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What is LTL Shipping

LTL shipping, or less-than-truckload shipping, is freight transportation not requiring an entire truckload space. Rather than hiring a full truckload for smaller shipments, LTL shipping allows shippers to (in essence) split the cost of a truckload among several shippers.

The clear benefit of LTL shipping is reduced cost. However, this does come with some tradeoffs, including longer delivery times or reduced predictability.

FreightCenter partners with over 50 top LTL freight carriers to help you find the best freight rates and deliver time. Our team of experienced freight agents can help you ensure a successful shipment and mitigate risk.

Definition of LTL freight shipping

The term Less than truckload freight shipping (LTL) describes smaller shipments or when freight doesn’t require the use of an entire 53 ft trailer. Usually, the minimum weight for LTL starts around 100 pounds and goes up to approximately 20,000 pounds. 

An advantage of shipping LTL is that you only have to pay for the portion of the freight trailer you use instead of a truckload; you have to pay for the whole trailer even if you do not fill it. When shipping LTL, your shipment will often include rideshare with other shippers on the same trailer. The money-saving benefits of shipping LTL make this the #1 method of shipping for FreightCenter customers.

Benefits of LTL shipping.

  • Lower shipping costs: Booking an LTL shipment online, you only have to pay for the space you use. The rest of the trailer area is paid for by other shippers for their shipments.
  • Very Safe: LTL shipments must be crated or on pallets before the carrier can pick them up. The chance of damage gets significantly reduced. In short, a properly secured pallet has a better chance of remaining safe and secure.
  • Multiple extra services available: LTL gives you a slew of added services such as liftgates, inside pickup and delivery, and notification before delivery.
  • Online Tracking and Text Tracking: Most of our LTL carriers provide automatic online tracking that will send you updates as your shipment makes its way to the destination. To track your shipment on FreightCenter, use the bill of lading number, PRO number, and PO number.

How do LTL shipping rates get determined?

  • Length of Haul: It is pretty straightforward. The further the haul, the higher the shipping rate. 
  • Size of your load: The size and weight of the shipment help determine the freight class. The higher the class, the more you will pay per lb. 
  • Service Mode: LTL shipments can be expedited for an additional fee. 95% of our shipments travel at the standard 3-5 business transit days.

LTL shipping over FTL?

  • Shipping LTL is usually the best option for individuals or businesses with freight under 20,000 pounds.
  • LTL is best when you are not in a hurry and want to save money.

Shipment preparation.

  • Accurate Dims: Always round up to the next inch when measuring a shipment’s length, width, and height. If you do not measure your load correctly, it will likely delay the transit times, and you will receive an additional invoice for having a weight discrepancy.
  • Proper Documentation: The BOL should be filled out thoroughly and as accurately as possible to inform the LTL carriers what your shipment is and where you want it shipped. This document acts as a receipt for the goods shipped once it has been picked up and delivered.
  • Packaging and labeling: Every item needs to be correctly packaged and labeled so that it doesn’t get misplaced. Failure to do so can result in your shipment being delayed several days.

Additional LTL shipping services.

  • Expedited: Request an expedited freight quote when you need goods to arrive at their destination more quickly than the standard transit time.
  • Liftgate: Used when freight exceeds 100 pounds and the receiving location does not have a dock for the shipment to be moved directly off the truck.
  • Limited access: This service is required for deliveries heading to locations with limited access for carriers, such as construction sites, camps, rural areas, strip malls, etc. 
  • Inside pickup and delivery: If the carrier needs to enter the building to obtain the freight to load or complete the delivery by bringing it indoors, you will need to ask for this service. 

Common LTL shipping questions.

  • How does LTL work? LTL shipping operated on a hub and spoke model. This is where local terminals are the spokes, and larger central terminals are the hubs or distribution centers. 
  • What’s the difference between LTL and FTL? Freight that does not require the entire space of a truck is known as less than load shipping. On the other hand, full truckload shipments take up the room or weight limit of a whole 48ft or 53ft trailer.
  • Should I ship a parcel or LTL? If you are sending over 150 pounds, consider LTL. Shipping LTL with a freight service provider means competitive rates and expert advice.
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