What is an LTL Carrier?

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What is an LTL Carrier?

An LTL Carrier is an individual or company that specializes in shipping “Less than truckload” freight shipments. An LTL Carrier company and LTL carriers are known for their efficient shipping method that combines mixed freight from different clients in each trailer shipment.

What is LTL Shipping?

LTL Shipping, also known as “Less than truckload” shipping, is the shipment of freight weighing between 150 to 15,000 lbs that does not require a Full Truck Load (FTL) in order to ship. LTL freight is larger than your lighter, smaller boxed items but smaller than FTL shipments. LTL uses pallets with its freight but does not fill up an entire truck.

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LTL shipping and trucking equipment types

LTL shipping generally uses semi trucks to carry freight. These semi trucks’ shipping equipment do vary. Here are the different trucking equipment types that are used in LTL shipping:

Dry Van Trailers (Box Trailer) for LTL Shipping

A dry van trailer is enclosed and used for transporting freight, preventing goods from being exposed to the elements. Dry van trailers can deliver via a loading dock to load and unload their shipment.

Common types of LTL freight transported in dry van trailers are electronics, clothing, furniture, and machinery.

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Refrigerated Trailers (Reefers) for LTL Shipping

A refrigerated truck can transport freight that needs a climate-controlled environment. Refrigerated trucks have insulated walls and a cooling system that keep perishables goods cold and even frozen.

Common types of LTL freight transported by refrigerated trailers are temperature-sensitive items like:

  • Food or drink
  • Personal care products
  • Sensitive pharmaceuticals and chemicals
Pup Semi Trailer (Wiggle Trailers) for LTL Shipping

Pup trailers are cargo trailers that are 26 to 28 ft that can be pulled by a semi-truck, commonly found in single and double configurations. Doubles, also known as Pup Sets, allow two pup trailers to be joined together. They enable LTL freight to be delivered to multiple customers more efficiently due to their smaller size.

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A flatbed is a cargo trailer that has an open deck with no enclosure. They are ideal for carrying heavy cargo too big for some enclosed cargo boxes.

flatbed ltl carrier

Box Truck (Straight Truck)

A box truck is a single-cab truck with a separate enclosed cargo area. These trucks can be an excellent option for transporting multiple clients’ shipments. Box truck sizes typically range from 10-26 feet in length.

Benefits of LTL Shipping

Lower Transportation Cost

LTL can be much more cost-efficient for businesses than FTL. Shipping methods such as FTL require an entire truck load. An LTL shipping service can send your goods in smaller loads combined with other clients, reducing the overall number of trucks and fuel needed to complete the shipment.

It Can Be Less Wasteful, More Eco-friendly

Eco-friendliness is a growing initiative among companies and LTL shipping companies are helping reduce carbon footprints. LTL helps businesses reduce fuel consumption by moving their goods more efficiently with fewer trucks and by selecting optimal routes to save time and energy.

Brings Multiple Shipping Options Available

LTL shipping companies are known for their multiple shipping options to help you choose the right service for transporting your goods.

Popular options offered by LTL carriers

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Liftgate capability
If an item is heavy or bulky, a liftgate helps shippers load and unload heavy items and reduces the likelihood of work-related injuries. A liftgate is ideal for for loading and unloading goods at an access location that does not have docks.

Expedited Shipping
LTL shipping companies offer faster shipping times because there is an array of ways to transport the goods where they need to be. However, a shipper should be aware that this option is typically more expensive.

Limited Access Delivery
If a shipment requires delivery to a location that takes more effort to navigate, LTL companies will offer to do the extra work for a fee. Whether the destination is higher risk, high security, or just crowded, LTL companies will handle challenging destinations.

Inside Pickup/Delivery
Suppose you need a shipment delivered directly to a commercial or a residential location. In that case, LTL companies offer inside pickup/delivery for a fee. Inside pickup/delivery is ideal for fragile, bulky, or important items.

Secure and Easy-to-Track Shipments
LTL carrier companies are known for their comprehensive tracking and security processes that can be easily managed on both computers and phones. Most LTL companies implement modern tracking solutions for their clients to enable confidence, visibility and transparency during transport.

Professional Support Team
This service is especially useful for small businesses that most likely do not have a shipping department on staff. LTL shipping companies employ their own teams of logistics experts to assist customers with any LTL shipping issues that may arise.

Who are the top LTL carriers?

According to Transport Topics, the top LTL Carriers by revenue are:

  1. FedEx Freight (Annual Revenue $4,513,700)
  2. Yellow Corp. (Annual Revenue $4,450,000)
  3. XPO Logistics (Annual Revenue $4,450,000)
  4. Old Dominion Freight Line (Annual Revenue $4,015,129)
  5. Estes Express Lines (Annual Revenue $3,559,000)

How to select an LTL carrierchecklist ltl carrier graphic v2

LTL shipping is competitive, and you want the best carrier to handle your shipping. Here are the eight things to consider when choosing an LTL carrier:

1. Service Area (Geographic Coverage)

All LTL carriers have different service areas. Many LTL carriers have partnered with other LTL carriers to expand their coverage. When evaluating if your LTL carrier can handle your shipment, keep the service area in mind.

2. Price and Pricing Factors

Price is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an LTL freight carrier. LTL carriers have an absolute minimum charge (AMC), this being the minimum price they charge to work with them.

That said, LTL carriers’ prices can be high but are negotiable. Take advantage of discounts by working out the price on the following items:

  • Type of freight
  • Routes
  • Weight of goods
  • Volume
  • Speed of delivery
  • Cost of additional services (ex. liftgate)

3. On-time Performance and Reliability

It is crucial that items are delivered on time and intact. You can evaluate an LTL Carrier’s performance in a few ways. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Does the carrier offer guarantees on delivery times?
  • Do the LTL carrier team members provide data on the shipping performance you can expect?
  • Do they have good reviews from previous clients?

4. Website and Online Services

In any buying experience today, having an excellent website is vital in making transactions and managing orders efficiently. Make sure before working with a particular LTL Carrier that their websites are easy to use and navigate, especially for creating bills of lading and coordinating pickups.

5. Customer Service Experience

Ensure common support channels are available on their website, including a support phone number and email address. Test the contact options out by calling and emailing to evaluate responsiveness.

6. LTL Limits of Liability Coverage

Accidents do happen. This is where an LTL Carrier’s limits of liability coverage come in. When picking a carrier, make sure to understand their limits of liability coverage. How coverage is determined can vary by company but is commonly calculated by the pound, type of freight, and packaging.

7. Damage Rate

As you’re looking into different LTL Carriers, inquire about the damage rate of items they ship.The damage rate is calculated by the number of damaged shipments / total number of shipments.

Example: 1 damaged shipment / 100 total shipments would be 1%.

This damage rate for the LTL Carrier would be 1%. 1% is considered high, and you should look for companies with a damage rate under 1%.

8. Evaluate the Claims Process

Common LTL claims include packaging damage, lost freight, holes, crushed items, and more. The claims process is an extension of the customer service of an LTL Carrier. Learn what their policies are around time to claim, information required to file, and how long it could take to settle.

Calculating and Generating LTL Shipping Quotes

LTL shipping is calculated differently than the FTL market due to varying factors. Pricing factors such as the services chosen, equipment used, routes, and facilities create a predetermined rate called a tariff.

Estimating LTL Shipping Costs

Tariffs can help estimate LTL shipping costs, but can vary based on the client’s shipping requirements. The tariff price is found in a pricing matrix that changes based on the inputs of a shipment’s weight, destination, volume, and class of freight.

Same-Day LTL Shipping

Do LTL carriers offer same-day shipping? Yes, many LTL shipping companies provide same-day solutions. Requesting same-day will cost more but will enable your package to get to your destination same-day.

Moving LTL Freight with Cargomatic

Cargomatic solves the challenges that come with local freight by providing a marketplace of more than 35,000 professional drivers ready to meet the needs of their shippers.

LTL Shipping for Shippers

If you are looking to simplify your LTL shipping needs, Cargomatic is here to help. Shipping with Cargomatic offers innovative approaches to LTL freight. Take advantage of our unique shipping capabilities like:

  • Instant capacity – Connecting local shippers and carriers
  • GPS tracking of drivers and freight
  • Real-time status updates
  • Fair pricing and transparency
  • Just-in-Time delivery
  • No air shipping needed
  • Paperless billing

How to get an LTL Freight Quote

Are you interested in getting an LTL freight quote for your shipment?

Sign up as a shipper with Cargomatic. Create an account to get a quote and start shipping today.

LTL Shipping for Carriers

If you’re a trucker or a carrier that manages a fleet, Cargomatic wants to help you grow your LTL business.

We are committed to being the partner of choice for trucking companies.

Start here and drive with Cargomatic today.

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