How can I save money with partial truckload shipments?

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A partial truckload shipment is a type of shipment where you only take up part of the trailer’s hauling capacity. In freight shipping there are two limits that must be considered. The first is weight and the second is space. Typically a trailer will have 48′ to 53′ feet of linear space that can be loaded with up to 45,000 lbs of cargo. These two factors can vary by trailer. A partial shipment only takes up part of this capacity. Usually, a shipment is considered a partial if it is taking 50% or less of the trailers weight or space.

If you are taking up less then 50% of the trailer, then you may want to explore saving money by shipping as a partial truckload. Keep in mind the service level with a partial truckload is different than a full truckload. The reason being the driver not only has to make the standard stops, he also has to deliver a different shipment (maybe more.) This will make the transit time longer, depending on where you are loaded in the trailer. If you need full truckload service you should pay for it.

Why do you save money with partial truckloads?

The main reason most shippers choose a partial shipment is because they want to save money. Typically the cost of a partial is slightly higher per foot or pound then a full truckload. For example, let’s say the cost of a full truckload is $1,000.00 and you are going to use 50% of the trailer. So you would likely pay about $600.00. That said, $600 is less cash out of pocket then $1000.

How exactly do you figure out a partial rate?

Partial rates like truckload rates and really any transportation rate depend on the supply and demand for equipment in a particular market or shipping lane. To figure out a partial rate, you must first establish the truckload rate. Then break it down to a per linear foot amount. Then add 10% to 20% or so and you are left with your partial rate.

Why is a partial rate 10% to 20% more per foot?

The reason a partial rate is slightly more is because it increases the carriers cost. They have more stops and wait time to deal with. This can also be explained as you’re paying a little extra for the convenience to you or the inconvenience to them.

How is the service level different for a partial truckload?

A partial truckload is definitely going to come with a different level of service then a full truckload. Partial truckloads generally take more time to deliver, meaning the driver might have spent more time on the pickup or delivery of other loads. Sometimes the driver needs to wait for another load to make the overall routing profitable. Before you book a partial truckload you will want to understand the transit expectation the driver can commit to. Also it is a good idea to understand the other areas the driver will be delivering to and where your freight fits in that order.

Thanks for reading this article. We hope it makes your shipping journey a better one. If we can help in anyway please call us at 904-559-1731 or email us at

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Dave Stevens

Dave Stevens

Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.

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