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Less Than Truckload vs. Truckload: What You Should Know

For transportation-based shipping providers, managing fleets is top priority. As shipments are transported from one location to another, it’s important to find a way to keep things running smoothly. For that reason, many businesses work with third-party logistics (3PL) providers to manage everything.

If every shipment was enough to fill an entire truckload, this would be easier. But businesses have a variety of shipment sizes, ranging from just a few items to an entire truckload from one day to the next. For this reason, logistics providers manage less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments to make them as affordable as possible. Here are a few major differences between LTL and truckload (TL) services.

Route Planning

Route planning is important for all shipments as logistics providers work hard to minimize fuel cost and transport goods as efficiently as possible. Each truck has an assigned route for pickup and delivery, with that route planned on how full the truck will be at each stop.

When a business has a shipment that will require the use of a full truck, 3PL providers can arrange the fleet to ensure an empty truck arrives at the designated spot at a scheduled time. When that shipment requires only a portion of that truck, the provider arranges the schedule to make sure that a truck maximizes its route to accommodate different shipment sizes along its route. Making sure that all shipments go to the right truck at the right part of its route is part of what makes a 3PL provider so valuable to fleets.

Budget Planning

Keeping rates low is a top priority. When shipping rates are low, shippers can keep their own costs low and pass that savings on to their own customers. A 3PL provider can work to minimize shipping costs by carefully coordinating LTL and TL shipments without forcing fleets to drive excessively. Using automation, fleets can easily compare carrier rates and choose the one that offers the best price with high-quality, reliable services.

In addition to arranging multiple items per day, 3PL providers also account for different trailer sizes. Carriers can use 48- or 53-foot trailers, as well as tandem trailers that offer two trailers connected. With these options, more merchandise can be placed on one truck, allowing for more flexibility in the fleet management process.

Determining Rates

There are many factors that go into determining rates. 3PL providers must consider weight, lane, and add-on services that apply to a particular shipment. Fuel can vary dramatically from one shipment to another, even between two truckloads that take up the same space so carriers add those charges up and charge them to the customer.

When coordinating shipments transportation providers must consider whether a load will require a small truck, large truck, or only part of a truck. By knowing as much as possible up front, they can coordinate their pickups to maximize each trailer’s space. A 3PL provider can manage the process, helping businesses save money by better utilizing their fleets.