Understanding Partial Truckload and Volume LTL

Partial Truckload vs Volume LTLPartial Truckload and Volume LTL (less than truckload) are two very closely related terms that refer to shipping in smaller quantities than full truckloads, yet larger than a traditional LTL shipment. Typically, a shipper sticks to FTL or LTL shipments, but occasionally a shipment will fall into this “middle ground”. Understanding the difference in these terms can help you identify the most efficient and cost-effective way to ship your product.

Full Truckload vs LTL

In order to understand the two other terms, it’s helpful to first understand the difference between full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL). A full truckload is the transportation of cargo that fills up an entire trailer. A carrier can haul up to 24 standard pallets weight up to 42,000 pounds. Shipments that travel via FTL are picked up at their origin point (point A) and taken directly to their destination (point B).

Now, LTL is a little trickier. This method allows shippers to ship smaller loads while only paying for the space that they use. These shipments are between 1 – 10 pallets that weigh between 100 – 10,000 pounds. The major difference here though is that these shipments do no travel from point A to B like FTL, they work themselves through what is referred to as a ‘hub and spoke’ network. This is where the freight moves through a network of terminals and major distribution centers where carriers can consolidate freight moving in similar directions.

What is Partial Truckload?

Partial truckload is a shipping method that is not large enough to be considered a full truckload, but too large to fall under LTL. They usually consist of anywhere from 8 to 18 pallets and weigh between 8,000 and 27,500 lbs. Similar to traditional LTL, Partial truckload shipments take up only a limited amount of trailer space, so it allows the carrier to haul other shipments along with it. For this reason, the shipping rates can often be somewhat cheaper than full truckload shipping, but obviously more than a smaller LTL shipment. Of course, these rates are not always predictable, and they fluctuate with the market as they are usually calculated by mileage.

What is Volume LTL?

Volume LTL shipments are again, larger than a typical LTL shipment, but still, don’t take up the room of a full truck. These shipments consist of 6 or more pallets, weight over 5,000 pounds and/or occupy more than 12 linear feet. These shipments are smaller than a partial truckload but larger than LTL. Volume LTL rates are usually established by the LTL carrier and are priced by the weight and size of shipment. Most small to mid-sized companies use this method of shipping most often. But sharing a truck with other customers means more orders and more stops for loading, unloading, and delivery. This makes it a less efficient method than full truckload or partial truckload shipping.

What’s the Difference Between Partial Truckload and Volume LTL?

Volume LTL and partial truckload are two terms that are sometimes used simultaneously, but there is a bit of a difference. One of the major differences is that Partial truckloads do not require a freight class, primarily because the rates are established by the market – mileage, specific lane, weight, and space required. Since volume LTL quotes are made directly with LTL carriers they require a classification to run based on the carriers published LTL rates.

Most of the time, the shipping method you choose will depend on the size of the shipment, but there are also other reasons to choose one or the other. For example, if you have extremely fragile items, you will want to choose partial truckload shipping. This method will mean fewer stops and less loading and unloading items so you minimize the risk of damage. Also, the distance of the transport should be factored in. Since partial truckload is calculated using mileage, you might find you are better off using this method for short hauls. On the other hand, if cost is your primary concern and you aren’t worried too much about timeliness or damage, volume LTL could be the best way to go, depending on your carrier.

The Bottomline

Both shipping methods will ultimately be less expensive than full truckload shipping, but the prices of both fluctuate quite a bit with the market. This means, comparing the prices to each other is relatively impossible other than at any one given time and with any given carrier. However, size is the main factor that usually dictates a shipment type, so it’s important to check with your logistics company to get quotes and ask about the best shipping methods for your freight. Not to mention that prices can be somewhat negotiable, so there are more reasons than one for maintaining good relationships with your carrier. You always have a choice of how you ship, but being aware of what each shipping type entails and the specific requirements will help you plan and budget well for all your future orders.

Working with a reputable freight management company, such as LTX, can be extremely helpful when finding the best shipping options for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help!

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