When you’re choosing methods for shipping supplies and/or goods for your business, it’s important to understand all your options so you pick the right one. If that’s what brought you to this article today, you’re in the right place. You’re also in the right place if you’re looking to understand more about logistics, particularly modes of transportation and how they’re priced.
In this article, we’ll walk you through a key method for moving both goods and supplies: FTL freight. You’ll discover exactly what FTL freight is, and why it might be right (or wrong!) for your business. (And, if you have questions about any other terms, make sure to check out our Approved glossary of freight and logistics terms!)
What Does FTL Stand For?
Simply put, FTL stands for Full TruckLoad. An FTL freight shipment is one that gets its own dedicated truck.
This might be because:
- The shipment is large enough to fill the entire trailer on its own.
- The shipper has decided, for a variety of reasons, not to share the trailer with any other shipments. (More on that below in the pros and cons section!)
What Are the Pros of FTL Freight?
First and foremost, speed is the big pro for using FTL freight. Unlike an Less Than Full Load (LTL) shipment, which will make several stops along its route, the truck carrying your FTL shipment will go directly from origin to destination (with any necessary stops for meals or other necessities by your driver). Additionally, an LTL shipment may be held while all the individual shipments are gathered. However, with an FTL shipment, you’ll have the entire trailer to yourself, so it can leave according to the schedule you set with the carrier.
Additionally, some shippers prefer FTL shipments for transporting high-value goods. In an LTL scenario, other shipments are moved on and off the truck along the route, so there a slightly increased possibility for damage. However, your FTL shipment gets loaded onto the truck once, then it stays in the trailer undisturbed until it’s unloaded at its destination. As a result, it’s subject to less handling. This usually translates to a lower probability for damage.
Finally, when you ship FTL and pack the entire trailer full, your ultimate shipping cost per piece will be lower than if you send a smaller shipment via LTL. After all, when you fill the whole trailer, you’ll create a cost efficiency. Think of it a little like buying in bulk. When you purchase a large jar of mayonnaise from a warehouse store, it might cost you more upfront than the smaller jar from your supermarket. However, you’ll get a better price per ounce of mayo. The same is true of FTL freight—as long as you use your trailer space efficiently.
What Are the Cons of FTL Freight?
That said, although FTL freight can create cost efficiencies in your business, it simply costs more up front. Some businesses may not have that kind of cash on hand. Additionally, some businesses may not need all the space in a full trailer, so it simply wouldn’t make sense to ship FTL. Instead, a business with smaller shipments would likely be better off with an LTL freight solution, which allows them to pay only for the space they need.
Is FTL Related to FCL?
If you’re doing some research on freight and logistics, you might have also heard the term FCL thrown around. FCL stands for Full Container Load. It’s basically the same idea as FTL. The difference is that you’re filling a container that will travel via ocean freight or intermodal freight.
• FCL = Ocean freight
• FTL = Road freight
Looking for help with FTL freight? Or, trying to figure out whether FTL freight is right for your business? We’d be happy to help! We can explain all your options (minus the logistics jargon!) and connect you with the solution you need, whether that’s FTL, LTL, FCL, or LCL freight. Just reach out to us for a free consultation with an expert to get started.
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