Difference: FTL and LTL in truck freight transport

Sep 15, 2021

Difference: FTL and LTL in truck freight transport

The transport of goods by road makes up a large part of all transport routes. Trucks in all variations drive goods as general cargo or groupage from the sender to the addressee. It makes a significant difference whether the load is an FTL or an LTL delivery. What do the two abbreviations mean, what are the differences and what are the advantages of both?

Definition: the abbreviations FTL and LTL

FTL and LTL  are abbreviations that, similar to the container industry (FCL / LCL), describe the utilization of a truck loading area. However, the exact definitions differ slightly from the comparable term for the container industry.

  • FTL means Full Truck Load or in German full truck load . The short definition is: A full truck load is a delivery that fills the entire truck load space and goes to a single recipient without any reloading.
  • LTL means LessThan Truck Load or in German part truck load . That means: In the case of a partial truck load, the goods transport consists of a quantity that only takes up part of the loading area. The transport companies therefore often add additional loads or other partial loads to the utilization of their journeys. These collective trips deliver goods from several customers to several recipients.

FTL: Special features of a full truck load

The full truck load has some special features. Thanks to the full use of the loading area, direct delivery without intermediate stops and reloading, as well as being limited to one customer  , FTL delivery is very fast . For overland routes, there is no better way to bring a freight transport directly to the addressee than with this method. The advantages in detail:

  • fast delivery,
  • direct loading process at the shipper,
  • Drive straight to your destination without detours,
  • no reloading or stopover.

The Full Truck Load is  particularly worthwhile for transport companies  , as they can calculate a full truck load . This is an  optimal use of the loading capacity . This often gives the sender a price advantage. In addition, because there are no further stops for loading and unloading, FTL delivery is particularly economical for both the shipper and the transporter. There is no type of transport that is more effective and faster than this direct customer delivery via a full truck load.

LTL: Special features of a partial truck load

The opposite of FTL is LTL. The expression LessThan Truck Load means that a transport company cannot fully utilize the loading area of ​​its truck for an order . This leads to poor profitability. The company can charge a certain surcharge for the empty space. However, depending on the calculation basis, this will result in a lower total than with an FTL.

That has consequences. The company will try to use the rest of the loading area as completely as possible for other goods from the customer or other shippers. This results in additional charging processes, additional distances to be traveled and an overall time delay. The truck is then only available again later than with a full truck load. The booking of such  partial loads  is therefore not only financially, but also not particularly efficient in terms of time.

Shippers and senders can still benefit. The first customer pays less than with a full truck, other customers can look forward to attractive price offers, as they only have to pay additional costs for loading processes, distances and times.

Important: The grouping of partial loads requires particularly good planning. As a rule, the individual orders must lie roughly on a route or contain only minor detours. Otherwise the small loads are also unprofitable for the transport company or relatively expensive for the shipper. Both sides benefit most when all partial quantities can be loaded and unloaded within a suitable deadline and without major detours. In these cases, the transport companies optimize their loading capacities and can   calculate attractive prices for the individual partial loads of the LTL delivery .

Source www.kartonara.de