What Is the Difference Between FTL and LTL in Road Transport?

Truck Transporting Road Freight

In the world of road freight, understanding the nuances of different shipping methods is essential for making informed decisions that optimise efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Two of the most prominent options are Full Truckload (FTL) and Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping. These terms are used a lot when you investigate shipping costs, but which one aligns best for your freight shipping requirements?

FTL Meaning: Going the Full Mile

Full Truckload (FTL) shipping involves the transportation of goods that are sufficient to fill an entire truck. This method is best if you have a substantial amount of cargo to ship, essentially enabling you to book the entire truck for your shipment. With FTL, your goods remain on the same truck throughout the journey reducing the risk of handling-related damages and expediting the delivery process.

LTL Meaning: Making Every Inch Count

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping, on the other hand, caters to shipments that do not fill an entire truck. This method allows multiple shippers to share the same truck space, effectively splitting the costs. LTL is particularly advantageous for smaller shipments, as it offers a cost-effective solution while still ensuring reliable delivery. Each shipment is carefully consolidated, and various shipments can be combined to maximise truck capacity.

How Do FTL and LTL Shipping Differ?

There are differences between FTL and LTL shipping that extend beyond just the quantity of goods being transported. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key differences:

Shipment Size and Space Utilisation

FTL is tailored for substantial shipments that can fill an entire truck. LTL, conversely, is designed for smaller shipments that don’t require using the entirety of a truck’s space. This makes LTL an economical choice for businesses with lower shipping volumes.

Cost Considerations

FTL shipping typically comes with a fixed cost, regardless of whether the truck is fully loaded. In contrast, LTL shipping costs are determined by the space and weight your shipment occupies within the truck. The shared cost model of LTL can be more cost-effective for smaller businesses.

Transit Times

Due to the direct nature of FTL shipments, they tend to have faster transit times since there are no additional stops for other shipments. LTL shipments, while reliable, might have slightly longer transit times due to the need to accommodate multiple pickups and drop-offs.

Risk and Handling

FTL shipments experience fewer touchpoints as they remain on the same truck throughout the journey. This reduces the risk of any damage to your goods during handling. LTL shipments, being subject to consolidation and deconsolidation processes, have a slightly higher risk of handling-related issues.

Is FTL or LTL Best for You?

Choosing between FTL and LTL largely depends on your specific shipping needs:

FTL is ideal when:

  • You have a large volume of goods to transport.
  • Delivery speed is crucial.
  • You want to minimise the risk of handling-related damage.

LTL is a better choice when:

  • You have smaller shipments.
  • Cost-effectiveness is a priority.
  • You can accommodate slightly longer transit times.

Understanding the differences between FTL and LTL shipping will help you make informed decisions. Key factors such as shipment size, cost, transit times, and risk tolerance will be part of the decision-making process. If you would like to read more about road freight options you can look at our dedicated page here.

As always, when you are not sure about which option is best for you, it is best to talk to an expert. At Mairon, we have a team with over 25 years’ experience in moving freight via road. Our team are always happy to guide you on your best option, you can contact them by clicking here.

Send us a message or call 01732 464 134