LTL Trucking 101: What You Need to Know | Red Arrow Logistics
LTL Trucking 101 What You Need to Know | Red Arrow Logistics

Less-than-truckload shipping (LTL) is a transportation method used for smaller freight that does not need the use of an entire trailer. LTL is a shared shipping solution where shippers pay for the portion of the trailer their freight occupies and the rest of the trailer is filled with other shippers’ items.

Requirements for LTL Shipping

There are a few characteristics that define LTL shipping. LTL is often used for freight that weighs between 150 and 15,000 pounds. LTL shipping operates through local and larger central terminals or distribution centers and is transported through local, regional, or national carriers. Freight that is headed to a similar location is consolidated onto a single truckload and picked up at local terminals to be transported to distribution centers.

LTL cargo is put onto pallets, crates or large boxes and shrink-wrapped and stacked, which minimizes the risk of loss or damage. LTL freight is an option for shipments that have no more than six pallets with less than 24 feet in a trailer.

Less than truckload freight shipments are usually sent through third-party logistics companies (3PL) because they are able to more goods efficiently as they can fit multiple shipments onto one truck.

Benefits of LTL Shipping

There are several reasons why shippers use LTL shipping:

  • – Reduces Costs. With LTL shipping, the shipper only pays for the part of the trailer they use. The rest of the cost is paid by the other shippers that use the remainder of the trailer’s space. This is ideal for shipments that do not have enough volume to fill an entire truckload.
  • – Increases Security. Most LTL shipments are put onto pallets before loaded onto a truck. A well-packaged pallet will remain more secure than shipments with smaller units.
  • Real-time tracking. Available with LTL shipments through the bill of lading, PRO number, PO number, and pick up data range.
  • – Service Options. LTL offers services like liftgates and inside pickup and delivery.

One of the main limitations of LTL shipping is that it can lead to longer delivery times because it takes longer to assemble multiple merchant shipments. However, planning shipments ahead will alleviate this issue.

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The Cost of LTL Shipments

Many factors go into determining LTL rates. Accurate dimensions on a shipment as well as the proper documentation, such as the bill of lading, are critical in avoiding adjustment fees.

Other factors include:

  • – Base Rates: LTL carriers make their own base rates, which are usually quoted per 100 pounds.
  • – Minimum Charge: The minimum charge is the amount below a carrier will not agree to.
  • – Weight: The more a shipment weights, the less the rate per 100 pounds.
  • – Distance: The longer the delivery distance, the higher the rate.
  • – Classification of Freight: The class of freight is determined by product density, value, handling, and liability. Lower-class freight is heavy, dense, and easy to handle while higher-class is lighter and more fragile.

Truck freight rates are usually charged by the mile, often in the range of $2-$4 per mile for LTL freight. This makes it a higher price per pound to help the carrier offset the risk of having trucks with less cargo than a full truckload.

Tips for LTL Shipping

If you are new to LTL shipping, there are a few tips to consider. After booking an LTL shipment, a bill of lading (BOL) is produced. Ensure that the addresses for both pick-up and delivery are correct to avoid any delays. It is also important to check the shipment paperwork so that accurate freight weight and dimensions are used. This will ensure that you do not pay unwanted fees. LTL shipments are handled more often than full truckload shipments so items should be carefully stacked into crates or pallets and sealed so that it arrives at the destination as intended.

Your Trusted Partner

Whether you are shipping regionally or nationally, LTL shipping is an alternative to save money on shipments that are palletized or loose. Red Arrow Logistics has over 50+ LTL freight shipping carriers under contract to get your business the best pricing and the service you need. You can even easily quote and book LTL freight shipping online.

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.