- What is LTL shipping?
- How are LTL and FTL (full truckload) different?
- How are LTL and parcel carrier operations different?
- How does LTL shipping work?
- Advantages and disadvantages of LTL shipping
- Is LTL shipping right for me?
- How much does LTL shipping cost?
- How do you prepare LTL shipments?
- Associated services for LTL shipments
- What is intermodal transportation of LTL shipments?
- LTL in the age of ecommerce
What is LTL shipping?
LTL stands for "less than truckload" shipping. It refers to the process of transporting pallets of products that require partial but not full space in a freight truck.
How are LTL and FTL (full truckload) different?
Welcome to the world of truckload shipping. LTL freight doesn't require the entire space of a truck while FTL takes up the full space or weight limit of a truck. Generally speaking, you would ship full truckload if your freight to be shipped exceeds 15,000 pounds or requires more than 24 feet of trailer space. FTL shipments will typically be used over LTL if there are 10 or more pallets that need to be shipped. These distinctions are upheld by the national motor freight classification.
Depending on the freight provider or solution you use, there might be slightly different requirements. You can always choose to ship FTL even if your products don't necessarily require a full truckload of space.
How are LTL and parcel carrier operations different?
Parcel carriers traditionally carry products weighing less than 150 pounds. LTL carriers handle shipments with the least amount of units possible. Both systems are similar in that they use hubs and terminals to deliver freight.
How does LTL shipping work?
LTL shipping works on a hub and spoke model. The hub terminal is the location where the freight is sorted and delivered or consolidated to be further transported.
Advantages and disadvantages of LTL shipping
Firstly, LTL is cheaper. With LTL you pay only for the portion of the freight truck that your products occupy. It's also more eco-friendly. Because you share truck space with other shippers when you ship LTL, you are helping to cut down on carbon footprint.
It also offers safer packing. Depending on what LTL service provider you use, you will get tracking and management services so you can monitor your shipments and make sure they are getting to the right place. Other components you would gain visibility into would include bill of lading (or "freight bill"), purchase order number, date range, etc. including many other specifications.
Is LTL shipping right for me?
There are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering LTL shipping:
- Do I have freight under 15,000 pounds?
- Does my freight require a full trailer?
- Am I looking to maximize cost savings?
How much does LTL shipping cost?
The farther the shipment is going, the higher the price will generally be. However, If you use a flat rate shipping provider like Inxeption, you will not face higher shipping charges if you are shipping from any location in the allotted area.
You will also be charged more based on the dimensions and weight of your LTL shipments, and how much space your shipments take over in the truck. There might also be a need for a density calculation and a consideration of transit time. You can always get a shipping quote from your LTL shipper's customer support or customer satisfaction department before committing to a freight invoice.
How do you prepare LTL shipments?
- Measure what is to be shipped. Determine the dimensions of your shipment. Always round up when measuring length, width and height. Without proper dimensions, it will be difficult for carriers to maximize their capacity. If you measure improperly, you could face adjustment fees.
- Document a bill of lading to give to carriers. A bill of lading is essentially a receipt for the goods you give the carrier to be shipped.
- Package and label for shipping. Condense and protect your shipments as much as possible by loading them onto freight pallets or crates. The best practice is to place heavy items on the bottom. Place the label for the shipment on the side of the package.
- Consider the remaining aspects such as insurance, if any, and the status of the shipment, such as hazardous or fragile.
Associated services for LTL shipments
If you are shipping LTL, you might need or would benefit from the following associated services
- Expedited shipping: Depending on your carrier, you will be given the opportunity to request an expedited freight quote if you need your shipments to arrive more quickly than via standard shipping.
- Inside pickup or delivery: If you need the carrier to pick up the freight shipment inside your building or complete the delivery by bringing it indoors, you will have to request this specifically from the carrier.
- Limited service request: If you are shipping your pallets to a location that has limited access for carriers to deliver the goods, you should make this clear up front.
- Need for a liftgate: Depending on how heavy your freight is, you might need a liftgate if the location receiving the shipment doesn't have a dock so the shipment can be moved off the truck directly.
What is intermodal transportation of LTL shipments?
Not all LTL shipments only travel by truck. Many LTL carriers also rely on truck and rail or rail and air freight shipments to move freight towards its destination. Air cargo and air freight services give the process speed. These are intermodal shipments. Intermodal freight transportation shipments employ multiple methods of transporting the goods from start to destination.
LTL in the age of ecommerce
LTL services have become more important in today's economy with the rise of ecommerce. If you're wondering if LTL or FTL shipping is right for your e-commerce business or would fit in with your logistics processes, get in touch with Inxeption. Our experts can advise you on the best course of action.