LTL Vs FTL — Which Shipping Is Right For Your Growing Business?

Posted on: 21 September 2020

As your business shipping needs grow, you'll be faced with new decisions that a small shipper may not have to make. One of these is to decide between what's known as LTL shipping and FTL shipping. What do these terms mean? What are the advantages of each? Here's what you need to know.

What Are LTL and FTL Shipping?

LTL and FTL are acronyms for how much of a full truck each cargo load requires. LTL stands for 'less than truckload', and it refers to a single cargo shipment — whether one large piece or a number of smaller units, such as pallets — that doesn't fill up the entire cargo space of a truck. In this scenario, you only pay for the space you actually use. 

FTL, then, stands for 'full truckload'. As its name implies, this type of shipment has the entire truck's cargo space reserved for its use. Again, it could be one large item or a series of pallets or bulk containers. Regardless of what's inside, each shipper gets the full truck and pays for it in its entirety.  

What Are the Advantages of FTL Shipping?

Obviously, some shipments require the entire truck space due to their size. But FTL provides some unexpected benefits even if you could squeeze in another shipper's cargo as well. Because the entire truck is dedicated to your shipment, it goes straight to your destination and doesn't have to take side trips to deal with other cargo. This makes it a potentially faster method. 

In addition, FTL cargo could be safer for fragile or sensitive items. This is because it stays on the same truck longer than LTL shipments — possibly the entire route. You also don't have to worry about other cargo affecting your load once in the truck. 

What Are the Advantages of LTL Shipping?

LTL's primary advantage is cost. Because you only pay for what you use, you share the cost of a truck with other shippers. If your load isn't time-sensitive and is well-packed, it may not need the extra protection of a full truckload arrangement. LTL can also provide more flexibility if there are access issues at the point of shipment or the destination because the load can be moved to other vehicles when necessary. 

Where Should You Start?

Is it time to consider whether FTL would be a better form of transportation as your shipments grow? To learn more, contact a freight company