A Beginner's Guide to LTL Freight

A Beginner's Guide to LTL Freight

What is LTL Freight, and how does it differ from other shipping options? At first glance, LTL shipping methods can seem intimidating. After all, LTL is just one of the many services that fall under the 3PL umbrella. Over the years, LTL services have increased in popularity, and it’s extremely common for companies in the United States to utilize LTL methods.

Luckily, we can help you untangle the mystery behind this freight shipping service. We’ve created a general list of items to keep in mind when considering LTL shipping.

What is LTL Freight?

LTL stands for “less than truckload,” meaning shipping providers travel long distances to transport a full truck of shipments from different companies. They combine partial loads to create a full load. Your freight travels and makes stops at terminals for other shipments, and it’s unloaded and reloaded into different trucks at every stop. However, there are fewer stops and weigh-ins than full truckloads (FTL).

To reduce damage, less than truckload shipments often come in wood crates or on wrapped pallets. Therefore, every order is contained in one unit (or pallet).

It’s easy to get FTL vs. LTL shipping confused, but this quick guide demonstrates the differences. One of the key differences is pricing; LTL rates are pre-established while FTL rates vary depending on the day.

Typically, a carrier’s less than truckload rates are based on classes, weight, size, delivery speed (or service type), and discount rates. Rates also vary if you receive accessorial charges (meaning the carrier performs more duties than originally stated in the bill of lading.

What are the LTL Freight Requirements?

We strongly recommend reading through our requirements below for a smooth LTL experience.

LTL Shipment Size

Shipments must weigh under 20,000 pounds; otherwise, it’s best to transport these shipments via another shipping method.

Accurate Documentation

A shipment’s bill of lading (BOL) must be accurate and complete before shipping. This document contains all the information needed to help pallet reach their destination promptly.


Shipments need to be on pallets or crates to accelerate the unloading and reloading process.


You need to monitor your shipments to give your customers accurate estimates of their pallets' arrival times.  Tracking this information helps ensure maximum customer satisfaction.


Accidents happen.  Acquire insurance for your freight to avoid costly charges later.

What are the LTL Freight Benefits?

LTL shipping offers a host of benefits. Generally, it works well for small, frequent shipments. Thus, we typically recommend that small businesses utilize this type of shipping service. Often, smaller businesses don’t need the space and want to save money as their company grows.


It allows flexibility — LTL shipping is generally quick and convenient, whether you’re shipping regionally or nationally. This is because, when compared to FTL, there are less logistics in the shipping process. Additionally, LTL carriers can be flexible with you and offer numerous services that many FTL shipping providers don’t. You can choose from several service types, including standard, expedited, or guaranteed shipping. You also have the option for lift gate pickup and delivery and more.

Environmentally Friendly 

It’s environmentally friendly — With shipping from the same truck, you’re cutting down on the number of trucks traveling and transporting shipments. Using LTL shipping services is a great way to reduce emissions!


It’s cost-effective — Because your shipments don’t fill the entire truck, you only need to pay for the space you’re filling. Sometimes, LTL freight can even be cheaper than shipping individual pallets. While it takes more work to prepare your shipments, the savings through LTL are worth it.

Lasting Partnerships

It creates lasting partnerships — Carriers want to work with you to increase satisfaction and ensure they’re exceeding your expectations. As a provider ourselves, we understand that every client has different needs. This is why providers like us go above and beyond your expectations.  Professionals can help you save time and do what’s best for your pallets.

Why Less than Truckload Shipments Might Not be Right for You

Some of the disadvantages of LTL shipping include:

Longer transit times

With numerous stops, carriers may delay your shipments. This means you’ll need to budget more time to ensure your pallets will arrive on time.

More Planning

Because carriers are making various stops and shipping numerous pallets, you’ll need to stay up-to-date. There are a lot of details to focus on, such as freight class, pickup and destination locations, and more. Paying attention to these factors is key to successful shipping processes.

Increased damage risk

Carriers are unloading and reloading your pallets at several stops per trip, so be sure you wrap your products carefully to decrease the risk of damage. Make sure your pallets are not going to be larger than the pallet, and it’s a good idea to secure your items with shrink wrap for additional protection. If you have sensitive cargo, consider a different shipping method.

For Large/Heavy shipments

Do you have a larger or heavier shipment? Consider partial truckload or FTL shipping.

We suggest using full truckloads when your freight is too large to share space with other pallets. When you utilize FTL services, you use entire trucks dedicated to your shipments. These trucks will travel point-to-point.

Partial truckloads are a marriage of LTL and FTL services. They offer numerous benefits, including fast transit times and limited freight handling.

Above all, the shipping method you choose ultimately depends on your shipment size, budget, and desired delivery times.

LTL Freight Conclusion

If you do decide to utilize LTL freight companies, make sure you choose the right provider for your needs. In many cases, you get what you pay for—and choosing the right LTL provider can be difficult, if not scary, as a result. Diversified Transportation Services offers nearly 30 years of industry experience, so we know how to make LTL simple, seamless, and as effective as possible. Plus, we offer our wealth of knowledge at a competitive price, making us the ideal choice for all 3PL services.

In addition to LTL shipping services, we offer FTL, volume and partial TL, and more. For questions regarding our services, contact us today.

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