Full Truckload vs. Less-Than-Truck Load Shipping

Truckload vs LTL

Logistics experts help clients determine whether cargo should travel via Full Truckload (FTL) or Less Than Truck Load (LTL). There are some significant differences between the two. The modes of transit you choose will depend on your cargo’s weight and density, timeline, type of cargo and delivery needs. Here is a breakdown of what FTL and LTL has to offer the shipper.

When to Choose Full Truckload Shipping

Full truckload shipments are typically best suited for shipments that have an excess weight of 10,000 pounds, have more than 10 pallets of product, and require special pickup and delivery requirements. For large volume shipments, it is usually the mode of choice in terms of cost savings and control. For example, a 53 foot trailer consists of 28 pallet spots or 30 if they are side loaded, along with a maximum legal weight of 44,000lbs on a standard tandem truck. There are differents maximum weights depending on if you choose tri-axle or quad axle trailers. 

There are also ways to optimize your full truckload space. he interior height of the newer trailers are typically 104”. However, you can also find a plated truck that has the framing on the outside of the trailer creating more width inside the trailer for your cargo.

There are variations in van sizes, weight limitations, and even temperature control options; so check with your transportation partner for advise best practice on pallet configuration in order to get the best overall value for your transportation spend.
With FTL, the entire truck is dedicated to your goods, travelling from point A to your delivery destination. There is minimal handling involved and a direct delivery route. For this reason, shippers also may opt for truckload delivery in order to meet short transit times and strict pickup and delivery appointments.

When to Choose Less-Than-Truckload Shipping

Often LTL shipments weigh less than 15,000 pounds, and are frequently between 1-6 pallets of product, or slightly more. The cost of shipping is far cheaper if smaller cargo is consolidated with other freight into one truck, then to fund the expense of an entire truck that would be largely empty.
LTL is usually shipped with common carriers, which typically offer cheaper rates. However, due to the fact that the freight will be transferred from one terminal to the next before it reaches its final destination, the chances of loss or damage is increased. Also, multi-stop routes often generates more unpredictable delivery times. Privately owned trucking companies will offer LTL service for slightly higher prices but will offer guaranteed delivery times and provide an overall better quality of service due to the minimal contact with freight as it won’t be crossdocked at all, or less often. Common carriers charge based on density vs skid spot, so this may impact your budget depending on the typs of freight you are transporting.

Final Tips

Ideally look for an LTL carrier that offers a guaranteed delivery date if you require specific arrival dates. A freight broker or 3rd party logistics company can often utilize their contacts to source time effective shipping solutions for LTL freight and guaranteed delivery dates. Whether you ship with truckload or less-than-truckload, the goal is always to get your freight where it needs to go.