How to Improve LTL Transit Times | Red Arrow Logistics
How to Improve LTL Transit Times | Red Arrow Logistics

Less-than-truckload shipping is a transportation method that is cost beneficial for many small and medium businesses. While LTL shipping might be a better financial solution for some shippers, it does come with longer transit times as compared to TL (full truckload). This is because LTL carriers have to configure freight correctly, so it contributes to the yield.

Optimize Your LTL Shipping

There are several ways to optimize LTL shipping to make a positive impact on your business. These strategies will help to improve shipment performance of LTL freight.

Prepare Your Shipment

One of the ways to ensure that shipments go out on time is to prepare them ahead of time. Sometimes carriers are on a very tight timeline and cannot wait for a load, but having the shipment ready for the carrier will ensure it is picked up on time. Accurate information about the shipment such as the weight and cube as well as special requirements will help ensure on-time delivery. If the freight is being shipped long-distance, make sure the carrier covers that area, otherwise, shipping costs and transit time will be more.

Create an Optimal Pick Schedule

Dwell time is important to LTL carriers as they want to get multiple picks and drops per day. An LTL carrier that picks up five shipments once a week operates more efficiently than one that picks up a shipment a day. Shippers that can minimize dwell time will keep carriers moving. A pick schedule with fewer days offers optimization and more flexibility for the carrier. Carriers, in turn, will prioritize freight that fits their network best.

Diversify Your Carriers

A volatile transportation market makes it difficult to find capacity sometimes. LTL carriers want to be more productive and in order to do so, want to accept freight that works with their current lanes. Some carriers are choosing not to accept freight that does not fit with their current network. This is where a 3PL (third-party logistics provider) can help create a multi-carrier strategy where freight is aligned with carriers, meaning you will not overpay for shipping.


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Plan Routes

Routes should be planned to ship near metropolitan areas to reduce costs and delays. Metropolitan areas are more likely to have a variety of carriers and shipping terminals. Shipping multiple items that are going to the same location at the same time reduces the number of shipments that have to be created. Advanced planning leads to an increased chance of on-time deliveries. Plus, the earlier the planning, the better the chance of finding an LTL carrier that matches well.

Take Advantage of Technology

When it comes to route planning, technology can help. Software such as a TMS (Transportation Management Software) reduces cost, improves billing accuracy, and increases the chances of on-time delivery. TMS allows a shipper to compare transit times and pricing for multiple carriers. Once a carrier is selected, TMS keeps track of the shipment and helps with billing and reporting.

Add Lead Time

Carriers’ published LTL transit times are not always exact. When capacity is tight, transit times may vary considerably. Sometimes freight shipments must wait a day before inter-terminal and final delivery based on lack of availability. A carrier’s published transit times represent when everything goes right. However, adding a day or two to the published times can be a more accurate representation of when the shipment will be delivered. Some lanes experience greater variability on some days rather than others which is why it is best to plan for an additional day.

Consider Expedited Shipping

Sometimes, a shipment needs to be at a destination by a certain time. Expedited shipping can deliver freight with shorter transit times and fewer touchpoints during transportation. Expedited shipping usually takes one to two business days, depending on destination and carrier.

Your Trusted Partner

The above best practices can help develop a more flexible LTL shipping strategy, as well as working with a 3PL can help improve cost and drive improvement. Red Arrow Logistics can arrange your freight shipment, no matter where it is going. We rely on our vast carrier network to meet the needs of our clients’ freight shipments. This means we find you the carrier and price to ensure your shipment meets its deadline.

Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at or give us a call at 425-747-7914.