What is LTL shipping?
The term less than truckload is the basis for LTL, the acronym that serves as the common moniker of this freight mode. At the most basic level, LTL shipping is the transportation of freight that occupies only a portion of an entire trailer. Multiple shippers share space on the same truck only paying for their portion, making LTL a cost efficient method of shipping freight.
What are the benefits of LTL shipping?
LTL offers you benefits beyond decreased shipping costs:
LTL not only cuts down cost, but also the carbon footprint by sharing space with other shippers on the same truck.
Extra service options.
Those who ship LTL have access to extended services like inside pickup and delivery, liftgates, non-commercial delivery and notification options.
Freight services generally provide an estimate of transit days and track shipments in real time. Shippers gain access by referring to the bill of lading number, PRO number, PO number or shipment reference number.
LTL shipping FAQs.
Here’s a look at some of the commonly asked questions surrounding LTL shipping:
What’s the difference between LTL and TL?
They each have benefits, but one is better suited depending on the freight details – mainly weight and size, but distance too. Typically, you may consider full truckload when freight exceeds 15,000 pounds or when more than 24 feet of trailer space is required. If the distance to deliver is less than 500 miles, truckload may be a fit even for shipments under 15,000 pounds and occupying less than 24 feet. Truckload is also an option when goods are time-sensitive since it can move from shipper to consignee without offloading and reloading at terminals along the way.
How does LTL work?
LTL shipping operates on a hub and spoke model where local terminals are the spokes and larger central terminals are the hubs or distribution centers. Spoke terminals gather local freight from various shippers and combine that freight into outbound trailers. Goods then move to the hub terminal where freight is either sorted and delivered or consolidated for further transportation.
Who uses LTL?
When a company has a relatively small load of freight, they often choose an LTL carrier to transport their goods. These carriers are accustomed to moving palletized freight that can be broken down into smaller units. They also transport drums and freight that is properly crated, bundled or bagged.