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What Is FTL Freight? Complete Guide To FTL Freight Shipping


For businesses that rely on logistics services as part of their supply chain operations, there is a wide range of options available for transporting goods. Full truckload (FTL) comes to mind for businesses that carry out large-scale shipments, as it requires the full utilization of a truck. Similarly, FTL freight is ideal for logistics companies transporting substantial, time-critical, and delicate shipments. FTL freight shipment is a popular choice for businesses due to several benefits and elements, which we will delve into in this article.

What Is FTL Freight

Full truckload, commonly called FTL, is a shipping method where a dedicated truck carries freight from one shipper. This means a shipper has enough load to fill a truck trailer, or their shipping requirements make it necessary to engage a dedicated truck for their cargo. Whichever the case, when implemented correctly, FTL freight can be an efficient and cost-effective way to move goods.

Full truckload is typically used for large shipments, such as high-value or heavy-haul items, that require significant trailer space. This shipping mode is becoming increasingly popular among businesses that need to transport their goods over long distances, as it offers a more direct and efficient way to move shipments between locations. Aside from the efficiency of FTL freight shipping, there is minimal handling and significantly less risk of damage to goods.

How Does FTL Freight Shipping Work

Trucking remains the primary mode of land transportation for shipping freight, with businesses having to choose from two options – less-than-truckload and full truckload. Businesses that opt for FTL shipping essentially rent out an entire truck to transport their cargo, primarily due to the sheer scale of their shipment, which requires the total capacity of a trailer.

Typically, FTL shipping services perform a pre-shipment inspection to determine specific information, such as the freight’s size and weight and ensure it meets their requirements for FTL freight shipping. Following this inspection, carriers provide shippers with a quote based on the freight dimensions, alongside other shipment information from the distance to the delivery timeline and other additional services.

FTL shipping rates tend to differ and be more expensive than other shipping modes due to the high cost of renting an entire truck. However, it does offer several advantages, including quicker transit times, better routing flexibility, and lower risks of damage. Once the shipper agrees to the quote, a pickup and delivery date is scheduled.

When To Opt For FTL Freight Shipping

Total truckload freight shipping is one of several shipping options offered by logistics companies. But how do you know which is perfect for your shipment? Choosing FTL freight shipping for your cargo depends on many factors that shippers must consider to determine if it’s the best option.

As you would expect, the first factor has to do with the size of the load. If you seek to transport bulky shipments that would not fit in a pallet, FTL may be the best option. Typically, the minimum weight requirement for FTL freight is 10,000 pounds, occupying over 24 feet of the truck’s trailer. So if the shipment is lower than any of these requirements, they are considered LTL freight.

The distance your shipment needs to travel is another crucial consideration for FTL freight shipping. For businesses that engage in long-distance or cross-country shipping, FTL is often a faster option, as the truck would not have to make several stops to pick up and drop off cargo along the way. It is crucial to consider all these factors when deciding on the correct shipping option.

Other factors to be considered include the shipment size, cost, and delivery timeline. By accurately weighing these factors with your shipping requirements, you can make an informed decision that best meets your needs and help you achieve your shipping goals.

Benefits Of FTL Freight Shipping

Deciding on the perfect shipping method for transporting your goods can be a complex process, as there are several factors to consider. However, while every shipping mode has unique benefits and challenges, here are some benefits of full truckload shipping over other methods.

●     Less Damage

FTL freight shipping requires less handling, which means there is less risk of damage to the shipment during transit. FTL shipping requires an entire truck to be dedicated to a single load, meaning the freight is handled far less than in other shipping modes. Handling freight is a significant cause of damage, and by reducing the amount of handling, the risk of damage to shipment is also reduced.

This benefit makes FTL freight shipping a preferred option for businesses that transport fragile, high-value cargo. Furthermore, FTL shipments do not need to consolidate and are generally faster, reducing the risk of damage by minimizing the freight’s total transit time.

●     Faster Delivery Times

The shipping process with a full truckload (FTL) is a lot more efficient and streamlined, resulting in faster delivery times. Regarding FTL freight shipping, the freight remains on the same truck for the duration of the trip. FTL quickens the shipping process by eliminating the need for freight consolidation and reducing the time for handling. Additionally, FTL freight shipping avoids additional stops, resulting in significantly quicker delivery than LTL shipping.

●     Better Flexibility

Due to its flexibility, total truckload shipping is considered the optimal mode of transportation for large, fragile, high-risk, or hazardous cargo. For one, most of these types of freight are not allowed to be consolidated, which makes FTL shipping the preferred choice. With FTL shipping, businesses can easily customize shipping solutions for each shipment. It could be by choosing exact dates for pick up and delivery or selecting specific routes.

This level of flexibility means shippers have better control over cargo handling, storage, and delivery, leading to a more efficient supply chain. Additionally, FTL freight shipping provides the opportunity to optimize shipping costs by deciding on the most cost-effective solution based on the requirements of each shipment.

FTL Freight Challenges

Regardless of the numerous benefits, FTL freight shipping has its associated challenges, especially for small and medium-scale businesses. The limited capacity, high rates, and complex system of FTL shipping can make it challenging for some businesses to navigate. Here are some challenges that make some shippers opt for other modes of shipping over FTL freight.

One of the most significant challenges of FTL freight shipping is driver availability. It’s common for large-scale businesses to book several drivers, resulting in a scarcity of drivers. In this case, finding truck capacity can be challenging for other modest-scale companies. As the demand for FTL shipping services increases, the need for drivers to operate the trucks increases, putting pressure on the available pool of drivers. Longer trips, high turnover, and labor shortages are other factors that result in a limited capacity for FTL freight shipping.

Like other shipping modes, FTL freight shipment depends on the market. Unfortunately, this dependency is one of the challenges of FTL shipping. Volatility in rates can create significant uncertainty for a business, severely affecting its profitability. Other challenges of FTL freight include complex and time-consuming scheduling, route optimization, regulatory compliance, and capacity constraint.


In summary, FTL freight shipping is a highly advantageous mode of transportation for shippers looking to save on shipping rates when transporting substantial amounts of cargo. FTL shipping has several benefits and challenges, and its effectiveness depends on how well it suits the shipping requirements. If you wish to engage in FTL shipping, it’s best to consider every factor and ensure it helps streamline your shipping operation and improve goods delivery.


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