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Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Navigating the world of freight shipping can seem complex, especially when trying to find the most efficient and cost-effective transportation solutions for your business needs. One essential service that offers flexibility and affordability for small to medium-sized shipments is less than truckload (LTL) shipping. This introductory guide aims to demystify LTL shipping, providing you with the essential knowledge and terminology to understand how it works and why it might be the perfect option for your freight requirements. 

The Basics of Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping

Less than truckload shipping is a transportation solution designed for shipments that do not require the full space of a truck. Unlike full truckload (FTL) shipping, where a single shipment occupies the entire truck, LTL allows multiple shippers to share space and costs by combining their smaller shipments into one truck. This method is ideal for businesses looking to ship quantities that are too large for parcel carriers but too small to justify the cost of a full truckload, typically ranging from 150 to 15,000 pounds.

One of the primary distinctions between LTL and FTL shipping is the handling and routing of goods. LTL shipments often involve more stops and handling as they are consolidated at terminals before reaching their final destination. This process allows for a cost-effective way to transport goods, albeit with potentially longer delivery times compared to FTL.

The suitability of goods for LTL shipping varies, with items typically being palletised or crated for protection during transit. The diverse nature of LTL shipping makes it an adaptable solution for a wide range of goods, from auto parts to consumer products, offering businesses a flexible and scalable shipping option.

Key Terms in LTL Shipping

Understanding the jargon surrounding less than truckload freight is essential for navigating the complexities of commercial transportation. Here are some critical terms you’ll encounter:

  • Bill of Lading (BOL): This legal document serves as a contract between the shipper and the carrier. It details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being transported. The BOL is essential for all parties involved, acting as a receipt and a document of title.
  • Tariff Rates: These are the published prices that carriers charge for various shipping services, including LTL. Tariffs take into account the freight class, distance, weight and any additional services required.
  • Accessorial Charges: Additional fees that may be applied for services beyond standard pickup and delivery. Examples include liftgate service, inside delivery and storage fees. It’s important for shippers to understand these charges as they can significantly affect the overall cost.
  • Dimensional Weight: A pricing technique that uses an item’s volume rather than its weight to determine shipping costs. It’s particularly relevant for lightweight, bulky items that take up a lot of space relative to their weight.

Familiarity with these terms not only helps in understanding LTL shipping quotes and invoices but also in ensuring that your shipping needs are met efficiently and cost-effectively.

We are friendly, easy to work with, honest and we do not charge the earth.

At Barrington Freight, we specialise in making your importing and exporting straightforward. From customs clearance to finding the right commodity codes, our expert team is here to assist. Don’t let the complexities of global trade hold you back. Reach out to Barrington Freight for efficient and reliable shipping solutions.

The Benefits of Less Than Truckload Freight

Opting for less than truckload shipping offers a myriad of benefits, especially for small to medium-sized businesses that are often more likely to require flexible and cost-effective transportation solutions. Here are some of the key advantages for businesses large and small:

  • Cost Efficiency: LTL shipping allows multiple shippers to share the space in a single truck, making it a more affordable option for transporting smaller shipments. This shared space model significantly reduces shipping costs compared to hiring an entire truck.
  • Flexibility: With LTL, businesses have the freedom to ship goods in varying quantities without waiting to fill an entire truckload. This flexibility supports scaling operations up or down based on current demand.
  • Environmental Benefits: By consolidating shipments from multiple shippers into one truck, LTL shipping contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions. This more sustainable approach to shipping aligns with growing environmental concerns and regulations.
  • Enhanced Security: LTL shipments are typically palletised or crated, offering additional protection during transit. The structured handling and storage processes of LTL carriers further ensure the safety of goods.
  • Updates and Management: Modern LTL shipping services sometimes offer progress update systems, giving shippers information about their shipment’s status and location. This transparency helps in planning and provides peace of mind.

By leveraging less than truckload freight services, businesses will not only enjoy cost savings but also contribute to a more sustainable and efficient transportation ecosystem. Whether it’s for regular operations or sporadic shipping needs, LTL offers a robust solution that caters to a wide range of shipping requirements.

How to Optimise Less Than Truckload Shipping

Maximising the benefits of LTL shipping requires a strategic approach tailored to your business’s specific needs. Here are some key strategies to optimise such shipments:

  • Select the Right Carrier: Look beyond just rates. Consider a carrier’s reliability, service areas and technology for tracking and communication. A carrier that aligns with your shipping needs can significantly enhance efficiency.
  • Efficient Packaging: Properly packaging your goods can minimise damage and save costs. Use durable materials and pack items in a way that maximises space utilisation on a pallet.
  • Understand Your Shipping Profile: Familiarise yourself with your typical shipment’s size, frequency and routes. This knowledge can help you negotiate better rates and service terms with carriers.
  • Consolidate Shipments: Whenever possible, consolidate smaller shipments into a single LTL shipment. This can reduce costs and simplify logistics.

Comparing LTL and Groupage Shipments

LTL and groupage shipping are both economical methods for transporting smaller shipments by sharing cargo space. LTL is primarily favoured for domestic routes, offering structured schedules, among other benefits. It calculates costs based on freight class, weight and distance, potentially including additional service fees. 

Conversely, groupage is more suited to international shipping, managed by freight forwarders to consolidate goods into containers for cross-border transport. While it might present a more cost-effective solution for international shipments, it often involves complex logistics and longer transit times compared to LTL, with costs influenced by international tariffs and customs fees. 

Here at Barrington Freight, we can help you make the right choice between less than truckload shipping and groupage. Typically, this will depend on your shipment’s geographical scope and specific logistics needs. Either way, you’ll be in safe hands with our tailored and professional service.

Learn more about us

We’re friendly, easy to work with, honest and we don’t charge the earth.

For advice and information on shipping time from China to the UK, call 01268 525444 or email us today.

Kay Sherry
Kay Sherry
Simon Pool from Barrington freight was very helpful and door to door service to S.Korea was excellent, pick up and delivery services on time. I highly recommend Barrington Freight for air cargo services. Thank you Simon and the team! Kay
Daniel Gardner
Daniel Gardner
The team at Barrington where incredible at delivering our goods on-time despite the new Brexit regulations on goods being imported. We even didn't pay tax on the returning shipment coming back to German.
Drewit Studio
Drewit Studio
Brilliant service. Extremely helpful, and they supported us all the way through the process of transporting goods to mainland Europe, which for anyone who hasn't done that before can seem quite daunting. Would definitely recommend using this company.
Jason Scott
Jason Scott
Working with Barrington was brilliant. They really looked out for us, tackling our tough shipping/freight requirements keeping us informed at every stage of the process. Thank you
James Ayre
James Ayre
kept up to date with all progress, i know they had a particularly troubling time with import customs messing up paperwork but sorted all that out for me. highly reccomend will use again
Peter Seal
Peter Seal
Excellent company, very efficient and great communication. Competitive , quick quotes!
We are very satisfied, we would like to thank the team for this with an awesome rating! They handled the delivery of a very sensitive, valuable, gigantic pallet for us at a fair price and without any problems. I mean, out of 4 companies, only they were able to undertake it. Nothing is damaged! We recommend the company to everyone :)
Sophie Benge
Sophie Benge
Joshua at Barrington Freight is friendly and patient. Their service hassle-free and affordable compared to other freight forwarders.
Alex Burton
Alex Burton
Fantastic service from Barrington Freight. It was our first time exporting goods from the UK and it was very reassuring to have them manage the shipment. The process was made easy and hassle free and Simon was always quick to respond to any queries. I would highly recommend.
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Barrington Freight Ltd,
Bowden House,
Luckyn Lane, Basildon,
Essex SS14 3AX