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What is FTL Shipping?

Full Truck Load (FTL) is a shipping mode in which the entire shipment is hired for your goods. In other words, FTL meaning is completing shipment by reserving a truck for one dedicated shipment. It is also commonly referred to as Truck Load or TL. 

Several freight companies generally use FTL solutions to load a trailer of 48 or 53 feet, halfway or full capacity. For FTL freight shipments, each shipper is provided with a complete vehicle. As a result, the truck is only used to transport one shipper’s cargo during the trip.

When is FTL shipping optimal, and When is it not?

FTL is the best option when it comes to time-dependent or urgent shipments. Here is when FTL shipping is most optimal – 

  • When there is a time crunch, the shipment must reach from one destination to another efficiently and without any delays. 
  • When the shipment is larger in size (either more than 10 pallets or 10,000 pounds).
  • FTL is a perfect option when the goods shipped are delicate or perishable. Since this shipping method is faster, it causes minimal or no damage. It is the same case with expensive products. 
  • FTL shipping offers abundant security as only those directly associated with the cargo can handle it. 
  • If the shipment is more prominent (by weight or by size), FTL is much more cost-effective. The weight of FTL shipments is generally more than 10,000 lbs or ten pallets. 

There are also times when people choose other shipping options. Here are some occasions when FTL shipping is not preferred- 

  • Smaller shipments are more cost-effective with shipping options like Less than Truckload (LTL). The weight of LTL shipments is somewhere between 150 – 15,000 lbs or within 12 pallets. 
  • If there is no time constraint on the shipments, LTL can have multiple pick-ups and delays. 

The Main Types of FTL Shipping

There are three types of FTL shipping that companies commonly use. They are – 

  • Dry van shipping – 

Dry van shipping is one of the most common types of freight shipping methods available. It is prevalent even now because it has the benefits of a closed trailer. Dry vans are generally in different sizes (from 28 – 53 ft) and made with materials like aluminum, galvanized steel, and iron.

  • Flatbed shipping – 

This type of FTL shipping does not have an enclosed van. It is often used if the freight cannot be unloaded on a usual dock or does not apply within the typical truck trailer dimensions. Generally, forklifts and cranes load and unload items onto flatbeds.

  • Refrigerated shipping – 

Refrigerated or reefer shipping is a popular method for transporting urgent and time-sensitive goods. The items are loaded onto the trailers with built-in climate control and refrigeration systems. This plays a massive role in the development of the global economy as the products like pharmaceuticals and fresh produce being transported are protected from damage. 

What Factors Into The FTL Freight Rates?

Every business must factor in the rates before shipping the goods to the customers. When it comes to FTL shipping, several factors make a significant impact on the rates, which vary at different times. They are – 

  • Distance/Mileage – Longer distances can cost more because it includes increased drive time and fuel, and the truck is more worn. 
  • Market demand – The market value of the product being transported also has a significant impact on rates. 
  • Fuel charge – The fuel charges keep changing based on the market prices. It is expected that the freight rates will also change according to that. 
  • Destinations for delivery – The destination for delivery matters the most. For example, delivering to a warehouse or a distribution center will cost less than rural destinations. 
  • The classification – The kind of product based on the dimensions, density, liability, and handling will also influence the charges. 
  • The empty miles – After all the goods are delivered, the empty truck needs to travel from that location to a new pickup location. This could also have an impact on the average price of the shipment. 

How to Ship Full Truckload Freight?

There are different types of FTL shipments, and each depends on the cargo size and weight. The most common and effective way of shipping a full truckload freight is by creating a listing that will help manage the plans for each shipment to reach fulfillment centers. 

There are different ways to create a workflow to optimize the product selection, quantity, and shipping method. Once the shipment listing is created, it will become easier to ship the products to fulfillment centers. Here’s how to create a shipment listing 

  • Create the inventory – You must create an inventory before your package is shipped. This inventory will be a list of all the goods that are required to be shipped for your customer.
  • Packaging – This is a critical step of the shipment listing. The product must be packed inside out with quality material. 
  • Calculate the dimensions and weight of the freight – Before the final shipping of the products, create a list of the total weight and dimensions. This will, in turn, help you to keep track of the rates. 

Benefits of FTL 

FTL shipping is favored for several reasons. Here are some reasons why FTL shipping is advantageous – 

Less damage

Freight damage is a problem that is extremely common all across the world, and this mostly happens during the time of LTL shipping. This is because, during LTL shipping, the carrier makes multiple stops and includes multiple handlers. The goods are often manhandled because too many items are in one shipment. Some need to be dropped off, while some need to be carried further. LTL shipping does involve that risk at all times. If this risk is too much for you and can cause much damage, the best thing is to go for FTL shipping. 

FTL is considered one of the most efficient ways of road transportation, especially for large shipments. It is optimal to ship fragile objects which may be hazardous or easily damaged during transit. Under FTL shipment, the goods need not travel with other people’s goods. Hence, manhandling is far less, and the cargo damage is also less. 

Faster delivery times

Under FTL shipping, a single load is transported from the starting point to the finishing point at once without multiple stops. This is why their transit time is far less than other types of shipping. 

Under most circumstances, there is a proper delivery date since the carrier aims to deliver the products as soon as possible. Suppose your business is flexible, and you can afford to handle unpredictable deliveries. In that case, LTL is a good option, but if you require bulk deliveries to be transported within a certain time frame, FTL is the best option. 

Best for a variety of shipments

FTL freight meaning Full Truck Load is one of the best ways of shipping fragile goods in bulk or at high risk. Most of the time, especially during LTL shipments, multiple products that are high-risk are not allowed in the same truck. Non-stackable, delicate and large products also have issues when transported via LTL shipment. This is why most of the people who are transporting bulk goods prefer FTL shipment over anything else. 

Another reason is that FTL shipment generally reaches on time, and fewer people are involved. Fragile goods will not be as damaged. The cost of an FTL shipment may be a little more than that of an LTL, but that is more feasible than any damage caused during an LTL shipment. Small or large businesses can consider sending all kinds of their goods via FTL shipment because it is the best option. 

Fuel costs

Most businesses determine their shipping rates based on the average fuel charges at that time in the market. The main reason is that if the fuel charges are increased, they will not lose money. However, if the charges dip, then they might even get some profit. 

Different types of carriers use other methods to determine their average fuel charges. Before choosing a company, it is essential to understand the difference in prices so businesses can select a carrier that matches their expectations. While many carrier services take only the previous two weeks into account to determine and calculate the fuel charges, several companies consider the last two months. 

In an FTL shipment, the fuel charges play a prominent role in determining the average cost of the entire shipment.

Less handling in FTL

When goods are transported via LTL shipment or any other form, there are several stops taken on the way. This requires several hands on deck, loading and unloading goods at every stop. In this scenario, if the product being transported is hazardous, delicate, and prone to breaking, the risk of it being damaged is far more than in any other shipment. The risks are far less if these same products are transported from point A to point B under FTL shipment. This is because the transportation is done in one go, with few or no stops. This reduces the involvement of several hands on deck, reducing the risks of damaged products. 

While there are a lot of debates on the type of shipping that is more efficient, the scales are always tipped to the side of FTL shipment. 

FTL gives accurate delivery dates

FTL shipment generally takes less time to reach the location because it moves from one point to the other in as little time as possible. This is in high contrast to LTL shipping, which stops at multiple locations and unloads in each location. The slow transit time in LTL shipment increases the risks of damaged goods and the time to reach the final destination. 

FTL shipping takes place when the goods fill the truck instead of just a portion. This ensures that the products are transported in just one go. There will be lesser stops and opportunities for unloading. This also factors into the rates of shipping and faster delivery times. 

Full Truck Load shipping also offers accurate delivery dates. It is one of the best ways to transport bulky materials from one place to another with lesser risks and opportunities of damaging it while also reaching the destination on time. There are rare instances where FTL shipping is delayed. 


Regarding freight shipping, the companies must conquer all aspects of shipping, including safety, cost, and the time crunch. 

FTL shipping may be a more costly form of shipping. However, it is highly advantageous and a preferred method when transporting bulk or fragile goods. At any kind of shipping, FTL or LTL, the companies need to use the latest tools to strengthen their shipping methods and gain more customers. 


What is the difference between freight and delivery?

A delivery is transporting goods from one location to a predetermined destination. These goods are generally transported via railroads, roads, airlines, and ships. Freight is a service that transports larger items in bulk from one location to another. It is considered the most effective transportation method, locally or country-wise. 

What is freight class?

It is a system developed by the nonprofit National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). It is used in the shipping industry to classify and group freight based on its condition. This technology moves LTL (Less Than Truckload) shipments interstate, intrastate, and internationally.

What qualifies as FTL?

FTL, meaning in logistics, is Full Truck Load. It has large shipments that usually require full truckload shipping or shipping that occupies almost the entire truck. This truck has exclusivity over one freight load, so theoretically, you fill the entire shipment with your freight.

What weight is considered FTL?

An FTL shipment is preferred to be kept within 80,000 pounds. If that is to exceed, special permits are required. This is also the case if the product is smaller but equally dense. Every carrier needs to stay within limits.

How many pallets fit FTL?

A standard FTL carrier can carry up to 560 pallets. These carriers are considered a good option if the weight of the products is more than 10-12 pallets.

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