“Less than truckload” shipping is often shortened to LTL shipping. This type of freight shipping method involves packing small parcels into pallets and transporting them on a trailer, with the shipper paying for the amount of space their product takes up and the distance it travels. Many industries ship their products with LTL freight shipping, and many factors can influence the shipping rates for LTL freight. LTL shipping has a seasonal increase in demand, but due to a number of factors that demand is expected to continue rising.
What Is LTL Shipping?
LTL freight shipping, or less than truckload shipping, is used to transport small freight from multiple customers, or freight that doesn’t need to use a whole trailer. The shipper only pays for the space their freight uses. The trailer space that is left can be sold to other shippers, in order to fill up the truck with shipments from different customers.
Why Is LTL Shipping Useful?
LTL freight rates are lower than standard freight costs, because shippers only pay for the portion of the trailer that their own freight takes up. The cost of the rest of the trailer is covered by other shippers who are also shipping small cargo. To maximize cost savings, shippers who don’t need a full trailer often choose LTL shipping.
For shippers concerned about security, LTL shipping offers a safe transportation option. Most LTL shipments first get packed in pallets before being loaded onto a truck. A pallet is much more likely to remain secured.
LTL freight shipping involves multiple stops to unload and repack goods as they arrive at their intended destination. Because of this, shipments may take a bit longer to reach their final destination. If shipments must reach their destination in a hurry, look for brokers or carriers that offer guaranteed services.
Which Industries Use LTL Shipping to Ship Their Freight?
Any industry that is shipping cargo between 150 and 15,000 lbs can take advantage of LTL shipping to transport their goods. Companies that manufacture auto parts use LTL freight shipping to distribute their parts. Medical companies shipping hazardous materials can use LTL shipping. Retail companies ship with LTL trucks. E-commerce companies use LTL to move their freight. Just about any company that sells a physical product to retailers will choose LTL freight shipping as their shipping method of choice. LTL is much more cost-effective than FTL freight transportation or small parcel shipping, so it is commonly used by smaller sized shippers who have consistent freight in smaller volumes.
Seasonality of LTL Shipping
LTL freight shipping demand increases during the holiday season each year. As retailers purchase larger inventory stocks before the holiday buying rush, manufacturers and wholesalers are shipping out their products to stores.
LTL Shipping Rates
The length of the trip and the size of cargo being shipped via LTL freight will determine the rate. The larger the shipment, the higher the rate. If a shipment requires any special handling instructions - if it is fragile, hazardous, or perishable - this will also add to the total shipment cost.
General rate increases for LTL freight rates are expected to continue through the peak holiday season. Unpredictable weather and poor weather conditions drive rates up and increase shipping time. Fuel costs and trade wars will drive the shipping rates up as well.
The shortage of truck drivers, although mostly impacting full truckload - FTL - shipping, will increase the demand on LTL shipping and increase LTL freight rates. Older truck drivers are retiring, and younger workers don’t have the desire or ability to take on FTL truck driving work. FTL is operating in tight capacity, so more shipments are being turned away and sent to LTL freight shipping instead.
Less Than Truckload freight shipping is a cheaper, although slower, transportation method for shipping small freight. Shipping rates fluctuate greatly based on the time of year, gas prices, trade tariffs, and many other factors. Although LTL shipping has a seasonal upswing in the fall and winter, demand is expected to continue to rise and rates will rise with it.
If you're looking for an LTL broker that can help you ship your freight, give Opus9 a try. You can start by getting a LTL freight quote right away!