LTL Shipping

What is LTL Shipping and How Can it Help You?

LTL Shipping
When it comes to freight, there seems to be an acronym for everything and to the laymen these letters mean nothing.  LTL stands for less-than-truckload and LTL shipping can be a great resource for your business.  Small parcel shippers like FedEx and UPS only handle shipments up to a maximum of 150#.  So if you need a new display for your store, or you have a large order you need to ship to a customer  you find yourself breaking up the shipment into smaller pieces or frantically searching the internet for shipping options.  If you break apart your larger order you are probably going to overpay.  Less than truckload shipping is cost effective and flexible.  Let me explain.

Freight Companies

Freight companies offer a myriad of services (which I will detail below).  They include, but not limited to less-than-truckload, full-truckload and partial-truckload.  If your shipment is smaller than seven standard pallets you will save a bunch of money sharing the truck space with other small shippers like yourself.  This system allows for tremendous flexibility.  Carriers can usually take later reservations and offer competitive rates because they have a truck in a neighborhood making deliveries all morning and when it’s done the truck is empty.  What better way for the carrier to make some money than to pickup shipments on the way back to the terminal?

Less than Truckload (LTL) Shipping is great for:

  • Oversized items FedEx and UPS won’t transport
  • Crates
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Hard-to-handle items
  • Rugs
  • Commercial inventory
  • ATVs and small watercraft
  • Heavy items weighing between 150# and 20,000#
  • Small moves
  • Equipment
  • and more!

LTL Carrier Operations vs FTL Operations

Freight consolidation is what LTL shipping is built on.  The driver will collect freight from a bunch of local shippers in an effort to fill up his truck before heading back to the terminal.  Once at the terminal the freight will be offloaded and loaded into another truck for line haul service.  Larger freight companies run specific lanes across their territory.  Every day a carrier may run a truck from Los Angeles to Phoenix and from Phoenix to 10 or 20 other cities.  Your shipment will be moved around from truck to truck as it gets closer and closer to its final destination.  Once it reaches the terminal closest to the delivery address it will be loaded onto a local truck where delivery will be made.  It is a very efficient system for moving large quantities of items that are inconsistent in nature.
There are many different types of less than truckload shipping, different service and delivery times, types of trucks etc.

Domestic Freight Types

  • LTL (Less than Truck Load)
  • FTL (Full Truck Load)
  • Same Day
  • Next Day
  • 2-Day
  • 3-Day
  • Flat Bed
  • Expedited
  • Economy
  • Hot Shot
  • Air Ride
  • Oversized
  • Heavy weight services

International Freight Types

  • LCL (Less than Container Load)
  • FCL (Full Container Load)
  • Airport to Airport
  • Door to Airport
  • Door to Door
  • Airport to Door

Hot Shot Options

Hot Shot drivers still provide LTL shipping, but in a slightly different way.  Instead of running predetermined lanes, they drive the most efficient route for their load.  They may still consolidate shipments, but instead of driving to Chicago via Phoenix and Indianapolis, they may drive direct to Chicago and only accept shipments that are on their route.  Hot Shot freight services are usually faster and cost a little bit more.

LTL Shipping Services

  1. Curbside Delivery – Your shipment will be dropped at the curb in front of the delivery address
  2. Threshold Delivery – Your shipment will be moved into a carport, driveway or walkway as long as there is no gravel or low hanging electrical lines
  3. Inside Delivery – Your shipment will be moved into a garage or warehouse if there is a loading dock
  4. White Glove Delivery – Your shipment will be broken down and moved inside a house or office.  Sometimes this includes item placement in room of choice and debris removal.  These services may be extra
  5. Lift gate – If there is no loading dock at the pickup or delivery address the carrier will need to provide lift gates.  A lift gate is a device on the back of the truck that can be raised and lowered during loading and unloading of freight.
  6. Residential/Commercial Deliveries – Both residential and commercial addresses are serviced by LTL shipping companies.  

Advantages of LTL Shipping

LTL freight services are usually less expensive than other options.  This is a huge advantage of this type of transport.  They also provide consistent transit times because they run the same routes day in and day out and know exactly how long it will take to reach each terminal.  Another advantage of LTL shipping is overlooked many times.  Customers usually have their shipments picked up and delivered by the same local driver. This relationship can be helpful if you are in a bind and are running late on calling in a reservation or have some other hang up.
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