The 411 on LTL Freight
If you are looking for a flexible, cost-effective way to ship your freight, LTL may be the right choice for your business. But before we dive too deep into when and how you can benefit from LTL freight shipping, let’s take a look at what exactly LTL freight is.
What is LTL freight?
LTL is the industry term for “less-than-truckload” shipping — in other words, a shipment that does not take up an entire truck. LTL freight allows small and mid-sized businesses to minimize their freight shipping costs and improve efficiency by combining their shipments, with each shipper paying only for the portion of the truck they use.
LTL freight shipments typically consist of crates, oversized parcels or 1-6 pallets. If your shipments meet that volume, you may be in the market for LTL freight shipping.
When should you ship LTL?
LTL is the ideal choice for your freight shipments that weigh greater than 150 pounds and less than 15,000 pounds but don’t require a full truckload. LTL can help you save money on heavy shipments compared with parcel shipping and may be your only option for packages that are oversized.
How is pricing determined for LTL freight shipments?
If you are considering LTL freight shipping, you are likely wondering how pricing for this shipment type is determined. Shipping rates for LTL freight are based on:
- The weight of your shipment
- The dimensions of your shipment
- The origin/destination of your cargo
- The service type, such as standard/weekend guarantee, expedited shipping, tradeshow service, retail shipping and others
- The freight class, which is determined based on the density, stowability, handling and liability
These are the standard factors that contribute to how much your LTL freight shipment will cost. There are also additional accessorial charges that can impact the price of your shipment, including:
Redelivery — This fee may be applied if the carrier attempts to make a delivery but is turned away by the receiver
Liftgate pickup or delivery — If either you or your freight receiver does not have a dock, a liftgate may be necessary to load or unload your shipment
Inside pickup or delivery — If your freight needs to be picked up or delivered inside a commercial location rather than a receiving area, there may be an additional fee
Vehicle not used — If your shipment is not ready when the driver arrives for the scheduled pickup, you will be charged a fee
Appointment, notify or check call — This charge is added when your bill of lading instructs the carrier to contact the recipient to set up an appointment
How long does it take to ship LTL freight?
In most cases, LTL shipping takes an average of one to five days. There are several factors that can impact LTL delivery times, including weather, road closures and traffic — which is why, unless you pay for guaranteed service, LTL freight offers only best estimates on delivery times.
What are the advantages of LTL freight shipping?
The benefits if LTL freight shipping are many and include flexibility, efficiency, and cost savings by allowing you to:
Only Pay for the Space You Need — With LTL, freight weighing more than 150 pounds can be shipped for a fraction of the cost of a full trailer because you only pay for the room on the truck your shipment requires.
Save Warehouse Space — You don’t have to store items in your warehouse until you have enough product to fill up a whole truck. When you ship LTL, it frees up the warehouse floor, allowing you to use your space more effectively.
Easily Track Shipments — LTL carriers provide tracking information including pick up, on-time or delayed status and delivery confirmation. Also, your LTL shipments can be tracked by the bill of lading number, PO number, shipment reference number, and others.
Leverage More Service Options — LTL freight shipping offers flexibility with a variety of service options to meet your needs, such as:
- Standard/weekend guarantee for shippers who cannot afford for their freight to be delayed.
- Day/time specific critical guarantee and expedited shipping for shippers who have freight that must be delivered on a specific date, within a short time window.
- Sealed divider service for shipments that could be easily damaged from handling.
- Retail shipping for businesses that manufacture and/or distribute products to retail stores and warehouse distribution centers.
How does LTL freight work?
LTL freight works by using a network of trucks to pick up smaller freight loads and bring them to a local terminal to be unloaded, sorted, and reloaded onto an outbound truck with other shipments moving in a similar direction to form a full truckload of cargo. This continuous consolidation of freight going to the same geographical area keeps costs down and shipments moving efficiently. This process repeats through terminals in the LTL network until the freight reaches its final destination.
How do you prepare an LTL shipment?
Precise preparation of your LTL shipment is essential. Be sure to:
Properly package your shipment: Place goods on a pallet with stretch wrap to secure it tightly. Your heaviest items should go on the bottom with slipsheets between each layer to distribute cargo weight evenly. Ensure your boxes and pallets are in good shape. NMFC packaging guidelines can be found here.
Measure and weigh your package: you’ll need to know the length, width, and height of your cargo. Round up to the nearest inch to avoid adjustment fees. Weigh it with the packaging.
Complete shipping documentation: fill out a bill of lading (BOL) with accurate details of your cargo destination, freight class, weight, and value of goods to let the carrier know how and where your goods are being shipped. Click here to learn more about completing your BOL.
With so many benefits, LTL is typically the easiest, most cost-effective way for your business to ship freight. Unishippers has partnered with more than 75+ of the top national, regional and local LTL freight carriers to offer the best rates, flexibility and Platinum Service for your LTL freight.