Partial Truckload Delivery or LTL: Everything You Need to Know

LTL is the method of goods transportation by road, which involves the unity of several consignments from different customers in one vehicle. It’s carried out only by road transport and the concept of groupage/consolidated transportation can be applied to other modes of transport (railway, sea, and air).

LTL is especially relevant for beginners, medium-sized companies, and large customers who are faced with the task of developing new sales directions and analyzing demand. The service will help optimize costs when ordering small batches of goods. By the way, LTL also has an alternative name “partial truckload delivery” and unlike FTL the way a car with goods is paid for by several customers at once, which imposes a number of difficulties with order processing.

Organization of partial truckload delivery

Several factors must be taken into account when arranging joint transportation. Products must be combined in accordance with their composition, purpose, and shelf life. Moreover, this information has to be provided by the sender. The work in the consolidation warehouse is an important point. The products are sorted according to various characteristics: types, hazard class, storage, and transportation conditions. It is also packed, labeled, and accompanied by the required documentation. The next step is the formation of individual goods’ batches that travel along the same path and their loading into transport. The key goals are to minimize the amount of empty space and avoid the risk of product damage during transportation.

Ways to take care of groupage cargo transportation

There are 4 methods that allow you to competently organize the transportation system.

  1. There must be the formation of a single information space and standard rules to exchange the information between participants in the supply chain. Various IT solutions come to the rescue to solve the problem.
  2. The company should take care of tracking the freight movement along the entire route. It’s better to use mobile optimizers based on GPS navigators.
  3. Implementation of preliminary analysis and classification of products that are being prepared for shipment. Checked databases will help to collect information.
  4. Selection of international, local, and regional transport and logistics centers that are butt nodes in the overall supply chain.

It’s hard to understand the functioning of the system, analyze its work, and perform everything correctly without a description of business processes between participants in logistics activities.

Typical scheme for the implementation of LTL transportation

  • The client delivers the goods to the courier (at the point of reception or directly at the warehouse).
  • If the goods are accepted in other places, they are consolidated at the carrier’s warehouse.
  • Pallets or other cargo items are formed, goods are packed, and labeled, etc. The company also takes care of the documentation process.
  • The cargo truck loads. It hits the road after checking all the moments and after making sure that all the preparatory work is done correctly. It is possible to visit transit warehouses on the way for complementary loading or unloading.
  • The next step is the arrival at the base warehouse at the destination. Specialists perform the unloading quickly and according to the rules.
  • Cargo is issued to the recipient.

As you can see, the whole system is well-thought-out and clear.

Partial truckload delivery advantages

  • The low cost of transportation should definitely be highlighted. Savings become possible due to the fact that there is no need to pay for the entire trip of the vehicle along the route to only one client. The cost of the delivery is distributed among all customers, depending on what part of the available volume (of the occupied transport area) the freight will take.
  • The more popular the direction (there is regular traffic on the most loaded routes), the lower the minimum cost of transportation.
  • All necessary related services are available to the client: insurance, packaging, etc.
  • LTL is suitable for almost any general cargo (including dangerous or temperature-controlled cargoes).
  • The customer does not need to dive into the technical details of the service implementation (no need to choose the type of vehicle, organize the process of loading or unloading, etc.). The client simply specifies the parameters of the cargo, everything else is implemented by the responsible carrier, such as Linden Tree Company.
  • Acceptable delivery speed (it differs slightly from FTL shipments upwards).
  • Wide range of additional options. The goods can be issued not only at the warehouse or at the point of issue but also directly at the specified address (it depends on the capabilities of the carrier company).

All the listed advantages are definitely tested through practice, otherwise, the service would not be so popular.

LTL and e-commerce

Groupage deliveries are an ideal solution for sending small consignments for

  • Customers. Meanwhile, carrier companies can provide a set of related services, such as notification of the client about the status of the order, the ability to try on goods, full and partial payment upon receipt, processing returns, delivery by couriers, work with defects, etc.; all these assume the presence of certain infrastructure and not just vehicles for transportation.
  • B2B sector. Suppliers can send partners exactly as many goods as they need, without loading up to a full truck.

Many companies focus on customer orientation, so it’s easy to implement additional options in case of need.

What is the price of LTL delivery?

The final price is affected by

  • Distance/length and complexity of the route.
  • The need to perform additional cargo handling operations (packaging, labeling, integrity control, delivery to an address, collection from an address, palletizing, etc.).
  • The dimensions and cargo category, its weight, or other parameters that affect the territory occupied from that available in the vehicle.

Many carriers determine the minimum possible cost of the service – the price of transportation cannot be lower than a certain threshold, regardless of the weight of the cargo or the occupied area. Further evaluation can be made by the dimension or weight of the shipment after exceeding the specified criteria.

The sender and shipper must perform certain actions regardless of the method of the goods delivery. The rules for the transportation of groupage cargo for the customer are as follows. Proper packaging plays an essential role. The wrapping has to be clean, dry, and strong enough. Reliability of product information, provision of certificates of conformity, and other documentation are also rather essential to the carrier.

The hauler is also guided by the rules. He has to issue invoices and documentation for services in a timely manner. It’s important to notify the customer about problems during transportation (violation of the terms of delivery or storage). The duty holder has to notify you in advance of tariff changes and bear financial responsibility in case of loss or damage of the freight.

A clear delineation of responsibility and compliance with the rules for partial truckload shipping is the key to fast delivery.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.