Carriers classify shipments in three basic ways: Less-Than-Truckload, Volume (or Partial Truckload), and Truck-Load. While individual carriers define them slightly differently, below you’ll find the general rules as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Here the definition is in the name, LTL is a shipment that doesn’t fill a truck. However, it’s not quite that simple in practice. Usually measured by a set number of pallet positions in the truck, different carriers use different counts and once you exceed it, you end up with the Volume version of LTL which is more expensive.
- Generally best price for smaller shipments
- Offers optional services compared to Truck-Load, such as lift gate service, inside delivery and notification prior to delivery
- Longer transit times
- Likely to be handled multiple times by the shipper, increasing the chance of damage
These are technically still LTL shipments, but they exceed the carrier’s defined amount of space for LTL. In general, Volume shipments are those with 7,000 lbs or more of weight or a volume of over 750 cubic feet.
- Costs less per-pound than LTL
- Other positives depend on the carrier so do your research
- All those included for LTL above
- More expensive than LTL
This one seems as obvious as LTL, but in fact, TL shipments don’t have to actually fill the truck to be classified this way. The standard for Full-Truck-Load is 23,000 lbs or more which occupied half or more of the truck’s capacity, but it’s probably a good idea to check with the carrier.
- Shipping more product at a better price
- Shorter transit times
- Less handling, which reduces the chance of damage
- The NMFC freight class matters significantly less, if at all.
- It can be difficult to fill a truck
- Optional services are generally not available