LTL Shipping: Is It the Best Option For You?

Not all cargo is equal. Sometimes you may just need to ship a pallet, or a piece of furniture, or enough to fill half a truck, but not the whole trailer. In these cases, LTL shipping is the best option. Read on to learn more about LTL shipping and whether it’s the right solution for your business.

What is LTL Shipping?

There are often times where you will need to transport goods and products, but the small size of the parcel won’t require the use of the entire trailer.

This is when less than truckload (LTL) freight shipping is utilized. This allows the opportunity for many separate shipments to be transported onto one truck. LTL shipments are usually arranged on pallets and can range anywhere from 150 to 15,000 pounds.

LTL carriers specialize in moving more goods for more shippers in a timely and efficient manner. Shippers like LTL shipping as it affords them cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and also more environmentally friendly shipping solutions. However, LTL shipping does have its complexities.

LTL shipping has also been on the rise. According to Supply Chain Dive, this is partially due to the growing popularity of e-commerce, which requires businesses to make smaller, more frequent shipments directly to customers.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits, challenges, and best practices of LTL freight shipping, as well as how LTL freight shipping actually works. 

How Does Traditional LTL Freight Shipping Work?

LTL freight operators have a number of vehicles that collect shipments within a local area. 

Under the traditional LTL model, these shipments are unloaded at a terminal and each shipment is rated and weighed which allows customer bills to be processed. Next, the LTL cargo shipment is loaded onto outbound vehicles which contain shipments for other customers all within the same geographic area.

From there, outbound shipments are trucked to their appropriate regional terminals and unloaded. The LTL cargo shipments are sorted and placed on local vehicles to begin delivery. Each individual shipment is handled a number of times from the time it is picked up from the customer to the time it is delivered. 

There are many LTL providers who offer this service, though a challenge for some shippers is that the time it takes to weigh, process, and sort LTL cargo can add unnecessary time. Here’s where we step in.

How Does LTL Freight Shipping with Cargomatic Work?

Through Cargomatic, this process is streamlined. The cargo’s weight and size are measured by the shipper and included in the initial posting.

Once a load is accepted, the LTL driver simply picks up the cargo and goes along with their route, whether it’s more pickups or straight to delivery.

As soon as a driver picks up the cargo, the shipper has full visibility, including a Track Your Shipment page and proactive notifications when the cargo has reached its destination.

Proof of delivery, invoices, and other necessary documentation is collected through the Cargomatic platform.

Our flexible less-than-truckload offerings match shippers with the right equipment and capacity to ensure goods are delivered on time, and in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.

Depending on the flexibility of when goods are needed, Cargomatic’s smart routing and bundling technology can bundle loads with multiple shippers to garner efficiencies and reduce costs.

What Are The Benefits of LTL Freight Shipping?

Of course, the biggest reason a company may employ LTL shipping is obvious: they have cargo that needs to go out, but it isn’t enough to fill a truck at the moment. This comes along with some clear benefits.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: LTL freight shipping is more cost-friendly, as you only pay for the portion of the trailer used. The rest of the cost is covered by the other occupants within the space. 
  • Environmentally Friendly: LTL shipping requires fewer trucks carrying full loads. This can reduce emissions and lessens the number of trucks needed to deliver the goods. 
  • Increased Security: Since many LTL shipments are packaged onto pallets before loading onto a truck, one well-handled pallet has a better chance of remaining secure than a truck with multiple handling units. 

What Are The Challenges of LTL Freight Shipping?

In spite of these benefits, LTL shipping is not the ideal solution for all types of cargo or all types of businesses. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Time: Time can be an issue in LTL freight shipping, as each truck contains shipments from multiple clients. Therefore, it’s important to budget more time for LTL freight shipping to arrive than if you went with a full truckload freight. Cargomatic’s marketplace automatically matches loads to drivers within a certain radius to ensure that LTL loads keep them moving in the same general direction.
  • Finding a Carrier: While many carriers offer LTL shipping, not all carriers do. It’s important to research which ones offer LTL shipping and ensure you are getting the correct rate. Or you can use a service like Cargomatic, which matches you to the carrier that offers services you need.
  • Attention to Detail: LTL shipping requires a lot of focus on details, and there must be a keen eye for logistics. You have to ensure a proper system to take note of weight, class, deadlines, and timing. 

How Much Does it Cost to Ship LTL?

In order to determine whether LTL shipping is right for you, it’s important to understand how these prices are calculated to compare rates. The following areas factor into LTL shipping rates:

  • Location: Naturally, the further the distance, the higher the price.
  • Dimensions: The weight and size of the shipment can affect pricing.
  • Mode: LTL shipping can be expedited, usually for additional fees.
  • Type: If the shipment requires special handling such as perishables or fragile items, it can lead to a higher cost.

With this information, you can collect more accurate quotes from your shipping partners.

What You Need to Know When Shipping LTL

Interested in LTL freight shipping? Here are a few best practices that may help you out:

  • Utilize a Transportation Management System: A transportation management system assists in shipment optimization, visibility, and other supply techniques. It assists in lowering costs, improving efficiencies, and gaining a competitive benefit in your global supply chain.  
  • Leverage Partnerships: Managing shipments can get complicated. The best way to ensure you have a handle of it all is to choose reliable partners. That may be a freight consolidation company that combines your partial loads with others to create full truckloads. It may also be a company that takes over warehousing and fulfillment to save you the headache on the back end. Cargomatic aims to make the shipping process easier for all parties. We work directly with retailers and suppliers as well as logistics service providers.
  • Provide Accurate Information: Reporting and updates are key to customer service and proper logistics. Maintain healthy relationships with every carrier by accurately reporting information about your shipments and packaging them appropriately based on that freight’s properties.  
  • Improve Visibility: Establish rapport with your customers and partners through easier methods of communication and visibility. Cargomatic allows this level of detail and visibility through its online portal.

How to Optimize Your LTL Freight

Every shipper faces the issue of how to route freight that has more than six pallets, but not enough for a truckload. If you don’t have a full load, selecting a full service may be more costly and less eco-friendly. LTL allows you to add value and efficiency. By consolidating loads, shippers can cut down costs and emissions. 

LTL freight shipping is an option your organization should consider. It can be an extremely cost-effective option, but it’s important to be aware of how the LTL industry is run and what steps you must take to get the most of LTL freight.

Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about Cargomatic’s LTL offerings, or click here to learn about all of our services for shippers.