Heavy Haulers Daily Blog

Five skid steers loaded for transport on a step deck trailer

What is LTL Freight

Transport and logistics allow you to move heavy, oversized cargo safely and efficiently with suitable and experienced freight haulers. The cargo or loads hauled by logistics companies vary in size and weight and require specific transportation methods, such as Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) freight shipping.

Established and specialized logistics providers such as Heavy Haulers, including national parcel services, provide such services.

What is LTL Freight?

LTL freight shipping moves small loads or cargo that only fills a truckload or requires an entire trailer. It’s suitable for between 150 and 15,000 pounds or 1 to 10 pallets. This shipping method allows you to only pay for the space your cargo occupies.

Other shippers share the remaining shipping space to capacity. The carrier consolidates cargo from various clients into one trailer, making it a cost-effective method for small-load shippers or businesses that frequently haul smaller batches of goods or cargo.

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) helps determine LTL freight shipping costs by establishing a standard grading or grouping standard. The model uses 18 classes, ranging from 50 on the low end to 500 on the high end.

Also, the trucks used in LTL have varying capacities; a 16-footer holds 800 cubic feet, while a 26-footer holds 1,400 cubic feet. Different carriers generally have their limits and rules for dimensions and capacity. Optimizing capacity and space usage requires cargo carriers to ensure loads are shrink-wrapped to form one box.

Gem Golf Cart and trailer loaded for transported

Should You Get Dedicated Or Shared Transport For Your LTL Load?

LTL allows shippers to pick a preferred freight method, such as dedicated or shared transport for your load.

The choice between dedicated and shared transport for your LTL load is determined by various factors, including:

  • Cost
  • Security
  • Urgency
  • Flexibility
  • Route

Dedicated Transport for Your LTL Load

This is a specialized shipping type in which trucks, trailers, and drivers are devoted to a specific customer or route. When you get dedicated transport for your LTL load, the entire trailer is solely devoted to your shipment, which minimizes the risk of loss and damage.

While this method may be expensive, since you pay for exclusivity and flexibility, it gives you more control over the pickup and delivery schedule with minimal or no delays, making it ideal for time-sensitive loads.

Shared Transport for Your LTL Load

This method combines or consolidates your cargo with other clients’ loads shipping in the same direction. It reduces the number of trucks needed for shipping, making it efficient in resource utilization and optimization.

Shared transport is more cost-effective than dedicated because the costs are distributed among different shippers using the same truck or trailer. However, it’s prone to delays because the drivers make multiple stops to deliver other clients’ loads.

It also has less control over pickup and delivery time, making it unsuitable for time-sensitive cargo.

Picking between shared and dedicated transport for your LTL load requires you to consider your shipping needs, the pros and cons, the sensitivity of your load, and your budget for an informed decision.

Five skid steers loaded for transport on a step deck trailer

How to Safely Ship LTL Freight

An expert hauling company should guide your LTL shipping needs to ensure your shipment is protected and safely delivered on time. Generally, the safest protocol for LTL freight is palletizing and crating.

They prevent damages and losses and make it easy for carriers to load and unload. Where crating or palletizing is unsuitable, an expert carrier recommends wrapping to enhance shipping stability and security.

Here are steps to safely ship LTL freight.

Step 1: Pick a Reputable and Reliable Carrier

Safe LTL shipping begins with choosing a suitable specialty carrier, depending on your load and preferred method. Consider a carrier with a proven track record and experience moving loads safely, especially time-sensitive and delicate cargo.

Step 2: Get a Quote

When you use LTL shipping, get a freight quote from your carrier. This quote estimates transportation charges that help you set or adjust your budget. You can get a quote directly from your carrier, broker, or online marketplace.

Step 3: Prepare Your Shipments and Schedule a Pickup Date

Loads inadequately prepared for shipment are the leading cause of damages and losses during transport. Consider the load’s size, weight, and sensitivity, and allow your carrier to guide or help you prepare it. Depending on your cargo type, this step involves palletizing, crating, or wrapping.

Step 4: Track Your Shipment

Once your cargo is loaded, ensure your carrier has tracking services to update you on the shipment status. This will also help you respond to any situation promptly to keep your load safe.

LTL freight shipping may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for your transport needs. Still, it presents diverse benefits and flexibility for small-load shippers. Understanding the process by working with experienced experts like Heavy Haulers for specialized services is vital.