All You Need To Know About Partial Truckload

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What is partial truckload?

As the name implies, partial truckload is used for shipping freight that is larger than LTL but less than a full truckload. Usually, this means 6 or more pallets, weigh over 5000 lbs, or over 12 linear feet of floor space, and up to 18 pallets.

When it comes to size, partial truckload takes the middle ground and gives you the best of both worlds. You get most of the benefits of a dedicated truck without paying for the full price, along with the flexibility of LTL. It’s the perfect hybrid model for specific types of freight and yet, it is often underutilized by many shippers. Let’s look at it in more detail and see how it can benefit you.

Why use partial truckload?

The number one reason to choose partial truckload is cost-efficiency. You will save money compared to LTL on a dollar per skid basis and at the same time, pay less than a full truckload. Say you have 12 pallets of products that would normally cost $100 per skid to ship LTL, it will cost less, often a lot less, than $1200 via partial truckload.

The main reason is that partials are not priced by the freight class as per LTL. Rather, they’re determined by mileage, weight, floor space, and the specific shipping lane. Partial shipments allow carriers to make full use of available capacity in their trailers on a particular route, and as the result, you get more savings.

Another reason for the lower cost is that unlike LTL, freight on a partial truckload usually stays on the same truck from pick up to delivery. It bypasses carrier hubs and cross-docking employed in LTL shipping, thus avoiding the additional handling time and cost. This is a very similar process to truckloads which also leads to less loading/unloading and fewer chances of damage. It can be especially beneficial if you have delicate or fragile freight.

By shipping directly from dock to dock without rerouting and consolidation, partials have a shorter transit time and more on-time deliveries compared to LTL.

Since partial truckloads do not require freight classes, you avoid additional headaches such as reclassification and other accessorial charges that often accompany LTL loads. Even paperwork is a lot easier to fill out. Just enter the dimensions/weight and you are done!

Moreover, you can secure much greater insurance & liability coverage on partial truckloads than what LTL carriers offer. Very useful for transporting higher valued goods where it’s prudent to have better insurance.

When to use partial truckload?

You need to ship between 6 to 18 pallets of merchandise. This is the sweet spot for partial truckloads, as it maximizes floor space and lowers the cost per pallet.

You have fragile freight. Less handling is inherently better for delicate shipments susceptible to damage through processing & cross-docking. For the same reason, it is also perfect for specialized services such as “no-touch” freight or white glove delivery.

You have irregular or low-density products. Since partial truckload pricing is based on space & weight instead of freight class & density, you will pay less than LTL for odd-sized orders that are tougher to store alongside other products (ie. large furniture, trade show displays) or light commodities that take up a lot of space (down feather pillows, anyone?).

You are shipping expensive merchandise that requires more comprehensive freight insurance than what LTL shipments typically offer. In contrast, it is available as options on partial truckloads.

Your destination is outside major metropolitan areas & hubs. These areas are often poorly served by LTL carriers, whereas partial truckloads can get there directly and faster.

When not to use partial truckload?

Make sure your partial freight is palletized, not floor-loaded. Fragile cargo should be wrapped well and tied down securely using straps and/or load bars if necessary.

Give exact dimensions (LxWxH) when requesting a quote as it is required to get an accurate price and at the same time, allow carriers to build their load around your order efficiently.

Request your quotes early to reserve space and guarantee availability. Give your shipment sufficient lead time, since partial carriers need to fill their trailers fully before heading off. Rest assured that once en route, it will usually get there in less time than LTL.

How to use partial truckload – tips and tricks

There is a very good reason flatbed drivers get paid more than regular truck drivers. It takes a skilled professional to maneuver an oversized trailer. The driver is also responsible for following strict government regulations on cargo safety. Any mishap or mistake during the entire shipping process can pose a significant danger to the driver, your freight, as well as others on the road. Thus it is critical that you only ship with qualified and experienced drivers who specialize in flatbed trucking.

Due to the high demand, make sure to give yourself plenty of lead time and book your spots early. Have on hand the exact freight dimensions, weight, commodity class, & value when requesting a quote.

Keep in mind that the loading time will take longer than normal to properly secure the cargo, hence schedule your pick-up time accordingly.

Partial truckload, full service

As you can see, partial truckload is a powerful shipping tool that offers both substantial cost savings and fast transit time, but it’s not a one size fits all. The key is to use it under the correct circumstances. Our specialists are ready to discuss the details and advise you of the option that best fits your needs. Regardless of the shipping method, you’ll always receive the full concierge service from us.