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Pallets stacked

Freight Shipping 101: How to Pack a Pallet

When you’re shipping freight, there are so many moving pieces to worry about– Literally. Choosing a reputable logistics company like BYX is a great start, but carriers are responsible for transporting freight from point A to point B, not to prepare it for the road ahead. Carriers are in control of many factors, like properly packing the truck and not driving off the road. Nevertheless, freight can and does shift during transport. The best way to secure your freight and protect it from damage is to learn how to pack a pallet properly.

What Is a Pallet?

Pallets are nothing more than rigid platforms designed to secure and consolidate shipments. Pallets serve a few purposes, including: 

  • Keeping multi-piece shipments together
  • Making it easier to load and unload freight
  • And maximizing cargo space in the trailer

 

Most importantly, pallets help protect your cargo by minimizing movement. To help ensure your freight arrives in one piece, free from dents and dings, learning how to pack a pallet is a must. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to master. Read more

labor shortage

In 2022, Small Businesses Are Still Facing a Labor Shortage. Here’s Why.

COVID-19 hit the U.S. at full force in March of 2020. Small businesses were among the hardest hit. Many were forced to close their doors permanently. As a company with decades of experience and stability, BYX was able to weather the storm. Sadly, the full ramifications of the pandemic are still unfolding. Even now, we’re struggling to find qualified, reliable workers, and we’re not the only ones. Businesses around the country are facing a frustrating labor shortage, and there appears to be no end in sight. What gives? Read more

Truck driver with sleep apnea yawning

3 Reasons Sleep Apnea Is a Concern for Truck Drivers

It’s late. You’re driving on an open stretch of road, it’s quiet, and your eyelids begin to droop. We’ve all been there, and man, isn’t it scary? Driving is such an ordinary task that it’s easy to forget how dangerous it is. A moment of distraction can easily become your last moment ever. Sleepiness is even more dangerous, and truck drivers who work long hours or night shifts need to be especially cautious. Concerningly, getting enough sleep isn’t always enough to fight back fatigue. Sleep apnea, one of the top five most common sleep disorders, can lead to persistent fatigue and drowsiness. Many drivers don’t even realize they have it. 

Sleep apnea is a bigger health concern than you might think.

Truck driver sleeping

Truck driver sleeping. About 35 years old, African male.

The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. The disorder is more complex than that, however. In people with obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in the throat relax during sleep to the point that their airway temporarily becomes blocked. They stop breathing briefly before awakening abruptly to gasp for air. These episodes are so brief that the individual often doesn’t recall having ever woken up. 

While one night of interrupted sleep is no big deal, people with untreated sleep apnea suffer from a wide range of symptoms that can significantly affect their health and daily lives. There are three main reasons truck drivers should be on the lookout for signs of sleep apnea: 

  1. It leads to more serious health problems.
    At first people with sleep apnea may notice nothing more than waking up with a headache, irritability, and snoring loud enough to wake the neighbors. Over time, the symptoms become more serious. They often develop brain fog, insomnia, and intense daytime sleepiness.

    If left untreated, it can also lead to or worsen high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Weight gain is another common side effect. All of these issues are often linked, each one magnifying the others. The ramifications go beyond productivity, impacting drivers on every level.
  2. It endangers drivers and others on the road.
    Daytime sleepiness and general fatigue are extremely dangerous when your job entails long hours on the road. Those with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to get in a car accident than people with normal sleep patterns. Falling asleep at the wheel can be lethal not only to the driver but to other drivers and passengers as well– Especially when the driver is operating a massive truck.
  3. Irregular sleep schedules can make sleep apnea side effects worse.
    Sleep apnea is problematic enough for people working a 9-5. It’s even worse for truck drivers who work night shifts. Odd hours don’t worsen sleep apnea itself, working during the night often leads to increased drowsiness. Drivers are more likely to rely on unhealthy energy drinks to stay alert, further damaging their health in the process. 

All truck drivers should be screened, just in case.

If we’re making sleep apnea sound like a big deal, that’s because it is. Fortunately, treating it is much less challenging than living with it. If you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms that could be tied to sleep issues, like persistent sleepiness, morning headaches, irritability, or loud snoring, visiting your PCP is the first step. 

They’ll likely order a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment can entail using a breathing machine at night or wearing a special night guard to help keep your airways open. It’s a headache, but it’s much less of a headache than falling asleep at the wheel. For trucking companies like BYX, it’s always a good idea to inform drivers about the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. Better safe than sorry. 

 

Rising gas prices visual

How Gas Prices Affect BYX and Our Customers

Gas prices fluctuate by the day. This is nothing new, but the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has caused an exceptionally painful spike. The current average price per gallon in Los Angeles County is currently $5.52, with diesel averaging $5.85, but some stations are charging over $6 per gallon. Trucking companies feel the sting of elevated fuel prices more acutely than most. To fill up a 100-gallon diesel tank costs about $585. If you’re thinking “ouch,” so are we. 

Gas prices look very different than they did in recent months. The average prices are up by 57 cents/gallon from just last month. It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, gas only cost $3.73 a gallon. Inflation is hardly a new dilemma, but now its effects are more pronounced than they have been in decades. 

Shipping companies use something called “fuel surcharge.” A fuel surcharge is a flat rate that allows the cost of fuel to be incorporated into shipping rates in a fair manner and allows shippers to have a fixed fuel cost they can count. Fuel surcharge is an important part of us continuing to operate our business and is set by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and updated weekly. 

Rising Gas Prices May Lead to Rate Hikes Down the Line

Before you panic, BYX just updated our rates at the start of 2022, and we hope to keep them stable for some time. Still, we prefer to be transparent with our customers so they understand why price increases have to happen. It goes without saying that elevated gas prices make transporting goods more costly. The farther the pickup, the more the additional fuel expenses are felt. 

The hike isn’t just felt by trucking companies. Every rung of the transportation ladder is effected, including cargo vessels and moving freight by air. Coupled with the existing supply chain crisis and materials shortage, the cost of everything is likely to increase, not just gas prices. Maintaining our fleet, from replacing tires to changing the oil, is more expensive than it was a year ago. Read more

Shipping appointment

Fed Up With Rising Prices? Shipping Appointments Are Partly to Blame

Every business owner knows customer care is the name of the game. Unfortunately, offering the best customer care possible sometimes comes at a cost. While making shipping appointments seems simple at first glance, the logistics behind arranging a simple pickup or delivery is more complex than it appears. 

The hidden cost of appointments

Every industry has annoying, unavoidable inefficiencies. The ones shipping companies like BYX deal with, however, didn’t exist just a decade or two ago. Originally, it worked something like this: Delivery companies would make their deliveries in the morning, and spend the afternoon making pickups. The only communication required was a quick phone call to let the customer know approximately when to expect the driver.

Today, expectations are very different. The workflow of a shipping appointment clerk looks something like this:

Read more

Amazon location

Love Prime? Here’s Why Amazon Locations Are Actually a Nightmare

Say you have a particularly busy week and realize as you’re running out the door that you’re out of both coffee and paper towels. Who wouldn’t love being able to order a refill on Amazon over their lunch break? With Amazon Prime, both items will likely arrive within two days, sometimes even sooner. It’s like magic; addictive magic that we’ve all come to expect. Behind the scenes, it’s much more complicated. In reality, Amazon locations are a pain to deliver to and pick up from, and their methods may not be sustainable.

The basics of Amazon shipping

There’s a reason that your comfy pair of winter boots or last-minute birthday gift arrived so quickly. Most Amazon sellers send their goods to large Amazon warehouses. There are more than 50 warehouses across the U.S., so there’s one relatively close to almost any residential address nationwide. That’s how Amazon can promise 2-day shipping. The goods really don’t have to travel that far. Based on product availability and distance from the nearest warehouse, same-day shipping may even be available. 

There’s a dark side to all of this, however. To start, Amazon has a sizeable history of complaints regarding employee welfare and ethics. The corporate giant supposedly installed $52 million worth of air conditioning units in their U.S. warehouses to make working conditions more comfortable, but there’s still room for improvement. For example, warehouse workers at Amazon locations are on their feet all day, and they have extremely demanding quotas to fill. 

From a shipping standpoint, Amazon locations are even worse.

Packages at an Amazon location

From the outside, Amazon’s system appears flawless. While it saves customers time, it costs the drivers who service Amazon locations. At the majority of Amazon locations, wait times are killer. Of our dispatches who have serviced Amazon locations in the past, particularly one of the largest warehouses in Moreno Valley, the wait times were crushing. Drivers waiting to drop off a few pallets expected to wait for two, four, even five hours for a single load. 

One hour of wait time is typically offered free. Longer wait times are typically charged at $50 per hour to the shipper. Few payors are willing to pay those detention fees without a fight, however. The shipping companies delivering to Amazon locations then have to rope in other departments to settle the charges. In the end, it renders the shipment a waste of time– particularly when drivers are already on overtime.

To break it down, a driver’s clock in time doesn’t start until they hit the dock. If they arrive for a 12 pm appointment but aren’t serviced until 2 pm, they can’t charge detention for the time they spend waiting in line. Essentially, it ends up costing carriers to service Amazon facilities due to the lengthy wait times and price gouging. When issues arise, as they almost always do, there’s no one to reach out to for help. At the locations themselves, there’s no one around to ensure drivers are serviced in a timely manner. And if there are billing issues? Don’t even bother calling the accounting department. No one will answer. Amazon is simply such a powerhouse that they can make their own rules. Either play their game or don’t play at all. We’ve chosen the latter, for more reasons than one.

Even those of us who avoid working with Amazon aren’t immune to its influence. Virtually instant Prime deliveries make it increasingly difficult for smaller carriers to compete with the digital freight brokerage Amazon quietly launched in 2019. A brokerage which, we might add, consistently undercuts market prices, making matters even more difficult for the rest of us.

The problem with Amazon locations isn’t close to being solved. 

With an ultra-complex shipping system like Amazon’s, problem-solving is equally complex. There’s never a respite from new orders, so Amazon never has a chance to fix the structural problems that are keeping their warehouses in a state of delay and disarray. In fact, the problem is only getting worse. The more Amazon grows, the bigger their problems, and the longer the wait times. This is true now more than ever when we’re still facing an unprecedented supply chain crisis.

For this very reason, we avoid servicing their locations. While it’s tough to imagine swearing off Amazon Prime altogether, we encourage fellow consumers to give their business to small, family businesses as much as possible. At the end of the day, your neighborhood shop is probably more sustainable than Amazon’s convoluted system. 

Yelp review

Are Yelp Reviews Important? Here’s What Every Business Owner Should Know

If you’ve gone to a new restaurant, picked a hotel, or hired a plumber lately, the odds are good you stopped by Yelp before making a final decision. Yelp reviews give buyers a sense of security and can help businesses get their name out there, but reviews aren’t foolproof. Anyone can leave a Yelp review, and one disgruntled customer in a bad mood can ruin a business’s reputation. So is it still worth it to list your business on Yelp?

The stats behind Yelp reviews are telling.

While concerns about unfair reviews are understandable, avoiding Yelp entirely is tough. 91% of people read reviews before choosing where to take their business. Yelp also has over 178 million visitors on a monthly basis. If you’re not on Yelp in 2022, you’re practically invisible to the majority of your potential clients or customers. 

Visibility, however, isn’t the only factor that matters. Stars matter, too. The vast majority of consumers, 82% to be exact, avoid visiting businesses with an average rating of less than 4-stars. If you only have a handful of reviews, just one bad review can bring down your rating. Even if your average rating is high enough, customers expect written reviews to be mostly positive. 

In essence, being on Yelp is practically mandatory in this day and age, but it doesn’t come without risk. Read more

Driver shortage

TIME Claims There’s No Truck Driver Shortage. Here’s Where They’re Wrong

Time Magazine published an article in late 2021 claiming that the truck driver shortage is a fallacy. As a decades-old trucking company, we beg to differ. While their statistics are on point, Time lacks perspective. To clear things up, here’s an insider view on one of the biggest issues plaguing America’s supply chain issues today. 

The claim: The driver shortage doesn’t exist.

To start, TIME’s infamous article covered some indisputable basics: America’s supply chain is struggling, leading to frustrating delays over the holidays and ongoing product shortages. The crisis began months ago, and yet our favorite muffin at Starbucks and the new smartphone we saved up for remains stubbornly unavailable. 

Many experts have cited a truck driver shortage– the largest we’ve seen in decades, as a strong contributing factor to the recurrent delays, but TIME says it doesn’t exist. To be specific, their article stated that:

Read more

CFL

CFL, A 96-Year-Old Freight Company, Just Went Under. The Scary Truth About the Future for Carriers.

If our headline seems melodramatic, that’s only because the news hasn’t covered this nearly enough. Central Freight Lines, also known as CFL, was founded in Waco, Texas in 1925. Nearly a century later in 2020, it won the title of Carrier of the Year from GlobalTranz. Yet, despite 96 years of excellence and expertise, just announced that they’re ceasing operation. 

CFL announcement

CFL’s announcement on their company’s homepage.

The logistics giant stopped picking up freight on December 13, and aimed to make all remaining deliveries by the 20th. While BYX is alive and well, the downfall of CFL is proof that no LTL carrier is immune to the effects of driver shortages and rapidly rising expenses. 

Where did CFL go wrong? 

Truth be told, it didn’t. The climate for logistics companies has turned increasingly volatile. The company’s announcement may come as a shock, but in reality, it came after years of struggling to remain profitable. Jerry Moyes, CFL’s owner, took up the reigns as CFL’s interim president and CEO in July, 2021 in an attempt to reduce expenses, pouring as much money into it as he could, but it simply wasn’t enough.  Read more

reputable shipping company

Shopping Around: Is it Worth It

Before you read any further, we’ll give you an honest answer: No. Of course, that’s exactly what you’d expect a trucking company to say. Who would encourage customers to shop elsewhere? That being said, even if you’re trying to choose a trucking company in a different area (or even chose one of our competitors!), our recommendation stands. Choose a reputable shipping company and stick with it.

Why not shop around for a lower quote, you ask? Let’s get into it.

If you spend some time on Google, the odds are good that you’ll find someone who will ship your goods for less than BYX will. Most likely, those offering lower prices are owner operators. As you probably guessed by the name, owner operators buy a truck and haul loads themselves. They often work with freight brokers who coordinate with customers and take a cut of the profit.

We already covered why freight brokers are unnecessary and a huge waste of money here, but there’s more to it than that. Even the best owner operator has significant limitations in comparison to a reputable shipping company like BYX. Read more