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Less than Truck Load (LTL) Shipments versus Full Truck Load (FTL) Shipments

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th by

Those familiarised with the shipping industry, at least to some extent, will identify the abbreviations LTL and FTL as two very important elements within the shipping terminology. Indeed, the incidence of these two concepts used to distinguish between two standard types of shipments based on the cargo volumes to be shipped in various contexts related to this industry is very high.

For those who are less familiar with this terminology, the abbreviations LTL and FTL stand for “less than truck load” and “full truck load”, respectively, and are used to define two distinct kinds of shipments known as LTL shipments and FTL shipments. As the terminology itself suggests, LTL shipments pinpoint to all those situations where the cargo that is being shipped does not fill the space available on the particular truck used for transporting it. By contrast, FTL shipments are associated with all those situations where the cargo that is being shipped does occupy the entire space available on the particular truck used for transporting it. It should be noted that this latter shipping option is commonly encountered with customers in search of bulk shipping services for practical reasons, the large cargo volume compensating for the costs that would incur from using a larger truck. Similarly, LTL shipments are preferred by those looking to ship smaller cargo volumes that come with lower space requirements.

But what is considered to be a small cargo volume as opposed to a large cargo volume? The cargo volumes eligible for LTL shipping vary between a lower limit of 100 pounds and an upper limit of 10000 pounds per load. It should be noted that the 100-pound limit is the standard limit set by parcel carriers. All cargo volumes that exceed 10000 pounds will be transported more conveniently as FTL shipments.

As far as the costs are concerned, the charging principle stands out as a very fair one in that customers opting for LTL shipments are only charged for the amount of space occupied by their cargo on the truck rather than for the entire truck space. In this context, the remaining space on the truck is filled with other shipments belonging to other customers also looking to have similar cargo volumes shipped and minimise their shipping costs. Thus, as mentioned earlier, LTL shipments provide a better solution for small businesses operating with limited cargo volumes.

Last but not least, we can also identify a notable difference between LTL shipments and FTL shipments in terms of the delivery times involved. More specifically, they are usually longer with LTL shipments as compared to their FTL counterparts. The explanation lies in an increased number of pickup locations as a result of multiple shipments belonging to multiple customers being delivered using the same means of transportation. FTL loads, on the other hand, usually accommodate a single shipment belonging to a single customer so that there is only one much more fluent delivery to be made to one final destination.

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