Truckload Shipping: the Basics

FTL Freight Quote FormWhen it comes to moving goods and products across the country, truckload transportation plays a pivotal role in the world of freight transportation.

Truckload shipping, often simply referred to as "TL," is a crucial part of the logistics industry. It involves the transportation of goods that fill an entire truck trailer.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the basics of truckload shipping, truck transporters, the common types of truck loads in freight shipping, important documents, finding the right carriers, and the average cost per mile for truckload freight.

What is Truckload Shipping?

Truckload shipping, often simply called "truckload," is a shipping method where a shipment fills at least half of a 48’-53’ single truck trailer. This type of freight shipping is ideal when a shipper has enough cargo to occupy the entire trailer.

Whether it's a shipment of consumer goods, industrial equipment, or any other product, the cargo fills the truck from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. It's a cost-effective option for businesses that have substantial quantities of goods to transport, as it maximizes trailer capacity.

Truck shipments can vary in size, from a few pallets to an entire trailer full of products. Regardless of the size, truckload shipping offers benefits like faster transit times and reduced handling, making it a preferred choice for many businesses.

Truck Load Meaning: ”A shipping method where a shipment fills at least half of a 48’-53’ single truck trailer”

Common Types of Truck Loads in Freight Shipping

Truckload shipping encompasses various types of loads, each tailored to different shipping needs. The three most common types are:

Less-Than-Truckload Freight Shipping (LTL)

LTL, or Less-Than-Truckload shipping, is the opposite of full-truckload shipping. In this method, multiple shippers' goods are combined in one truck and transported by less than truckload freight carriers.

LTL freight shipping is an efficient solution for smaller shipments that don't require the entire trailer. LTL shipments are cost-effective because the transportation costs are shared among multiple shippers, making it a practical choice for businesses with smaller loads (referred to as LTL freight).

Full Truckload Freight Shipping (FTL)

Full Truckload, often abbreviated as FTL trucking, involves full truckload carriers shipping a full trailer of cargo from one location to another. It's a quicker option than LTL because there are no stops along the way to pick up other shipments.

This results in faster transit times and reduced handling, which can be critical for time-sensitive or delicate goods.

Partial Truckload Freight Shipping (PTL)

Partial Truckload shipping, or PTL, is a middle ground between LTL and FTL. It's ideal when a shipper has more cargo than LTL can accommodate but doesn't require an entire truckload. Partial truckload carriers then transport the products.

Partial shipment allows multiple shippers to share a truck without reaching full capacity, offering a balance between cost savings and speed.

Shipper-Carrier Agreement Document

Before the shipment begins, a shipper and a carrier will enter into a Shipper-Carrier Agreement. This document outlines the terms of the transportation service, including responsibilities, delivery times, and payment arrangements. It's crucial for both parties to understand their obligations and expectations.

If you book your freight through a reputable freight broker, then you do not need to worry about the first document, the Shipper-Carrier Agreement, because the Broker protects you with his Broker-Carrier Agreement. If however you are booking your freight directly with Carriers, you should hire a specialist transportation attorney to write a substantial Shipper-Carrier contract that clearly spells out the expectations, responsibilities, and liabilities the Carrier is signing on to when he pulls your freight.

The required amount of insurance, cargo, and liability, and the responsibility for chargebacks from receivers due to late deliveries are examples of some of the issues for the Contract to cover. There are many issues that you need to protect your Company and your customers from that are appropriately a Carrier - still, you need to protect yourself in writing.

This Contract Carrier signed document substitutes for the Tariff of the Common Carriers - and protects you better than those Tariffs. If you are moving a full truckload and do not move it under a signed detailed Contract, be sure to book through a Broker or Third Party Logistics company instead - - because you are exposed to too many risks if you tender your freight directly without such a governing document/Agreement.

Rate or Load Confirmation Document

The Rate or Load Confirmation Document specifies the agreed-upon price for the truckload shipment. It includes essential details such as the pickup and delivery locations, the type of goods being transported, and any additional freight services required. Having this document ensures that both the shipper and carrier are on the same page regarding the terms of the shipment.

This document has all the details of the particular load and is called the Rate or Load Confirmation. It is between you/your 3PL and/or the Carrier. The W’s - When, What, Who has to be spelled out - when you expect pickup and delivery, what type of equipment and trailer you require, what you are shipping volume and weight wise, what price, what penalty if late, and who/where the contacts and address of the pickup and delivery.

All details and requirements of the specific shipment should be there. The document should be signed by both parties.

Bill of Lading Document

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legally binding document that serves as a receipt for the goods being transported. It includes information about the type of goods, quantity, and condition. The BOL also provides instructions for the carrier and serves as a receipt of the goods upon delivery. It's a crucial document for tracking and accountability throughout the shipping process.

With the Bill of Lading, the driver picks up the freight and signs the Shipper-provided Bill of Lading that specifies the parties involved (shipper, receiver, potentially the freight payor or 3PL) and specifies the freight being shipped, weight, and description.

The shipper signs and the driver countersigns that freight was shipped in good condition and the trucker and shipper might seal the trailer together or lock it. Upon delivery, the Receiver must, during the unload, inspect the freight carefully for damage or shortage, and sign the Bill of Lading appropriately - “received in good condition” or “X boxes damaged - subject to damage claim”.

If there is damage, the receiver must document it, take photographs, and notify all involved immediately. If the receiver fails to note damage or missing items on the Bill of Lading, they are letting the trucker and the insurance company off the hook. If the shipment has a delivery deadline it is also a darn good idea to put it on the Bill of Lading.

How to Find Truckload Carriers for Your Freight

Finding the right truckload carrier for your freight can be a critical part of the shipping process. There are many professional truckload shipping companies offering competitive truckload shipping rates. Choosing an unprofessional carrier may result in delays or damaged products.

Do your homework and research the top truckload shippers in the industry. Look for carriers that have a good track record of on-time deliveries, responsive customer service, and competitive rates. Reading reviews and seeking recommendations can also help you identify reputable carriers.

Additionally, Requesting a truckload freight quote is a crucial step in the carrier selection process. This quote will provide you with a clear understanding of the costs associated with your shipment. Ensure that the quote includes all relevant charges, such as fuel surcharges and accessorials, to avoid any surprises.

Find the Best Truckload Freight Rates on FreightRun

FreightRun is a valuable online resource that helps shippers find the best truckload freight rates. By providing information about your shipment, you can compare quotes from multiple carriers to find the most competitive rates.

This makes it easier to save on transportation costs without compromising the quality of service. We offer affordable rates for quality service. Get a freight quote truckload today!

Average Cost per Mile for Truckload Freight

The cost of truckload shipping can vary widely based on several factors, including the distance, type of cargo, vehicle (dry vans, pickup truck, etc.), and current market conditions.

On average, the cost per mile for truckload freight can range from $1.50 to $3.00 or more. Factors like fuel prices, freight class, shipping service, shipping methods, capacity, and demand for specific routes can significantly impact these rates.

In conclusion, truckload shipping is a fundamental aspect of freight transportation, providing a cost-effective and efficient means of moving goods from one location to another.

By understanding the different types of truckload shipments, the important documents involved, and how to find the right carrier, you can ensure the success of your truckload shipment. Whether you're a seasoned truck shipper or new to the world of truckload shipping, these basics will help you navigate the logistics of this essential shipping option.

So, whether you're shipping by truck, full truckload, or partial truckload, you can make informed decisions to meet your shipping needs.