One of the main focuses for any shipper is to correctly select what mode of service is best for their freight and inventory. Often enough, Less Than Truckload (LTL) is utilized to get small shipments delivered through combining several different vendors to fill a truck to capacity. These multiple shipments are made up of pallets that span anywhere from 100lbs to 10,000lbs and are all different types of commodities.
Optimizing shipments is a key objective in the LTL world. Carriers that specialize in LTL moves optimize route guides, scheduling and pallet placement in order to have their trucks run efficiently and effectively. Clients opt for this mode selection as it allows for flexibility and minimized costs. Cost is one of the biggest draws to shippers utilizing LTL. Because a truckload is created by combining several shipments together, LTL costs are only tied to the space your pallet(s) are in fact using. This minimizes cost immensely! For smaller organizations, this cost savings is huge benefits to their overall transportation spend.
Although LTL has a proven way to provide cost savings, it doesn’t come without its challenges. LTL shipments can be sent three different ways: standard, guaranteed, or expedited. In addition to the type of shipment, there are many other services that can be added to for an additional charge. These services include inside pickup and/or delivery, lift gate use, residential access, and the most common, reweighing or reclassification. The fees associated with these special requirements are called Assessorial Fees.
Other challenges include carrier selection and time. Not every carrier ships LTL so it is important to work directly with one who does or a 3PL like Axle Logistics who has established relationships with several LTL partners. And because pricing takes weight, dimensions, and commodity into effect, it is sometimes difficult to receive consistent and competitive pricing if LTL shipments are done intermittently.
Transit time sometimes suffers as a result of sending freight LTL. When dealing with going multiple locations to multiple clients, at times transit takes longer than expected. This is the unfortunate trade off of the cost savings seen. Unlike a dedicated truck going from point A to B, LTL drivers face an unforeseen amount of transit issues when servicing several customers with one truck.
LTL is a great option when a shipper only needs to send out a small amount of freight that perhaps is not time sensitive. The minimized cost of LTL compared to the price of a full truckload often times makes many of the challenges of LTL manageable. When maximizing LTL shipments, it is critical to understand the LTL industry as a whole as well as the benefits and challenges it presents to your specific business model.