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LTL and FTL

Jun 28, 2022Introduction to Trade

LTL and FTL

If you’re shipping freight, you may be wondering whether to choose LTL (Less Than Truckload) or FTL (Full Truckload) shipping. There are a few factors to consider, including the dimensions of your shipment, the freight classification, and whether you need any special services. But the most important difference between LTL and FTL is how much space your shipment takes up.

What is FTL Shipping?

If you have a large shipment that needs to be sent quickly, FTL shipping is the best option. FTL stands for full truckload, and in this type of shipping, only one shipment will occupy an entire truck. This is used when 10 or more palettes are awaiting dispatch. High-risk shipments often use FTL as it is regarded as a safer option, because the cargo stays on one truck during the entire process, reducing the risk of damage. Since there is only one shipment on board, FTL is also quicker and more time-saving than LTL. Even smaller shipments can sometimes benefit from using FTL shipping.

Benefits of FTL Shipping

  • Reduced damage risk since there is no unloading/loading at multiple points.
  • Faster transit times since the shipment isn’t stopping at various points along the way.
  • More cost-effective for larger shipments.

Benefits of LTL Shipping

  • LTL shipping is cost-effective for small businesses operating on a limited budget as their shipment is combined with others.
  • LTL transportation mode is considered a flexible way of shipping for small and medium-sized companies. As demand changes, they can scale their space needs too.
  • LTL works on the carpooling model. As goods from other organizations are combined, less fuel is used for transport. If those goods are shipped individually, the impact of transportation on the environment would be more significant.

The difference between LTL and FTL?

The following are the key distinctions between FTL and LTL:

Handling

  • LTL: shipments are small shipments that are loaded onto a trailer with products from various companies. These products are unloaded at different destinations and LTL shipments stop at various warehouses throughout the journey until they reach their final destination.
  • FTL: shipment is when a shipper loads the goods at the point of origin and affixes a seal on the trailer. The driver then takes the trailer straight to the destination for delivery.

Accessorial charges

  • FTL: this sort of delivery offers undivided attention, and the services of the designated driver from pick-up to delivery. Because one load represents multiple days of travel, FTL drivers are more accommodating when it comes to add-on expenses.
  • LTL: because you’re paying for just a little portion of the total capacity in a trailer, the project is spread among several drivers and warehouses. LTL drivers must continue to optimize efficiency in order to earn money. Extra costs can be incurred if any part of the operation is delayed.

Knowledge of freight class

  • FTL: When it comes to commodity specifications, FTL carriers are typically uninterested. They just need to know if the goods are palletized and what its hazmat and legal weight are to provide reliable pricing.
  • LTL: The rates for different products may differ significantly even if they are loaded on the same lane with the same number of pallets and transported by the same carrier. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association’s standard freight classification system is used to classify products and establish pricing for all LTL carriers. There are 18 distinct classes, ranging from Class 50 (least costly) to Class 500 (most expensive).

Reweighing product for accuracy

  • FTL: When a trailer is full, the driver may come to a weigh station to ensure that the truck has a lawful load of 80,000 pounds or less. Apart from this stop, there is no product inspection until the receiver at the delivery dock cracks the seal on the shipment.
  • LTL: Carriers have the ability to re-examine any shipment as soon as it arrives at the origin terminal. A machine known as a ‘dimensioner’ scans pallets automatically to determine weight and dimensions, which are then checked by hand. If there’s a discrepancy between the results of the dimensioner scanning and those listed on the bill of lading, the LTL carrier recategorizes the freight and creates a new offer based on their findings.

Transit route

  • FTL: The driver goes straight to the consignee/receiver after collecting the merchandise. The transit is generally expected and predicable. Unless there’s a mechanical problem, the driver will typically arrive at the anticipated time. This time is figured out using a straightforward calculation involving total mileage, hours of service, posted speed limit, and estimated traffic conditions.
  • LTL: Because LTL shipments are transported by truck, the passage of goods is generally slower than it is with FTL. Furthermore, delivery charges here are only estimates and not fixed costs. Many LTL carriers offer services that surpass 90%. However, depending on the lane and carrier, they may differ.

FCFS pick-up windows

  • FTL: The drivers of FTL trailers will accept firm appointment times, therefore pick-up times are not guaranteed and flexible on your end as the shipper.
  • LTL: LTL drivers must complete numerous pick-ups and/or deliveries during each shift, and their services are adaptable to meet corporate demands. The two-hour FCFS window is a standard for LTL. Pick-ups aren’t guaranteed in this instance.

Trailer specifications

  • FTL: The majority of FTL carriers have swing doors on 53′ trailers. The typical width of a trailer is 102 inches, with a clearance height of 110 inches.
  • LTL: The most frequent length for LTL trailers is 53′. They are 102″ wide, but almost all of them have roll doors. When compared to FTL carriers, LTL transportation companies may be less profitable and efficient.

Similarities between LTL and FTL

  • LTL and FTL both utilize roadways to ship freight, with some LTL carriers using intermodal rail shipping as well.
  • Both LTL and FTL drivers must have a commercial driver’s license.
  • LTL and FTL typically ship palletized freight.

FTL vs LTL: Which to use

If you’re shipping freight, you’ll need to decide whether to use LTL (less than truckload) or FTL (full truckload) shipping. There are several factors to consider when making this decision, including the amount of freight you’re shipping, the fragility of your products, and the time sensitivity of your delivery. In general, LTL is best for smaller shipments and more flexible delivery timelines, while FTL is better for larger shipments and time-sensitive deliveries.

Conclusion

So, which is the right choice for your business? It depends on your specific needs. If you’re shipping large quantities of time-sensitive freight, FTL is probably the better option. But if you have smaller shipments or more flexible delivery timelines, LTL could be the way to go. Whichever option you choose, make sure you do your research and work with a reputable freight company to ensure a smooth shipping experience.

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