An overview of LTL freight shipping. From pricing to paperwork.
Today, the word freight refers to the large quantities of commercial goods that are bigger than the normal size or more than the weight of a common parcel that carriers can handle. For UPS this is anything over 150 pounds and more than 165 inches in length and girth combined. In a typical freight shipment of, for the example of retail goods, they are typically first placed in retail packaging, then into larger boxes called master cartons. Those master cartons are then loaded in pallets. These pallets are then usually loaded onto a freight truck to get to their destination, which may be to a shipping port or warehouse.
LTL freight shipments or Less Than Truckload freight refers to a shipment that doesn't fill the whole container of a truck. If you don’t need a full 48 to 53 ft trailer to ship your goods, you'll probably use LTL. The service tends to be used for those transporting less inventory or smaller parcels.
There are plenty of carriers that specialize in LTL freight. Many LTL freight carriers also offer various services ranging from lift gate, residential pickups and deliveries, freeze protection, and expidited transit.
If you are planning to set up your own LTL shipment or looking for a complete guide to help you take LTL freight shipping services in the right order, we have you covered here. Whether you are the first-time shipper or need a quick refresher, this LTL freight shipping guide includes everything you need to know.
Before delving into the details of how you can set up your own LTL freight shipment, let’s have a brief overview of LTL shipping, its key characteristics, and the reasons that make it a better choice than other shipping services.
As mentioned above, LTL is an abbreviated form used for "Less Than Load" or more often referred to as "Less Than Truckload" freight. The term refers to the transportation of smaller freight that does not need a full trailer to ship the commercial goods. If the weight of your freight is between 150 and 1,5000 pounds, opting for LTL freight is undeniably the best option.
Generally, freight carriers distinguish their services in two types, Full Truckload (FTL) and Less than Truck Load (LTL). In FTL, the carrier fills a full truck trailer with the goods of a single customer. LTL freight, on the other hand, carries commercial goods from different customers in one truck. The truck may make multiple stops to unload the goods to each customer. This is what makes using LTL freight more cost-effective shipping option as compared to FTL operator as you are not paying for the full trailer.
The Shipping industry produces an annual revenue of $700 billion in the US. LTL freight, with its $26.5 billion share is becoming a vital part of the shipping industry. LTL carriers run a network of thousands of hubs and terminals of deliveries and pickups.
LTL carriers typically use van trailers that are enclosed and covered trailers. You can also take refrigerated LTL freight carriers that work with temperature-controlled trucks. These trailers usually are smaller than the trucks with swing doors. Remember that LTL carriers do not move shipment or commercial goods that cannot fit into the pup trailer.
When it comes to setting up your LTL freight shipping, it is important to know about its key elements to avoid issues like costly fees, delays, or damaged packaging. If you focus on these areas, they will help you in not only preparation and packaging but in the entire process of LTL freight shipping.
Freight carriers often provide additional service options that might be applicable to your needs. These options often come with an addtional cost.
Utilize a freight forwarder to get the best prices, and save yourself some headache. All you need to do is provide your freight forward with your origin and destination addresses as well as dimension and weight of your pallet or cargo. They will then coordinate all the scheduling of the trucks and pickup for you. They will also help you fill out your paperwork properly.
Also be aware of the other services you may need, such as a liftgate service. LTL freight is generally pretty straight forward, and not too much different than a parcel shipment you'd do through UPS or FedEx. The main difference is the size and weight of the cargo. Overall when it is about shipping commercial goods through LTL freight shipping, you need to execute each of these elements and steps properly. In case you miss a step, it may lead to issues like unnecessary delays.