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LTL Freight – What is LTL?

LTL is an acronym for Less Than Truckload. This means a shipment that does not require a full 48 or 53 foot trailer. There are many carriers that specialize or offer this service and like full truck load carriers the LTL carriers themselves specialize in different services such as lift gate and residential pick ups and deliveries, guaranteed services, protect from freeze, transit, and bottom line cost to name a few.

LTL equipment:

LTL carriers generally utilize van trailers which are covered or enclosed trailers. There are a few refrigerated LTL carriers who utilize temperature controlled trailers. Roll up doors on the rear for access to the inside of the trailer has become a trend for carriers these days as well. What that means is that the entrance to the trailer is a bit smaller than trailers with swing doors. Most carriers will use pup trailers that they can haul two trailers in tandem and LTL carriers will not accept shipments that cannot fit onto one pup trailer. The drivers around town making pick ups and deliveries are generally driving 53 foot trailers and you will notice the majority of LTL carriers on the interstate running their line haul freight are traveling with two tandem trailers. They do this as the freight has already been sorted for destination and can be easily dropped at the coordination terminals as the freight travels across the country. City drivers are using local day cab trucks that are not equipment with sleeper births that allow the local drivers overall lower weight around town along with increased maneuverability as the trucks are shorter in length. The city drivers will generally have a pallet jack in their trailers so they can adjust the freight on their trailers throughout their days. The carriers will have strategically placed terminals where they are able to consolidate all their freight to be picked up and delivered. As a shipment moves from pick up to destination it will be placed with other freight that is bound for the same area to be delivered.

LTL rates:
Rates for LTL freight are determined by class, weight, pick up and destination zip codes (in the transportation industry this is commonly referred to as the “lane”), and any additional services required to meet the shipper’s and consignee’s (this is another term for the delivery location) needs. Carriers will offer shippers and brokers discounts for freight that they are wanting to secure for business. The amount of discount is negotiated with the carrier and FAK’s (freight of all kinds) maybe offered to lessen the perceived cost of shipments in addition to the discounted rates. What FAK really means is say a shipper wants to move his products which are class 85 microwaves and is negotiating his rates with a carrier. The carrier may offer to move this freight at a lower class of 50 thus lowering the perceived cost. Because Access America does not offer FAK rates our discounts are deeper across the board and this means that we move every one of customers freight at the designated class.

Fuel surcharges are the fuel costs associated with the lane of a shipment and added on top of line haul costs. Fuel is updated on a weekly basis and is based on the national average of diesel. With rising fuel costs LTL has seen an increase as when people are buying less the need to ship is lower. So where a company used to fill up a whole trailer with their product now they may only need half as much trailer space and can ship their product cheaper by going LTL instead of using a full truck load carrier.

Volume shipments are shipments that we at Access America define as over 4,000lbs and/or over 12 feet of trailer space. Our discount space is 12 feet of trailer or 6 48inx48in pallets that cannot be stacked or 12 48×48 pallets that can be stacked. For shipments of these size and weight our brokers will automatically seek out a backhaul quote from one of the 25 carriers we use who will give the best rate and transit that meet our customers needs. Backhaul is an industry term meaning a lane that a carrier needs to get “back” to where they have regular/daily freight.

Accessorial charges such as residential pick up, lift gate delivery, call ahead notification to the receiver, or job site pick up or delivery are some additional services that LTL carriers will offer. These services are very handy for customers whose freight may not always pick up at or deliver to a facility that is equipped with a dock and fork lift.

Carriers determine some of these charges as a percentage of the weight or simply as a flat charge. Guaranteed services are offered by the majority of our carriers and like volume shipments explained above Access America brokers will get our customer a rate for these shipments so the best rate and transit is matched up to our customer’s needs.

LTL packaging:
Carriers require the product they haul to be packaged and labeled to DOT standards. This is to protect them from freight that could easily be damaged or cause damaged to surrounding product, persons, and the environment for shipping hazardous materials. This maybe an inconvenience for the first time or seldom shipper who is not aware of how to properly package their shipment but it is very necessary. While inconvenient on the front end of the process of shipping products it will save money in the long run as the cost to package a shipment properly will increase the opportunity to save money on transporting the product. Now that your shipment is packaged properly it can be put with other product on the LTL carrier’s trailer and Access America can utilize our deep discounts to move the product for you where as a product that was once fragile and turned down to be hauled by an LTL carrier and would have to be loaded on a dedicated vehicle instead of traveling with other freight that is properly packaged.

Choosing an LTL carrier:
Access America makes this choice simple for our customers. We have discounts with 25 different carriers and our system automatically creates a list of carriers who move freight on that lane and offer the services needed for a successful shipment. Rates and transits are displayed next to the carrier’s name and is as simple as a press of the button.

Why use Access America?:
Access America started as a flatbed full truck load broker who grew into a full service broker meaning we can move any type and size of product for our customers needs. On a daily basis we move LTL shipments, full truck load shipments, international shipments, heavy haul, utilizing ocean carriers, rail carriers, expedited carriers, and heavy haul carriers.

With our extensive knowledge and specialized brokers we will work for our customers to move their products at the most cost effective way while still meeting their transit needs. For instance a regular truckload customer has a smaller than usual shipment and our customer alerts their broker on the details of the shipment and with just a couple of quick questions what would have been a $1000.00 shipment can be loaded on an LTL carrier for only $300.00 and this was done by the excellent communication of our brokers to service our customers needs while being cost effective and competitive. Our online system offers the quick quote option and will generate a BOL for every shipment. Our readily available friendly brokers are here for our customers and have the attention to detail to make sure each shipment is handled from pick up to delivery with white glove service everyone should expect.

Have questions regarding Access America’s LTL program? Feel unsure about the system and want a personal walk through the process? After trying out demo (demo login: access1 password: demo) do you want a login and password built personally for your company? Feel free to contact me at the below phone number or email.

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