What Is Road Freight? What Is the Difference Between FTL and LTL?
Road freight is one of the most common ways to transport goods.
Cost-effective and flexible, it enables you to easily ship multiple types of commodities.
Let’s delve deeper into road freight transport and explain the different forms available.
What Is Road Freight Transport
Road freight (also known as road transport and road haulage) is the shipment of goods on roadways using vehicles, such as trucks. It’s a popular mode of transportation due to its practicality, efficiency, and lower price in comparison to ship and air freight.
As you can transport different cargo, various vehicles are suitable for the service. Logistics companies can choose from a wide range of vehicles, depending on the local infrastructure and the distance the products need to travel. Two other factors that determine the appropriate transport carrier are the volume and weight of the goods.
For small, light, and short-distance journeys, pickup trucks or vans usually suffice. Larger freight transport is generally performed with trucks.
What Is FTL?
FTL freight stands for full truckload freight. This shipping mode involves a vehicle that only carries one shipment.
Full truckload freight has many advantages:
- Full truckloads are usually cheaper for shipments large enough to nearly fill or fill an entire container.
- These truckloads are less limited by weight and size restrictions.
- The freight transport carrier arrives at its destination sooner since they don’t have to make other drop-offs and pickups along the way.
- FTL shipments allow for less handling, meaning there’s no transfer of goods between trucks during transit. As a result, the products are less likely to get damaged or lost.
What Is LTL?
LTL freight or less than truckload freight is typically used for small freight. Companies also rely on it when the goods don’t require an entire trailer. The method works great for freight that weighs anywhere between 70 and 7,000 kilograms.
When shipping goods via an LTL provider, shippers pay for a portion of a normal truck trailer occupied by the freight. The shipments from other companies fill the rest of the space. There are many benefits of shipping your commodities on an LTL truck:
- Some shipments cost less. Namely, when booking your transportation, you need only cover the portion of the trailer taken by your goods. Other occupants cover the rest.
- Most shipments are placed on pallets before the provider loads them onto their truck. A well-configured pallet is more likely to protect the goods than multiple handling units.
- An LTL service can provide you with extra service options. When shipping your goods via an LTL, you can pay for inside pickup, delivery, lift gates, and other accessories. All of which can enhance the safety of your products and streamline the process.
- Some LTL companies offer tracking features through bills of lading, purchase orders, progressive rotating orders, pickup date ranges, and other resources. Monitoring your wares during transit allows you to stay on top of the shipment and notify your customers about the products’ whereabouts.
How to Choose Between FTL and LTL Transport
Neither FTL nor LTL is a one-size-fits-all solution. Choosing the right method can be hard, but here are a few tips to simplify the process:
- Use LTL shipments for smaller cargo – If you’re moving small units that can’t fill an entire truck bed, LTL carriers are your best option. The only exception is when the commodities are high-risk, in which case you’re better off with FTL transporters.
- Consider your budget – Shipping via LTL carriers can reduce your transportation costs if you have small freight. But if the cargo can fill a truck, FTL is more cost-effective.
- Select your provider according to your schedule – If you’re on a tight schedule, FTL shipments are a better solution. These services generally have one starting point and destination. In contrast, LTL transportation involves longer routes, and the driver may make multiple stops to add more goods or repackage the products that are already in the trailer.
Why Choose Road Freight?
Whether you opt for FTL or LTL services, you’ll reap the benefits of road shipments.
Least Expensive Mode
Road shipments are the cheapest method of transport. The reason is simple – hiring a truck is less expensive than renting a plane or ship. Plus, land vehicles don’t require specific infrastructure, like airports, stations, and ports.
Ships, trains, and planes have pre-determined routes and schedules. Conversely, road transport is more flexible and can adapt to your delivery times and package quantities. Several features offer this convenience, such as group transport.
Furthermore, road carriers are more flexible than air transport because they facilitate the relocation of special and dangerous goods. For example, you can use a truck to transport toxic or flammable products, small packages, heavy machinery, and perishable goods. The same can’t be said for aeroplanes.
Agile Delivery and Traceability
Although road moving isn’t the fastest mode of transport, it provides the most agility. Namely, preparing and performing the shipment is easier than managing air or sea transportation. This enables you to organise your relocation seamlessly.
Once your goods are in transit, you can trace them with GPS and many other cutting-edge programs. They give you real-time information to anticipate storms, road closures, and other problems.
Unlike air or sea transport, road shipping involves straightforward paperwork. You spend less time at customs, which streamlines your supply chain.
You can arrange door-to-door road shipment services for maximum convenience. As the name suggests, the provider picks up your goods at your address and drops them off at your destination warehouse. There’s no need to drive your commodities to airports or other terminals.
Road Shipments Still Reign Supreme
Whether you’re hauling heavy-duty equipment or small crates, you can’t go wrong with road freight. It’s superior to other means of transportation in many ways. The only choice you need to make is whether to ship your goods via an FTL or LTL provider. Before making a decision, consider the type of commodities you’re moving, your schedule, and your budget.
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