Latest 2024 Guide to Ltl Vs Ftl Shipping In Canada

Two Shipping truck facing each other, LTL Vs FTL Shipping in Canada
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Mona Sohal

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Ltl Vs Ftl shipping in Canada can feel overwhelming for businesses, especially when it comes to keeping costs low and maintaining a good reputation. With numerous carriers offering different shipping options and using technical terms, even experienced shippers can get confused.

This article focuses on two common choices: Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping in Canada. We’ll break down their key features and how their pricing works, empowering you to make informed decisions for your shipping needs.

What is LTL shipping?

Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping, often abbreviated as LTL, is a cost-effective way to transport freight that doesn’t fill an entire trailer. LTL functions similarly to a ride-sharing service for cargo. Your shipment shares space with goods from other companies in a single trailer, allowing you to benefit from efficient transportation without paying for the entire space.

There are two key aspects of LTL shipping:

  • Pickup and Delivery (P&D): This refers to the initial collection of your goods from your location and the final delivery to the recipient’s address.
  • Linehaul: This is the long-distance transportation of your shipment from its origin to its destination. Since LTL shipments are consolidated, your goods may be loaded and unloaded at various terminals along the route before reaching their final stop.

LTL shipping is ideally suited for freight that doesn’t take up a full trailer. Think of it as a cost-conscious alternative to renting an entire truck for a smaller shipment.

The cost of LTL shipping is determined by a system called National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). This system considers two key factors:

  • Weight of your shipment: Heavier shipments naturally cost more to transport.
  • Space occupied by your freight: The amount of space your shipment takes up in the trailer also influences the cost.

Since your shipment only fills a portion of the trailer, LTL carriers combine multiple shipments into one truck to maximize efficiency and affordability. This consolidation approach keeps shipping costs more economical compared to other methods like partial truckload shipping. This makes LTL an attractive option for businesses with smaller and more frequent shipping needs.

What is FTL Shipping?

Full Truckload (FTL) shipping, often abbreviated as FTL, is ideal for big shipments that need the whole trailer. With FTL, you get the entire trailer to yourself; it’s like renting a private truck for your own delivery shipments. There are no other companies’ cargoes sharing the space, so your cargo gets special attention.

FTL shipping is like taking the express lane for your shipment. It goes straight from where it starts to where it needs to be, without any stops or waiting at stations for other deliveries. This means your things are less likely to get delayed or damaged compared to sharing a truck with other shipments.

LTL vs FTL Shipping in Canada

Selecting the optimal freight service for your shipment relies on a careful evaluation of several key factors. Understanding these strengths and limitations for both Less Than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) services will empower you to make informed decisions that optimize cost, speed, and security.

Shipment Size and Weight:

  • LTL Shipments: These typically range from 150 to 15,000 pounds and can accommodate up to 10 pallets. LTL is ideally suited for smaller shipments that do not require the full capacity of a trailer.
  • FTL Shipments: This service is necessary for loads exceeding 15,000 pounds and/or 10 pallets. FTL caters to larger shipments that occupy an entire trailer.

Fragility and Handling of Cargo:

  • FTL for Fragile Cargo:  The minimal handling and limited movement inherent to FTL minimize the risk of damage or theft. This makes it the preferable option for fragile or high-value cargo.
  • LTL for Shared Space: The shared nature of LTL trucks necessitates more handling of your shipment. While cost-effective, this can potentially increase the risk of damage, especially for delicate items.

Shipping Speed and Stops:

  • FTL for Direct Shipping: FTL offers faster delivery times as your shipment travels directly to its destination without additional stops for loading or unloading other cargo.
  • LTL for Cost-Efficiency:  LTL prioritizes cost-effectiveness over speed. Due to the consolidation of multiple shipments, LTL shipments often involve more stops and have longer delivery timelines.

Volume Shipping and Partial Loads:

  • Volume Shipping (LTL): For loads exceeding 6 pallets and weighing between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds, LTL volume shipping can be a more economical option compared to FTL for larger LTL shipments.
  • Partial Truckloads (FTL):  This category covers shipments ranging from 8 to 18 pallets, weighing between 8,000 and 27,500 pounds. While these loads share space with other cargo, they typically arrive faster than standard LTL shipments.

Security Levels

  • FTL for Higher Security: With minimal handling and direct transportation, FTL generally offers a more secure environment for valuable or sensitive shipments.
  • LTL for Standard Security: LTL is suitable for general shipments where high security is not a primary concern.

Special Services and Equipment Requirements:

  • LTL for Versatility: LTL carriers often provide a wider range of additional services, including white-glove pickups/deliveries, lift gate services, or even freeze protection for temperature-sensitive goods.
  • FTL for Simplified Options: FTL services tend to focus on the direct transport of larger loads, offering a more straightforward range of service options.

By carefully considering these factors in relation to your specific shipment needs, you can confidently choose between LTL and FTL freight services, ensuring optimal cost-efficiency, speed, and security for your valuable cargo.

A Quick Summary Recap

FeaturesLTLFTL
Shipment Size and WeightTypically range from 150 to 15,000 pounds and can accommodate up to 10 pallets. Ideal for smaller shipments.Necessary for loads exceeding 15,000 pounds and/or 10 pallets. Caters to larger shipments that occupy an entire trailer.
Fragility and Handling of CargoThe shared nature of LTL trucks necessitates more handling of your shipment. While cost-effective, this can potentially increase the risk of damage, especially for delicate items.The minimal handling and limited movement inherent to FTL minimize the risk of damage or theft. This makes it the preferable option for fragile or high-value cargo.
Shipping Speed and StopsLTL prioritizes cost-effectiveness over speed. Due to the consolidation of multiple shipments, LTL shipments often involve more stops and have longer delivery timelines.FTL offers faster delivery times as your shipment travels directly to its destination without additional stops for loading or unloading other cargo.
Volume Shipping and Partial LoadsFor loads exceeding 6 pallets and weighing between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds, LTL volume shipping can be a more economical option compared to FTL for larger LTL shipments.This category covers shipments ranging from 8 to 18 pallets, weighing between 8,000 and 27,500 pounds. While these loads share space with other cargo, they typically arrive faster than standard LTL shipments.
Security LevelsLTL is suitable for general shipments where high security is not a primary concern.With minimal handling and direct transportation, FTL generally offers a more secure environment for valuable or sensitive shipments.
Special Services and Equipment RequirementsLTL carriers often provide a wider range of additional services, including white-glove pickups/deliveries, lift gate services, or even freeze protection for temperature-sensitive goods.FTL services tend to focus on the direct transport of larger loads, offering a more straightforward range of service options.

When Should You Use FTL Or LTL?

Choosing between LTL and FTL freight services requires careful consideration of several key factors., such as –

Use Full Truckload (FTL) WhenUse Less Than Truckload (LTL) When
Shipping more than 12 pallets of goodsShipping 12 pallets or less of goods
Transporting fragile or very delicate itemsShipping sturdy items that can handle more handling
Need guaranteed pick-up and delivery timesHave some flexibility with pick-up and delivery timing
Speed is critical and delivery needs to be very fastSaving money is a top priority

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision between LTL vs FTL shipping in Canada hinges on what best aligns with your specific business requirements. By carefully considering the factors outlined in this guide, you can make informed choices that optimize both reduced cost and efficiency for your shipments.

Regardless of whether LTL or FTL is the most suitable option, various freight service providers are available to streamline and simplify your transportation experience. These providers offer solutions tailored to your specific needs, whether you require the careful handling of fragile items, the efficient transport of large shipments, or the expedited delivery of time-sensitive cargo.

Ready to streamline your freight shipping and unlock cost savings? Get a quote today and discover how LTL or FTL services can benefit your business!

FAQ’s

Which Is Better LTL or FTL?

The key to LTL’s cost-effectiveness lies in shared space. Since your shipment travels with others, you only pay for the portion of the trailer it occupies. In contrast, FTL utilizes the entire trailer, so you essentially rent the whole truck, leading to a higher cost.

What is the difference between LTL and full truckload?

Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping utilizes a shared trailer, consolidating freight from multiple shippers. This cost-effective option is ideal for smaller shipments. In contrast, Truckload (FTL) shipping dedicates an entire trailer to a single shipper’s goods, offering a direct route from origin to destination. This method is suitable for larger shipments or those requiring faster delivery times.

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