Full Truckload Shipping vs. Less Than Truckload Shipping

Having the option of Full Truckload shipping and Less Than Truckload shipping gives you a better view of the scope a logistics company has for its services. Both have their own advantages and requirements that need to be met so that you could choose the most desirable, cost-effective freight shipping option.

More Freight Needs More Space

If there is a large number of items to be shipped, a Full Truckload (FTL) shipping service is the more suitable option. With this service, you are hiring a dedicated truck to deliver your items exclusively. FTL service is an option where the truck will go directly to the delivery address without any stops along the way. This is a perfect service if you have enough items to fill up the truck.

There may be instances, however, when you still consider full truckload shipping even if there is not enough cargo to fill up the entire truck. An example is when you have sensitive items that require special handling, or your customer wants to receive the items as fast as possible.

For FTL shipping services, a few requirements must be met to consider the items as a good candidate for this shipping method. One thing you must look into is the shape and fragility of the items that need to be shipped.

Shape and Fragility of Items

As an FTL service will be piling up all the packages in the truck, it is a must that the items are not shaped irregularly so as to avoid damages happening to them whenever they are stacked. In addition, since all packages will be placed in a way to make full use of all available storage space in the truck, it will not be a good option for items that are fragile.

Another criterion that needs to be met is that all items can be wrapped, which can be considered as an added security to the durability of such items. In addition, these items will be placed in pallets so that when these are stacked into the truck; there will be no wasted storage space. Furthermore, the total weight of all items to be shipped must not exceed the weight limit of 40,000 pounds or depending on the capacity limit of the truck to be used.

Speedy Delivery

Speedy DeliveryIn relation to the benefits and challenges of an FTL shipping service, you are assured that your products will often reach customers faster as compared to other shipping options. As this service requires stricter routes for the driver to follow and follows a direct shipping route from the point of origin to the delivery address, you are also assured that the products would arrive safely having no damages to the items during the transit as much as possible.

Related article: Shipping by Truck vs Shipping by Rail

Challenges Along the Way

You should also consider the possible challenges before opting to go with a full truckload shipping service. First of all, consider if you can fill up an entire truck. If so, you hope that the logistics company would have an available truck – or have one soon enough. The best freight shipping company you want to work with should be able to provide you with a truck without causing delays on a regular basis.

In relation to this, another challenge that may come up is if the items to be shipped have a time constraint. There will be no issues if the freight shipping company has trucks readily available to serve the order.

Another issue that may arise is if the items needed to be shipped cannot fill up one truck and you have to wait for the shipping company to have a smaller truck return in time to deliver your goods. Looking at the cost, the FTL service may be considered a more expensive option if you opt to ship cargo that may not use up all the storage space of the truck. This is because your customer will be shouldering the whole cost of using the whole truck for delivery.

Less Freight Needs Less Space

As full truckload shipping focuses more on large quantities to be shipped, the other option is called the Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping. LTL freight shipping is the better option if you have a relatively lesser quantity of items to be shipped. It is designed to be a more cost-efficient shipping option, in this case. The logistics company does that by combining the goods of several customers to fill up all the storage space.

Related article: What does LTL Stand for in Trucking

By following the hub and spoke distribution model, all items received from local logistic terminals are shipped to a central main distribution center. Planning, organizing, and preparing of items are done in the main hub before they are shipped to their different destinations. Just like in FTL shipping, it is a must that items to be shipped in the LTL service can also be wrapped and palletized. You will need to consider the destination, the packaging type needed to be used, the number of items to be shipped, and if there is a need; to avail of special handling.

Less Freight

Cost-effective Alternative

Less than truckload shipping services can be considered as a more cost-effective option as compared to the full truckload. With LTL shipping, all goods being shipped to the same destination are grouped into one truck. Because of this, you are charged based on the amount of space the items use in the truck.

Another benefit of using LTL shipping is that customers may ship different items to different delivery addresses. This is made possible since all items are gathered into the main distribution hub where another process of sorting of items will be done. For the challenges you may have when availing of the LTL service, one issue is that shipping may take a long time because different items from different customers will all be loaded into one truck in the main distribution center.

In addition, there may be multiple drop-off points the truck would need to go to before your customers received your goods. Because the packages are mixed into one truck, there is a possibility that the items would undergo multiple handling since items may be moved so as to unload cargo for a different customer, this increases the chance that the packages might get damaged or even lost.


Choosing between the two shipping options is easy. If you can fill up the entire truck and these items go to one customer, then opt for full truckload shipping. It is also a viable option even if there may be some unfilled cargo space. For sure, it raises the shipping cost of the products, but that increase may not be significant.

On the other hand, loose cargo items are better shipping using less than truckload shipping. In this case, having the logistics company combine your products with other companies helps keep the shipping cost of your products down.

Get a quote today!

What Are the Size and Weight Limitations for Air Freight from Toronto to Chicago?
Air vs Ground Shipping: What’s the Best Way to Ship Goods from Toronto to Chicago?
Navigating Import Taxes: Understanding the Cost of Bringing Cars into Canada
The Best Options for Car Shipping in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide to Safe and Efficient Vehicle Transportation

Top Freight Trucking & International Shipping Services in North America

Office Address
501 Rowntree Dairy Road, Unit #4, Woodbridge, ON L4L 8H1
Warehouse Address
6221 Highway 7 West, Unit #3, Vaughan, ON L4H 0K8

Sign up for industry alerts, insights & news from RoadLINX