8 Critical Considerations in Bulk Liquid Freight Carrier Selection Featured Image

8 Critical Considerations in Bulk Liquid Freight Carrier Selection


The logistics and transportation procurement of bulk liquid freight services stands out as a particularly challenging and specialized area. The transportation of bulk liquids like chemicals, petroleum products, and food-grade liquids demands rigorous standards, specialized equipment, and a keen understanding of regulatory compliance and market dynamics. For procurement professionals, aligning with the right dedicated contract carriers is crucial to ensure efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

Real Data Points and Industry Statistics

The bulk liquid freight market is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the liquid bulk transportation market size is expected to reach $108.4 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2020 to 2025. This growth is driven by increasing demand for chemical and petroleum products, advancements in tanker technology, and stringent regulatory requirements that necessitate specialized transportation solutions.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that hazardous materials account for over 3 billion tons of shipments annually in the U.S., with liquid bulk making up a significant portion of these shipments. This highlights the critical importance of safety and compliance in transporting bulk liquids.

The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) has emphasized the importance of rigorous safety standards. NTTC members are involved in approximately 78% of all tank truck shipments, reflecting the vital role they play in maintaining industry safety and standards. This underscores the need for procurement professionals to select carriers with robust safety records and active participation in industry organizations that promote best practices.

What to Look for in a Bulk Liquid Freight Contract Carrier

When selecting a contract carrier for bulk liquid freight, procurement professionals must consider various factors to ensure they partner with a reliable, efficient, and compliant carrier. Here are more detailed attributes to evaluate:

  1. Reputation and Experience: 
  • Industry Experience: Seek carriers with extensive experience transporting the specific types of liquids relevant to your industry. Carriers with a long history in the business are more likely to understand the nuances and challenges of bulk liquid transportation.
  • Customer Testimonials and Case Studies: Review case studies and customer testimonials to gauge the carrier’s performance and reliability. Positive feedback from companies in similar industries can provide valuable insights into the carrier’s capabilities.
  1. Safety Record:
  • Accident and Incident Rates: Investigate the carrier’s accident and incident rates. Low rates indicate robust safety protocols and effective risk management.
  • Safety Certifications: Verify the carrier’s safety certifications, such as the Responsible Care® program for chemical transporters, ISO 9001, or the Safety and Quality Assessment System (SQAS). These certifications prove dedication to maintaining high safety standards.
  • Employee Training Programs: Ensure the carrier invests in regular employee safety training. Well-trained drivers and staff are crucial for maintaining safety and compliance.
  1. Fleet Quality and Maintenance:
  • Fleet Age and Condition: Assess the age and condition of the carrier’s fleet. Newer, well-maintained vehicles are less likely to experience breakdowns and can offer better fuel efficiency.
  • Maintenance Protocols: Review the carrier’s maintenance schedules and protocols. Regular and proactive maintenance can prevent equipment failures and ensure the safe transport of liquids.
  • Specialized Equipment: Ensure the carrier’s fleet includes specialized equipment for your specific liquid cargo, such as insulated tankers, refrigerated units, or stainless steel tanks.
  1. Insurance Coverage:
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Confirm that the carrier has comprehensive insurance coverage that protects against potential losses or damages during transit. This includes cargo insurance, liability insurance, and environmental liability coverage.
  • Coverage Limits: Ensure the insurance coverage limits are adequate for the value and nature of your cargo. High-value or hazardous liquids may require higher coverage limits.
  1. Customer Service and Communication:
  • Communication Channels: Evaluate the carrier’s communication channels and responsiveness. Effective communication is vital for managing logistics and addressing any issues during transit.
  • Dedicated Account Managers: Look for carriers that provide personalized support and address your specific needs. A dedicated account manager would be a bonus. 
  • Real-Time Updates: Choose carriers with real-time updates and tracking capabilities. This transparency allows for better shipment management and swift response to disruptions.
  1. Scalability and Flexibility:
  • Capacity to Scale: Assess the carrier’s ability to scale operations to meet your changing demands. This includes handling increases in shipment volumes or accommodating seasonal variations.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Look for carriers that offer flexible scheduling options to meet your delivery requirements. This flexibility can be crucial for managing supply chain fluctuations.
  1. Technological Capabilities:
  • Advanced Tracking Systems: Ensure the carrier uses advanced tracking systems, such as GPS and telematics, to provide real-time visibility of shipments. This technology helps monitor the cargo’s location, temperature, and condition.
  • Data Analytics: Partner with carriers that leverage data analytics to optimize routes, predict maintenance needs, and improve operational efficiency. Access to this data enables better decision-making and strategic planning.
  • Integration with Supply Chain Systems: Choose carriers that can integrate their technology with your supply chain management systems for seamless operations and improved efficiency.
  1. Sustainability Practices:
  • Environmental Certifications: Verify the carrier’s environmental certifications, such as ISO 14001 or the EPA’s SmartWay program. These certifications show devotion to sustainable practices.
  • Green Initiatives: Evaluate the carrier’s green initiatives, such as using fuel-efficient vehicles, implementing spill prevention strategies, and reducing emissions. These practices can help enhance your company’s sustainability efforts and meet regulatory requirements.
  • Waste Management: Assess the carrier’s waste management and disposal practices, especially for hazardous materials. Proper waste management is critical for minimizing environmental impact.

By thoroughly evaluating these attributes, procurement professionals can select a contract carrier that meets their needs and ensures bulk liquid freight’s safe, efficient, and compliant transport. This detailed approach helps mitigate risks, optimize logistics, and contribute to the overall success of the supply chain.

Want to learn more about GOCO Transport’s bulk liquid transportation partnerships? Contact our team of fuel delivery specialists today.