Full truckload (FTL): Everything you need to know
Full Truckload (FTL) refers to the shipment of goods that require the full capacity of a truck or trailer. FTL transportation is ideal for high-volume loads. It is used across industries, whenever large quantities of goods need to be consolidated and transported efficiently.
What is full truckload (FTL)?
Full Truckload (FTL) is a type of transportation mode in which the entire capacity of a truck or trailer is dedicated to a single shipment. With FTL, shippers can move large quantities of goods that cannot be easily consolidated in a shared truckload, also known as Less Than Truckload (LTL). Consider the following factors when transporting freight with FTL:
Volume of goods:
FTL is most suitable for shipping large volumes of goods that can fill up an entire truck or trailer, or else shippers may end up paying for unused space.
Since FTL shipments are direct, transit times are usually faster compared to other modes of transportation.
FTL transportation is typically more expensive than shipping with LTL because it involves the exclusive use of an entire truck or trailer. However, it can be cost-effective provided that the entire trailer is full.
Shippers should carefully select a carrier that has the necessary expertise and experience to handle any special requests or timing requirements. They should also consider the carrier’s safety record, equipment, and insurance coverage.
How does full truckload (FTL) work?
Securing FTL for a load means finding a carrier who can offer dedicated trailers for your individual needs.
Booking: The FTL process begins with booking the shipment with a carrier. This involves providing details such as the origin and destination, shipment size and weight, and any specialized equipment or handling requirements.
Pickup: Once the shipment is booked, the carrier will schedule a pickup time and location. It’s important to ensure that the shipment is ready for pickup and properly secured to prevent damage during transit.
Transit: The shipment will be transported from origin to destination without transfers. During transit, the carrier may use real-time tracking technology to provide updates on the status of the shipment and any potential delays.
Delivery: At the destination, the shipment is unloaded and inspected for damage or loss.
Pros and cons of full truckload (FTL)
FTL makes sense for some shippers, but not all. Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind:
Advantages of FTL:
Cost-effective: For sufficiently large loads, FTL is more cost-effective than LTL. This is because the cost per unit decreases as the quantity shipped increases.
Faster transit time: Transportation is faster with FTL because there are fewer stops and transfers along the way, reducing the risk of delays.
Less handling: Once FTL shipments are loaded, they remain in the same trailer or container until the final destination, without stopping. Less direct handling of goods reduces the likelihood of damage or loss.
Higher security: FTL ensures a higher level of freight security, as shipments are rarely unsealed or moved once loaded at their pickup location.
More flexibility: Pickup appointments and routes can be easily adapted to improve efficiency, as entire trucks are dedicated to shipping FTL.
Disadvantages of FTL:
Higher minimum shipment size: FTL shipping requires a minimum shipment size, typically around 10,000 pounds or more. This can make it difficult or impractical for smaller shippers to use this option.
Higher cost for partial loads: If there aren’t enough goods to fill an entire trailer, shippers may end up having to pay a higher cost per unit.
Limited flexibility for changes: Once loaded onto the trailer or container, it may be difficult or costly to make changes to the shipment, such as adding or removing items.
When is full truckload (FTL) the best option?
While FTL shipping offers many advantages, it may not be suitable for all shipping needs. For instance, smaller shippers may have a hard time filling a load, in which case FTL isn’t worth the cost. So when is FTL the best option? Here are some factors to keep in mind:
Shipping large quantities of goods:
FTL shipping is the most cost-effective option when shipping large quantities of goods. Shippers can fill an entire trailer or container, which reduces the cost per unit and overall shipping costs.
Shipping high-value or fragile goods:
FTL shipping can be a good option for shipping high-value or fragile goods since the goods are loaded onto the trailer or container and then unloaded at the final destination, reducing the risk of damage or loss during transit.
Needing faster transit times:
FTL shipping typically has a faster transit time compared to other shipping options, such as less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. Fewer stops and transfers along the way reduce the risk of delays.
Specific delivery requirements:
FTL shipping can be a good option for shippers who have a specific delivery requirement, such as a specific delivery time or date. This is because shippers have more control over the shipment and can choose the most efficient route and delivery time.
Industries that commonly use FTL
Manufacturing companies often use FTL shipping to transport large quantities of raw materials, finished products, and machinery.
Retail companies use FTL shipping to transport goods from distribution centers to retail stores, particularly for large and bulky items.
Food and beverage:
The food and beverage industry commonly uses FTL shipping to transport perishable goods such as prepared foods and dairy products. FTL makes sense for time-sensitive shipments like these. The lower likelihood of delays and confirmed arrival times help shippers ensure cold-chain continuity.
The construction industry uses FTL shipping to transport large amounts of heavy construction materials such as cement, steel, and lumber to job sites.
The agriculture industry uses FTL shipping to transport crops such as grains, fruits, and vegetables to processing plants or distribution centers. More certainty regarding timing means lower odds of spoilage in transport.
E-commerce companies use FTL shipping to transport larger and bulky items such as furniture, appliances, and electronics.
Choosing the right FTL carrier
When selecting a full truckload (FTL) carrier, there are several factors to consider, including:
- Reliability: Look for carriers with a proven track record of on-time delivery, as well as a low incidence of damage or loss during transit.
- Capacity: Ensure the carrier has the capacity to handle your shipment, as well as any other specialized equipment required to make the move.
- Cost: Compare quotes from different carriers to secure a competitive rate. But lower rates may come at the expense of reliability or quality of service, so make sure to consider other operational factors to determine the best carrier option.
- Insurance: Ensure that the carrier has sufficient insurance coverage to protect goods in case of loss or damage during transit.
- Communication: Choose a carrier with clear and consistent communication throughout the shipping process, including updates on load status and any potential delays.
- References: Ask for references from previous customers to get a better sense of the carrier’s reliability and quality of service.
Uber Freight’s FTL carriers
Uber Freight works with a nationwide network of over 84,000 carriers to provide reliable and efficient shipping services to businesses of all sizes.
FTL carriers on Uber Freight’s platform are reviewed and required to meet industry-leading standards for reliability, safety, and quality of service. Using a comprehensive carrier onboarding process that includes background checks, insurance verification, safety audits, and requirements on compliance with federal regulations, Uber Freight ensures that every load is in capable hands.
Once shippers gain access to Uber Freight’s digital platform, they can unlock a 360-degree visibility into real-time freight movement, as well as tools and resources to manage goods and streamline operations. From booking loads to automating paperwork to leveraging 24/7 support from a dedicated team of freight specialists, shippers of all sizes can transform their load planning and execution processes with Uber Freight’s suite of tech-enabled tools.
Overall, expanding access to reliable FTL carriers is a key component of Uber Freight’s mission to revolutionize logistics by providing a more efficient, transparent, and cost-effective shipping experience for businesses and carriers alike.