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What is LTL?

18th January 2021

LTL…

Or Less Than Truckload for those that are new to the logistics game. It is exactly what it sounds like. This type of freight is usually small pallets that are shipped in a trailer with others like it, as opposed to a full truckload of freight, also known as just truckload or TL shipping.

The biggest thing you should know about LTL shipping is that you actually share the space in a trailer with other small businesses sending their goods out into the world. This allows for the carrier to fill every square inch with freight from all different kinds of shippers. What’s nice about this and what makes it such a great option for small businesses, is that you only pay for the space that your freight takes up inside of the trailer. So instead of booking an entire trailer to do a truck load shipment or TL, you only pay for what you need. Which means a healthier bottom line for your business.

Another thing that sets LTL freight apart from other forms of shipping is that it moves through a hub and spoke model. It is just what it sounds like. Think of it like a bike wheel. You have local terminals that are the spokes that connect to distribution centers of central hubs. The local terminals are where workers load freight onto the trucks. From there, drivers haul the loaded goods or freight to the various distribution centers where they are either delivered or consolidated into other trailers with other freight for further transportation.

This differs from truck load because with truck load, you tend to go from just point A to point B with little to no stops in between. Because LTL goes through a hub and spoke model, there tends to be more handling involved than truckload shipping.

Another benefit of going with LTL freight is that most often, shipments are packed nice and secure on a pallets with shrink wraps or other tie downs. This ups its chance of getting to its destination secure and in one piece versus a lot of small packaged goods that have to be handled and passed through many hands. Going this right also often times allows you access to lift gates and for carriers to come inside your facility to make the pickup and delivery.

There are some things you need to keep in mind when you are thinking of going with an LTL freight option. First is that the further the distance your freight needs to go, the higher the cost. You need to know your dimensions and weight of your freight because that will determine your freight class. We have made a video discussing freight class and freight density which are linked in the description below or the “i” icon at the top right of your screen. And if your freight requires some kind of specialty equipment to handle it, additional fees might stack up on you.

That is LTL Freight shipping in a nutshell. What has been your experience with LTL? Have you ever considered this as a shipping option for your business? Let us know by reaching out and connecting with a full service logistis provider today.