If you’re a business owner who needs to ship products or materials, you might have heard the term “LTL freight” thrown around. But what exactly is LTL freight, and how does it work?
One popular shipping method for businesses with small to medium-sized shipments is less-than-truckload (LTL) freight.
What is LTL Freight?
LTL freight is a shipping method that combines multiple smaller shipments into a single truckload.
This allows business owners to share the costs of having to ship something with other businesses, reducing the amount of unused space on the truck. This makes it more cost-effective as you don’t have to pay for the whole truck.
LTL freight carriers typically handle shipments weighing between 150 and 10,000 pounds, although this can vary depending on the carrier’s capacity and equipment.
LTL shipments are also typically larger than parcel shipments but smaller than full truckload (FTL) shipments.
Benefits of LTL Freight
LTL offers several benefits for businesses, including:
One of the most significant advantages of LTL freight is its cost-effectiveness.
By sharing truck space with other shippers, businesses can reduce their shipping costs compared to other shipping methods.
In that case, using LTL can be more cost-effective than renting an entire truck or using parcel shipping.
LTL freight is also a flexible shipping method that allows businesses to ship goods on their schedule.
Unlike parcel shipping, which typically has strict pickup and delivery times, LTL freight offers more flexible pickup and delivery options.
LTL carriers typically use specialized equipment and trained professionals to handle and transport goods.
This reduces the risk of damage or loss during transit and provides businesses with greater peace of mind that their products will arrive safely.
Drawbacks of LTL Freight
While LTL offers several benefits, it also has some drawbacks that businesses should consider before choosing this shipping method:
Longer Transit Times
Unless you’re working with a bigger company that can handle faster shipping times, LTL freight shipments often have longer transit times than other shipping methods, such as parcel shipping or FTL shipping.
This is because the carrier has to pick up and deliver many shipments while having yours in the back.
We recommend you plan shipments in advance taking the longer transit times into account so it does not damage your expected use of shipped items.
Increased Risk of Damage
LTL involves multiple shipments on a single truck, which means that the goods are more susceptible to damage during transit.
This is because the shipments are often loaded and unloaded multiple times during transit, increasing the risk of mishandling or damage.
To mitigate the risk of damage, more professional LTL carriers often use specialized equipment and trained professionals to handle the shipments. Especially when handling fragile items like furniture.
They also have strict protocols in place for handling and transporting goods to minimize the risk of damage.
LTL is designed for small shipments, so if you want to ship bigger stuff, you should really contact your company first and see if you should hire something else, like a white glove delivery or a deluxing service.
Businesses that need to transport larger shipments may need to use other shipping methods, such as FTL or intermodal transportation.
Comparing LTL Freight with Other Shipping Methods
Full Truckload (FTL)
FTL shipping is a shipping method that involves renting an entire truck for a single shipment.
FTL is typically used for larger shipments that require the entire truck’s capacity, such as pallets or containers of goods.
Compared to LTL freight, FTL shipping is faster and more direct, as the truck travels directly from the pickup location to the delivery location without making any stops.
However, FTL shipping is also more expensive than LTL freight, as businesses must pay for the entire truck’s capacity, even if they don’t use all of it.
Parcel shipping is typically used for small shipments, such as individual boxes or envelopes.
Compared to LTL, parcel shipping is faster and more direct, as the carrier typically delivers the package directly to the recipient’s doorstep.
However, parcel shipping is also more expensive than LTL for larger shipments, as the cost per pound increases as the shipment size increases.
LTL freight is a cost-effective and flexible shipping method that can benefit businesses with small to medium-sized shipments.
While it has some drawbacks, such as longer transit times and increased risk of damage, LTL carriers use specialized equipment and trained professionals to minimize these risks.
Before choosing LTL freight, businesses should consider their shipment size, transit time requirements, and budget to ensure that this shipping method is the right choice for their needs.