LTL Freight Shipping Services

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What is LTL Shipping?

LTL stands for “less than truckload” and is used to transport relatively small freight and other goods that don’t require the use of an entire trailer. LTL is a great option if your freight weighs between 150 and 15,000 pounds.

 

When shipping less than truckload freight, you only pay for the portion of space that your freight occupies in a standard truck trailer. Pallets, crates, bundles, and other types of freight from many businesses are combined to create a full truckload shipment.

 

These separate shipments are managed via a hub and spoke system, comparable to the way air transportation works – LTL drivers will pick up freight from local businesses and then take it back to a terminal to be sorted and placed on the appropriate trailer for delivery. The freight might be moved and sorted many times throughout its journey.

 

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What is LTL Freight?

Depending on the commodity being shipped, less than truckload (LTL) freight is typically placed in crates or on pallets. For example, durable items like bricks would be stacked on a pallet, while more fragile items, such as furniture, would be fully crated.

 

Most freight trailers on the road today are 8’ – 8.5’ wide, 12.5’ – 13.5’ high, and 40’ – 53’ long. This allows carriers to load several LTL shipments into a single truck and service multiple customers and destinations.

 

LTL freight carriers efficiently optimize loads to ensure max profit. If you think about it, they aren’t actually selling shipping services; they sell trailer space. For LTL carriers to earn the most money possible, they must carefully fit as much freight into the truck as they can.

 

Similarly, their organizational efforts end up saving you a lot of money; the more freight LTL carriers can neatly stack inside of a trailer, the better the price they can offer.

Why LTL Freight?

Shipping your freight though LTL offers many benefits that help your business succeed, such as:

 

  • Reduced Cost: The biggest benefit of using LTL is the cost. Since you are sharing space with other businesses, you only pay for the portion of the trailer your freight occupies.
  • Environmentally Friendly: The importance of becoming a green business is increasing. LTL freight helps you take a step in the right direction by reducing emissions.
  • Minimizes Risks: Since packages are handled more frequently with increased stops, freight shippers are encouraged to load their cargo onto sturdy pallets and into durable crates. These protect the shipment from wear, other freight, and loss of individual packages.
  • Easy Tracking: Many carriers will provide real-time tracking that include stop-offs, pick-ups, and delivery. If you are shipping with multiple carriers, uShip offers a free portal to track your shipments all in one place.
  • Service Options: The vast majority of LTL carriers offer many services including notifications, inside pick-up and delivery, lift gate, special handling, and more.

 

Why LTL Freight?

Shipping your freight though LTL offers many benefits that help your business succeed, such as:

 

  • Reduced Cost: The biggest benefit of using LTL is the cost. Since you are sharing space with other businesses, you only pay for the portion of the trailer your freight occupies.
  • Environmentally Friendly: The importance of becoming a green business is increasing. LTL freight helps you take a step in the right direction by reducing emissions.
  • Minimizes Risks: Since packages are handled more frequently with increased stops, freight shippers are encouraged to load their cargo onto sturdy pallets and into durable crates. These protect the shipment from wear, other freight, and loss of individual packages.
  • Easy Tracking: Many carriers will provide real-time tracking that include stop-offs, pick-ups, and delivery. If you are shipping with multiple carriers, uShip offers a free portal to track your shipments all in one place.
  • Service Options: The vast majority of LTL carriers offer many services including notifications, inside pick-up and delivery, lift gate, special handling, and more.

 

How Much Does it Cost to Ship LTL Freight?

Less than truckload carriers take into account many factors when calculating LTL freight costs. One of the biggest factors contributing to the cost of shipping LTL is freight classification. To find out what it would cost to ship your LTL freight, see our freight cost calculator.

 

Factors Determining LTL Shipping Rates

 

  • Distance: The further your freight will travel, the higher the price.
  • Fuel: Rates are calculated using several factors like current gas prices.
  • Shipment Specs: This includes the freight’s weight and dimensions.
  • Type of Freight: The type of freight has a major impact on the price. For example, shipping an engine versus a pallet of bricks.
  • Location Type: LTL freight not being shipped dock to dock will be more expensive. For example, shipping to a trade show or to a military base would increase the price.

Keep in mind that LTL shipping rates are considerably cheaper than transporting bluky items via parcel.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship LTL Freight?

Less than truckload carriers take into account many factors when calculating LTL freight costs. One of the biggest factors contributing to the cost of shipping LTL is freight classification. To find out what it would cost to ship your LTL freight, see our freight cost calculator.

 

Factors Determining LTL Shipping Rates

 

  • Distance: The further your freight will travel, the higher the price.
  • Fuel: Rates are calculated using several factors like current gas prices.
  • Shipment Specs: This includes the freight’s weight and dimensions.
  • Type of Freight: The type of freight has a major impact on the price. For example, shipping an engine versus a pallet of bricks.
  • Location Type: LTL freight not being shipped dock to dock will be more expensive. For example, shipping to a trade show or to a military base would increase the price.

Keep in mind that LTL shipping rates are considerably cheaper than transporting bluky items via parcel.

Benefits of LTL Shipping

Businesses looking to improve their bottom line typically stray away from traditional shipping methods and opt for LTL due to its pricing structure. Other reasons that make LTL a smart choice include:

 

  • Reduced Cost: The most significant benefit of using LTL is the cost. Since you share space with other businesses, you only pay for the portion of the trailer your freight occupies.
  •  

  • Environmentally Friendly: The importance of becoming a green business is increasing. LTL freight helps you take a step in the right direction by reducing emissions.
  •  

  • Minimizes Risks: Since packages are handled more frequently with increased stops, freight shippers are encouraged to load their cargo onto sturdy pallets and into durable crates. These protect the shipment from wear, other freight, and loss of individual packages.
  •  

  • Easy Tracking: Many carriers will provide real-time tracking that includes stop-offs, pick-ups, and delivery. If you are shipping with multiple carriers, uShip offers a free portal to track your shipments all in one place.
  •  

  • Service Options: The vast majority of LTL carriers offer many services such as notifications, inside pick-up and delivery, liftgate, special handling, and more.
  •  

  • Minimized Risk: Since LTL carriers require shipments to be packed into durable crates or stacked neatly on pallets, the risk of damage is significantly reduced.

When to Use Less Than Truckload Services

As a rule of thumb, if your freight is on a pallet or in a crate, you can ship it LTL. However, each carrier has its own restrictions on commodities they will transport. If you are unsure about your cargo, be sure to check with your LTL carrier for more information. To determine if LTL freight shipping is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Is my freight within size limits?
  • Am I, or an agent, available to load and unload the shipment?
  • Can I consolidate and palletize or crate my shipment?
  • Am I comfortable sharing trailer space with other freight shipments?
  • Do I understand the timeline restrictions of LTL freight?

 

What is Freight Class?

Developed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), less than truckload freight classes standardize freight pricing. It is a measurement used by carriers to determine the base rate of a shipment. Almost every single shippable item is given an NMFC code which is then assigned to a freight class.

 

There are 18 freight classes ranging from class 50 (the lowest price) to 500 (the most expensive). The denser the item, the lower the class. For example, a dense pallet of bricks would be a class 50, while a pallet of ping pong balls would be a class 500. You can reference the below table for more examples:

 

CLASSCOMMODITY EXAMPLEPCF WEIGHT RANGE
50Bulk Nuts & Bolts, Pallet of Bricks 50+ Pounds
55Hardwood Flooring, Paint Cans35-50 Pounds
60Car Accessories, Ceramic Tiles30-35 Pounds
65Boxes of Books, Bottled Drinks22.5-30 Pounds
70Forklift Battery, Car Parts15-22.5 Pounds
77.5Tires, Bathroom Fixtures13.5-15 Pounds
85Used Auto Engine, Crated Machinery12-13.5 Pounds
92.5Computers, Monitors10.5-12 Pounds
100Wooden Furniture, Boat/Car Covers9-10.5 Pounds
110Cosmetics, Framed Artwork8-9 Pounds
125Toasters, Blenders7-8 Pounds
150Auto Sheet Metal, Surgical Instruments6-7 Pounds
175Clothing, Fishing Nets5-6 Pounds
200Aircraft Parts, Sporting Helmets4-5 Pounds
250Mattress and Box Spring, Stuffed Furniture3-4 Pounds
300Cell Phones, Animal Taxidermy2-3 Pounds
400Kayaks, Bags of Potato Chips1-2 Pounds
500Ping-pong Balls, Insulation<1 Pound

 

The good news is that when you use uShip, you don’t have to worry about calculating complex NMFC codes as we price freight based on density.

 

FACTORS THAT DETERMINE FREIGHT CLASS

  • Density: Density represents how much an item weighs per unit volume. LTL freight’s density is measured in PCF, or pounds per cubic foot.
  • Stowability: Stowability is how the dimensions of the freight fit into a trailer. Think about a perfectly packed pallet as opposed to an excessively long crate.
  • Liability: If the freight is fragile or perishable, then the liability increases. As a result, the item is placed in a higher freight class.
  • Handling: If the shipment needs special services to be moved, this could cause the freight to be placed in a higher class.

Types of LTL Carriers

When shipping less than truckload freight, there are three types of carriers to choose from: local, regional, and national. Each type of carrier comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For the best experience, compare your needs against each carrier type.

 

Local Carriers usually operate a small fleet of trucks to serve an area up to a radius of 100 miles within a major metropolitan commercial zone. These types of carriers are best for last-mile delivery and personalized services. Disadvantages include slower delivery times, higher rates, and poor technology.

 

Regional carriers serve different geographic sections of the United States. They have more trucks on the road as opposed to local carriers. As a result, regional carriers are able to offer specialized services and faster transit times. Furthermore, regional LTL carriers also act as partners for national carriers to fill in coverage gaps.

 

National LTL Carriers are able to offer freight services to all 50 states. However, some carriers limit their services to the lower 48. They work through a complex system of national terminals and are able to pick up and deliver freight anywhere in the United States. Benefits include competitive rates, better technology, and coverage. uShip’s carrier base is primarily made up of the top national LTL carriers.

 

Types of LTL Carriers

When shipping less than truckload freight, there are three types of carriers to choose from: local, regional, and national. Each type of carrier comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For the best experience, compare your needs against each carrier type.

 

Local Carriers usually operate a small fleet of trucks to serve an area up to a radius of 100 miles within a major metropolitan commercial zone. These types of carriers are best for last-mile delivery and personalized services. Disadvantages include slower delivery times, higher rates, and poor technology.

 

Regional carriers serve different geographic sections of the United States. They have more trucks on the road as opposed to local carriers. As a result, regional carriers are able to offer specialized services and faster transit times. Furthermore, regional LTL carriers also act as partners for national carriers to fill in coverage gaps.

 

National LTL Carriers are able to offer freight services to all 50 states. However, some carriers limit their services to the lower 48. They work through a complex system of national terminals and are able to pick up and deliver freight anywhere in the United States. Benefits include competitive rates, better technology, and coverage. uShip’s carrier base is primarily made up of the top national LTL carriers.

 

LTL Shipping Services and Freight Accessorials

Less than truckload (LTL) carriers offer a variety of useful service options that allow you to customize your shipment based on your requirements. Common services include:

 

Freight Service Description
LiftgateUsed when there is not a loading dock or forklift available to load or unload freight.
Limited access pickup and deliveryRequired when the location is limited access for a carrier, such as a church, school, home business, strip mall, rural location, trade show, or government location.
Inside pickup and deliveryApplies anytime an LTL carrier enters a building to obtain or unload cargo.
ExpeditedAvailable if you need your goods to arrive at their destination faster than the quoted amount of time.
Lumper ServicesA lumper fee is added when a third-party service is used to load or unload pallets from a trailer. This is typical for a grocery store.
DetentionIf the driver is delayed for any reason due to your actions, you will be charged per minute the driver waits.
StorageA fee assessed when you need the shipping company to hold your freight for an extended amount of time.
Overlength If the dimensions of your freight being shipped are unusually long, you may be charged a fee.

Preparing Your LTL Shipments for Pickup

Not only does preparing your LTL freight properly for transport reduce the risk of damage, but it also helps you avoid missed pickups. If your freight isn’t correctly crated, bundled, or palletized, your carrier will skip your pick up, advise you to correct the issues, and return the following business day to reattempt.

 

Keep in mind that each carrier has a list of shipment requirements called a “rules tariff” laying out how your pallet or crate should be prepared. The end goal is to keep everyone’s cargo protected from moving around during transport. Consider the following helpful tips when preparing your LTL cargo for transport:

 

  • Stack goods with the heaviest items on the bottom and refrain from any overhang.
  • Use straps and shrink wrap to ensure goods properly stay together.
  • When packaging your LTL shipment, aligning goods on the pallet is best practice. Staggering is okay but is 33% weaker.
  • Create and place a label on each pallet. Make sure the complete address information, postal codes of the shipper and consignee, and phone numbers are present and visible.
  • Weigh and measure your freight.

 

Documents Needed For LTL Freight Shipping

To ensure a smooth shipment and avoid potential delays, it’s important to collect all of the documentation needed for your freight. Here is what to consider:

 

  • Bill of Lading (BOL): A BOL provides important information about your shipment to both the carrier and the driver.
  • Freight Bill: A freight bill is the invoice for all freight charges associated with a shipment.
  • Proof of Delivery (POD): A POD is a document that used when a shipment is delivered. The consignee (recipient of the freight) signs this document to confirm delivery; however some carriers use the BOL as confirmation in lieu of a POD.
  • Weight and Inspection Report (W&I): A W&I report is an official document provided by a carrier that records the official dimensions and weight of your shipment.
  • Cargo Claims Form: A claims form is to only be completed if your cargo is delivered damaged, short, or missing.

Documents Needed For LTL Freight Shipping

To ensure a smooth shipment and avoid potential delays, it’s important to collect all of the documentation needed for your freight. Here is what to consider:

 

  • Bill of Lading (BOL): A BOL provides important information about your shipment to both the carrier and the driver.
  • Freight Bill: A freight bill is the invoice for all freight charges associated with a shipment.
  • Proof of Delivery (POD): A POD is a document that used when a shipment is delivered. The consignee (recipient of the freight) signs this document to confirm delivery; however some carriers use the BOL as confirmation in lieu of a POD.
  • Weight and Inspection Report (W&I): A W&I report is an official document provided by a carrier that records the official dimensions and weight of your shipment.
  • Cargo Claims Form: A claims form is to only be completed if your cargo is delivered damaged, short, or missing.

How to Save Money on LTL Freight Services

The best way to save money on freight shipments is to be 100 percent accurate when providing details for a quote. While LTL shipping is a low-cost option for small freight shipments, any errors or mistakes can be costly. Here is what you can do to reduce costs and avoid unexpected charges:

 

  • Improve Efficiency: To streamline your shipping operations and save time, it’s best to use an all-in-one solution such as uShip. uShip allows you to compare quotes from multiple LTL carriers at once, track shipments, see invoices, and much more.
  • Increase Lead Times: Booking your shipments ahead of time helps you avoid capacity issues and obtain better rates from more carriers.
  • Foster Carrier Relationships: Get on good terms with your preferred carriers and treat them well. This makes any issues easier to resolve should they arise.
  • Avoid or Dispute Rebills: Be sure to correctly record weights and dimensions to ensure you receive accurate quotes. If you are charged for something after the shipment has been delivered, you should always dispute the charge with your carrier if you have proper documentation to prove your case.
  • Insure Your Freight: Most LTL carriers provide at least some coverage; however, it will most likely not cover the entire cost of your shipment should it become damaged or lost. Therefore, it’s wise to grab your own supplemental policy from your favorite provider.
  • Pick Up at the Terminal: If your cargo is being delivered to an area where your carrier has a local terminal, you can request a dock pick up to save some money and time.

LTL Freight Shipping with uShip

uShip is an online shipping marketplace that connects shippers to carriers with empty trailer space. As a result, businesses receive the benefit of low-cost LTL shipping rates. uShip has strong relationships with some of the best less than truckload companies in the industry, resulting in extreme savings.

 

uShip’s marketplace makes it easy to find the best shipping options for both your LTL freight needs and your budget. Create your listing with your needs and be as detailed as possible. Once you complete your listing, the freight shipping calculator will provide instant LTL rates. You can accept one of those rates, or you can take your freight shipment to auction. There, you’ll get LTL quotes from transport specialists as they bid for your business.

 

How uShip Can Help with Your LTL Shipments

 

  • Rebill Protection: uShip audits your invoice to ensure your carrier made no mistakes on your final bill.
  • Load Your Own Rates: If you have your own rates with other carriers, feel free to upload them to your uShip portal. By doing this, you can compare your contract rates against ours, all in one place. Thus, eliminating bouncing around various freight websites for quotes.
  • Customer Specific Rates: If we notice that your shipping an adequate amount of volume, we can offer account-specific pricing.
  • Referral Program: Do you know of other businesses in need of LTL shipping services? If so, refer them to experience uShip, and you’ll receive shipment credits and other rewards in return.
  • Insurance: Did you know that LTL pickups do not automatically come with full coverage insurance? uShip fills insurance gaps and offers the option to purchase a full-coverage cargo insurance policy for select shipments.
  • Account Management: Frequent shippers can enjoy the benefits of having their own account manager here at uShip.

LTL Shipping Customer Reviews

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Commonly Asked LTL Shipping Questions

How does LTL shipping work?

LTL works by combining small freight shipments from many shippers to form a full truckload. As a result of collective buying power, prices are much lower.

 

How do you price LTL freight?

LTL freight is priced based on the density or freight class of a shipment.

 

How many pallets are considered LTL?

Typically, one to nine pallets are considered LTL freight.

 

How do I get cheap LTL quotes?

To get cheap LTL quotes you need to be accurate with measurements and use a company like uShip.

 

How many hours do you spend comparing carriers and rates?

Businesses will spend up to an hour comparing rates, however, it only takes about 10 minutes on the uShip marketplace.

uShip LTL Case Studies

uShip has helped many small and mid-sized businesses reduce their overhead, increase efficiency, grow their inventory, and save time. Check out one of the case studies below to see how uShip LTL shipping can help your business succeed.

 

Illumitex

Illumitex is a national LED light producer and saved over 28% on shipping after switching to uShip. Learn More

 

CrankyApe

CrankyApe is an online RV, power sport, and marine unite reseller. They were able to increase their inventory by 30% due to faster turnaround times. Learn More

 

Fusion3

Fusion3 produces low-cost, high-performance 3D printers and saved 20% on transportation costs. Learn More

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