When Should an LTL Shipper Consider Switching to Partial Truckload?

July 18, 2019 by Meyer Baron
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Less than Truckload (LTL) shipping is the most popular method of freight shipping, with Full Truckload receiving the next highest usage. Many shippers don’t know that there is another freight-shipping method available — Partial Truckload — that fits perfectly between LTL and Full Truckload. In some cases, an LTL shipper can save time and money by shipping Partial Truckload.

As with Full Truckload shipping, the carrier picks up the order directly from the shipper and delivers it to the destination location. Since there is no freight terminal serving as a transfer point, shipping time can be reduced. Another way that Full and Partial Truckload are the same is that freight class is unnecessary. Whatever you and the carrier agree to is the price of the shipment.

Why carriers offer partial truckload freight shipping

As you might expect, there aren’t many carriers waiting around for partial truckloads when they can pick up full truckloads. So, why are partial truckloads even a thing?

Here’s one example.

A carrier picks up a Full Truckload near their home base and delivers it to a location that does not have a high level of shipping traffic. The carrier doesn’t want the truck to return home empty (commonly known as a deadhead), so they pick up one or two Partial Truckload orders to cover their costs.

Carriers also pick up Partial Truckload shipments when the overall shipping market is slow. Obviously, that is not the case today.

Partial Truckload advantages

With Partial Truckload, the loads can be much smaller than Full Truckload and much larger than LTL. Consider these fairly typical shipments:

  • LTL: Less than 10,000 pounds, 1-6 pallets
  • Full Truckload: 42,000+/- pounds, 26-30 pallets
  • Partial Truckload: 8,000-27,000 pounds, 6-18 pallets

It’s not uncommon for a Partial Truckload shipment to cost less and take less time to reach its destination than an LTL shipment that takes up a lot of space but doesn’t weigh much. Remember, in LTL shipping, the lower the cargo’s density, the higher the cost.

And when cargo doesn’t take up the whole truck, using Full Truckload costs significantly more that Partial Truckload.

Consider Partial Truckload when …

As a rule of thumb, consider using Partial Truckload freight shipping instead of LTL when:

  • The shipment weighs at least 5,000 pounds
  • You’re shipping five or more pallets
  • The shipment takes up a lot of space, so it costs a lot, even though it doesn’t weigh much

And consider using Partial Truckload instead of Full Truckload when:

  • The shipment weighs 10,000-20,000 pounds
  • You’re shipping more than six pallets, but not enough to take up the full truck

Closing thoughts

Even if you aren’t likely to ship via Full Truckload, Partial Truckload still gives you an option to consider. As an established 3PL we have relationships with carriers that offer Partial Truckload service as well as LTL shipping, and we can help you choose the method that’s best for your shipment.

We’re here to help, before you book your next LTL shipment, give us a shout and we can help determine if Partial Truckload would be a better alternative. Get in touch 800.716.7608.

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