What Is the Difference Between Ltl and Ftl Freight?
Delve into the nuances of Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping methods, exploring the impact on transit times, and overall shipping flexibility
LTL stands for less-than-truckload freight, which means multiple shippers’ goods are placed on the same trailer, rather than a single company’s goods being placed exclusively on separate trailers. Multiple LTL shipments are consolidated onto a single truck as close to its capacity as possible, which benefits the shipping needs of small businesses.
FTL stands for Full Truckload Freight and is typically used for large shipments that require a full truck, or at least close to it. With FTL, your shipment is the only cargo transported on a single truck, so you have exclusive rights to the entire truck and can theoretically fill it. Even if you don't need to fill the entire available space, you can reserve a truck with full capacity. Doing this ensures that you don’t have to worry about your goods changing hands at any time or your goods getting stuck with other products.
6 Major Differences Between Ftl and Ltl
LTL (Less Than Truckload) and FTL (Full Truckload) are two freight shipping methods that differ primarily in the amount of cargo they can accommodate and how they are priced.
- Cargo Volume
LTL: LTL is designed for shipments that don't require an entire truck. It is suitable for smaller loads that take up a fraction of the truck's space. Multiple shipments from different shippers are consolidated into a single truck.
FTL: FTL is for shipments that are large enough to fill an entire truck. The entire truck is dedicated to a single shipment, which is usually substantial in volume and weight.
LTL: LTL shipments are priced based on the space the cargo occupies, weight, and other factors. Shippers pay only for the portion of the truck they use.
FTL: FTL shipments are typically priced based on the distance traveled and the type of truck required. Shippers pay for the entire truck, regardless of whether it is completely full or not.
- Transit Time
LTL: LTL shipments may have longer transit times as the truck makes multiple stops to pick up and drop off various shipments. In the event that the quantity of goods is insufficient, it may be necessary to wait for goods from other shippers to be filled together, which will increase the shipping time.
FTL: FTL shipments generally have shorter transit times as the truck moves directly from the point of origin to the destination without intermediate stops.
- Shipping Flexibility
LTL: LTL is more flexible for shippers with smaller loads. Shippers can send partial truckloads without waiting for a full truck, can be adjusted according to the specific conditions of the goods.
FTL: FTL is suitable for shippers with large and consistent shipment volumes. It offers more control over the shipping process but requires the shipper to have enough cargo to fill the truck.
- Cost Considerations
LTL: LTL can be more cost-effective for smaller shipments, especially when the shipper doesn't have enough cargo to fill an entire truck.
FTL: FTL may be cost-effective for larger shipments, especially when the shipper needs the entire capacity of the truck.
- Handling and Risk
LTL: LTL shipments are handled more frequently as the truck makes multiple stops. This may increase the risk of handling-related damages.
FTL: FTL shipments are handled less frequently, reducing the risk of damages during transit.
In summary, the choice between LTL and FTL depends on the volume of the shipment, cost considerations, transit time requirements, and the flexibility needed by the shipper. Shippers with smaller loads may find LTL more economical, while those with large, consistent shipments might prefer the efficiency and control of FTL.
How to Work with a 3PL for LTL and FTL Shipping?
Working with a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider for Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping can streamline your supply chain, improve efficiency, and enhance overall logistics management. Here are steps and considerations for effectively collaborating with a 3PL for LTL and FTL shipping:
Clearly Your Shipping Needs
Clearly outline your shipping requirements, including the volume of shipments, frequency, destinations, and any specific handling or transit time requirements.
Research and Select a Reputable 3PL
Conduct thorough research to identify a 3PL with a proven track record in handling LTL and FTL shipments. Look for providers with experience in your industry and positive customer reviews. You can gain a deep understanding of the operations, strengths and weaknesses of third-party logistics companies by understanding user reviews and years of establishment.
Evaluate Technology Integration
Ensure that the 3PL's technology systems can seamlessly integrate with your systems, such as your order management or e-commerce platform. This integration is crucial for real-time visibility and efficient communication.
Discuss Service Offerings
Clearly understand the range of services offered by the 3PL. This includes not only transportation but also value-added services such as warehousing, order fulfillment, and returns management.
Negotiate Rates and Contracts
Work with the 3PL to negotiate favorable rates for LTL and FTL shipments. Discuss volume discounts, contract terms, and any additional fees associated with the services provided.
Seek a 3PL that can provide customized solutions to meet your unique shipping needs. This may include flexibility in choosing carriers, optimizing shipping routes, and accommodating specific handling requirements.
Visibility and Tracking
Ensure that the 3PL provides robust visibility and tracking capabilities. Real-time tracking of shipments allows you to monitor the status of your LTL and FTL shipments throughout the entire supply chain.
Establish clear communication protocols with the 3PL. Determine the points of contact, reporting frequencies, and escalation procedures for any issues or exceptions that may arise.
Collaborate with the 3PL in strategic planning. Discuss forecasts, seasonal trends, and any upcoming changes in your shipping requirements to facilitate proactive planning and optimization.
Address risk management strategies, including insurance coverage, in case of loss, damage, or delays in transit. Understand the 3PL's liability and the steps to take in the event of a shipping-related issue.
Establish a framework for continuous improvement. Regularly review performance metrics, seek feedback, and work with the 3PL to identify opportunities for optimization and cost savings.
Maintain open lines of communication with the 3PL. Regularly check in on performance, discuss any evolving business needs, and address any concerns promptly.
By taking a strategic and collaborative approach to working with a 3PL for LTL and FTL shipping, you can optimize your logistics processes, improve cost-effectiveness, and enhance overall supply chain efficiency.