What is LTL Freight Shipping?

LTL Shipping or less-than-truckload shipping is a type of freight transportation used by shippers to move cargo when they do not have enough to fill up a whole truck. This is the most common form of trucking in the U.S. Most LTL shipments move on the nations vast common carrier network. In this article we will answer these questions regarding LTL shipping for dry cargo in trailers:

What are the different ways to move freight LTL?
What qualifies as an LTL shipment?
What is kinds of cargo can I move via LTL shipping?
What special services are available to LTL shippers?
How can I get an LTL rate quote?

What are the different ways to move freight LTL?
There are two ways to move cargo LTL via truck in the country:

Common Carrier LTL: The first and most common is using the nations vast network of less-than truckload carriers. The carriers are called “common carriers.” Common carriers operate regionally and nationally via hub and spoke networks.
Contract Carrier LTL: The second way to move your cargo via LTL is by locating a contract carrier that has room on their truck and will haul your small load as LTL.
This article will focus on Common Carrier LTL.

What qualifies as an LTL shipment?
Standard LTL shipments are defined by two things:

Weight: LTL shipments are typically under 10,000 lbs.
Length: LTL shipments are typically 12’ linear feet or longer.
If you have more cargo than 10,000 lbs or 12’ linear feet you can still take advantage of LTL shipping using what is called Volume LTL Shipping.

What kinds of cargo can I move via LTL shipping?
You can pretty much move any kind of cargo via LTL shipping that is not considered a restricted commodity. There are really very few restrictions.

freight class density calculator
What special services are available to LTL shippers?
Most commercial businesses that move LTL on a regular basis have warehouses with big loading docks that are level with the freight truck and forklifts to load their cargo. For shippers that don’t have this kind of facility, or have other restrictions, LTL carriers offer the following services:

Residential Service
Limited Access Service
Lift Gate Service
LTL carriers also have special services available that are unique to certain types of commodities.

Hazmat Service
Protect from Freeze Service
Sort & Seg Services
In Bond Service
Extreme Length

How can I get an LTL rate quote?
Common carrier LTL rates can be obtained from the specific carrier you are looking to use or you can obtain LTL rates from an LTL broker. Most LTL carriers and LTL brokers have online tools that enable you to get a rate online. These tools are very useful. To get a quote you will need:

Origin Zip Code
Destination Zip Code
NMFC Freight Class
Special Services
A note about value. Many shippers assume that if their cargo is damaged in transport the carrier will just pay the amount they (shipper) say it is worth. This is not always the case. In the fine print of their rules tariff carriers have liability limits. If the carrier’s liability limit is less than the value of your shipment you should inquire with your carrier or broker on the option of purchasing additional insurance. Also, you should understand the process for filing a freight claim prior to shipping.

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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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