The distinction between FTL & LTL
Written By
Brooke Reiley
February 2, 2024

The distinction between FTL & LTL

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In the realm of logistics and shipping, businesses often wrestle with choosing the most efficient and cost-effective freight solution for their cargo. Two prominent options that seem to surface in this decision-making process are Less Than Truckload (LTL) or Full Truckload (FTL) shipping.

Understanding the differences between these two modes of transportation is crucial for companies seeking to optimize their supply chain operations. In this blog post, we will dive into the key differences between LTL and FTL, and shed some light on when each option might be the most suitable choice.  

Load Size and Volume

LTL shipping is designed for smaller shipments that do not require an entire truck.

This mode of transport is ideal when a company’s cargo doesn’t fill an entire trailer and can be combined with shipments from multiple shippers to maximize efficiency. Let’s take the Uber services as an example. If you are familiar with the services provided by Uber, you can compare this with Uber X Share - you are essentially sharing your cargo’s trip with other businesses cargo’s trip.

On the other hand, FTL shipping is appropriate for situations where a shipper’s cargo fills an entire truck.

This option is preferable when a business has a large volume of goods to transport or requires dedicated space for its shipments. This is comparable with Uber Black – you get the entire vehicle and dedicated driver for your cargo at a higher premium.

Cost Considerations

One of the top advantages of LTL is its cost effectiveness for smaller shipments. Shippers pay only for the space their cargo occupies, making it a viable option for businesses with smaller loads. While FTL may be more expensive than smaller shipments, its cost per unit tends to decrease as the volume of goods increases. Businesses with substantial freight loads can often make cost savings by opting for the FTL service.  

Transit Time

Transit times for LTL shipments can be longer due to multiple stops involved in consolidating and deconsolidating cargo from various shippers. This makes LTL a suitable choice for shipments where delivery time is not a crucial factor. FTL shipments typically have shorter transit times since the cargo moves directly from the shipper’s location to its destination without additional stops.  

Flexibility

LTL allows for greater flexibility for businesses with smaller shipping needs. Shippers can utilize LTL services for regular, scheduled pick-ups and deliveries, adjusting their shipment volume as needed. FTL offers less flexibility for businesses with varying shipment sizes. However, it provides more control over the shipping process, allowing companies to dictate the pickup and delivery times according to their specific requirements.  

In the intricate dance of supply chain management, the choice between LTL and FTL depends on the unique needs and priorities of a business.

Conclusion

While LTL is tailored for smaller shipments, cost efficiency and flexibility, FTL shines when it comes to larger volumes, faster transit times and dedicated space. By understanding the differences and specifics for these two freight options, businesses can make informed decisions that align with their logistic goals and contribute to the overall efficiency of their supply chain.  

For more information on LTL services at Atlantic Logistics or to get rate quotes, contact Hollie Green, Manager of LTL Services at hollie@shipatlantic.com or 904-886-1118.  

ABOUT ATLANTIC LOGISTICS

Atlantic Logistics provides expedited truckload and partial service on flatbeds, stepdecks, lowbeds, vans, and reefers throughout the United States and Canada. Moving over-dimensional/over-weight freight with specialized equipment, Atlantic Logistics is an approved Department of Defense and General Services Administration broker, qualify as a woman-owned business, and are members of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association (TMSA), and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA).

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