Understanding Ltl and Ftl: 5 Things You Need to Know

Understanding Ltl and Ftl 5 Things You Need to Know

Less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) transportation are the two most common methods of transporting goods. When it comes to choosing the right shipping method for your business, it is important to understand the differences between these two terms. The former is typically more cost-effective for smaller shipments, while the latter is better for larger shipments that require an entire truckload.

Here are a few key differences between LTL and FTL that you should be aware of. With a better understanding of the two methods, you can make an informed decision on the best way to transport your cargo.

What Do LTL and FTL Stand For?

So, what is LTL? LTL shipping, also known as less-than-truckload shipping, refers to the shipments of goods that are too small to fill an entire truck, while FTL shipping refers to consignments of goods that are sufficiently large to fill an entire truck. LTL shipping is used for shipments that are often less than 6 pallets in size, while FTL shipping is preferred for shipments that are typically greater in size, such as a complete truckload of products.

The rule of thumb here is that if the length of your cargo is less than 12 linear feet, you should choose less-than-truckload shipping since this is an excellent approach to save costs while simultaneously increasing productivity.

What are the Key Differences?

It is important to understand the differences between LTL and FTL, as each type of shipping comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

1. Flexibility

LTL shipping offers more flexibility. Because it enables you to transport fewer number of products at once, LTL shipping is a more flexible alternative than other shipping methods. This frees you from the need to wait until you have a full truckload of items before you can transport them, allowing you to do so whenever the need arises. This may be particularly helpful for companies that operate on a just-in-time basis or have inventory levels that are prone to fluctuations.

2. Low Cost

The use of FTL shipping results in lower overall costs. Because it enables you to load up a complete truck with your items, full-truck load shipping is often more cost-effective than less-than-truckload shipping. This implies that the cost of the vehicle is shared among all of the items that are being carried, making it a more cost-effective option than less-than-truckload transportation.

3. Speed

The pace of LTL shipment is often more sluggish. Because the vehicle must make many visits to pick up and drop off various products from multiple suppliers, the LTL shipping process is often more time-consuming than the FTL shipping process. This may cause the total shipping procedure to take longer, and it also raises the possibility that the items will be damaged in the process.

4. Business Requirements

When deciding between LTL and FTL shipping, consider your business’s shipping needs and budget. If you need to ship smaller quantities of goods on a regular basis, LTL shipping is the better option. On the other hand, if you have larger shipments to send and are looking for a more cost-effective solution, FTL shipping is the way to go.


FTL shipments, also referred to as dedicated lanes, have a single origin and single destination. From the time it departs from its source until it gets to its final destination, your shipment travels on the same truck. On the other hand, LTL shipments make a number of hub stops as they travel through the network. Several of these hubs will involve the transfer of your merchandise between vehicles. High-value goods or fragile items are frequently sent through FTL because every time your product is moved, there is an increased chance that it may get damaged.


Both less-than-truckload and full truckload shipping are key forms of freight shipments that are an essential component of any supply chain. LTL and FTL shipping are two important options to consider when shipping goods. By understanding the differences between the two, you can make the best decision for your business. From flexibility and cost-effectiveness to speed and risk of damage, consider all factors before making a decision. However, whether you go with FTL or LTL, in the end, will come down to the cost of the cargo, how quickly you need it handled, and how much time you have available.


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