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    What is LTL Freight? Here’s What You Need to Know

    truck going across a bridge

    Shipping cargo used to be a large problem for small businesses and shippers. They had to pay for an entire container when they needed only a fraction of the space. It was expensive and those extra costs trickled down to the consumer in the form of expensive shipping fees.

    LTL freight neatly resolves this issue. By pooling together smaller shipments, you can reduce shipping costs while still getting your items delivered.

    So what does LTL mean for your business as a whole?

    What is LTL freight shipping?

    LTL means less-than-truckload. It is used to describe the transportation of smaller cargo that doesn’t fill an entire trailer. These smaller parcels are usually consolidated together into one full shipment. The shipper then only pays for the space occupied by the package rather than the whole container.

    In order to classify for LTL freight shipping, the weight of your total package must be between 150 to 10,000 pounds.

    LTL trucking operations focus on the most efficient way to consolidate and ship these LTL packages together. Shippers benefit from LTL because the cost per package is usually lower, so it's more economical. It's also more flexible and environmentally friendly. Not to mention it can also be lucrative for the carrier to pack a full container of LTL packages.

    LTL freight is treated just like any other shipment. It has the same shipping priorities and guarantees like express or full-sized cargo shipping. Special services may be included such as:

    • Direct delivery to residential addresses
    • Lift gate and inside pickup
    • Reclassification


    Everything you need to know about LTL freight


    The benefits of LTL shipping

    The consolidation of smaller packages into one container is the main benefit of LTL freight, meaning it is very cost-efficient. You are only paying for space the item is occupying within the container. This cost is minimal when compared to most full-size shipments.

    For carriers, they choose to maximize that space in each vessel, ultimately squeezing in as many packages necessary to fill the space. The more space occupied, the more profit per shipment.

    LTL makes it very affordable for small businesses to send and receive shipments from anywhere in the world. Usually, their cargo is much smaller and in lesser volumes than what larger companies would ship. With LTL freight, they get access to the same shipping services as large companies, without having to pay hefty fees for lift-gate pickup or shipment tracking.

    Finally, LTL trucking is a very environmentally responsible shipment method. Because items are consolidated, space in cargo containers is maximized. This means fewer trucks are needed to transport goods, translating to fewer carbon emissions and fuel consumption overall.

    LTL freight challenges

    LTL is efficient for both shippers and carriers, but there are a few drawbacks. So what is LTL shipping’s biggest challenge? That would be time.

    While LTL freight is cheaper, it can also take longer. Consolidating and coordinating multiple shipments from many different addresses is a logistical hurdle and major time sink. It is not always feasible to send urgent or perishable items through LTL shipping, even with an express service. Because of this, not all carriers are willing to make LTL shipments.

    Finally, LTL shipment involves a lot of attention to detail, much more than regular full-sized loads. This extra time and labor can raise the shipping price of LTL cargo considerably. Hence, it can be harder to look for an LTL shipper that matches your set budget.

    Therefore, we advise you to carefully assess the cost of shipping with your chosen carrier. Then decide which would work best for your business.

    LTL freight best practices

    LTL freight is a complex operation that involves hundreds of shipments from dozens of companies and individuals. That makes it a logistical challenge. If you do LTL shipping, your success hinges on being able to orchestrate the many moving parts.

    That’s where a robust fleet management system is so invaluable. It can help you keep track of cargo trucks in your fleet, ensuring they arrive on time. If there are issues, you can detect and address them quickly, so your clients don’t suffer any delays. You can also drastically improve your customer service by quickly dispatching drivers to where your clients need them the most.

    A fleet management system like one offered by Lytx can give you valuable field data to help lower costs and make your operation much smoother and more efficient. You can see which LTL items can be consolidated into one truck, saving you time and fuel costs. Access to trip replays helps you see how you can improve your driver’s routes (or if they’re sticking to them at all!)

    To succeed as an LTL shipper, it’s critical that you get a company like Lytx to help manage all the moving parts of your cargo fleet. To learn more about how our fleet management system can help you, contact us today for a free demo.