How should shippers transport freight loads that do not completely fill a semi trailer? Many shippers believe parcel shipping is the answer, but depending on the number of packages and their weight, parcel shipping can be as costly as moving partial loads in a full semi trailer. When this is the case, Less than Truck Load (LTL) shipping is the ideal solution.
Unlike Truckload (TL) shipping, in which a full semi trailer is filled with the freight of one shipper, LTL shipping fills a semi trailer with the freight of two or more shippers, who split the shipping cost based on the characteristics of their load, its travel time, and the varied distance between drop-offs. A good way to think of LTL shipping is as a car-pooling arrangement for freight. If shipping a partial load in a full semi trailer is too costly, you can band together with other shippers to share the cost.
Choosing a Logistics Resource
LTL shipping is an excellent financial opportunity for small and midsize shippers who ship partial loads, but taking full advantage of the opportunity requires a strong logistics resource, one that consistently identifies the best LTL rates and transportation arrangements. Today, most shippers support the LTL logistics function with one of the following resources:
- In-house logistics department
- Third party logistics (3PL)
- Logistics software
Of these resources, the first one is the most preferred. With logistics experts on staff, the logistics function is kept in-house, allowing complete control of the shipping process. Unfortunately, staffing logistics experts can be cost prohibitive for small and midsize shippers. Consequently, they often turn to 3PL providers (a.k.a. freight brokers), who set freight arrangements between shippers and carriers.
There are several types of 3PL providers, with some offering specialized services, and others providing comprehensive shipping management. For shippers who fully outsource the shipping function, the cost of 3PL can be nearly as much as maintaining a logistics department. When a shipper cannot afford a staff of experts or the level of 3PL it needs, the value of logistics software becomes increasingly evident.
A Dynamic Solution
The software provides an affordable, comprehensive logistical solution that allows shippers to manage the shipping process without the financial burden of staffing experts or paying for high-level 3PL. In addition to being affordable, the software allows shippers to control the shipping process, managing each of its aspects to secure carrier arrangements that o