LTL vs FTL: Pros and Cons

Posted On 31th December 2014

LTL or FTL? That is a common question. What is the difference and why does it matter for your company?

What is Less than Truckload Shipping (LTL)

What is Less than Truckload Shipping (LTL)

LTL means “less than a truckload” or that the shipped items will not fill most of the truck. So, for those companies that have smaller shipments that weigh 150 pounds or more and will not fill a truck, LTL is the way to go. Our company works with dozens of the best LTL carriers. You can easily get a freight quote for your next shipment.

Advantages of the LTL Shipping Method

There are plenty of useful benefits to LTL. It’s good for the environment as it allows you to share shipment space with others, it’s easy to track, and it offers extra services you won’t always find with FTL. LTL will often offer services like non-commercial shipping, alert notifications, liftgates, and even inside pick-up and delivery.

One of the best advantages, of course, is the cost. LTL shipping is cost-effective for everyone involved. With an LTL shipment, you only pay for the amount of space you use on the truck. The process of loading multiple shipments from various shippers onto one truck means paying less.

Disadvantages of the LTL Shipping Method

With LTL shipments, trucks might make several stops and distribute products in more than one bundle. LTL (depending on the shipping company) could therefore mean a longer shipping time, although you will pay less than if you take up an entire truck or pay extra for faster delivery times.

Another disadvantage to LTL shipping is damage or loss to your products. Your haul will be moved several times from one truck or warehouse to another before being sent off to its destination, it’s crucial to always properly package your goods.

What to Consider with LTL

You must know the exact dimensions and weight of your shipment. In many cases you will need to know your freight class and NMFC number as well, to avoid being billed more than you expected.

What is Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)What is Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)

Now, what if you have a truck full of goods? Full truck load or FTL means that the shipment is at least 10,000 or more pounds and can fill an entire truck, according to experts.

If you have a bulk shipment, you may want to consider FTL for special discounts. Companies that use FTL are shipping in bulk and many shipping companies will offer substantial savings if the volume and weight qualify.

Advantages of the FTL Shipping Method

A big advantage of FTL is that your cargo gets its own dedicated truck, meaning less handling, less logistics, and more timely deliveries. This is especially ideal for sensitive cargo. While it’s typically pricier to opt for FTL shipping, it can be cost-effective to get your shipment on time.

Disadvantages of the FTL Shipping Method

More benefits mean higher costs. Using FTL for shipping costs a considerable amount more than LTL, and unlike LTL, carriers do not always have extra services like pickup and delivery for this shipping method. Also, prices and truck availability are not guaranteed and vary daily based on supply and demand.

What to Consider with FTL

Do you pay the higher price, and get a full truck to move your shipment? Or do you break down the shipment into multiple less-than-truck loads? The decision is a business decision based on your circumstances.

If your business requires faster transit time and reliability regardless of the price, booking a full truck is the way to go.

When Should I Choose FTL or LTL

If you have a small shipment that doesn’t require an entire truck, LTL will save you money. While FTL shipping is usually pricier, it can also be the way to go if you have enough cargo to fill an entire shipping container. LTL and FTL transportation can both be cost-effective options, depending on what you’re carrying.

LTL freight is more prone to damage due to it being handled and transferred more than LTL. FTL becomes the better option if you have sensitive, valuable, or fragile cargo for this very reason.

Lastly, keep in mind that shipping may also include warehousing. Perhaps you want your goods or products to go out at certain times of the year. Some freighting companies have warehousing and distribution centers for companies that do not have storage space in a certain region.

Today FTL shipping companies and LTL carriers offer a lot of options to their customers, so it is important to do the research to find the right services and pricing before choosing a shipping company.