LTL stands for “Less-than Truck Load” and refers to the weight classification of shipments that are larger than parcel shipments and smaller than FTL (Full Truck Load) shipments. These carriers typically deal with freight loads between 151 and 20,000 lb, or between 68 and 9,072 kg.
LTL and Warehousing Processes
LTL carriers typically deal with their freight by operating through a network of warehousing locations. Because the system is often not designed to be point-to-point between shipper and receiver, the process tends to be more cost effective.
Instead of a carrier proceeding directly from one point to another, the freight is consolidated and organized within respective warehousing hubs or breakbulk facilities. The term “breakbulk” is derived from the process of physically breaking the bulk shipments apart and organizing them by intended destination accordingly.
The freight, once broken down and sorted, is then assigned to LTL carriers who follow a specific route to the intended destinations. This method of consolidation gives the carrier the option to develop a more effective course for multiple deliveries, and allows the carrier driver a chance to grow familiar with his or her respective route.
When to Use an LTL Carrier
Individuals or organizations that use LTL carriers for shipments are often in a position where it is not imperative for the freight to be delivered to its destination the following day. Because the process of freight consolidation and organization takes time, LTL carriers will sometimes state that delivery can take up to 10 business days to complete.
Each LTL carrier will have specific hubs and warehousing breakbulk points where freight is routed and organized within a country. Depending on the shipper’s location, and the location of the shipment’s destination, it is possible that the delivery can be made as early as the following day. It would benefit the shipper to do some research on LTL carriers to determine where their routing hubs are located, how many they have, and what their terms and conditions are.
If time is not a factor within a reasonable extent, LTL carriers provide an efficient and cost-effective manner to deal with processing shipment orders for freight within the weight restrictions of the respective carrier.