When To Use FTL Shipping

What Is FTL Shipping

FTL shipping stands for Full Truckload (FTL) freight. FTL is used when the shipper has either a full or nearly full truckload of freight to be moved from the point of pickup to the point of delivery. A full truckload for a 48-foot or 53-foot trailer is equal to more than half of its capacity up to full capacity. This might equate to 10 pallets or more or freight that weighs over 15,000 lbs. 

Common Reasons When to Use FTL Shipping

There are several reasons why a shipper may choose FTL shipping – and not always due to having enough freight for a full truckload!

Full truckload of freight

The shipper does have enough freight for a full truckload so selects FTL. This gives them the most economical rate along with precise scheduling as FTL carriers will arrange firm pickup and delivery times. 

Speed of pickup and delivery

Some shipments require fast transit times. Even if the shipper does not have a full truckload, they may still choose FTL in order to have pickup and delivery be as rapid as possible without any unnecessary stops in between the point of pickup and the point of delivery.

Avoid freight mixing

If a shipper wants to ensure that their freight is not combined with another shipper’s, choosing FTL ensures no excessive stops or the mixing of freight. When using LTL shipping, the shipper runs the risk of their freight being loaded and unloaded several times in and out of trailers and warehouses before final delivery. For shippers with specialty items or fragile items, choosing FTL shipping reduces the risk of potential freight damage.

Freight size and weight 

In some instances, having what qualifies as an LTL shipment based on volume may actually ship less expensively using FTL. This is because the larger the item to be shipped (based on size or weight), the less expensive FTL carriers can become. Rather than splitting your freight into LTL deliveries thinking you will save on cost, keep your shipment whole and use FTL.

Advantages of FTL Shipping vs. LTL Shipping

Some shippers prefer LTL (Less Than Truckload) freight due to the potential cost savings and flexibility of shipping smaller amounts of freight at a time, as needed. Some freight, though, is better suited to FTL based on product being shipped, time sensitivity, or level of support required.

Here are some common scenarios when to use FTL shipping vs. LTL:

FTL shipping based on amount of freight

If you have more than ten pallets of freight to ship at a time, FTL shipping may be the best option for you. Once you have established a relationship with either your carrier or broker of choice, work with them to assess what the minimum amount of freight is required for your products to qualify for FTL shipping and at what point does it become more economically advantageous for you to choose FTL rather than LTL.

FTL shipping offers a fixed schedule

If you require firm pickup and delivery dates, FTL shipping provides the surety you need. By reserving a single carrier, you can determine when pickup needs to occur as well as predetermine the delivery date, eliminating stressful guesswork. 

FTL shipping is faster

If your delivery is time-sensitive, FTL is the best way to ensure that your delivery will be made on time. Even if you don’t have enough freight to classify as an FTL truckload, choosing FTL will ensure that your freight arrives when you need it to and without the extra stops inherent with LTL shipping.

FTL shipping provides tracking

Your FTL freight is tracked so that you know exactly where it is at all times while in transit between pickup and destination.

FTL shipping offers next-day delivery

FTL shippers who specialize in regional areas can offer next-day and sometimes same-day deliveries.

When to Use FTL Shipping Based on Type of Freight

FTL shipping is better for fragile items

If your freight consists of fragile or other sensitive items, you likely want to avoid excessive loading and unloading by multiple carriers throughout the shipping process. FTL helps you avoid potential damage to your freight and ensures that yours is the only freight on the truck. Consider the cost of damage to your freight as it may be more expensive than upgrading from LTL to FTL.

FTL is better for for perishable items

When shipping perishable cargo, it is best to use FTL in order to minimize travel time and excessive handling that may result in damage to your goods.  

FTL for specialty shipments

Specialty freight includes very large, high-risk, non-stackable, or hazardous cargo. For these items, FTL shipping is the best choice. High-risk freight, for example, is typically not permitted to be combined with other freight on the same truck. Additionally, LTL shipping may not be available for large or non-stackable freight, leaving FTL shipping as the only option. 

When to Use FTL Shipping Brokers

For shippers that work with a single carrier of choice or a network of carriers, having a broker as a backup when your carrier is unavailable is a sound option to ensure that your products are able to be moved when needed.

FTL brokers are able to source trucks through their large network of local, regional and national carriers that might be available precisely where and when you need them to be. FTL shipping brokers offer other benefits as well:

Broker FTL shipping experience

Brokers have vast experience with all types of freight shipments enabling them to be able to determine the best way to move your freight. Based on your products, they can evaluate your options, selecting the most efficient one. Brokers are also great at identifying potential issues, risks, or other factors that may impact your shipment. 

Broker FTL shipping network

The network of trusted carriers that brokers have established their relationships with ensures that your freight will be treated with the same care as if handled by your carrier of choice. 

Cost savings through an FTL broker

Brokers move a vast amount of freight each month through their network of carriers. This results in a purchase power that is bolstered by pre-negotiated rates offering passed-on cost savings to their customers. 

FTL broker support

Using a broker places a team of experts behind your shipment – working for you 24/7.  For shippers, knowing where their freight is at all times is a must. Brokers leverage their team as well as their network to move your freight and provide the visibility you need, at all times, from pickup through to delivery.

In Summary: When to Use FTL Shipping

FTL shipping is the best option for shippers that have large amounts of freight, have time-sensitive shipments, or specialty shipments. These shippers can negotiate better rates with FTL carriers and take advantage of FTL brokers, when needed, as a backup. 

Defined pickup and delivery schedules with minimum freight handling provide shippers with the greatest level of assurance that their shipments will be moved expeditiously and safely.

Choosing Your FTL Carrier

If you have large amounts of freight to ship either as a one-time event or with frequency, choose the right carrier with FTL shipping expertise. 

FTL carriers like On Track have the experience and capabilities to move different types of freight. Using our fleet of trucks we can deliver next-day within the New York City and Long Island area and have access to trucks for regional and long-haul national deliveries.

Contact On Track today to request your free LTL shipping quote.