Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is the most popular, reliable and cost-effective method of shipping. However, it can be complex and confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it. Think of LTL shipping as a ride share. Your freight will share space in a trailer with other shippers’ freight while in route to its destination.
Why Use LTL?
LTL shipping is best for cargo that weighs 150 lbs. or more. This includes items that are larger than a parcel but smaller than a full-truckload. Typically, LTL shipments are palletized or crated to reduce the risk of damage and to 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.Get an LTL Quote
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 forklift. Your freight is then organized into the right locally-operated delivery truck.
- Loading the Delivery Truck – The delivery truck that your shipment is loaded onto is dependent on your shipment. Cargo that needs a liftgate, or is being delivered to limited access locations, will be placed on trucks that service 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 in terms of transit times. And as you can see, LTL freight typically takes longer than truckload for freight to arrive. Therefore, it’s important to allow more time for your LTL freight to arrive at its final destination. 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 before, your LTL shipment will constantly be travelling 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. When it comes to safety, proper packaging is at the top of the list of easy ways to avoid freight damage and loss claims.
Pallets are a shippers’ best friend since they can be easily moved around by readily accessible forklifts. 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 how to package your next shipment. If you’re unsure about how to package your freight properly, you can also reach out to your carrier or 3PL. They can help you identify what types of packaging your specific freight shipment might need.
Provide Accurate Information
Proving your shipping agent with accurate information may sound like an obvious tip, but it is really important. Your shipment will always be weighed and measured by the carrier, using their extremely accurate weight scales and measuring tools. In the event your weight or measurements don’t match up with what the carrier reports during inspection, then you could end up with a potentially costly billing adjustment.
A shipment’s freight class is based on weight and measurements. So, estimating your weight, measurements or guessing your freight class can also lead to additional costs later.
If you ship frequently, it may be a good business investment to purchase a freight scale. If a purchase such as this isn’t in your ballpark at the moment, you could also partner with a local business to use their freight scale. Remember, you will want to weigh and measure your shipment when it’s on the pallet and properly packaged. The pallet will add height and weight to your shipment that you need to report.
Accurate reporting of freight class, weight, and measurements will save you time and money.Get an LTL Quote
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 which relies on a constant supply chain move, things may go wrong at times. Insurance acts as a safety net ensuring you can adapt to unwanted occurrences.
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 to using a TMS include providing business insights, the ability to easily source capacity with flexibility, and most importantly, it saves you time and money. You will be able to optimize your shipping strategy and improve any inefficiencies you identify within your supply chain.
FreightCenter has Tips and Makes LTL Shipping Easier
Partnering with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) like FreightCenter makes LTL shipping easier. Thanks to our large network of carriers integrated with our powerful Transportation Management System (TMS), our expert shipping agents simplify the shipping process for you. 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 give us a call at 800.716.7608.