Business Owner's Guide to Shipping LTL Freight

Small to mid-size businesses can reduce shipping costs and increase efficiency by switching from their current shipping method to less-than-truckload (LTL). Combining shipments from multiple companies into one truck enables each shipper sharing the cargo space to pay just for the percentage of the volume of space taken by their freight. When is LTL the best freight shipping option?
To quickly assess if LTL shipping is right for your business, consider if your freight usually fits these parameters:

  • Cargo does not fill the whole freight truck
  • Freight weight is over 150 pounds
  • Freight is contained in crates or large packaging
  • Cargo is six pallets or fewer

Factors That Determine LTL Freight Shipping Costs

While each freight carrier has some unique criteria for establishing rates, freight shipping costs are primarily determined by the following:

  • Cargo Type: Special equipment or handling typically costs more to ship. Examples of these types of shipments include fragile, perishable or hazardous contents.
  • Freight Dimensions: The weight and dimensions of the cargo are factored to determine the freight class and the shipping rates.
  • Delivery Location: Normally, shipping over longer distances costs more.
  • Service Type: Expediting an LTL shipment usually adds to the cost.

How to Prepare Your LTL Freight For Shipment

Your LTL shipment must be properly prepared to minimize risks of delivery delays, freight damage, unexpected fees, and other problems. Your shipping system will run much more smoothly for your staff, the truck driver and the LTL freight company if you ensure that each freight load is set up for success. To properly prepare your freight for LTL shipping:

Package Freight Correctly

The type of goods determines the proper packaging for your freight. For example, use crates for smaller items that need to be secured and well protected. Use pallets for freight that can be stacked and moved easily for interim storage. Also, use corrugated boxes and adequately shrink-wrapped pallets to avoid damage. Improperly packaged shipments can lead to claim denial if freight damage or loss occurs during transport.

Determine the NMFC Code

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) is the designated freight class for a shipment based on your cargo density and other class specifications. Watch the video below to determine the appropriate class and shipping rate for your freight.

Fill Out the Bill of Lading (BOL) Completely

Complete the BOL and other necessary shipping documentation. Be sure all required information for the BOL is included, such as the number of units being shipped, the receiver name and address, the date, the kind of packaging used, the value of the cargo being shipped, a complete description of the items being shipped, the freight class, account number, service type and other necessary details.

Label the Shipment

Proper freight labeling includes the shipper’s and receiver’s names, addresses, zip codes, markings for special handling, number of total boxes in the shipment and other information. Also, to avoid confusion that can result in serious problems, use a thick marker to strike out information on all labels that are still stuck on the packaging from past shipments.

How to Avoid Common Problems for Shippers

LTL shipping management is a highly complex undertaking. Below are some tips to develop a successful, well-running shipping and logistics operation that can support the changing needs of a growing business:

  • Build the broadest possible network of top-quality carriers.
  • Implement an advanced TMS platform.
  • Learn the fine points of LTL network billing.
  • Ensure shipping rates and other contract terms are fair.
  • Maintain a thoroughly organized and efficient shipping system.

Many of these problems are easily handled by a 3PL and their technologies. For just one example, the Unishippers TMS enables you to get quotes with a few clicks, compare carrier rates, track your orders and much more.

Leave Your Business Shipping Needs to a Top 3PL Company

As businesses grow, shipping can become inefficient without expanding facilities, staff or technology. Switching to a 3PL service is often much more efficient, cost-effective and streamlined.

A 3PL provider becomes a part of your regular operations but with high value added. The 3PL adds tremendous efficiency to your fulfillment system. It further captures all discounts and obscure opportunities to save your business, significant amounts of money on shipping and related operations.

A 3PL can provide some or all of these services, among others:

  • Freight Shipping
  • Parcel Shipping
  • Inbound Transport
  • Outbound Transport
  • Warehousing
  • Inventory Management

Having your 3PL service perform as your shipping and logistics arm upgrades your operations with the most advanced 3PL technologies, infrastructure, experts, and systems for fulfillment.

Partnering With Unishippers 3PL Service

Unishippers is the leading 3PL company for small parcel and freight shipping throughout the US, Mexico, Canada and abroad. Increase your freight shipping efficiencies with our network of more than 65 high-performing local, regional and national freight carriers at your service. This expansive network provides you with virtually every possible alternative on lanes and timelines. Save freight costs with the purchasing power of our ever-growing customer base currently scaled to over 115,000+ shippers.

Call Unishippers at 1-800-999-8721 for advice on your shipping processes, or click for a free shipping assessment.

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