LTL shipping is the smart and economical shipping method for any company that needs to transport freight weighing between 100 pounds and 10,000 pounds. Or to make it even simpler, it’s the most cost-effective way for companies who don’t ship full truckloads (hence the less than truckload name) of product at a time to transport their freight.
In this article, we will dive into how LTL shipping works, and the benefits it can bring to your company.
How Does LTL Shipping Work?
Essentially, LTL carriers use a sophisticated network of trucks and terminals to move smaller loads of freight to their destination by consolidating it with other LTL shipments. This contrasts with the more commonly known Full Truckload (FTL) shipping that transports the freight of a single shipper directly to the final destination.
The simplest way to think of the LTL shipping network is to imagine it as a spoke and hub design made up of small, local (spoke) terminals and large, central (hub) terminals that guide LTL carriers through their shipments. Typically, once an LTL shipment is picked up for delivery it is first brought to a local terminal for initial consolidating onto an LTL truck and then taken to a central terminal to continue its journey. This process of continuous consolidation is what keeps LTL shipments moving quickly and efficiently to their destinations.
Benefits of LTL Shipping
- Price negotiation – many LTL companies allow you to negotiate year-long contracts that ensure you know what you’ll pay for all your LTL shipments for the duration of that contract, which gives you peace of mind and saves you from wasting time you’d spend negotiating every shipment (or paying more than you’d like)
- Quick turn-around deliveries – some LTL carriers can complete deliveries in as little as two hours, which is perfect for companies with limited warehouse space who need to get finished product out the door as soon as possible
- Efficient cross-country trips – LTL carriers with large networks can complete cross-country deliveries within a week and sometimes in under three days
- Intelligent tracking – with LTL shipping you’ll have all the data you need to ensure your freight is picked up, transported and delivered quickly and accurately, usually via tracking of a Bill of Lading, Pro Number, etc.
- Less environmental impact – you’ll lower your company’s carbon footprint by sharing trucks with other shippers instead of multiple companies each using unfilled trucks
- Greater security than parcel shipping – some companies with small freight loads may consider traditional parcel shipping, which while working in a similar network of spoke and hub terminals, often doesn’t place as much emphasis on the security of what they’re shipping. LTL carriers have more resources for securely packing freight (such as pallets or durable crates), which helps ensure your product arrives at its final destination in the same condition in which you shipped it
- Additional services – LTL shipping offers liftgates, non-commercial shipping, inside pick-up and delivery and more advanced notification options you won’t be able to access with FTL shipping
If you’re interested in shipping via LTL, partnering with a logistics company that specializes in this arena can be extremely helpful. Our low rates through carrier negotiation, coupled with advanced technology, data analytics, and outstanding customer service, we become a vital part of your supply chain. For more information on how we can save you time and money, reach out to us today!