Are you looking for shipping services and everywhere you look you come across the term “LTL shipping,” but you have no idea what it means or whether the service it refers to meets your needs? Being informed is key to making the best decisions, so how about we shed some light on the subject?
The term derives from the initials of the phrase “Less Than Truckload.” It refers to shipments that do not need an entire trailer. Many carriers across the country provide this service. Just like full truckload carriers, LTL carriers have different specializations, ranging from residential and lift gate pick ups to freeze protection, transit, bottom line costs, and express deliveries, to name just a few.
The shipping takes place using various transportation modes: water, air, rail, and truck. The most popular goods transportation mean in the US is the truck because it provides flexibility and incurs low costs. It also makes it possible to ship large cargos faster, since it does not depend on fixed timetables like those for railroads.
Most shipping companies in the US provide two service types, FTL (Full Truckload) and LTL (Less-Than-Truckload). Carriers providing the former type of service move containers or trucks of products belonging to a single customer. Carriers providing the latter type of service move containers or goods for several customers at the same time in the same truck. They, therefore, offer cost-effective solutions for those needing to ship small amounts of goods.
LTL Shipping Carriers Characteristics
- LTL shipments usually imply the use of covered or enclosed trailers, also known as van trailers.
- Some service providers include refrigeration shipping in their offer, using temperature-controlled trailers.
- The newer carriers have rear roll up doors, to ensure safer access to the trailer, but the entry space is a little smaller than that ensured by swing door trailers.
- To lower costs and improve shipping efficiency, many carriers use pup trailers, due to the possibility to haul two of them in tandem. However, LTL carriers only accept shipments that do not exceed the capacity of a single pup trailer.
- Most pick ups and deliveries around town are made with trailers of 53 feet length, and, on the interstate, most LTL carriers travel with two trailers. At this point, the freight is sorted and ready for delivery to the coordination terminals.
- In the city, drivers use day cab trucks that allow lower weight and improved maneuverability, since they have a shorter length.
- Most of the trailers used in the cities have pallet jacks to allow them to arrange the cargo loaded throughout the days.
- Each shipping company has its own terminals, located at strategic points, to allow consolidation of the freight awaiting pick up or delivery. At these terminals, shipments are downloaded from one truck and uploaded in another one meant to get them closer to the destination.
LTL Shipping Costs
The costs of LTL shipping depend on several factors:
- The distance between the pick-up and the delivery points and the shipping company’s coverage for the respective areas
- The density and freight class of the goods to be shipped
- The type of delivery (address-to-address or terminal-to-terminal, express, etc.)
- Special requirements (refrigeration, air conditioning, additional security measures, etc.).
Thus, if you want to find the shipping company with the lowest cost for the goods you need to be shipped, you would have to request quotes from several competitors, providing all the above details. But since other details matter sometimes more than the price, like the company’s reputation, ability to perform timely and safe deliveries and cargo insurance, besides comparing quotes, you would also have to compare customer reviews, shipping policies and other service characteristics.
All this would take time and effort that you could surely put to better use. That is why we suggest that you follow these three simple steps to secure the best shipping services for your needs with FreightorGator:
- Calculate your shipments density and class using our online calculator
- Use the results and fill in your shipment details to get free quotes from the best companies in your area
- Book the shipping service that meets your needs and budget
We bring you the best LTL shipping services at the most affordable prices on the market with just a few clicks!