The last few years have brought a boom in the e-commerce sector and with it a huge increase in the need for affordable shipping for small and medium businesses. These businesses have products that need shipping that exceeds the limits of parcel delivery but doesn’t quite warrant an entire 18-wheeler. This is where LTL comes in.
LTL is a term used in the trucking industry that causes some confusion for people new to shipping their goods. Less Than Load, or LTL shipments, are more than 150 lbs. but won’t fill a tractor-trailer truck which is usually between 26 and 53 feet long. Parcel carriers such as the US Postal service, UPS, and FedEx ship smaller packages and for larger shipments, LTL is used. (UPS Freight and FedEx Freight are LTL shippers.) For the largest shipments when the shipment will take up the entire truck, FTL, or Full Truckloads are used.
Size of Load
LTLs generally range from 150 lbs to 10,000 lbs but there are some carriers that may accept larger shipments. They may also be under 150 lbs when the items to be shipped are lighter but irregularly shaped or large and would be difficult to ship via parcel post. Carriers often look at what would be most cost-effective for the customer.
The fastest way to ship something is using an FTL. FTLs are direct shipments and the difference between using those versus LTL is like the difference between using an express elevator or an elevator with several people getting off on different floors. LTLs have more than one customer’s goods on the truck which saves money, but the more stops they have to make, the longer the shipment will probably take.
LTL carriers have set minimums for the cost of shipping with them. To determine the cost, the carrier will look at the weight, size, value, distance, needed floor space, and if actions are needed such as residential pickup/delivery, inside delivery, or if there’s limited access for delivery.
With parcel, conveyor belts are typically utilized which means there’s a lot of shipment handling before it reaches the destination. With LTL, there is less handling involved but there will be other freight on the truck so it may have to be moved around and there’s a chance it will need to be transferred to another truck. FTL gets the least amount of handling but unless its a large shipment, it may not be cost-effective to use.
LTL gives companies the ability to ship products quickly and affordably by sharing the ride and costs with shipments from other businesses and includes the flexibility to ship almost anywhere.
Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks. With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.