How does LTL freight shipping work?

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)

What Is LTL (Less-Than-Truckload)?

Shipping services for small loads or amounts of freight are referred to as less-than-truckload (LTL) or less-than-load (LTL). Many large, national parcel services, as well as specialized logistics providers, provide less-than-truckload services.

These services can meet the shipping requirements of countless businesses that need to move smaller batches of goods on a regular basis. Less-than-truckload shippers provide economies of scale, lowering individual shipment freight costs.

Key Takeaways

  • Less-than-truckload (LTL) is a shipping service for relatively small loads or quantities of freight weighing between 150 and 15,000 pounds.

  • LTL trucking has a significant disadvantage in that it takes longer than direct delivery and may involve more handling of goods.

  • To get goods to their destinations, an LTL services provider combines the loads and shipping requirements of several different companies on their trucks, using a hub-and-spoke system.

An Examination Of Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping.

Multiple shippers can share space on the same truck with less than truckload (LTL) shipping. It is the less expensive option, with multiple companies paying for their share of trailer space. Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is also ideal for companies with freight shipments weighing less than 15,000 pounds.

It is critical to consolidate goods into large, crated, or palletized packages to protect them while in transit. To avoid freight damage, it is critical to prepare the shipment for handling during transfer to multiple trailers before it arrives at the consignee or destination.

How Does Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping Work?

The specifics of a truckload and less-than-truckload shipment are determined by a number of factors, including the shipment’s origin, destination, packaging type, number of pieces, weight, and whether special handling is required. Another key factor is the shipment’s size. Truck capacity varies—a 16-foot truck typically holds about 800 cubic feet, while a 26-footer can hold up to 1,400 cubic feet—and so do truckloads.

Many carriers have their own rules and limits for LTL freight dimensions. However, in general, LTL truckload refers to individual shipments weighing between 150 and 15,000 pounds. (Loads weighing less than 150 pounds are handled by parcel service carriers such as FedEx Ground, UPS, or the US Postal Service.) They take up less than 24 feet of trailer space and contain no more than six pallets. LTL transport shipments are typically transported on these 48″ x 40″ flat stands made of plastic or wood. Individual packages in an LTL load are frequently shrink-wrapped together to create one large box for the most efficient use of space and security.

Less than truckload shipping, like shared trailer space, operates on a hub and spoke model. Local terminals serve as spokes, connecting all of the major hubs or distribution centers. Trucks load freight at local terminals and transport it to hubs, where the goods are either delivered directly to their destinations or transferred to other trucks to be delivered to the recipient.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)

The advantages of Less-Than-Truckload transportation are primarily cost-effective. LTL courier allows multiple loads headed in the same direction to be combined to fill a truck or container, resulting in economies of scale. Each shipper only pays for the space that they use. Furthermore, the NMFTA regulates and standardizes rates, whereas regular trucking pricing is entirely market-dependent.

LTL‘s primary consideration is time. Planning, organizing, and getting things ready for shipping takes more time, and since the truck needs to be loaded before it can depart and may not choose the shortest route, the shipment may take longer to arrive. Depending on the number of stops or transfers, LTL or Less-Than-Truckload freights may involve more handling of goods, increasing the possibility of damage or loss.


When you ship with Vahak, you can be confident that we will provide the best LTL solution for your needs. Our top priorities are quality assurance and customer satisfaction, and we want to help you improve your shipping practices.


Ans. LTL is generally used for shipments that weigh more than 150 pounds but less than 15,000 pounds, have no more than 10 pallets and are no longer than 12 linear feet.

Ans. Not quite. Everything is dependent on the size and weight of the freight you wish to ship. LTL or Less-Than-Truckload carriers are a more cost-effective option for shipping lighter freight. If you need to transport heavy or large shipments, FTL is a better option.

Ans. LTL trucking has a significant disadvantage in that it takes longer than direct delivery and may involve more handling of goods.

Take your business online!

Book loads & lorries at 0% commission. Join India's network of 10 lakh+ transporters!

Download the VAHAK app now
indian transporter with Vahak app