What is partial truckload (PTL) shipping?

Partial truckload shipping (PTL) has some great advantages for the right kinds of shipments. Here's what you need to know about PTL shipping to make an informed choice.

What is partial truckload (PTL) in shipping?

PTL is a hybrid shipping model that falls between LTL and TL. PTL shipping is generally reserved for someone who needs to ship more than 5,000 lbs., six or more pallets, and usually occupies more than 12 linear feet of a truck trailer.

What is the difference between LTL and partial truckload shipments?

There are several differences between LTL and PTL, including:

  1. PTL does not require a freight class, whereas LTL shipments do.
  2. An LTL shipment will be packed to the brim with smaller shipments from multiple businesses, while a PTL will likely just have your freight on it. In LTL, each company splits the load cost, so this shipping method can reduce the pricing (since each shipper is using only a small portion of the truckload).
  3. Partial loads do not stop at several different terminals, leading to less freight handling, less damage risk, and a higher percentage of on-time deliveries. LTL shipping will take longer for transit because it operates in a hub and spoke model.

Benefits of PTL

Partial truckload offers several benefits:

  • Single Truck Delivery: PTL shipments are loaded and delivered on one truck, usually in a straight shot to the final destination.
  • No Freight Class to Worry About: LTL shipments are regulated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). The regulations classify commodities into more than a dozen different classes based on density, handling, liability, and storability. All the regulations and red tape drive up the cost of LTL shipments, while a PTL shipment usually doesn't require a freight class.
  • Better for Fragile Loads: PTL shipments are loaded and unloaded once. With LTL shipments, your freight is loaded and unloaded multiple times. Partial truckload shipments are a good fit if you are shipping something breakable or fragile.

When to Use PTL

  • When you need speed: PTL shipments get there sooner because there's less additional freight on the truck to load or unload.
  • If you have low-density freight: If your load takes up a lot of space but does not weigh a lot, PTL may be the best option for you.
  • To reduce costs: PTL shipping can be more cost-effective than LTL (at times). With PTL, you're paying for space and weight capacity only.

Get a Shipping Quote from Unishippers

Unishippers is here to help you determine your shipping and freight needs. If you're unsure whether your next load should be a partial truckload shipment, contact us to get a shipping assessment today! We'll figure out the best option to get your freight delivered on time and affordably.

Get a Free Shipping Consultation