FAQs and RESOURCES
Looking for a definition for an unfamiliar term? Have questions about our services? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions and 3PL terminology explanations. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, give us a call – we’d love to help.
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3PL, or third-party logistics, refers to a firm providing outsourced logistics services to companies. Commonly known as a 3PL or 3PL company, these entities handle various aspects of supply chain management for their clients, covering either specific functions or the entire process.
Each 3PL company has its unique approach. ProPack specializes in order fulfillment (both B2B and DTC), warehousing products, and managing freight forwarding (north and south bound). We prioritize maintaining transparent communication with our clients, providing them with real-time updates on the status of their goods.
Order fulfillment includes picking, packing, and shipping inventory. A 3PL like ProPack stores your products until orders come in, then retrieves the items from stock (picking), packages them appropriately (packing), and dispatches them to the designated business or customer (shipping).
Hazardous materials, or HAZMAT, are items identified by the federal government as containing dangerous components, requiring special permits, training, and equipment for handling. Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) in the U.S. regulates all HAZMAT shipping, aiming to safeguard life, property, and the environment.
Guidelines for HAZMAT shipping are based on whether an item poses an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property during transportation. Categories include explosives, radioactive substances, infectious materials, flammable substances, toxic materials, and oxidizing/corrosive substances. The heightened concern during shipping is due to the potential devastating impact of accidents involving these materials.
Freight Forwarding manages the movement of palletized freight from the initial shipper to the final consignee, usually the buyer. Companies like ProPack that specialize in Freight Forwarding handle all aspects, including warehousing, shipping goods to different locations, handling shipping paperwork, expediting border crossings, tracking shipments, and keeping clients informed about the status of their products.
Southbound Forwarding involves receiving consolidated shipments from Canada at a U.S. warehouse, where they are unpacked and sent individually through domestic services to their final recipients in the U.S.
Northbound Forwarding involves receiving and consolidating shipments at a U.S. warehouse before they are dispatched to their final consignee location within Canada. Consolidation enhances shipping efficiency and reduces costs.
A Customs Broker is a vital figure in commercial shipping responsible for facilitating the clearance of goods through customs. If your company is involved in importing or exporting, engaging a customs broker is essential for expediting the customs clearance process, crucial for time-sensitive business operations.
Customs brokers serve as professional intermediaries, handling documentation preparation, tax calculations, and duties for shipments. They act as liaisons between government agencies, such as the FDA, USDA, and Fish and Wildlife Service, and importers or exporters.
ProPack collaborates directly with customs brokers to ensure the efficient transportation of goods across the U.S.-Canada border, offering expedited shipping services for businesses expanding into global markets.
Cross-docking, or simply “a cross-dock,” is the swift receipt, temporary storage, and release of shipments by a warehouse that doesn’t control the freight in or out. Warehousing companies like ProPack often provide cross-docking as a service, acting as a temporary storage point for shipments with minimal involvement in the inbound or outbound freight.
Cross docking is designed for rapid turnaround, involving the immediate transfer of products from an incoming truck to an outbound truck, minimizing storage time or eliminating it altogether. This efficient service, adaptable to client needs, ensures shipments are dropped off and picked up intact without any alterations.
There are two main types of cross-docking: pallets and packages. While the majority involves palletized shipments for less than a week, individual packages, boxes, and even vehicles can go through a cross-dock process.
Cross docking is commonly used in Freight Forwarding at carrier terminals during carrier switches or for shipments to and from Canada, facilitating paperwork processing or carrier transitions.
DIM, short for Dimensional Weight, is a billing method used by logistics providers to charge for both the weight and size (or dimensions) of a package – usually whichever is greater. This method was introduced because, in the past, shipping costs were based solely on gross weight, leading to inefficiencies when lightweight but large packages filled up shipping vehicles.
Commercial carriers like FedEx and UPS utilize DIM standards for calculating charges in ground shipping services, each with their own special formula. We provide links to carrier DIM calculators, ensuring clients can avoid excessive shipping costs.
ProPack employs strategies to mitigate high DIM fees when preparing shipments, such as using minimal packing materials, compressing products where possible, and opting for smaller boxes, prioritizing ethical and efficient packing practices.
Shipment commercial value refers to the total commercial worth of goods in a single shipment, typically invoiced to the end consignee (buyer). This value is crucial for international shipments as it determines duties, taxes, and insurance considerations. Accurate valuation is mandated by every country, with the World Trade Organization enforcing strict rules.
The declared invoice value serves as the basis for duties, taxes, and fees upon the goods’ arrival in the destination country. For U.S. shipments, the commercial value determines the need for certain government filings (AES EEI).
Customs relies on accurate values to assess goods properly, and reporting an honest value in the invoice is essential to avoid penalties. Commercial invoices, sometimes termed pro-forma invoices, are necessary for all exports, even when not selling items but simply shipping them. Personal shipments (e.g., personal car transport) still require a commercial invoice unless owned by the shipper.
Our goal is to get you onboarded and integrated as soon as possible without sacrificing accuracy. We work in partnership with you to create the schedule, define what is required from each party, and effectively prepare for a seamless onboarding process.
The onboarding timeframe ranges from a few days up to a few weeks and depends on factors like: number of SKUs, the level of integration required, where your product is being shipped from (e.g., manufacturer or other 3PL), and how much information you can provide us before your products arrive (so we can effectively design your picking setup).
Throughout our partnership, you can count on consistent communication from ProPack, addressing any issues, making adjustments based on your changing needs, and assuring that our services continue to align with your business goals. We provide you with full access to monitor the status of shipments, inventory levels, and other relevant metrics through our online portal.
We try our best to proactively identify areas for improvement and will suggest tailored optimizations that would enhance efficiency and reduce your costs over time.
CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE
Client satisfaction isn’t just a buzzword to us, it’s an integral part of our service offering. Our friendly and knowledgeable client care team and dedicated sales representatives create the bridge between our company and yours by providing exceptional support that is prompt, positive, and professional.