Coordinating the efficient delivery of products at the most cost-effective price is a multifaceted task. With a plethora of available services, the selection often hinges on the volume of freight to be transported. This is particularly true when comparing full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL) shipping. To assist you in making an informed choice between the two, we will delve into these services and examine specific scenarios where one prevails over the other.
First in the spotlight is full truckload (FTL) shipping, sometimes referred to as “over the road” (OTR) shipping. FTL represents the most prevalent method of transportation. In fact, a 2019 government report showed that FTL shipping claimed a 46.4% share of the U.S. transportation market, with LTL accounting for only 11.3%. The FTL approach involves loading the hauler with the freight of a single shipper, even if the entire space is not fully utilized. Commonly, the transporter is a dry van trailer, although open deck and refrigerated trailers are also frequently used.
Given that the customer pays for the entire space, companies typically opt for FTL when their cargo is substantial enough to occupy it completely. FTL is the preferred choice for handling hazardous or delicate shipments, as it entails a reduced risk of damage. It is also the go-to solution for high-value items, especially when the value of the shipped product outweighs the cost of using a dedicated truck. Companies also favor FTL when dealing with time-sensitive shipments, as this method is typically faster compared to LTL.
Now, let’s explore less than truckload shipping. Often referred to as LTL, this mode of transport can be likened to a ride-pooling arrangement since it combines shipments from multiple companies on the same carrier. The carrier might be a semi-truck hauling a mixed trailer, train cars, or even an entire train. Since the cargo it carries originates from various shippers, customers, or consignees, multiple stops are required for loading and unloading.
LTL is often the optimal choice for smaller businesses with freight that occupies only one to a few pallets. Utilizing a partner network to consolidate goods with shipments from other companies through LTL can lead to a substantial cost reduction. However, it does come with an increased risk of freight damage since the contents of the carrier may be handled more frequently than if delivered as a single, consolidated load.
The U.S. trucking industry is vast, generating significant revenue. The FTL and LTL shipping services market is expected to reach a valuation of $19.91 billion by 2028. Consequently, when evaluating which shipping method offers the best value, businesses should seek advice from industry experts to make well-informed and cost-effective decisions.
For further information on FTL and LTL shipping, please refer to the added resource.
Infographic Provided by Trucking Company GP Transco