home / news

Multimodal Wednesday:LTL 101

Multimodal Wednesday:LTL 101

LTL 101

LTL (aka Less than Truckload) is a popular mode of transportation for those with smaller shipment sizes. LTL utilizes a “hub and spoke” method, meaning that individual shipments, usually 5 to 6 pallets maximum, do not travel directly from the pick-up location to the destination. The typical process for LTL shipments is outlined below:

  • Shipments are picked up by a driver and taken to a terminal to be unloaded and inspected.
  • The freight is then loaded onto an outbound trailer, which either transports the freight to a breakbulk facility/activity center or the shipment’s destination terminal.
  • If the freight is headed to an activity center, it will be unloaded and reloaded onto a different trailer that is heading to the carrier’s facility in the destination city.
  • Once the freight reaches the destination terminal it will be loaded onto a trailer to be delivered to the consignee.

Some things to note when considering LTL as a mode of transport:

  • LTL carriers typically have several drivers in a city where there are multiple shippers, and each driver has a route and will visit the same shipper on a regular basis for pickup or delivery.
  • It is possible for a shipment to be handled multiple times by a carrier, not including the initial loading and unloading (average of 8 handling/touches per shipment)
  • Transit times are longer for LTL than standard Truckload
  • Unless such service is requested, transit times are not guaranteed.
  • LTL transit times are not related to the direct distance from shipper to consignee, but instead depend on the specific carrier’s network of terminals and breakbulk facilities.
  • Heavy or dense freight that is packaged extremely well is ideal for LTL shipping
  • One of the biggest advantages of shipping LTL is its lower price point when compared with other modes.
    • Sometimes as low as 10% of the cost of a full truckload

Check back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month for more inside information on LTL through our Multimodal Wednesday Series.