FTL and LTL: Which One is Right For You?

In general, freight can be categorised into three types, Sea, Air and Road. Road freight is the most popular and commonly used form of transport as it suits local and international shipping equally. Here we look at what Road Freight is and the difference between Less Than Truck Load (LTL) and Full Truck Load (FTL) and which one is right for you.

Why Road Freight?

Road freight refers to the movement of goods through roadways and can also be referred to as road haulage or transport. It is the most commonly used form of transport for cargo and can be used in combination with other forms of freight such as sea and air; whereby it facilitates door to door delivery, providing ‘last mile’ delivery.

There are many advantages to road freight transport, it is one of the most cost effective methods and is often preferred because of that. Being that roads are so readily available it is a flexible route to take, there is also no restraints around schedules and departure times and is a much more controlled avenue compared to sea and air freight. It allows for direct door to door deliveries, without the need for other modes of transport, multiple handling and delays are minimal. 

When sending cargo by air or sea, shipments tend to be handled at multiple points in the journey, for example being dropped or picked up from the port or airport. When it comes to road freight, goods can be easily moved around with minimal handling as it usually involves one starting point and one destination. 

Of course there are limits to Road Freight such as cargo limitations, the infrastructure of the roads, delays from traffic and roadworks and weather conditions which of course affect all shipping methods in some capacity. 

The difference between LTL and FTL 

LTL refers to ‘Less than Truck Load’ which is utilised by businesses with a smaller cargo which isn’t sufficient to fill a full size truck load. In LTL a business would share a truckload with another business or businesses along with the subsequent costs. This makes it a cost effective shipping method for small to medium sized businesses, however due to the load being shared it can mean slower delivery times as the truck makes multiple stops and deliveries to various locations.

FTL therefore refers to ‘Full Truck Load’, opted for by businesses who have significant stock or product to fill an entire truck load. Or it could be the nature of their business means they require an entire truck even when it is not fully loaded, an example of this could be when they have time constraints and require quicker delivery times, or they are shipping high risk goods. FTL is a costlier option due to the requirements needed to complete delivery. 

Which is right for you?

When deciding whether FTL or LTL is right for your business it’s important to consider a few things, as the optimal service for you is dependent on several factors:

  • Shipment Size 

As mentioned above this is the main difference between LTL and FTL. If you don’t have a shipment large enough to fill a truckload then LTL is probably the right choice for you, unless you are shipping riskier items.

  • Shipment Type 

The size of the shipment is important, however sometimes what you are shipping can be the deciding factor. For example some food goods cannot be shipped with others, some products can be dangerous or higher risk, in which case FTL would be preferable to ensure your shipment reaches its destination safely and securely. 

  • Budget

  As with any aspect of business, budget is a major factor when choosing a freight method. LTL offers a reduction in shipping costs if you are shipping a smaller cargo as opposed to hiring an entire truck to have it partially empty. However, if you have a lot to ship then FTL could end up being the cost effective option for you.

  • Time 

For some shipments time is of the essence, when it comes to road freight LTL takes longer than FTL due to longer routes, multiple stops. When it comes to FTL there is usually one destination with no need to stop and repack or transfer goods meaning it is much more time efficient.

There is a lot that goes into freight forwarding and shipping, with custom clearance, paperwork, local and international networks and knowledge of laws and regulations. It is for this reason that many of our clients have turned to our knowledgeable and experienced team here at Xpediator for their shipment needs. We can take the stress and worry out of shipping your goods to your desired destination, and help you find the right shipping option for you. Get in touch with us to discuss how we could help you and your business to streamline the shipping and order fulfilment process.

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