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What is a truckload (TL)?

A truckload (TL) refers to a quantity of freight that is large enough to fill an entire trailer. This typically translates to somewhere in the region of 24 to 30 pallets or 20k – 45K lbs. for standard equipment and 46K – 50K lbs. for lightweight trailers. For example, if a furniture company needs to ship enough couches to fill an entire truck, that’s a truckload. This term is critical within the logistics and supply chain industry as it helps define the most cost-effective and efficient means of transportation for goods.

Is Truckload the same as Full Truckload?

Absolutely! Truckload (TL) and Full Truckload (FTL) essentially refer to the same concept in freight logistics. Both terms imply that a single shipment occupies the entire space or weight limit of a trailer. Thus, when you’re exploring what is TL freight or the truckload meaning, remember that it’s interchangeable with FTL.

Advantages of truckload shipping

Truckload shipping boasts several benefits that make it a preferred choice for many businesses. Let’s delve a bit deeper into its key advantages:

  1. Speed: TL shipping typically offers faster transit times compared to other shipping modes. Since the entire truck is dedicated to a single load, there’s no time spent on stops to pick up or drop off other shipments along the way. This expedited transport makes TL shipping a reliable option when time is of the essence.
  2. Cost-effective: If you’re shipping a high volume of goods regularly, TL can be more cost-effective. The rates for TL are fixed, regardless of whether the trailer is fully loaded or not. This allows companies to maximize the space they’re paying for, making it an economical choice for larger shipments.
  3. Decreased risk of damage: Truckload shipping reduces the risk of damage and loss during transit. The freight is loaded onto the truck at the point of origin and isn’t disturbed until it reaches the destination. This lessens the potential for mishandling and the ensuing damages, contributing to a safer transit for your goods.
  4. Flexibility: TL shipping offers a range of options to suit different shipping needs. Dry vans, flatbeds, and refrigerated trailers are just a few types of trucks available, accommodating everything from perishables requiring temperature control to oversized machinery. This flexibility allows shippers to tailor their logistics strategy to their unique requirements.
  5. Direct shipping: With TL shipping, goods typically travel directly from the pickup point to the destination, eliminating the need for warehousing or storage. This not only cuts down on storage costs but also speeds up delivery times, making TL shipping an efficient solution for both short and long-distance shipments.
  6. Increased capacity: With the ability to fill an entire truck, TL shipping gives shippers greater capacity for larger shipments. This makes it a practical solution for businesses with substantial shipping requirements, such as retailers or manufacturers.

By fully understanding the advantages of TL shipping, businesses can make more informed decisions about their logistics operations, optimizing costs, and ensuring their goods arrive on time and in excellent condition.

Truckload shipping modes

The beauty of truckload shipping is there are various modes available to cater to different types of goods. Let’s explore a few of these.

Dry van

A dry van is the most common type of truckload freight. These enclosed trailers protect goods from the elements, making them ideal for non-perishable items and goods that don’t require temperature control.


Flatbeds, as the name suggests, are flat, open trailers without roofs or sides. These are particularly useful for large or oddly-shaped loads that won’t fit in a standard dry van, like machinery or construction materials.

Refrigerated (reefer)

Refrigerated trailers, or reefer trailers, are essentially mobile refrigerators. They’re perfect for transporting perishable goods that need specific temperature settings, such as food, pharmaceuticals, and some chemicals.

Which types of shippers should consider truckload shipping?

The applicability of Truckload (TL) shipping spans across a variety of businesses. While its suitability depends on several factors, there are specific situations where TL shipping is often the go-to option:

  1. High-volume shipments: Businesses regularly shipping large quantities of goods—like manufacturers, wholesalers, or big-box retailers—are prime candidates for TL shipping. By consolidating their freight into a single shipment, they can maximize efficiency and potentially realize significant cost savings.
  2. Time-sensitive deliveries: If a business needs to move goods within a tight timeframe, TL shipping is a wise choice. With no stops to pick up or drop off other shipments, transit times are often faster. This makes TL shipping ideal for industries like automotive, where just-in-time delivery is crucial, or event logistics, where everything must arrive by a specific date.
  3. Fragile or high-risk goods: For shipments that are fragile or high in value, TL shipping reduces the risk of damage and theft. Goods remain in the same truck from point A to point B, reducing handling and the potential risks associated with it. Industries such as fine art logistics, electronics, or high-end furniture would find this feature beneficial.
  4. Special requirements: Whether it’s a temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipment requiring a refrigerated trailer, or an oversized construction equipment needing a flatbed, TL shipping provides the necessary flexibility. Businesses with specialized needs can choose the right kind of truckload carrier for their specific requirements.
  5. Seasonal shippers: Businesses with seasonal surges, like retailers during the holiday season or agricultural businesses at harvest, can take advantage of TL shipping. They can easily scale up their transportation capacity to meet increased demand without having to commit to long-term contracts.
  6. Direct route needed: If goods must travel a long distance or require a direct, non-stop route, TL shipping is an excellent solution. It reduces the chances of delays associated with multiple stops or transfers, ensuring a smooth, uninterrupted journey.
  7. Cost and efficiency: Companies looking to optimize their supply chain for cost and efficiency should consider TL shipping. By utilizing full truckload capacity, businesses can reduce their per-unit shipping cost, making their operations more cost-effective and efficient.

There is also over the road (OTR) trucking, utilizing truckload carriers or contracting owner-operators. It is a reliable and cost-effective method of transportation. Especially if you’re shipping large quantities, investing in an entire truckload shipping can reduce costs, decrease potential damages and enhance efficiency in your supply chain.

Truckload shipping provides an efficient solution for the supply chain challenges of today’s businesses. So, when you ask, “What is considered a truckload?,” consider your freight’s volume, your timeline, and your budget. Whether you spell it truckload or truck load, the benefits are the same!

Whether it’s FTL or LTL freight, Uber Freight’s shipping solutions have you covered. Sign up today!