight shipping differs from expedited is it is even faster and the time structure is more rigid. With expedited, a more general time window is given while with overnight shipping, there is a guarantee that if you need the shipment to be there at a specific time or within a narrow window as that is part of the service itself.

Because of the nature of overnight freight shipping, it tends to be more expensive than expedited shipping. What they have in common though is that they’re both costlier than standard freight transportation. Another similarity is that unlike standard shipments, both overnight and expedited will have very few stops along the way — usually just for food or gas. In fact, both methods of shipment will many times have drivers work in tandem so that one person is driving while the other is resting and they can switch off with minimal interruption.

In both types, your cargo will be the only freight being hauled in that load, which really tempers the threat of damage or loss. Loading and unloading freight can be a time-consuming process, so if the truck hauling your goods isn’t stopping to take on additional freight, that will only help yours get where it needs to go even faster.

Different Transport Options For Overnight Shipping

Different Transport Options For Overnight Shipping

As the customer, it’s important you have some expectation of how the length of your trip will affect the mode of transportation used to haul your freight. This breakdown should give you an idea of any potential limitations.

Truck/Van: These are the only true “door-to-door” options for any kind of shipment, since air, ocean or rail travel will probably still need four wheels on the pavement at the very beginning and end of the journey to complete. This has the advantage of being very readily available, ubiquitous and a good value pricewise.

For the purposes of overnight shipping though, this option does have its limits. The biggest one is range. Let’s use a generous figure of 60 miles per hour for an 18-wheeler. According to this study, most trucks average between 52 and 59 mph depending on which interstate roads they’re on. 

The longest an overnight delivery can take to deliver is 24 hours. Using these figures, the top range of a 18-wheeler to make an overnight delivery is about 1,400 miles. This absolutely rules out overnight deliveries using solely 18-wheelers for many cross-country routes, even more so if customers need the transaction to be completed in less than 24 hours. Sprinter vans could go a little further but still wouldn’t be able to go from, say, Atlanta to Seattle in a day or less.      

Aircraft: If you need to travel a long distance within a 24-hour period or need something to a faraway location as soon as possible, booking air freight is really the only way to go. Especially in a country as spread out as the United States, this is the only kind of freight shipping that could get something from New York to Los Angeles in such a timely fashion.

The downside to this shipping is likely cost-related. Using aircraft to transport freight and the added logistical planning needed to make sure a driver can initially drop the item at an airport and then have another driver pick it up at the other end and make the final delivery will easily make this the most expensive.

There are two different kinds of services for air travel. The first is scheduled air service, which means space on an existing flight is secured. Your freight will be one of many others on the plane and a freight agent will secure a spot on a flight from the airport nearest to your location to an airport closest to the final destination.

The other kind of air travel that can be booked for your freight is a charter service. This is where an entire plane is secured for your freight only. It is more expensive but also ensures a higher level of service since you’re the only customer for that specific route.  

Ocean freighter/Rail: Neither of these types of transportation are suitable for overnight shipping. A ship or ocean freighter is too slow for most kinds of freight shipments, especially ones that rely on speed. As far as rail goes, the very nature of trains means other loads are being transported and there will be multiple stops along the way. This is not conducive to the demands of an overnight freight delivery.

Working With An Agent For Overnight Freight

A big key to the success of booking overnight freight and having it arrive to its destination on time and in great shape is working with a great freight agent. This is the direct person you’ll deal with throughout the course of your shipment and one that is highly knowledgeable and communicates well will make things a lot easier for all involved. 

You will be assigned a dedicated agent to handle your request for overnight freight, someone who works on your behalf to walk you through the process, answer any questions or concerns and who is responsible for booking the entire route for you.

All the while, the freight agent is behind the scenes making a complex set of arrangements to make sure the overnight delivery goes off without a hitch. Having a competent agent that you work well with can also help if you ever need overnight freight in the future; building a good relationship with the agent certainly couldn’t hurt as long as the arrangement benefits you as the customer.  

Overnight Freight Shipping With A 3PL

Overnight Freight Shipping With A 3PL

While we just talked about the benefits in having a dedicated freight agent working on your behalf, remember that the agent is likely employed by a third-party logistics company and being associated with a leading 3PL for your overnight freight shipment has potential current or future strongpoints that shouldn’t be overlooked.

While you might not need the following services for an overnight freight delivery, it’s still good to keep them in mind for future business needs:

Warehousing: You may have a shipment in the future that doesn’t have an immediate destination but you also can’t hang onto it either. That’s where a 3PL can come into play. Many of the bigger companies with a host of resources have strategically placed warehouses across the country so you can ship pallets of your goods and store them for a very practical monthly price until they are ready to be shipped to retailers.

Order fulfillment: If you do go the route of having your products warehoused, the 3PL in question can also fulfill orders for you as well. For a modest price, the 3PL can fill individual orders or even ship a bunch of your stuff to the local big box store. 

Standard Freight Shipping: If you’re calling a company for specialized shipping, they should also be able to nail the basic kind as well. Standard freight shipping, whether by truck, ocean, rail or air, is available at any time. If you already have a good working relationship with your 3PL, this is a natural extension of your partnership with them.

Expedited Shipping: When we discussed the differences between overnight freight and expedited shipping previously, maybe it made you think that there are times you do need things shipped faster but not necessarily overnight. The 3PL in question can certainly offer expedited services that might be cheaper yet faster if a wider time frame is acceptable.

Refrigerated Shipping: We mentioned medicine and vaccines earlier as a commodity that might need to be overnight freight shipped. Well many of these pharmaceuticals also need specific climate control. The only way to do that in many cases is to hire refrigerated truck shipping so the cold chain is not broken. The 3PL company you decide on very likely has access to these.

Learn more about transporting pharmacuetical products.

Overnight Freight Shipping With R+L Global Logistics

Once you’ve decided you need to book overnight freight shipping, reach out to the experts at R+L Global Logistics to help you realize your transportation goals for your goods. We have the resources, ability and drive to make sure your freight gets to its destination as fast as you need it there.

Between our network of truck driving partners all over the United States and logistics knowledge that powers our whole operation, R+L Global Logistics will succeed on your behalf. If the trip is short enough to overnight via truck, we can easily accomplish that goal. For longer trips where shipping via the road is not feasible, we’ll tap into our connections with freight planes to get your products on fast aircraft that can be across the country in a matter of hours.

Although overnight freight shipping is considered a specialized service, with R+L Global Logistics, you still receive our standard tenets of service. For instance, we pride ourselves on our industry-leading customer service which you’re able to access at any time. This goes hand in hand with our commitment to on-time delivery, which we hit 99.5 percent of the time. Also, all of our load transports include real-time freight visibility so you’ll know where your items are at all times. This gives you the peace of mind to focus on other important aspects of your 

So when you’re ready to get set up for overnight freight shipping, give R+L Global Logistics a call at 866.353.7178 for a free truckload freight quote and to see the difference in using us for the transportation of your commodities.

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