LTL vs FTL Shipping: Which Logistics Option Is Best for My Business?

If you have freight to ship regularly, you’ve more than likely heard about less-than-truckload (LTL) and full-truckload shipping options. While each shipping option is relatively obvious by its name, do you know when it’s best to choose LTL vs FTL service?

In either case, the team at OnTrack Freight Systems can and will help. We offer decades of experience matching our customers unique shipping needs to the best, most cost-effective solution. We’ll listen closely to your needs, budgets, and goals to guide you to the shipping option best suited to check all of your boxes. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at OnTrack for fast, affordable, and tailored freight solutions. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at FTL vs LTL service, how each method calculates cost, and other relevant information. 

What Is LTL Service?

Less than truckload (LTL) service is a method of transport for partial or smaller loads of between 100 lbs. – 10,000 lbs. While the actual weight can vary, the most defining feature of LTL loads is that they do not occupy the entire trailer. With LTL service, each business fills a portion of a trailer along with other shippers, thus splitting the cost of moving the goods.

What Is FTL Service?

On the other hand, FTL services are for loads that are larger — typically ranging over 10,000 lbs. Most importantly, these loads will fill an entire trailer. Utilizing FTL service, a business’s goods are the only goods in the trailer, which means you will need to pay the entire cost of moving the goods from one location to another.

Exploring LTL vs FTL Service

Although LTL vs FTL service both aim to ship your goods or products to a desired location in a cost-efficient manner, these two methods have distinct differences. These differences primarily involve size, time, handling, and cost.

LTL vs FTL Service: Size

The primary difference between LTL and FTL is the size of the shipments. LTL shipments are smaller loads ranging from 100 to 10,000 pounds. These smaller shipments will not fill a trailer, and thus can be combined with other smaller loads to fill the entire trailer.

In contrast, FTL shipments are larger loads that will completely fill a trailer. These loads often weigh more than 10,000 pounds. These shipments do not have to be combined with loads from any other business, which does provide some advantages as outlined below.

FTL vs LTL Service: Time

If time is of the essence, shipping FTL wins hands-down. With FTL, because you are filling the entire trailer, it can be picked up when you desire and move directly to its final destination. Your business is control of the timeline from start to finish. By staying on the same truck from start to finish, your goods reach their destination quicker.

With LTL service, you are not in charge of the timeline because other businesses must provide part of the load. LTL shipments often require multiple stops to load and unload goods from other businesses. Also, your goods may be transferred to one or more other trailers along with the way from your business to its final destination.

Less-Than-Truckload vs Full-Truckload Service: Handling

For delicate or high-risk shipments, FTL may be preferable due to the fact that it could be your employees who load and unload the goods on both ends. Employees from other companies are not moving the loads from one truck to another, and the trailers are not opened along the way. This minimizes the risk of damage and theft.

FTL vs LTL Transportation: Cost

The cost of shipping your freight is significantly lower if you are shipping smaller, lighter loads with LTL. You are able to share the cost of moving your goods across the country because you are sharing the space within the trailer with other businesses. You only pay for the space that you fill.

With FTL, you are paying to move the entire truckload, regardless of the size of your shipment. This means that even if your goods do not take up all the space in the trailer, you will pay to move the entire truckload to its destination. This is what makes a choice between FTL and LTL crucial. You do not want to end up paying for more trailer space than is necessary.

Questions to Ask When Considering LTL vs FTL Service

If you’re in the process of choosing between FTL vs LTL service, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to discover which method may be more ideal:: 

  1. Is your shipment less than 10,000 pounds? If it’s less than 10,000 pounds, LTL may be the more cost-effective way to go. 
  2. Will the proposed timeline work for you? Those on tight timelines or rushes may want to consider FTL. However, the team at OnTrack offers next day delivery for LTL shipments within the New York and New Jersey metro area.
  3. Is sharing trailer space with others acceptable? If you have no concerns about sharing trailer space with other cargo, you may be able to save with LTL shipping. 

Contact OnTrack Freight Systems

For several decades, OnTrack Freight Systems has been the premier provider of FTL and LTL shipping solutions. We specialize in next day commercial and industrial freight delivery throughout the New York and New Jersey metro area. Most importantly, our team of seasoned and knowledgeable logistics experts will listen to your unique needs and help you make the most sensible, cost-effective solution.

Contact OnTrack Freight Systems today to for a free rate quote.