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.
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.
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.
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 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 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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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:
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