It is easy to get confused when listening to the acronyms for truckload shipping and less-than-truckload shipping.
In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between LTL and FTL and which one is right for your specific needs.
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Both full truckload (FTL or TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) options have their place in the freight shipping industry. Choosing the right freight shipping method depends on several variables, including the size and weight of your shipment, freight classification, and delivery timelines.
FTL refers to full-truckload freight, meaning your cargo can fill an entire truck (or close to it). With FTL shipping, your goods represent the only freight on a given truck. This can add convenience and streamline the land transport process since the truck carrying your goods won’t have to make additional stops to deliver goods that aren’t yours. This type of trucking is frequently used for large or heavy shipments that need to be moved directly from one location to another. However, in some cases, you may be able to reserve the entire truck for your goods, even if they don’t fill its entire capacity. Doing this ensures your goods won’t change hands or need to be transported with other products. Not sure if you have a full truckload or not? While it depends on what you’re shipping, a general rule of thumb is that a full truckload typically weighs around 10,000 pounds to 64,000 pounds. Anything weighing less is usually an LTL shipment.
LTL shipments are reserved for smaller loads that don’t require a truck’s entire capacity. In most cases, anything weighing less than 10,000 pounds is considered an LTL shipment. However, that’s somewhat conditional on the size and shape of your freight. If your cargo is light but requires additional space, you may still have a full truckload. Generally, if you’re shipping fewer than six pallets at a time, LTL shipping is the way to go. LTL shipments can be transported on their own or along with other goods. One of the benefits of LTL shipping is the cost advantage since you don’t have to pay for the space of a full truck. If your freight is shipped in the same truck with other goods, it will likely take longer to arrive than an FTL shipment due to the number of stops the driver will have to make to deliver other goods. FTL and LTL have one thing in common, i.e., both these shipping methods move your shipment or freight across the road. However, there are many differences between LTL and FTL shipping; let’s check them out below-
LTL is cost-effective when you ship a few pallets at a time, as you have to pay for the space you are using instead of paying for the total truck capacity.
Full truckload services or FTL shipping require booking a complete truck, which is a bit costlier than LTL shipping.
Transit time is the interval required for a shipment to be delivered after picking it up from the point of departure.
Shipment doesn’t go directly to the destination in Less than a truckload.
Transit time for the FTL shipping is predictable as the FTL truck is loaded with shipments from one shipper only. After picking up the shipment, the truck heads directly to the destination and reaches within the estimated time. In the case of full truckload service, the shipment pick-up time is usually fixed.
In less than load shipment, your goods might be loaded and unloaded several times, to load goods from other shippers, before the delivery. It increases handling and exposure which further increases the chances of damage, especially if your products are fragile and sensitive.
FTL freight shipper guarantees complete safety of the shipment because once it is loaded the truck is sealed, and the driver heads directly to the destination.
If you are shipping more than six pallets at a time, then the full truckload option is going to be best for you. If your product is fragile and you need to avoid excessive loading and unloading by multiple carriers, the full truckload option is going to be best for you because you know that your fragile products are the only items within that truck.
If you need firm delivery and pick-up dates the full truckload option is going to be better because you can reserve a single carrier to transport your items.