What is LTL Freight?
LTL Freight, also referred to as Less-than-truckload freight is a shipping method whereby a truck is used to carry more than a single shipment. Some of the goods transported through freight don’t always need a full truckload. Therefore, this mode of transportation is used to transport these smaller freight parcel sizes from about 100 pounds to 15,000 pounds.
These small deliveries (more like separate shipments) are all delivered on the same truck so as to avoid wastage of space as well as other resources. Therefore, with the LTL shipment, you get to pay only for the space you need. For instance; if you need only a half of the truck, that’s what you’ll pay for. The rest of the space will be filled with shipments from other freight companies.
In that case, LTL makes the ideal choice for any small businesses that may not need to ship products in large quantities and are looking for something more affordable. Most shippers go for LTL shipping as it is efficient and cost-effective, in other words LTL meaning less than a tuck, cost less that a truck.
Well, I don’t know about you but I always feel like when it comes to shipping freight, there are a whole lot of options. And for this reason, it can be quite confusing when you need to narrow down to a specific one. This is because you don’t just settle for any shipping freight that you stumble upon.
There are a couple of factors that you might need to consider. Some of them include; the shipment size, the type of shipment as well as the delivery urgency of that particular shipment. But that’s not all, freight shipping can be quite complex.
With that in mind, this article will focus on explaining everything you need to know about LTL freight shipping. Also, it will discuss the major differences between LTL and FTL shipping. This will help you determine the best shipping method that’s fit for your needs.
When to Use LTL Freight?
Most people will always think that choosing between the available shipping methods is a walk in the park. After all, it’s either you fill the truck or you don’t, Right? Well, things aren’t as simple as people perceive them. There are certain things you need to consider before you settle down for LTL freight as the ideal shipping method for your needs.
In that, the decision on whether to use LTL as your shipment method depends on your budget and how fast the parcel needs to arrive at a certain destination. Also, it may depend on the number of individual shipments that are required. LTL is definitely the best option when a shipper needs to send two pallets to two or more destinations.
What Determines LTL Shipping Rates?
There are five major factors that determine the LTL freight shipping rates. These factors include:
The Total Weight of the LTL Shipment
The total weight of the shipment is determined by the weight of the entire package when it’s all ready to go. In some cases, you may be having a single-piece shipment and in such a case all you need is the final weight of the unit. It can be a crate, container or even a pallet. For the multiple-piece of shipments, the weights of all the units are added together.
The Total Size of the LTL Shipment
When I talk about size in this case, I mean the total space the shipment occupies in the truck when we consider the width, length, and height. With a single-piece of shipment, measure the height, width, and length of the shipment and multiply together to get the total area occupied.
On the other hand, for the multi-piece shipments, all you need to do is to measure the height and width then add the lengths of all the pallets together. This gives you the total size of the entire shipment. But you need not to worry about the math, most freight shippers will do it for you as soon as you get a quote.
Accuracy is key when calculating the total size and weight of your shipment otherwise you will pay more than the required rate.
The distance the LTL Freight Shipment will be Travelling
Well, I bet this is self-explanatory, but before I move on to the next factor, there is one thing I need you to know. Most of the freight travels use commercial routes often known as the shipping lanes. Therefore, depending on the location you are shipping goods from, lanes that lead to closer destinations are cheaper than lanes that lead to farther destinations.
The Type of LTL Freight Service You Settle For
The speed at which your shipment will be delivered is another factor that tends to affect the cost of the entire freight. These service types fall under three different time frames which include:
The Standard Freight
In LTL freight, this is the ground transit time. When you get the quote, you need to know that the standard freight times are not always guaranteed. Also, they may vary from 2 or 3 days depending on the carrier you have.
The Express/Expedited Freight
With most of the LTL carriers, express freight is a faster delivery that is available for an additional cost.
The Guaranteed Freight
Well, I must admit the guaranteed freight is actually the only way to be certain that your freight will arrive on a certain day. However, this will add an extra cost to your shipment. The best thing about the guaranteed freight is that you have the chance to even schedule a specific delivery appointment.
The Freight Class of the LTL Shipment
When it comes to this, things get a little complicated. But basically what you need to know is that; the LTL freight class are categorized from 50-500. The lowest number or rather class gets lower LTL freight costs. The freight class is majorly determined by the weight, size or the goods being shipped. Therefore we have the goods-based classing and the density-based classing.
The goods-based shipping is based on the idea that some goods are actually less fragile, easier or safer to ship when compared to others. On the other hand, density calculator in shipping concentrates on the weight and total size of the shipment. Most of the freight carriers use freight calculators to determine the density-based class when giving you the quotes. Others use CBM calculator to determine the cubic meter measurement of the entire shipment. CBM is also know as Cubic Meter.
Preparing the LTL Freight Shipments
- Dimension. When measuring the height, width, and length of a ltl delivery, it’s advisable that you round off to the next inch. These accurate dimensions are accurate for carriers as they get to maximize the available capacity in the truck. In that case, you get to avoid any adjustment fees.
- Documentation. A bill of landing is also an important aspect of LTL transport preparation. This bill of landing should be handed over to the carriers when they arrive. This acts more like receipts for the good that was in shipment.
- Packaging and Labeling. To protect and condense your shipments, it's advisable that you load goods into pallets. For the heavy goods, make sure that they go to the bottom of the pallet and the label is placed on the inside part.
Benefits of LTL Trucking to Shippers and Carriers
LTL Shipping is Cost Effective
Despite the shipper you go for, one thing I know is that LTL shipping is the most cost-effective option. This is because you get to make shipments for a fraction of the cost as compared to paying for an entire truckload. The lower cost that shippers get with LTL freight is due to the procedure used in the shipping process of the LTL freights.
In that, the shipping entails loading of different shipments from various shippers into a less than truckload. These multiple shipments are then sent out for delivery using the single truck. This whole process is known as pooling. Where the shipper gets to pay only for the portion of space their shipment occupies in the truck rather than paying for the entire truck on their own.
With LTL shipping, the security of the goods being shipped is considered as soon as a price point is determined. LTL shippers and carriers are aware that it is inevitable to handle freight several times during the transit. But since the LTL carriers are encouraged to load their freight into durable crates or pallets, there are able to:
- Protect the goods from wear and tear during transportation.
- Reduce the risk of losing individual packages
- Protect the freight from other freights in the truck.
The LTL Shipping is Easy to Track
LTL shipping is one of the most reliable modes of shipping. This is because the shipments are actually easy to track hence simplifying the planning for inventory levels, shipment receipts as well as the manufacturing workflows. Actually, in cases where the shipments are time sensitive, the freight carriers offer the expedited shipping that comes with an estimated delivery period.
When you can track these shipments, it is easier for you to plan for their delivery. Most of the carriers will provide the real-time tracking which includes the in-transit updates for the stop-offs, pickups and delayed statuses too. This way you can hold the carrier accountable for the guaranteed delivery dates. The shipments could be tracked using a few things like the; pickup date range, PO number, bill of lading number, the shipment reference number and so on.
When it comes to LTL services it can offer certain service options that will not be available with the other types of shipping methods. Such services include; freeze protection, lift gate, delivery notifications, pickup and delivery, special handling and so much more.
LTL Carriers Services
The Liftgate: this is an additional service that is used when a freight exceeds 100 pounds. Also, the service is considered when the location where the freight will be received doesn’t have a dock where the shipment can be moved from the truck directly.
Expedited: This is a service used when the shipper needs their goods to arrive at the designated destination faster than when in the standard transit.
Limited access: You may need this service if goods are being sent to locations that have limited access to the carriers. Such locations include strip malls, rural locations, construction sites, camps and so on.
Inside pickup and delivery: This service is applicable where the carrier needs to enter the building in order to obtain the freight to be loaded or to complete a delivery. In such a case, the freight may be brought indoors.
FTL vs. LTL Shipping
LTL which stands for less than truckload is a term that is used to refer to the shipment of goods that don’t necessarily require the entire space in the carrier truck. On the other hand, FTL which stands for the full truckload is a term used for any shipment that needs the entire truck’s space capacity for shipping to be made. With that in mind, here are the major differences between FTL and LTL.
Total Weight of the Freight
LTL is the ideal shipment method for any freight under 15,000 pounds. However, when it comes to anything more than 15,000 pounds you may want to consider FTL shipments.
With LTL, it combines freight from different freight companies such as R and L Carriers. Therefore, you get to split the available space in the truck as well as the cost too with other shippers. This is always a convenient option when your freight cannot fill the entire truck.
In cases where you need to ship fragile items, FTL always makes the best option as it decreases the likelihood of any damages during the transit. This is because with FTL there are minimal instances of loading and offloading the goods.
At times, you may need a time-sensitive shipment and in that case, FTL is the best option for that. This is because FTL shipments are always faster as they are all sent on the same truck. In that case, the deliveries via FTL tend to be faster than ones made via LTL. Deliveries made through LTL always require multiple stops on the terminals of the ltl carriers.