FTL or LTL? When is it worth using and what are the most important differences

In the logistics industry, shippers manage thousands of FTL and LTL loads on freight exchanges every day. It is crucial to understand the differences between the two modes in order to properly prepare bids and effectively manage the supply chain.

What is FTL?

FTL, or Full Truck Load, is a full truck load that makes full use of a truck’s cargo space. This means that the entire vehicle space is reserved for a single shipment. FTL is often chosen for long-haul international routes, domestic routes, and for transporting large volumes of goods requiring fast delivery.

What is LTL?

LTL, or Less Than Truck Load, is a partial load that occupies only part of a truck’s cargo space. This type of transportation is ideal for smaller shipments that do not require a full truckload space. LTL allows for economical transportation of smaller loads that are consolidated with other shipments in the same truck.

Benefits of FTL freight

FTL transportation is advantageous for companies needing fast and direct delivery of large quantities of goods. The main advantages are:

  • Lower unit cost: Transportation costs are lower per unit of cargo.
  • Faster delivery time: No additional stops and operations to recharge other shipments.
  • Fewer loading and unloading operations: Reduces the risk of damage to goods and speeds up the delivery process.
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FTL freight vs. dedicated transport

Dedicated transportation is a solution that offers the customer full use of the truck, even if the shipment does not fill the entire cargo space. It is ideal for shipments requiring fast transit time or special transport conditions, such as high value goods or fragile cargo.

Pallet and FTL capacity

A typical 13.6-meter-long semi-trailer can hold 33 Euro pallets, while some refrigerated trucks with double floors can carry up to 66 pallets. Smaller vehicles, such as solo trucks, hold 15 to 21 pallets, while vehicles up to 3.5 tons hold 5 to 10 pallets. Planning FTL logistics requires accurate knowledge of shipment volume and weight to make optimal use of vehicle space and payload capacity.

Who is an FTL freight forwarder?

An FTL freight forwarder is a specialist who organizes full truckload transportation. His task is to maximize freight efficiency, manage the schedule of loading and unloading, and negotiate transport rates. An FTL freight forwarder often works with carriers specializing in this type of transportation.

Weaknesses of FTL

While FTL is very popular, it also has its drawbacks. High competition in the FTL market can lead to lower rates, making it difficult to find carriers for less profitable freight. For customers, FTL costs can be higher compared to LTL transportation, especially for smaller loads.

What is LTL in transportation?

LTL cargo uses a truck’s partial transport potential, which is ideal for smaller shipments that do not fill the entire cargo space. LTL transportation involves more loading and unloading operations, which increases lead times and operating costs.

LTL transportation

LTL transportation requires careful planning to optimize costs and delivery times. It is important to take into account all factors affecting the price of transportation, such as the number of operations, fuel consumption and administrative formalities. LTL transportation is ideal for companies needing to transport smaller loads in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

In summary, the choice between FTL and LTL depends on the specifics of the cargo, delivery time requirements and costs. Understanding the differences between these modes of transportation is key to effectively managing logistics and minimizing operating costs.

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