What is LTL Freight & How Can It Work for You?

What is LTL Freight & How Can it Work for You? | C.H. Robinson Blog

If you are interested in getting into the shipping industry or want to use their services, you might wonder, “What is LTL freight and how can it work for you? First of all, less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is used for the transportation of freight that is small or for freight that does not need the whole space of a trailer. LTL freight is normally used for freight weights that are between 150 lbs. to 15,000 lbs.

The shipper is the one responsible for the portion of a standard trailer truck the freight uses when shipping using the LTL method. Other shippers and their respective shipments can use the space that is not occupied. The LTL method has many benefits and more and more people are seeing the advantages of using this method. 

What Does LTL Freight Mean?

Less-than-truckload shipping or less-than load is the transportation of those that are small freight. Other alternatives to LTL carriers are parcel carriers or full truckload carriers. Parcel carriers usually handle small packages and freight that can be broken down into units less than 150 lbs. 

Full truckload carriers move freight that is loaded into a semi-trailer. Semi-trailers are typically between 26 and 53 feet and require a large amount of freight to make such transportation economical.

Less-than-truckload carriers like to handle shipments with the fewest handling units possible. LTL carriers are more inclined to a shipment of 1 pallet containing many boxes shrink wrapped to form one piece rather than many individual pieces. 

In this way, the handling costs and the risk of damage during transit are reduced. Normally, the per-pound rates of LTL carriers are less than the per-pound rates of parcel carriers so more people prefer the LTL method. 

Benefits of LTL shipping

  1. Reduces costs: When booking for an LTL shipment, you need to only pay for the portion of the trailer that your freight occupies. The rest of the cost is covered by the other occupants of the trailer’s space so you save costs. 
  2. Increases security: Most LTL shipments are packaged onto pallets before being loaded onto a truck. One well-packaged pallet has a better chance of remaining secure than shipments with multiple smaller handling units. A better package pallet also increases the chances of it arriving at its destination in one piece. 
  3. Additional service options: When shipping via less-than-truckload, you get more access to special services like liftgates and inside pickup and delivery which is an added bonus.
  4. Tracking: LTL carriers offer tracking capabilities through the bill of lading number, PRO number, PO number, shipment reference number and pick up date range and many more.

Factors that determine LTL shipping rates.

  • Location: Typically, in most, if not all freights, the further the distance, the higher the price. There is more traffic in big cities as they get more freight but with further and small rural areas it costs more due to less traffic.
  • Dimensions: The dimensions and weight of the shipment contribute to the freight class, which directly impacts rates. The bigger and uniquely shaped package is harder to transport than the usual box shaped packages. 
  • Mode: For a client’s convenience, for an additional fee, less-than-truckload shipments can be expedited.
  • Type: A shipment that requires special handling or equipment (perishables, fragile, hazardous items) will likely lead to higher costs. 

What are additional LTL shipping services?

Expedited: When you need goods and products to arrive at their destination faster than the usual standard transit time, you should request an expedited freight quote.

Liftgate: Liftgates are used when a freight exceeds 100 lbs. and the receiving location does not have a dock for the shipment to be moved directly off the truck.

Limited access: Limited access is needed for deliveries heading to locations that have limited access for carriers, such as construction sites, camps, rural locations, strip malls, etc. 

Inside pickup and delivery: You need inside pickup and delivery service, if the carrier needs to enter a building or space to obtain the freight to load or complete a delivery by bringing it indoors for whatever reasons. 

Why Choose LTL Freight Shipping?

If you are looking to transport goods and products but want to maximize cost saving you should seriously consider less-than-truckload shipping. If you are in the business and need to regularly transport freight that is under 15,000 lbs., LTL freight shipping is the best choice for any business. One main advantage of using an LTL carrier is that a shipment may be transported for a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire truck and trailer for an exclusive shipment.