Transport Management

Your Quick Guide to Less Than Truckload Shipping?

by Matt Corby, 10 June 2022

Every year, the market in the United States alone for less than truckload (LTL) shipping is worth more than $86 billion.

Of course, not everybody is familiar with less than truckload shipping and what it entails. However, based on how big this market is, you can be sure that it offers a long list of benefits.

So, what exactly are the pros and cons of LTL shipping? Read on to learn all about less than truckload shipping and why it might (or might not) be the right choice for you.

What is less than truckload shipping?

Less than truckload shipping is also called LTL shipping. It is the main alternative to FTL shipping, or full truckload shipping.

Both kinds of shipping have their advantages, but one or the other will be the right choice for you depending on your situation. It’s important to understand the main differences between them so that you know how to make the right choice.

LTL shipping allows multiple shippers to use the same truck to ship their product, meaning each shipper involved will only use part of the truckload rather than all of the truckload. That’s why this method of shipping is called less than truckload shipping.

Of course, if you are combining products from many different shippers, you have to take a few things under consideration.

First, you have to make sure the products are carefully organised so that they can be separated according to their owners. Additionally, different kinds of products might need different kinds of packaging and safety precautions.

On top of that, there are a variety of techniques that shippers use to make loading and unloading a truckload of products that belong to multiple shippers as efficient as possible.

In contrast, full truckload shipping is much simpler. The entire truckload has only the products that belong to a single shipper. That means that you do not have to account for as much organisation or a variety of safety techniques.

Benefits of LTL shipping

All of that applies to how carriers manage different kinds of shipping loads. But what difference does it make to the shippers whether they use less than truckload or full truckload shipping?

One of the great things about LTL shipping is that it’s more affordable. Since you don’t have to reserve space on the entire truck, the cost will generally be lower.

On top of that, it is also better for the environment. When you use a whole truck to transport only a half truckload of goods from a single shipper, you’re not making the most of the petrol that’s spent on the trip. Half of the space in the truck could've been used to ship somebody else's goods.

When they don't have enough goods to take up the space of a full truckload, shippers will sometimes turn to parcel services to deliver their goods. Unfortunately, parcel services don’t provide the same security as less than truckload shipping.

Full truckload shipping tends to be less flexible. It will generally not provide pickup and delivery. Even if it does provide delivery of some kind, it’s unlikely that it would provide delivery to residential addresses.

In contrast, less than truckload shipping can provide a lot more flexibility for both pickup and delivery.

Disadvantages of LTL shipping

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to using LTL freight shipping as a shipper. For one thing, it can take significantly longer for your goods to arrive. After all, the same truck has to stop at many different addresses to drop off other people's goods along the way.

On top of that, you don't exactly know how much longer it may take you. In some cases, less than truckload shipping might be almost as fast as full truckload shipping. In other cases, it could take twice as long or even longer.

The right transport management system can help you to nail down your estimated delivery time as much as possible, but you will never be as certain as you would be with full truckload shipping.

Although less than truckload shipping is safer than parcel services, it isn’t as secure as full truckload shipping. With full truckload shipping, there’s only one instance of loading and unloading. That limits the potential for damage to be done to records

On top of that, it also lowers the chance of any kind of loss or theft of your goods. When many people open up a truck many times, there's always an increased chance that one of the people involved may damage or steal some of the goods on the truck.

Understand the most important pros and cons of less than truckload shipping

We hope that you were able to take away something helpful from this brief guide to the pros and cons of LTL shipping. Although familiarising yourself with alternative shipping techniques can take a little time, it is more than worth it if it can help you find the right shipping method for your situation.

To learn more about less than truckload shipping and what it might be able to do for you, feel free to get in touch with us at any time.