FTL vs. LTL freight shipping solutions | Differences every shipper should know
LTL shipments do not occupy the whole space of the truck and are smaller compared to FTL freight. Less than truckload shipping usually implies some size and weight restrictions. With FTL, the entire space of the van trailer is dedicated to the transportation of one large shipment only for one customer. If you are in doubt about the optimal choice between LTL and FTL freight for your business needs, we will guide you through the difference between LTL and FTL shipments and will help you make the right decision.
FTL vs. LTL trucking | Key advantages explained
Less than truckload
- Helps companies optimise costs for smaller freight shipments as they pay only for the space their shipment occupies
- Reduces the number of half-empty trucks on the roads and the carbon footprint
- Translates into safer shipping and less handling damage through pallets and crates
- Enhances the order fulfillment for small retail businesses
- Enables you not to share the truck with products from another company
- Results in less damage through less handling involved in the transportation process
- FTL is faster than LTL shipping due to direct transportation: once loaded and sealed, the truck goes straight to the delivery point
- FTL offers a bigger load capacity vs. LTL trucking, the cargo being transported by a single carrier
LTL vs. FTL shipments | Weight differences
Weight is one of the crucial elements shaping the LTL and FTL shipment price. Lighter cargo means less fuel for the carrier, which is always reflected in the final cost.
The weight and number of pallets for LTL shipments can vary depending on the carrier and the trailer type. A single LTL shipment can usually contain up to 25 stackable Euro pallets (EPAL), depending on the pallet height.
Smaller orders (generally up to 5 pallets) can be shipped as groupage, which is an LTL subtype.
With FTL (also abbreviated as TL and OTR – over the road) freight, the weight of a single shipment can reach up to 24 000 kg. The most used trailer has a capacity of 13.6 loading meters, which means from 25 to 33 Euro pallets.
LTL vs. FTL freight shipping speed
FTL transportation proves to be much faster than LTL trucking. With FTL, there is only one shipment on a dedicated truck with no stopovers, sorting, additional handling, or warehousing involved. Both with LTL and FTL, the average shipping time depends on the freight origin, route, and the carrier in charge of the shipment. The FTL logistics service provides shorter transit times due to direct transportation and more accurate pick-up and delivery times.
LTL vs. FTL trucking rates | Cost of freight shipments
When it comes to the cost calculation for LTL vs. FTL shipments, the main factors shaping the amount to pay are weight, number of pallets, season, fuel costs and distance. With LTL, additional services such as cargo handling and in some cases freight classification can also play an important role.
When comparing the rates for LTL and FTL shipments, one must understand that less than truckload is cheaper than full truckload for small cargo. Still, FTL freight will be the most economical logistics service when your company has to deal with multiple loads. Splitting cargo into LTL shipments will be more expensive than filling up one dedicated trailer.
LTL vs. FTL shipments | Handling
LTL drivers pick multiple shipments on a daily basis. Goods are likely to be loaded and unloaded across numerous trailers for consolidation purposes, while with FTL, the cargo stays with one driver from pick-up till delivery.
LTL vs. FTL freight | What is safer for fragile loads?
LTL loses some points vs. FTL trucking in the matter of delicate shipments. LTL means more handling and multiple carriers and intermediary warehouses, which automatically translates into higher damage risks. At the same time, with FTL, the cargo is loaded and sealed only once before its transportation straight to the client, which makes FTL a safer logistics method vs. LTL shipping.
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LTL vs. FTL freight shipping options | How to choose?
The choice between FTL and LTL trucking is not always obvious when you are dealing with large shipping volumes. The tips below will help you make the right decision:
- It is generally recommended to consider FTL freight transportation when you have more than 20 Euro pallets (EPAL) to ship to a certain location.
- FTL will grant more safety to sensitive or fragile cargo compared to LTL.
- More accurate pick-up and delivery dates and guaranteed transit times are achievable only with the full truckload option.
- LTL transportation will result in cost savings compared to FTL for smaller shipments.
- LTL is the best fit for non-urgent cargo that will not occupy the entire trailer, as you only pay for the space occupied by your shipment.
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