When talking about shipping freight, there are so many factors to consider. The size and the type of the shipment, how fast the shipment needs to be delivered and the cost of shipping are just some factors involved. That being said, listing out all the shipment options would be quite challenging.
Instead, here, we will focus on the difference between FTL (Full Truckload) and LTL (Less Than Truckload) shipping services. This way you can get a bit more familiar with the main differences between these two types of shipments so that you can more easily determine the one that’s better suited for your needs.
FTL vs LTL
The first major difference between the two can be easily understood by simply looking at their names.
FTL or full truckload refers to a type of shipment that will most likely take up the entire space of the truck when being shipped.
On the other hand, LTL or less than truckload, won’t require an entire truck in order to be shipped.
Knowing this, it will be somewhat easier to determine the option you should choose. Most commonly, the choice between these two options will depend on the size, weight, and shape of your load, but pricing, handling, and the time it will take to deliver the goods will also affect the final choice. With that being said, let’s explore some major considerations you’ll need to pay attention to when choosing between FTL and LTL shipping services.
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When deciding which of the two options to choose, you first need to consider the size of your load. Shipments that range from 100 to 5,000 pounds, and are no more than 10, 000 pounds max, will usually be shipped using LTL services. Simply put, due to the size of these shipments, there will be plenty of room left in the truck for some other shipments as well. That’s why, whenever you’re shipping something that’s not too bulky or that doesn’t take up too much space, and LTL shipping option may be better for you. On the other hand, a load that exceeds 10, 000 pounds should be shipped using the FTL option. FTL shipments can easily exceed 20, 000 pounds and are usually quite bulky and large which is why they require a truck all for themselves. However, even if your shipment is not particularly large or oddly shaped, you may also consider the FTL option, particularly if you’re shipping goods that are of extremely high value or that are particularly delicate and require a special kind of handling.
Another thing you need to consider when choosing the right option is the cost of the shipment. With FTL shipments, your cargo will take up most if not all the space in the truck. This means that the truck driver transporting your goods will only have them in their truck. Needless to say, this is a pricier option than LTL, where you will only be paying for the space your cargo takes up. It’s important to understand these differences in pricing so that you don’t end up needlessly choosing the pricier option. So, keep in mind that a single truck driver can deliver only one FTL shipment, while the number of LTL shipments that can be made with a single-vehicle will depend on the size of every single one of them. Again, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re shipping extremely valuable goods, it’s sometimes a better option to go with the FTL service, to ensure that all of your goods reach their destination as safely and as quickly as possible.
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As mentioned earlier, aside from the size and the cost of your shipment, you also need to consider the type of goods you’re shipping. If your load is high-risk, extremely valuable or highly delicate, FTL shipping will probably be a better choice, no matter how big or small your load actually is. As previously noted, with LTL shipping, your freight won’t be the only one that’s being transported. What this means is that with LTL transport, there’s plenty of room for error. Choosing the right option is also particularly important when it comes to the international transportation of goods, and especially if your load requires specific handling. Even though most of the reputable trucking companies tend to have excellent user protection policies in place and guarantee cargo safety, things can still go astray. Therefore, if you want to ensure that your load is being handled properly and reduce any chance of things going missing in transport, consider going with FTL services instead of LTL services.
There are significant differences in how fast your load will be delivered, depending on the option you choose. If you really need to make sure that your load is shipped and delivered quickly, FTL will be the best choice. Again, since with FTL your load is the only thing that’s being shipped, things tend to move significantly faster. With LTL shipments, drivers will make multiple stops and the freight may even change vehicles before it reaches its final destination. Depending on where you’re transporting your load to, FTL shipments will usually be delivered within a couple of days, while LTL shipments may even take up to a few weeks.
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Finally, when shipping any type of freight, you want to ensure that it’s entirely safe. As previously mentioned, with LTL shipping it’s not uncommon that freight can sometimes change the truck it’s being transported in. This can, unfortunately, lead to freight ending up damaged or even lost, which is certainly less than ideal. So, make sure that your load is properly packaged, so that it can easily withstand handling at – potentially – numerous points throughout the shipping process. If you fear that anything can go wrong with your shipment, then it’s always a better choice to go with FTL shipping instead.
Info FNM : Choosing the right type of shipment for your freight will not only determine how quickly and how safely your cargo will reach its destination. It will also determine the price of the shipment itself. However, sometimes it’s significantly more affordable to pay a bit more for the shipping than to have your cargo damaged or even misplaced somewhere along the way.
FAQ | Trucking Services: Difference Between FTL and LTL
What is the difference between FTL and LTL?
FTL (Full Truckload) refers to a type of service where one would hire an entire truck for a single shipment. On the other hand, LTL (Les Than Truckload) is a type of service where numerous shipments are being transported in a single truck. Simply looking at the names of these two types of services provides an explanation. Most commonly, loads over 10, 000 pounds are usually shipped using the FTL option and anything less than that can be shipped by using LTL services. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not every truck is of the same capacity, and not every load can be considered fitting for one shipping method solely based on its size and weight. So, if you’re not sure which option to go with, consider not just the size and the weight of your load, but the cost of shipment as well. Moreover, some trucking companies offer the option to combine no more than two shipments in a single truckload. This is commonly referred to as a partial truckload rather than LTL.
Do I need a full truckload?
If for some reason you’re not sure whether you need to commission an FTL service for your load or not, do know that the majority of trucking companies offer some sort of quote generator. This way you can easily calculate the type of service that would be ideal for your load based on its size and weight. More often than not, however, shipments that large, bulky or oddly shaped are usually best shipped using FTL services. Aside from them, if you’re shipping goods that are extremely valuable or highly delicate, an FTL service will also be a better option.
How does FTL (Full Truckload) service work?
As the name suggests, when using an FTL (Full Truckload) service, your load will most commonly be the only thing that’s being shipped in a truck. What this means is that your load will be transported directly to its final destination. This type of shipment is not only considered to be safer but much faster as well, as the truck driver handling your load won’t need to make multiple stops to pick up and deliver multiple loads. Sometimes, however, it can happen that an FTL carrier will carry a couple of shipments in the same truck. With partial truckloads such as those, the price of shipping will usually remain the same as the price of the FTL.
How does LTL (Less Than Truckload) service work?
Less than truckload services, or LTL for short, are usually the first choice for anyone looking to shiploads that are not too big, bulky, or oddly shaped. If you choose this option, you will be contacted by either a trucking company or the truck driver themselves for pick up. Once your shipment is picked up and loaded, the driver will continue to do so with all the other LTL shipments from your area. Once they’ve collected everything that needs to be shipped from your region or are, they will move onto the delivery. Since there will be multiple shipments from various senders transported in the same vehicle, this delivery process can last anywhere from 3 days up to a week in most cases.
Which option is better for me – parcel delivery service or LTL service?
Generally speaking, any shipment that exceeds 150 pounds is most commonly shipped using LTL services rather than parcel delivery services. However, it’s not unheard of that packages and loads of this size can also be shipped using parcel delivery services. More or less, the choice between these two options will boil down to your personal preferences. By pricing out both options, you’ll be able to determine which one of these two options is better for you. Usually, LTL services will cost less than parcel delivery services, but we still recommend doing some research on your own before you make the final decision.
Are there any packing or packaging guidelines I should follow?
When using any type of shipping and delivery service, you will most commonly be required to pre-pack your load. Now, there are lots of different requirements and guidelines when packing and packaging is concerned. Ideally, you should check with the company of your choosing and see if they have any specific guidelines on how to package your shipment. Some of the most common requirements include packing your load in a box – and securing it with bubble wrap if necessary. You will also need to provide information regarding ways to contact you, such as your phone number or email, in case the shipping company needs to reach out to you for any reason. Your name and address should also be included, much for the same reason.
How to ship unpackaged breakable items properly?
If you need to ship any breakable items that are unpackaged, there are a few things you can do. You can either follow the trucking company guidelines on how to properly package your load and secure it for transport. Alternatively, you can look for other shipping options that are more suitable for that type of shipment in particular – e.g., a van lined with a blanket or any similar option. Since the industry standard for most carriers in the trucking industry only offers ten cents-per-pound reimbursements in case of loss or damage, this may not always be the best option, particularly if you’re shipping high-value breakable goods. However, it’s also important to mention that in the case of businesses shipping fragile items, there will always be an option of securing any type of additional insurance necessary. What this means is that businesses can easily choose between FTL and LTL services when shipping fragile goods, while individuals may want to research their options.
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