LTL freight or Less than Truckload freight shipping is a more economical, easily trackable, and efficient way to ship freight. In our opinion, it also greatly reduces your transit-related shipping damages compared with ground and other modes of shipping. So read on to learn more about LTL freight shipping and some of our best practices to always get the best an most accurate freight rates
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What is LTL Freight and LTL Freight Shipping?
- Generally, LTL shipments range from 150 lbs to upwards of 15,000 pounds
- From 1 large crate up to 6 standard pallet positions of 40x48x up to 90 inches or 12 short pallets that can be double stacked
- Loads can take up to 12 linear feet of truck floor space when palletized. However certain longer crates and items that extend beyond 12 linear feet can ship. As long as they do not occupy the entire width of trailer, can be shipped with an additional over-length fee.
- Most LTL freight is palletized, however some smaller quantities can be boxed or crated depending on each trucking companies policies.
- LTL freight shipments travel with other LTL freight loads, sharing the overall cost of the truck shipment. Thus keeping each LTL shipments costs lower than shipping smaller dedicated freight shipments
- LTL Shipments generally travel through a carrier’s hub and spoke network. Cross-docking and transferring onto different trucks along the way to maximize the trucks capacity and efficiency on each leg of the shipment.
- LTL freight shipping also provides much-needed additional services and machinery to handle larger heavy shipments. Most, if not all freight companies have forklifts to move and transfer pallets of products. Hydraulic lift gates for lowering heavy shipments off the truck if companies do not have docks to deliver onto. Larger capacity trailers and strapping to hold large pallets quantities in place during shipping.
Example LTL data input screen for quotes
Example Quote Screen for LTL Freight
Most businesses don’t have the option to wait until they can ship a full truckload at a time. Most orders for goods are smaller and need just a fraction of the area. LTL or Less Than Truckload is the preferred transportation mode for these types of shipments.
LTL is generally used for any freight that takes less than 12 linear feet of truck space and weighs 150lbs to 15000lbs. In terms of pallets, it is generally up to six standard pallets of length, width, and height of 40*48*90 inches or 12 double-stacked pallets of 45-50-inch tall.
The option may not be as efficient as shipping a full truckload at a time, but in general it is more cost-effective and protects your goods shipping much better than shipping ground or parcel.
Why Most Companies Prefer to Ship LTL Freight:
There are several reasons for choosing LTL freight over other shipping modes like ground/ parcel. For example:
1)Reduced Shipping Costs!
Since the truck you are using has multiple shipments, you only have to pay for the cargo space your goods are utilizing. Generally speaking you can transport any package that weighs more than 150 and is large dimensionally for significantly less the LTL shipping mode. In most cases goods shipped LTL are palletized and shrink wrapped so they are also much better protected against transit related damages which also saves you money in the long run!
2)Easier Shipping Mode to transport and lift Heavier Bigger Products
Let’s face it, shipments that are 150 lbs or more in weight are difficult to lift and handle. LTL solves this issue as most carriers have forklifts, lift-gates, and can more easily handle larger heavier loads in a more mechanized fashion. While using LTL, you generally have to palletize your packages, further providing a safe attach point to move them with forklifts without damaging the goods.
3)Easier way to track larger quantities of product shipped
As your packages stay palletized together, there is much less risk of losing them. Moreover, since all the packages will travel under the same BOL number and tracking ID, you can easily track them as one unit. The LTL shipping companies also maintain a precise system for tracing their trucks and cargos.
4)Professional Customer Service and Support
The LTL carriers use highly trained professionals to transport and handle freight shipments. They ensure that the cargo reaches its destination safely. However, in rare cases, if the shipment gets damaged, they can help you with insurance claims. Generally speaking they will also send your damaged goods back to their origin ship point for free, referred to as “Free Astray”. Furthermore, if you ship the replacement product with the same carrier you can generally include that additional cost in your claim to the carrier.
In generally goods that are shipped LTL freight are better packaged and protected that small parcel shipment that may ship in their own box. LTL freight shipments are generally palletized, corner protected, and shrink wrapped to further protect the contents of your shipments. Also by using the pallet as the primary lifting point the goods should not be touched in transit.
How to Properly Calculate the Cost of an LTL Freight Shipments
While FTL (Full-truckload), you generally are charged by the cost per miles plus wait time in some instances. However LTL shipping is rated/ billed on a wider variety of factors including:
An LTL shipment can weigh anywhere between 150 to 15000 lbs. The base shipment cost will start with 150lbs and will increase per hundred pounds. So the heavier cargo you have, the more it will cost to transport.
In LTL, you are paying for the amount of area your freight will occupy. So, obviously, the size will be a concern. Usually, shipping companies have set area cost, according to pallets. However, this cost factor differs from company to company, and you have to inquire about it yourself.
To standardize the Freight shipping cost in LTL, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association has set some criteria called Freight classes. The system uses the density, stow-ability, handling, and liability of the cargo to find its class. There are 18 determined classes that range from 50 to 500. The cost of your freight will directly depend on its class.
4)Distance and Accessibility
The most apparent factor for shipment cost is the distance between the pickup and drop points. The higher the range, the higher will be the time and fuel required for it. Hence, the more the over cost to ship will be.
Carriers also charge depending on how accessible the pickup and drop of points are for LTL freight shipping. If you think about it logically most LTL freight travels on large 53 ft trucks. So if you need to delivery your freight anywhere but a standard commercial dock-high delivery it can sometimes cost more. Currently with the rise of e-commerce deliveries, LTL freight sometimes has to be transferred into smaller final mile trucks. So that shipments can be delivered in dense urban areas, and smaller residential neighborhoods which can add to the cost of the shipment also.
The LTL provider do in most cases offer you additional services like a lift gate, delivery appointment, inside delivery, residential delivery, and more. These additional services do in most cases add to the cost of the shipment, so it is important to make sure you know exactly what services you will need when quoting and booking your loads.
Best Practices for LTL Freight Shipping
LTL doesn’t generally include any long or complicated paperwork or procedure and can now be booked using some pretty easy to use TMS software. However, you do need some preparation before shipping your goods. Without properly preparing and quantifying the services your freight will need, you can quickly end up with unwanted additional fees or damages to the goods in transit.
The following are the preparation that you will need.
1)Properly Measuring your cargo
Determine the dimensions of your cargo with an accurate instrument. It will help you to calculate the cargo volume and area it will need and will help you get the most accurate rate the first time.
2)Weighing your Freight Shipment
You will need to have an accurate weight to properly rate and ship your cargo. If possible we recommend getting a digital freight scale that will print a weight receipt. You can then attach the weight receipt to the BOL, packing slip, or item itself to further insulate you from unwanted freight adjustments.
3)Organization of Freight Shipments for Easy Rating and Receiving
LTL shipped freight should ideally be organized by item in master cases. Ideally if possible you should also organize separate skus or items on separate pallets to make the freight rating process and receiving process easier.
The cargo that you dispatch must always contain a bill of lading on it. It should also contain a Packing Slip that states exactly what is traveling on the shipment. Most modern Transportation Management system can easily automate this process for you and can even provide labels for multi-piece freight shipments.
The freight packing should be durable but as light as possible also to not add drastically to you freight costs. Also by properly packaging your shipments you can in some cases reduce the overall shipping dimensions and reduce your overall cost. The use of Pallets, heavy duty boxes, shrink wrap, corner protectors can greatly reduce your risks of transit related damages also! This will save you time, money, and headaches down the road.
Additional LTL Freight Services most companies can provide:
- Expedited or Hot-shot LTL freight shipping: For when your load needs to deliver as soon as possible
- Hydraulic Liftgate services: For when your pick up or delivery locations do not have a dock or manner to drop the heavy freight shipment down off the truck
- Notification levels: From call ahead to delivery appointments,
- White glove: generally used for furniture and other high-end costly shipped items. This can include inside delivery, assembly, debris removal, etc.
- Final mile: final mile can be similar to white glove shipping but generally originates from a regional warehouse and fulfillment center closer to the delivery location.
- Hazmat: Most carriers can accommodate hazard goods shipping like high-capacity battery electric bikes and electric motorcycles. However, there is generally an additional fee and these commodities are segregated on the trailers.
- Guarantee Delivery: If the carrier does not deliver on the date they promise the shipment is generally free of charge. This is a great service level for live installs, demos, and trade show-like events where the products have to be there!
- Air Freight: Some 3PL Brokerages and trucking companies can offer comingled air freight to ground freight transport. This is a great option if you need a faster service level than a guaranteed delivery.
- Hot-shot: Generally a dedicated freight move with a driver and a trailer, or a 2 man team that can drive 24 hours a day to get product delivered as fast as possible
- Non-traditional freight shipping delivery sites: Tradeshows, shopping malls, office buildings, residences, etc.
Additional Organizational tips and tricks that will make your Freight Shipping flow smoother:
- Having an organized item or sku master: This generally includes product description, freight class, dimensions and weights of how the item is boxed and ships, density, and possibly palletized dimensions. A good item master can save a lot of freight adjustment headaches longterm!
- Having a digital freight scale that can ideally print out a receipt of each shipments total weight
- Making Sure your product description and sku information is uniform between your packing slips and item/sku master. This greatly helps if you ever have to file a claim or dispute a freight class adjustment etc.
Freight Shipping Item / Sku Master Example
Other Freight Shipping Modes if your freight shipment is larger than LTL Freight:
- LTL Freight is generally only up to 12 linear feet of truck space and 15,000 pounds.
- Volume Shipments: These are generally shipments that are larger than LTL shipments that can be run like a partial truckload shipment. However quoted and moved by a traditional Common LTL Carrier
- Partial Truckload: Quoted and moved with a truckload freight shipping-specific carrier. However the loads generally less expensive than getting a dedicated full truck.
- Full Truckload Freight Shipping: Like it sounds, these are loads that are comprised of up to 26 standard pallet positions and up to 45,000 lbs
Additional Ideas and Tricks to Further Economize your LTL Freight Shipping Costs
1)Leverage a 3PL Freight Brokerages Rates and TMS Booking Software
Lets face it, sometimes you just don’t have enough shipping spend or volume to get the LTL shipping discounts you would ideally like. Working with a 3rd Party Logistics company can be a good option. 3PL’s leverage their client’s aggregated buying power to negotiate shipping rates generally reserved for large corporations.
They also are generally very technology forward, so their TMS and FMS software can usually simplify and make your load booking procedures much easier. Additionally, with the rise of API automation, in many cases you can import your discounted 3pl freight rates directly into your website or ERP business software. Thus automating the entire load booking process and saving time and money.
2)Negotiate an FAK to reduce or simplify your freight class
If your company is shipping a wide variety of merchandise that moves at different freight classes. It can sometimes be best to negotiate with carriers directly. Some carriers can offer their clients an FAK or Freight of all kinds classification. This essentially allows the shipper to move a variety of products at 1 simply flat class to avoid re-bill / adjustment head aches. In generally the magic number to begin a customer specific negotiation directly or through a 3PL seems to be around $15,000 in monthly freight spend.
3)Negotiate a better discount
This goes without saying but if you don’t ask you don’t get! Freight Rates are affected by a variety of factors but getting a better overall discount can always help lower the overall cost of LTL freight shipping. Using a 3PL’s bulk buying power is a great way to start, but as your freight spend grows, you can sometimes get better specific deals through a customer specific pricing arrangement or carrier direct in some cases.
4)Negotiate Accessorial Exemptions
Any LTL freight shipment other than commercial dock to commercial dock can involve additional services and fees. Sometimes it can substantially lower your overall cost of shipping LTL freight to try and get carriers to include these additional services at no extra charge. Services such as lift gates, residential deliveries, delivery appointment scheduling, etc can effect your LTL freight rates greatly.
5)Rethink/ Re-design your packaging
If your freight is density rated like bicycles, surfboards, and stand up paddle boards. The density of your packaged items can greatly affect your overall freight costs. If possible consider trying to reduce the overall dimensions of how you are packaging and palletizing your items to lower your overall LTL freight costs.
6)Ship from a warehouse and fulfillment point closer to your end customers
Obviously the shorter the distance shipped in generally the lower the overall cost. if you find your company shipping cross country or long distance you might consider using a fulfillment warehouse. By partnering with a regional warehousing and fulfillment center closer to your end customers, you can greatly reduce your overall LTL freight rates. This can also have the secondary benefits of faster transit times, greatly reduced transit related damages, and generally happier customers
7)Use our new Freight Automation APIS for E-Commerce and ERP Platforms
Look at using one of our new fast evolving freight shipping automation apps. Easy Logistics Management and its partners just released some exciting freight apps for shopify, woo-commerce, magento, netsuite ERP, and many others. Literally allowing your clients to buy your products, calculate live freight rates, and pay for both this product and freight shipping costs at check out. We are very excited about these new products!
8)Outsource your complete Logistical Process to our Managed Transportation Team!
Full Support For Your Increasing LTL Freight Shipping From Easy Logistics Management
LTL shipping model is a quick, easy, and cost-effective option to transport cargos that that are too small for full-truckload shipping and too large for general courier services. If you are looking to further economize, automate, or plain outsource your LTL freight shipping pain points feel free to contact us. We would be happy to have a short meeting with you to show you what our well-trained and super nice team can do to make your LTL shipping easy as possible!
Our state of the art Transportation management system automates and simplifies most of the LTL freight booking procedure including:
- Automatically saves the addresses you frequently ship to
- Auto fills your most shipped products from a drop-down menu including class and nmfc
- Reminds you to get sufficient insurance for the product you’re shipping
- Calculates density if needed and if over-length fees are necessary per carriers rules tariff
- Shows you key stats per carrier including damage percentages, rebill percentage, on time delivery performance, etc.
- Automates the process by making the BOL easier to print, email or fax to wherever your goods will ultimately be shipping from.
- Track and traces shipments through one simple interface in real time.
- Automatically also provides shipping update in transit to anyone you choose via email ping. Including dispatched, picked up, in transit, out for delivery, and deliver confirmations.
So, if you are looking for an automated, economical, or reliable freight shipping process, feel free to contact us anytime. Or, give us a call at (866) 854-5341 x3i
Contact us to have us help you better manage your LTL Freight Shipping!
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