Difference Between LTL and TL Shipping

Companies that outsource freight delivery to a third-party logistics (3PL) service provider can choose between full truckload (FTL or TL) or less than truckload (LTL) shipping. Both methods pose advantages and disadvantages that businesses must consider when making their decision. In this post, we’ll compare LTL and TL shipping and explain the differences between the two to help you make an informed decision.

What Is LTL Shipping?

LTL refers to a load that does not take up all the available space in a trailer. The weight of these shipments can range from 100 pounds (the maximum limit for parcel carriers such as UPS and FedEx) and 15,000 pounds. Small and mid-size companies that don’t ship orders large enough to fill the cargo space often choose LTL shipping for their freight delivery needs.

What Is TL Shipping?

Full truckload shipping means that a single supplier has enough freight to fill a trailer ranging from 25-50 feet in length. These loads weigh at least 15,000 pounds or consist of more than 10 pallets of goods. The truck typically makes no delivery stops until it arrives at its destination. Larger companies that must ship bigger orders often choose FTL as their shipping method.

FTL vs. LTL Truck Load Shipping: What You Need to Know

With LTL shipping, you only pay for the space you use on the trailer instead of bearing the cost of a full load. However, the smaller volume often results in a higher unit cost, which can ultimately make it more expensive in the long run. Some haulers offer discounts to companies that use their LTL services frequently.

Another option for small-to-mid-size businesses is freight consolidation. They share the trailer and the costs with other companies that are shipping goods to the same area or region. The drawback to freight consolidation is that it requires more time. The truck must make several stops to pick up shipments from multiple companies along the way. The freight also undergoes a de-consolidation process to prepare it for delivery to its final destination. Consequently, customers must wait longer for their order.

TL shipping is usually the more cost-effective option if your shipment is large enough to fill most or all of a trailer due to the lower unit cost. You won’t have to worry about linking up with multiple companies who are sending goods to the same area to share the expense.

FTL is also the better choice if you’re shipping high-value or delicate goods. Because there are no stops along the way, there is less risk of theft or damage resulting from more frequent handling. Fewer stops also enable you to get your shipment to its destination faster. You’ll be able to provide expedited service when a customer needs a rush order.

Learn More About LTL vs. TL Shipping

Central Florida Freezer can help you make the best choice for your company. Contact us to learn more today.

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