Yes, You Can Reduce Your LTL Transit Times

LTL transit times

Depending on the needs of your particular business, shipping with a Less Than Truckload (LTL) strategy might be the most viable option for you.

For shippers who aren’t always able to fill a whole truck, LTL shipping is the best solution. Shipping your goods via LTL often reduces costs significantly while simultaneously providing a whole host of other benefits.

However, like all things in logistics, the LTL shipping mode comes with its share of trade-offs as well. Chief among these is the issue of extended transit times that are common with LTL strategies. 

Many shippers who utilize an LTL strategy experience prolonged transit times. Normally these are not devastatingly lengthy times, but are usually a bit more than what they are familiar with. This can sometimes also lead to decreased customer satisfaction as your consumers and partners. Needless to say, there is a good amount of research and monitoring that goes into finding the right balance.

Fortunately, there are some easy fixes for this issue of long LTL transit times. In this article, we will outline some of the major causes of increased transit times with an LTL model. Hopefully, the info here will provide you with some actionable tips for reducing said freight delays.


What Factors Can Lead to Increased LTL Transit Times?

In 2022, attempting to predict almost anything can seem like a fool’s errand. However, transit times are, at their core, predictions. A quoted transit time is simply a carrier’s best guess as to when the shipment will arrive. These estimated timelines are not guaranteed by any means as there are several variables that are difficult or impossible to account for.

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some major factors that can lead to increased LTL delays and long transit times. 


Multiple Truck Transfers

Throughout the LTL shipping process, your goods will generally be transferred multiple times between different trucks. 

Most transfers are seamless. However, there is always the risk of a delay when a truck stops to transfer your load. For instance, the hub where the transfer takes place could be short-staffed, the other shipments needed to load the next truck could be late, there could be a backup in the truck terminal; the list goes on and on. 


Road Delays

Another cause for concern during LTL transit is the route the truck needs to take. Case in point, there could be a major reroute on a highway due to construction that significantly delays the driver. Luckily, when it comes to road construction delays, this is generally something that can be discovered ahead of time. When handled that way, routing can be better planned around potential delays ahead of time.

Beyond construction, there could simply be heavy traffic on the day of the shipment for no apparent reason. Things such as wrecks, traffic reroutes, and last minute road blockades are generally something that can't always be foreseen.

Last but not least, there are also laws and regulations related to driver safety that must be considered. Truck drivers have strict limits on how much ground they can cover within a given time period. If they surpass these limits, they could face dire consequences. So, if your driver gets held up due to one of said regulations, your shipment will have to wait until enough time has passed for them to resume the route.


Weather-Related Events

We’ve all witnessed the devastation that hurricanes have caused in recent years. But even mild weather events can slow down shipments considerably.

A heavy rain could force a truck driver to travel well-under the speed limit for hours. If this happens during active hours, this could result in even slower driving as vehicles on the road follow suit and slow down. Clearly, this will put any shipment behind schedule.


How Can You Reduce Your LTL Transit Times?

With all of the factors above being considered, it can seem almost impossible to perfectly time your LTL shipment. However, with just a little bit of careful planning and consideration, you can effectively navigate this issue of extended Less Than Truckload transit times and freight delays.


Plan for Longer Transit Times and Other Freight Delays

Perhaps the most intuitive solution to the problem is to simply add a few days to whatever you are quoted. For instance, if the carrier tells you your shipment will arrive in 2 days, you should plan for 4 days. Allowing yourself and your carrier just a bit of padding can go a long way as it allows you to better prepare while not overpromising to your consumers or partners.

Planning for worst case scenarios ahead of time has always been and will always be the most effective preemptive strategy.


Practice Precision in Your Reporting

When you set up a shipment with a carrier, you need to give them the most precise information possible. If you are vague with how much you need shipped and how much it weighs, the carrier may not be able to accommodate you.

Provide as much detailed information as you can about your shipment. This helps avoid a mishaps with your carrier due to a simple miscommunication.


Do As Much Work Up Front As You Can

Once the shipment leaves your facility, there is very little that you have true control over. However, you have the power to make the shipment as easy to transport as possible ahead of time. Doing so actually goes a long way in decreasing some of the types of delays you might otherwise encounter.

Use expert packing techniques and clearly indicate all of the required information so that the carriers can simply transfer your goods to their truck and be on their way. One of the most important things that you can do before you shipment ever gets packed or placed on a truck is deciding what KPIs you want or need to be tracking. This alone can be a game changer moving forward as you will be able to further tailor and optimize the process with the data you collect.


Your 3PL Can Help You Keep Your LTL Transit Times Low

LTL is a great option that holds some benefit for just about every company that finds the need to leverage it.. When everything goes according to plan, LTL shipments provide a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, efficient way to ship goods all across the country. 

That being said, you’ll want to be aware of the risks inherent in this practice, and you should take steps to preemptively mitigate said risks. If you are experiencing extremely long transit times with your LTL strategy, consider implementing some of the tips and tricks outlined above, for starters.

But the best thing you can do to get your LTL transit times back on point partnering with a 3PL. Third-party logistics companies like Redwood not only have the tools and experience to help you optimize your LTL shipments, they also have spent years building solid rapports with partners in the industry. All of that becomes tools at your disposal that your 3PL will leverage on your behalf. This alone allows you to focus on other more crucial aspects of your business.

Reach out to Redwood today and let our team get to work for you.