Less than truckload shipping, or LTL, fits an important niche in the shipping industry. When a company needs to ship freight that is more than a parcel carrier can accommodate yet not large enough for a dedicated full truck, LTL can be a great solution.
What is "LTL?"
As the name implies, LTL shipping is for items that are too cumbersome to ship via parcel — typically more than 150 pounds — and the cost of a full truckload (FTL) does not make sense. For instance, if your company needs to ship five pallets of freight to various locations in the United States, hiring a dedicated truck to make five different stops in locations far apart may not make sense. If it were a shipment via LTL Savannah to New Orleans, Boise, Sacramento, Boston, and Phoenix, it would be cost prohibitive to hire one dedicated truckload, or five separate trucks to deliver them all. By using LTL the five pallets will go to your local distribution center where they may be sent on to a hub. From the hub, the five pallets will be sent to their final destinations at the fraction of the cost of hiring a full truck.
LTL can, of course, have disadvantages. While it is often more affordable than hiring a truck, it typically takes longer to deliver if the freight needs to travel a long distance. However, LTL can also offer options that Full Truckload (FTL) shipping may not, such as liftgate services, non-commercial truck delivery, and delivery notification. LTL also offers a reliable set schedule, so your company will know what day or days the company will be available to pick up freight.
LTL is priced differently than FTL. When hiring FTL your company pays for the entire truck, no matter how much of it is used, by shipping via LTL your company will only pay for the space and weight it uses, which oftentimes leads to considerable savings on shipping.
Hub and Spoke
Not all LTL shipping is the same though, one type has already been covered, the hub and spoke shipping system. This model relies on freight to be picked up at smaller local distribution centers and then sent to larger central hubs to be sorted and shipped onward. These companies typically use smaller trailers to ship freight from spoke locations to hubs, and this should be a consideration in planning shipping timelines. Another variety of LTL uses larger trailers, typically the standard 53-foot type. Often a truck will make several stops to pick up freight in general area and load freight in the trailer in the order of locations it will stop, thereby charging lower LTL rates but still using a full-sized trailer.
LTL is not always the best solution and can be used as part of other shipping solutions as well. Shipping freight via a dedicated truck to a distant LTL hub can sometimes make sense as well. Upon arriving at the hub the freight can then be shipped out more efficiently, depending on the final destinations and amount of freight that needs to be shipped.
LTL is an important option to consider when shipping freight and could be an efficient and cost-saving approach to shipping. If your company is shipping freight through the Port of Savannah there are many different ways to ship freight to its final destination, Consider using a full-service broker, such as Port City Logistics. We handle all shipping needs from source to consumer. Need LTL coordination? No problem. Call or visit http://portcitylogistics.com/ for more.