FTL, LTL, & PTL: Choosing the Right Shipping Method | SeaRates

Today, shipping plays a vital role in the global logistics industry, making it easy to move goods from one region to another. Whether shipping a small container or a considerable load, an efficient and reliable shopping method is essential to meet the customers’ growing needs. 3 main fastest shipping methods work differently:

1. FTL (Full Truckload) – involves using the entire trailer for a single shipment.

2. LTL (Less Truckload) – combines small shipments from different customers into one trailer.

3. PTL (partial truckload) includes both FTL and LTL shipping and involves sharing a trailer with other customers without additional stops for loading or unloading.

FTL, LTL, and PTL: advantages and differences

FTL, LTL, and PTL are distinguished depending on the shipment size. Below, we will take a closer look at each shipping method so you can find the perfect match for your business.

Full Truck Load

FTL shipping suggests the total loading of a semi-trailer with products of one customer and is recommended for the transportation of large goods. Depending on the category of shipments transported and the region, the weight of the cargo can be up to 20-24 tons.

The main advantages of FTL transportation are:

  • Fast Delivery. The customer does not have to wait for the logistics service provider to collect goods elsewhere. After loading, the full truckload is immediately sent to the destination.
  • Optimal type of transportation. Depending on the characteristics of the goods to be transported, the customer can choose the appropriate trailer (volume, internal height of the semi-trailer, tonnage). Contact SeaRates in case you need any help picking up the type.
  • Compliance with the customer's requirements. When transporting specific categories of shipments, increased safety rules and additional requirements of the sender should be observed. Compliance with special conditions of transportation for customers is possible with FTL logistics.

Less Truckload Shipping

If the shipment is small, the customer can use LTL shipping. In this case, shipments from different customers are consolidated on one trailer. The LTL transportation service provider picks up the goods from the shipper and delivers them to the consolidation warehouse. All shipments to a specific destination are then loaded into one trailer, with subsequent delivery to a warehouse or directly to the recipient.

Furthermore, in the case of LTL freight, customers are often offered additional services for packing, marking of the cargo, removal from the address to the warehouse, delivery from the warehouse to the address of the recipient, cargo insurance services, etc. LTL logistics is suitable for moving small, time-limited goods.

The main advantages of LTL freight shipping are:

  • Less cost. Unlike FTL, LTL is the cheapest method to ship a package. You have to pay only for the cargo's space, not for the entire trailer, which significantly reduces the shipment cost.
  • Possibility to transport small batches of goods from different regions. Request an LTL quote to see all your good details and be aware of the shipping status.
  • Choice of multiple shipping options. The shipment can be delivered to the warehouse or the final recipient.

Partial Truckload

PTL shipping is in the middle of FTL and LTL and includes the positive aspects of these shipment types. Multiple shippers do not fully load the trailer, so you don't have to charter the entire one for transportation, as in the partial truckload logistics option. Instead, you only pay for the portion that your shipment takes up. At the same time, transit time is higher than in the LTL option because there is no time spent on consolidation and de-consolidation of the shipment at the warehouses.

The main advantages of PTL shipping are:

  • Reduced time. You spent less time loading and unloading your shipment at distribution centers and more time on the road.
  • Less empty runs. One of the advantages of PTL transportation is that your cargo stays with you throughout the transit. You can also earn extra income by picking up other loads for the return transit.
  • More customers. PTL shipments assume that there is space in your trailer for more freight from other customers. This helps you build a large base of reliable customers and bring in more money than a full truckload. You will be transporting and charging multiple loads from multiple customers simultaneously.

Bottom line

Summing up, FTL benefits businesses that work with large volumes of goods, transport products that require compliance with special rules, or need the fastest and cheapest shipping method. While LTL shipping offers longer delivery times and restrictions on the characteristics of goods, there are also particular weight and dimensional requirements.

PTL shipping containers are a perfect shot for non-fragile goods in case you want to spend less time at distribution centers and more time on the road. To effectively manage your shipping needs, consider utilizing container dimensions and a route planner to optimize your logistics operations.

When picking up the most appropriate shipment method, consider the shipment size (tonnage, dimensions), the characteristics of the goods (fragile/durable), the cost, and the delivery time. If you don't want to calculate all these data yourself, SeaRates offers Container Load Calculation. All you need to do is fill in the fields with the cargo type and product name, add the container/truck, and get the result with the total cargo volume and weight.

For fast and easy distance and time estimation between sea, land, or air routes, you can try the Distance & Time tool. Insert your origin and destination, and then the system displays data about distance and time from the SeaRates database.

At SeaRates, we offer a vast network of carriers, making your products ship smoothly and conveniently. No matter what approach you choose - FTL, LTL, or PTL we guarantee the best shipping solution for your business, fitting any budget and needs. Let's discuss your shipment method together – contact our logistics department at [email protected].

Anna – a content manager from Odesa, loves reading poetry and is passionate about writing fascinating articles. The biggest dream is to travel to Australia to save wild animals and their natural habitat