The LTL, TL, PTL… The Load Options Puzzle

Professionals operating in any industry just love firing off acronyms and initialisms. The speed with which they shoot abbreviated jargon into conversations seems to confer an aura of knowledge, wisdom, and know-how. What this jargon can also do is confuse and even alienate the uninitiated, according to two of Purdue University’s psychological scientists Andrew Hales and Kipling Williams.

At Next Exit Logistics, our mission is to take the confusion out of shipping, to streamline the process, and to secure the best possible transportation solution, especially load option at the best price. With us, you are not going to need a special decoder ring. It is in this spirit we offer a map to the load options puzzle.

The Load Options:

LTL – Less than a Truckload

This load option is like ridesharing in the diamond lane, and just as popular. Less than a truckload allows shippers, great and small, to share the 53 square feet of a typical dry van headed to the same general destination. For a shipment to be considered less than a truckload it generally should be less than 18 square feet and weigh no more than 12,000 pounds. If you visualize in pallets, that’s roughly eight.

The values and advantages are that less-than-a-truckload is a very economical way of getting a smaller shipment from A to B, as everyone’s shipment on board is paying less than a truckload or a partial truckload. This cost-cutting is true even in spite of the fact that pricing is not according to space occupied. However, please bear in mind, that because it is one of many separate shipments, it will get handled more and the delivery date will need to be flexible.  It’s advisable to take extra care in packing and use shrink-wrap. And do not forget to ask your broker about insurance.

TL – Truckload

The term is unambiguous. A truckload means all 53 square feet. If a shipper can fill the entire space, or nearly all, it is the most cost-effective, efficient and secure choice. The rate, whether it is calculated by volume or square feet, will be more economical than the other two load options because the actual driving is a direct point to point.

If your shipment has a sell-by date, or is sensitive in some manner, hiring a truckload reduces risk to the shipment: first because there will be no additional stops and therefore on-time, and second, no additional handling outside of loading and unloading, which third, means little or no damage. That said, stuff happens. Blizzards blanket roads. Hurricanes submerge cities. Accidents happen. In most cases, if your freight broker is watchful, detail oriented, networked and nimble, whatever does arise should be solved quickly. Again, do not forget about insurance.

PTL – Partial Truckload

While not nearly as common as the other above load options, for the right circumstances, the partial load option can be a good fit for the right shipment. The three requisites necessary for a fit are: being larger than less than truckload (but not a full load), have a flexible delivery date, and lastly, the shipment cannot be sensitive. Roughly partial truckloads are anywhere from 10 to 16 pallets and do not exceed 25,000 lbs.

Partial truckload shipments are handled much less than less-than-a-truckload shipments and are almost always not off-loaded and then reloaded. While the risks of damage are less, speak with your freight broker about insurance, and what it would cost to pay for an entire van. If the partial load is nearing the maximums in space and weight, it can sometimes be less expensive to use the truckload option.

If you are not sure about which option is right for your shipment, contact us. We’ll listen to your requirements and provide you with easy-to-understand transparent options. Shipping is already complicated. There is no reason for it to be confusing. Our customers say that time and time again; Next Exit Logistics eliminates frustration by managing the freight shipping process from beginning to end.

Our seasoned background as a freight management brokerage is backed by our safety and on-time track record for organizing the movement of heavy haul freight quickly and efficiently. What’s more, we are certified to arrange the shipment of hazardous materials.

To learn more about our services, call Next Exit Logistics at 866-624-2661. You can also contact us via e-mail.

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