Whether you’re new to LTL freight shipping or just looking to expand your supply chain’s carrier reach, knowing the different types of LTL carriers and how and when to use them is important. And not all carriers are the same! We’re guiding you through the different types of LTL carriers and when to use them so you can optimize your supply chain.
What is LTL Shipping?
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is a cost-effective, reliable, and efficient method for shipping freight. It’s essentially a rideshare for your freight cargo, where your cargo shares the space in the back of a freight truck with other shippers’ shipments. That makes LTL shipping the most affordable and popular mode of freight transportation.
Shippers might choose LTL shipping for:
- Cargo weighing more than 150 pounds.
- Large, bulky items.
- Palletized or crated shipments.
- Shipments that don’t require the use of the entire trailer.
- Shipping cargo through local terminals and distribution centers.
- Business shippers and individuals who want affordable freight rates.
Types of LTL Carriers and When to Use Them
The type of LTL carrier you use is entirely dependent on your shipping needs and the scale at which your business is growing. Geography and freight distance also plays a huge role in deciding the right type of LTL carrier and when to use them. Let’s discuss the 4 main types of LTL carriers that are most commonly known and used in the LTL shipping industry.
National LTL carriers service shipments across the country. These carriers maximize your coverage and, in a sense, streamline your supply chain, since you’d only need to ship with one carrier to complete your shipment. These carriers are great for businesses that are expanding to a national scale and are shipping large amounts of cargo regularly.
There are LTL carriers out there who serve multiple regions of the country, but not the entire country. These are known as multi-regional LTL carriers. If you don’t need national shipping coverage but still need to move a high volume of cargo across states, look into multi-regional LTL carriers for securing capacity.
Regional LTL Carriers
Regional carriers are the most well-known alongside national carriers. They only serve specific regions of the country; some in the Northeast, others in the Southwest, etc. If you’re shipping across states but not on a national scale, for example Florida to Georgia, regional LTL carriers will work better for you.
If you’re shipping locally or within state lines, sub-regional LTL carriers are your best bet. Although they have a smaller coverage area, these carriers offer more competitive rates than you’d find at the national and multi-national levels, and you will most likely be able to find capacity much easier as well.
Expand Your Supply Chain with FreightCenter
Utilizing the right types of LTL carriers and knowing when to use them is an important part of your supply chain strategy. Depending on what your business needs, you can incorporate different types of LTL carriers into your network so you can operate at scale and continue to deliver outstanding customer service.
FreightCenter can help simplify this whole process for you! Leverage our large network of fully vetted LTL carriers with discounted rates. Easily compare all the options that work for your personalized shipment details in our powerful transportation management system (TMS) software and find the right LTL carrier on the most efficient lane. Combine that with our expert logistics agents who are available to assist and answer any questions – it’s a combo you can’t beat!