Guide On How LTL Freight Works

LTL shipments are proving to be a cost-effective way for shippers to transport their cargo. In the past truck shipping only favoured those who had large and very heavy shipments. This is not the case anymore. Individuals and small businesses now use the LTL method to move smaller goods without paying for the entire truck’s space, thus saving more money.

Another perk is the eco-friendliness this price-based service offers shippers. As opposed to using multiple vehicles to transport different shippers’ cargo, the freight company combines their goods into one vehicle. This reduces CO2 emission and fuel costs as well. That stated, how does this shipping method work? Let’s find out from this guide.

Breaking Down LTL Shipping

Less than truckload (LTL) freight is a cost-effective mode of transportation in which shippers consolidate their goods in a single truck to help cover the cost of the entire truck space. To put it another way, they don’t require the full capacity of a truck to transport cargo and thus each one pays for only a portion of the space.

This means that shippers don’t need to stock up on goods ahead of time to save money on shipping. They can move goods of any size when needed. The only drawback is that shippers need to plan their shipment ahead and make sure they have items that will be moved with a single batch.

Shippers, for example, can’t just grab a variety of products from their warehouses to ship out at the last minute since they need to plan their cargo well in advance to work out costs, schedules, and more. Full truckload (FTL) shipment would be the best option for such individuals. 

How LTL Shipping Works

Although LTL shipping cost varies from one freight forwarder to another, they operate mainly on four factors.

  • Shipment type
  • Shipment pickup location
  • Shipment destination
  • Assigned cargo space

To determine the LTL shipment type that works best for them, shippers first need to determine the following factors:

  • Number range
  • Leg indicator
  • Leg determination
  • The direction of shipment (inbound or outbound)

Other factors to consider are the size and weight of the shipment that fits according to the standard. For LTL shipping, the maximum weight allowed to ship at a flat rate is 15,000 lbs. A shipper can transport cargo according to standard, guaranteed, or expedited mode. 

The pickup location and delivery destination are very important when it comes to shipping. For starters, pick-up location is critical because it determines the LTL freight charges as well as the time it takes to transport the cargo to the destination. The delivery location is equally important. It influences the shipping rates as well as the delivery time and quality.

Shippers employing this approach should be aware that the freight forwarding company will make several stops. If they have severe shipping deadlines, the delivery timeliness may be impacted. Thus, it works best for those with less strict delivery deadlines or time constraints. Shippers with tight schedules and large goods should choose FTL transportation. 

Benefits of LTL Shipping

Shipping with the LTL mode has numerous benefits that not only apply to a shipper’s bottom line but also to the environment.

  • LTL shipping gives people and businesses access to cheaper shipping costs. They’re available at a low cost than using FTL services, especially when they ship small cargo.
  • It provides them greater freedom. They may choose how many items to send at once, saving much more money.
  • LTL shipping is more environmentally friendly since one load is delivered by a single vehicle and items are less likely to be lost or damaged.
  • Since one vehicle can handle almost any weight and size, LTL freight is suitable for both small and large organizations.

What to Consider Before Using LTL Freight Shipping

Shippers should grasp how to use the system to their advantage when considering LTL shipping as a low-cost option for other kinds of transportation. Here are some tips to ensure efficient shipment.

Freight Forwarder

This is the first and most important aspect. It’s prudent to select a reputable freight forwarder with positive evaluations and a valid license to operate. The carrier should also be up to date on the newest shipping technologies and have the experience and knowledge to handle shipments (both basic and complex) safely, efficiently, and on schedule.

It begins with researching online carriers that meet the shipper’s needs. Many of them provide competitive shipping rates. Compare quotes from a selected few. To obtain an accurate price for a specific item, the shipper must provide information about its type, weight, and dimensions.

Freight Measurement

LTL freight carriers weigh cargo based on its width, length, and height. Thus, to optimize their vehicles’ loading capacity, they’ll need the estimate of the dimension to the nearest inch. Each allocated space has its fee. Hence, when packing an item for shipping, the shipper must ensure that it fits into the assigned shipment area to avoid taking up extra space. This prevents additional adjustment costs.

Other Specific Details

Each freight is unique in terms of size, value, and shipping complexity. Shippers can estimate the shipping fees for freight based on:

  • LTL freight class
  • National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)

Shippers should take note of additional services, like:

  • Fuel surcharge
  • Residential service
  • Insurance
  • Arrival notice
  • Collect on delivery (COD)

Inquire with the LTL freight shipping company regarding product tracking, since this is an essential tool for following the progress of a freight cargo.

LTL Cargo Best Loading Practice

Having packed and labelled the cargo appropriately, send it for loading. The carrier loads the merchandise onto the pallets. For goods of different weight classes, the heavier ones go to the bottom and the lighter ones to the top. The shipper then prepares the bill of lading.


The LTL shipping is one of the most reliable modes of transportation for individuals and small businesses that have regular shipping needs. It works for all cargo types. To get the best rates, shippers must carefully select their LTL freight forwarder, weigh their cargo, and proper label. With the right carrier, LTL freight shipping can cut costs while maintaining shipment quality.

Article by Born Realist