One of the most identifiable differences between Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) Carriers is the amount of freight you can move at one time. Far too often shippers will throw 7-8 pallets onto an LTL trailer and think nothing of it; it’s not a full truckload, right? Big... mistake!
Unfortunately, this error can cost greatly! LTL Carriers establish LTL pricing for freight that fits within their operating requirements. Most commonly, LTL Carriers limit a single shipment to occupying 12 Linear Feet of trailer space or less. Others may allow for 15 feet and a select few, as much as 20-24 feet. It is critical to know the variations among your carrier network.
What happens when you give 7 non-stackable, standard 48”x40” pallets to an LTL Carrier who limits standard LTL rates to 12 Linear Feet or less? In this scenario, 16 Linear Feet of freight has been placed onto the carrier’s trailer who only allows 12 linear feet. The shipper has violated the LTL carrier’s single shipment rule for Linear Feet and the carrier is now within their right to apply a different rating structure, as outlined in their General Rules Tariff!
When this occurs, your established discounts are out the window and LTL Carriers will penalize this shipment by applying volume rates or a pre-determined cost per mile depending on the situation. Each carrier calculates their adjustment differently, but there is one thing in common across the industry. LTL Carriers will take these opportunities to remind shippers how critical it is for freight to fit in their LTL operations. These "reminders" will come in the form of a costly penalty.
The financial burden of this mistake can multiply the original expected cost many times. As stated previously, any established discounts will not apply, and this single error could result in a $200 shipment becoming a $2000 shipment.
Knowing your Carrier's specific limits on LTL pricing is critical.
The good news is, LTL restrictions are one of the easier items to find and understand in Carrier pricing agreements. It can be as easy as searching a PDF for “linear feet.”
Of course, if you aren’t sure what your carrier restrictions are or how to manage them, we are happy to provide some guidance. Check out LTL Shipping Guide or Request a free Consult and you’ll be well on your way to Shipping Smarter!!
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