Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) 101: When to Choose LTL over FTL & How Transfix Can Help

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) 101: When to Choose LTL over FTL & How Transfix Can Help

In the world of over-the-road freight shipping, there are two main players: full truckload (FTL) freight and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight. Both offer advantages, but for certain shippers, LTL presents a more economical and practical solution. Let's dive into the world of LTL to understand when and how it can supercharge your shipping strategy.

FTL vs. LTL: What's the Difference?

  • Full Truckload (FTL): This mode is ideal when you have enough freight to fill an entire truck trailer (usually a 53-foot trailer). You are essentially renting the whole truck, which gives you faster transit times and more direct routes. FTL works well for large, time-sensitive shipments.
  • Less-Than-Truckload (LTL):  LTL is a cost-effective solution when you don't have enough freight to fill an entire truck or enough warehouse space to store an entire truckload. Your shipment shares space with other shipments heading in a similar direction. This shared-ride model leads to lower costs, but can result in potentially longer transit times due to multiple stops.

When is LTL the Right Choice?

Consider LTL shipping if:

  • You don't have enough freight to fill a truck: LTL really comes in handy when your shipments are typically between 150 and 15,000 pounds (under 10 pallets).
  • You don’t have enough warehouse space to store an entire truckload: Warehousing is expensive, and LTL allows you to proactively move product to optimize warehouse space for inventory management and fulfillment, minimizing wasted space. 
  • Your shipment schedule is flexible: LTL generally requires more flexibility in terms of pickup and delivery windows compared to FTL.
  • Cost-efficiency is a priority: LTL can help you save significantly on shipping costs, especially for smaller shipments.

LTL Shipping: The Key Considerations

To make the most of LTL, understanding these factors is essential:

  • Freight Class: Freight class is a standardized system used to categorize LTL shipments based on density, stowability, handling, and liability. Your freight class is one of the primary factors for determining your LTL shipping costs.
  • Dimensions and Weight: Accurately measure and weigh your shipment, as this, along with freight class, determines your cost.
  • Packaging: Secure packaging is paramount in LTL, as your shipment will be handled multiple times. Palletizing and shrink-wrapping are highly recommended.
  • NMFC Code: The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) code provides a more detailed description of your freight. It helps LTL carriers ensure compatibility of the freight they're combining on trucks.

Which Shippers Should Use LTL?

LTL is a great fit for various sizes and stages of businesses:

  • Small to Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs): LTL is often the lifeline for SMBs that lack the volume and capacity for regular FTL shipments. If you're consistently booking FTL to move less than 10 pallets (and not weighing out the trailer) on a lane, LTL is a more strategic option. 
  • E-commerce Businesses: LTL's scalability and cost-efficiency make it a fantastic choice for e-commerce businesses of different sizes
  • Growth-Stage Companies: As your business expands and shipping volume increases, LTL allows you to scale cost-effectively until you reach a level where FTL may become more viable.

How Transfix Optimizes Your LTL Experience

At Transfix, we provide two powerful ways to enhance your LTL or load consolidation strategies:

  1. LTL Quoting, Tendering, and Management:  Our partnership with Rocket Shipping streamlines your LTL process within Shipper App, from  sourcing to tendering, tracking, and auditing. You can instantly access a network of reliable LTL carriers or onboard your existing carriers and rates. Every LTL shipment is backed by Rocket Shipping’s support team.
  2. Network Analysis for Consolidation: Our data science teams meticulously analyze your shipping network to uncover opportunities to consolidate your partial truckload shipments into FTL. If you decide to bundle your loads based on these recommendations, it could translate to significant cost savings, carbon emissions reductions, and efficiency through an optimized network.

Ready to explore the world of LTL? Contact us at Transfix to discover how we can transform your shipping operations.