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Making LTL Shipping Easier

Learn about the intricacies of Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping and key insights into the LTL shipping process. Touching on tips for safety and efficiency and the advantages of partnering with logistics experts like FreightCenter, whose goal is making LTL shipping easier.

Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is the most popular, reliable, and cost-effective method. However, it can be complex and confusing if you’re unfamiliar. Think of LTL shipping as a ride share. Your freight will share space in a trailer with other shippers’ freight en route to its destination.

Why Use LTL?

LTL shipping is best for cargo that weighs 150 lbs. or more. This includes items larger than a parcel but smaller than a full truckload. Typically, LTL shipments are palletized or crated to reduce damage risk and comply with carrier guidelines.

You should use LTL shipping when looking to cut costs. Although rates can be lower with this method, it comes with the downside of longer transit times. This will vary depending on your location and the destination of your shipment.

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Why Use LTL?

LTL shipping is best for cargo that weighs 150 lbs. or more. This includes items larger than a parcel but smaller than a full truckload. Typically, LTL shipments are palletized or crated to reduce damage risk and comply with carrier guidelines.

You should use LTL shipping when looking to cut costs. Although rates can be lower with this method, it comes with the downside of longer transit times. This will vary depending on your location and the destination of your shipment.

Tips in Understanding the LTL Shipping Process

A common misconception is that your LTL freight shipment’s journey begins at point A and ends at point B on a direct route. In reality, the average LTL freight shipment goes through at least 6 moves on a forklift, followed by transportation on at least 3 different trucks before it arrives at its destination.

Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Pickup – To maximize capacity in the trailer, your shipment is picked up by a locally operated truck. Your freight will then be taken to a nearby terminal, and this truck will pick up other LTL shipments.
  • Drop-off at Origination Terminal – The truck carrying your shipment arrives at a central hub/terminal. This is where your LTL shipment is removed from that truck, organized, and put onto a different truck for shipping.
  • Long-haul Truck – Your shipment is then moved onto this truck for the long haul to its destination location. Keep in mind this truck shares its space with other LTL shipments. Typically, this truck goes to another terminal, not the final destination location.
  • Drop-off at Destination Terminal – Once the long-haul truck arrives at the destination terminal, your freight is again removed by a forklift. Your freight is then organized into the right locally-operated delivery truck.
  • Loading the Delivery Truck – The delivery truck that your shipment loads onto depends on your shipment. Cargo that needs a liftgate or is being delivered to limited access locations will be placed on trucks that serve those needs.
  • Delivery – Finally, LTL freight is delivered to its final destination.

Understanding the process behind how your LTL freight moves helps you manage your expectations regarding transit times. And as you can see, LTL freight typically takes longer than truckload for freight to arrive. Therefore, allowing more time for your LTL freight to arrive at its final destination is important. Because of the lengthy process, it’s even more important to keep tracking your shipment. Ensures that you can account for the unexpected, like weather delays.

Best Practices & Tips for LTL Shipping

Package for Safety

As mentioned, your LTL shipment will constantly travel with other shippers’ items. And when you’re shipping over distances like Florida to New Jersey, you want to ensure your items remain safe and unharmed. Regarding safety, proper packaging is at the top of the list of easy ways to avoid freight damage and loss claims.

Pallets are a shipper’s best friend since readily accessible forklifts can easily move around them. Shrink-wrapping your freight to a pallet without having anything overhanging off the sides of the pallet can help prevent damage from shifting items during the loading, transport, and unloading phases.

New to the shipping game? No problem! Check out our free guide to freight packaging to get tips and tricks on shipping your next shipment. If you’re unsure how to package your freight properly, you can also contact your carrier or 3PL. They can help you identify what types of packaging your specific freight shipment might need.

Provide Accurate Information

Providing your shipping agent with accurate information may sound like an obvious tip, but it is essential. The carrier will always use certified weight scales and measuring tools to measure your shipment. If your weight or measurements don’t match what the carrier reports during the inspection, you could incur a potentially costly billing adjustment.

A shipment’s freight class is based on weight and measurements. So, estimating your weight and measurements or guessing your freight class can also lead to additional costs later.

Purchasing a freight scale may be a good business investment if you ship frequently. If a purchase like this isn’t in your current budget, you could partner with a local business to use their freight scale. Remember, when appropriately packaged on the pallet, you will want to weigh and measure your shipment. The pallet will add height and weight to your shipment that you need to report.

Accurate freight class, weight, and measurement reporting will save you time and money.

Additional Insurance Coverage

It doesn’t hurt to know your options when it comes to freight insurance. Freight insurance can help protect you from unexpected damage and loss. Some types of freight are simply more valuable than others. The limited liability coverage provided by the carrier may not fully cover freight damage or loss. If you are a regular shipper or run a business that relies on a constant supply chain move, things may go wrong. Insurance is a safety net, ensuring you can adapt to unwanted occurrences.

Use Technology

There are many advantages to using a Transportation Management System (TMS). A TMS is a software solution that helps automate certain shipping functions. TMS is designed to help you save time and money. It helps centralize and consolidate shipping options so you can select the best option for your shipment quickly and easily.

The top three benefits of using a TMS include providing business insights, easily sourcing capacity with flexibility, and, most importantly, saving you time and money. You can optimize your shipping strategy and improve any inefficiencies you identify within your supply chain.

FreightCenter has Tips for Making LTL Shipping Easier

Partnering with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) like FreightCenter makes LTL shipping easier. Thanks to our large network of national trucking companies integrated with our powerful Transportation Management System (TMS), our expert shipping agents simplify your shipping process. This allows you to make the right logistics and shipping decisions for your business. FreightCenter helps you spend more time running your small business and less time worrying about shipping. Start by getting a free online quote today, or call us at 800.716.7608.

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