Every successful business is continually looking for ways to streamline its operation. Cutting costs here, boosting efficiency there… all these efforts are needed to stay viable in today’s competitive market. This is the sole aim of LTL shipping; to provide an optimal balance between speed, efficiency, and cost for mid-sized shipments.
WHAT IS LTL SHIPPING?
Definition LTL stands for “Less Than Truckload.” It is a carrier mode which bridges the gap between Full Truck Load (or FTL, such as semi trucks), and the last-mile parcel delivery carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and your postal service. LTL shipments typically serve a shorter range than long-haul semi truck lines, and are also commonly the final shipping step between distribution centers and retail locations. Usage The “Venn Diagram” between Full Truck Load, LTL, and parcel carriers has a lot of overlap. Many LTL carriers are able to perform similarly to FTL carriers, which may be enough for smaller manufacturers. Conversely, other LTL carriers specialize in the “last mile” of distribution, covering what UPS would otherwise handle. Having said that, the vast majority of manufacturers use a combination of delivery modes, and are constantly refining and auditing their shipping logistics. Virtually all LTL carriers charge fees similarly to FTL carriers; the best rates will be offered to shipments of the highest density (weight per volume) and lowest susceptibility to damage and theft. LTL is mainly used for:
- Shipments larger than a local delivery truck, but smaller than a semi.
- Palletized, shrink-wrapped products (or crated products, like furniture or large mechanical units.)
- Packages, pallets, or crates greater than 150 lbs, but less than 20,000 lbs across 14 pallets.
- Shipments requiring multiple stops or multiple destinations.
- Reducing shipping costs by optimizing partial truck loads from multiple sources,
IS LTL A GOOD FIT FOR MY BUSINESS?
This type of shipping becomes a necessity for the vast majority of manufacturers and retailers. There is really no upper limit where a company might “graduate” beyond the need for LTL shipping, but there is a lower threshold. In general, a small business with a low production volume is probably not quite ready for LTL shipping. Similarly, eCommerce retailers which ship directly to the customer would be better served by sticking with standard parcel carriers like UPS and FedEx. LTL Shipping is mainly designed to serve any manufacturer which uses third-party distribution centers to reach multiple retailers within a region. Manufacturers with a much wider distribution network may use a combination of FTL and LTL shipping to achieve nationwide reach. Though this is a somewhat simplistic reduction of what LTL is all about, it serves as a starting place for growing companies which are expecting to enter wider markets in the near future.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH LTL SHIPPING
If LTL sounds like it may benefit you, the best way to get started is to consult with a shipping logistics coordinator like TQS Logistics. Learning the complexities of shipping modes, disparate carriers, tariffs, intermodal transportation, and international shipping is enough to be a dizzying full-time job. We work closely with you to achieve the most timely and cost-effective shipping solutions, without the headache. During your initial consultation with us, we will help you gather critical information for the optimization of your shipments. We will assist you to…
- Know your palletized product info thoroughly.How many units can fit neatly onto one pallet? What are the weight, dimensions, and value of a fully loaded pallet? Can your pallets stack? What tariffs apply to your products? How will these criteria affect your shipping costs?
- Know the shipment specifications for your destinations. Whether your products are going to a distribution center or straight to the retailer, you’ll need to know what each one requires.
- Get familiar with the carriers in your region. This includes everything from Full Truck Load carriers down to your parcel carriers like UPS, DHL, FedEx, and your postal service.
Creating the perfectly balanced shipping strategy is an ongoing process. As your business evolves, so do the shipping carriers, their rates, and requirements. TQS Logistics will help your unique business to stay ahead of the curve. Give us a call to begin streamlining your shipping! And feel free to subscribe to our blog, where we regularly release helpful content related to shipping and logistics.