FTL or LTL: How to Select the Right Load Type


Statista reports that the total logistical transportation costs in the US were about USD 1.2 trillion in 2012, and the LTL (less than truckload) market in the same year amounted to USD 86 bn. Further, studies reveal that the LTL market has been growing steadily over the recent few years, and the trend is going to continue owing to the surge in eCommerce cross-border trade. With customer expectations getting more demanding and the rapid shrinking of delivery windows, LTL shipping is becoming an easy choice to expedite deliveries and ensure cargo safety. 

However, LTL translates into inefficient resource utilization, higher delivery costs, and inefficient asset optimization. So, what can retailers do to ensure operational efficiency irrespective of the size of the shipment, and how can an automated carrier management platform help? Let’s explore the answers quickly.

What Are FTL and LTL?

FTL stands for Full Truck Load, and a shipment is considered an FTL shipment if it occupies the entire carrying capacity of the truck or if more than 12 pallets are occupied by it. On the other hand, a shipment is considered LTL if it takes up less than 17.9 feet or consumes less than 12 pallets in the truck. 

As the cargo density, volume, and other factors might vary from one shipment to another, the freight rates also vary for each one of them for example, a shipment of bricks is heavier as compared to a shipment of apparel.

Apart from FTL and LTL, businesses may opt for Partial Truckload when their shipments are larger than LTL and smaller than FTL, or Volume LTL when the shipment exceeds 18 feet or takes up 9 pallets and weighs only 2,000 pounds.

Selecting the Right Load Type

While every carrier offers different guides to understand the metrics of all kinds of load types, sometimes, the nature of goods, delivery ETAs, and delivery type also play a crucial role in the final choice.

While LTL means longer delivery times and shipment unloading and re-loading at multiple locations, it is more cost-efficient and is perfect for shipments that don’t require special handling. On the other hand, FTL shipments ensure the direct movement of goods from origin to destination and faster deliveries, but the transportation cost is higher. 

Hence, choosing between LTL and FTL might vary from situation to situation. However, we share some key considerations that can help you decide on this.

Selecting the Right Load Type: How Automated Carrier Management Helps

Automated carrier management platforms come with smart AI-based routines to help businesses choose the most profitable and most efficient carrier for every shipment, irrespective of the load type and shipment nature. They can set custom parameters to configure the system that automatically prioritizes the carrier partners based on the selection criteria. This helps in drawing a perfect balance between cost, efficiency, and SLAs and orchestrating highly cost-efficient transportation.

Another crucial advantage is complete visibility over shipment movements that ensure a granular check over leg-to-leg movement. Further, automated carrier management platforms such as Shipsy can be configured to send automated alerts and notifications to multiple stakeholders, including end customers, which makes it easier to reduce last-mile errors and convey dynamic ETAs to the customers. 

Hence, investing in smart automation for carrier and cargo management is the right step forward for businesses aspiring for operational excellence and cost optimization.


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