What are LTL Freight Weight & Size Limitations?

What are LTL Freight Size & Weight Limitations?

Freight is an expansive industry that still holds the foundation of the transport of goods in the United States. It’s what allows you to buy and send items across the entire nation. An estimated 54 million tons of freight is transported through the country’s transportation systems, totaling about $48 billion, every single day. The freight system also directly supports more than 44 million jobs in the country, not to mention the billions of homes and businesses that are indirectly supported by the transport of goods.

LTL freight shipping has become the main mode of shipping, particularly for small- to medium-sized businesses. It offers a more cost-effective solution without sacrificing quality or efficiency of service. However, many businesses who have chosen LTL freight shipping don’t often know or realize the size limitations involved with it. Let’s take a closer look at LTL freight shipping and its weight and size limitations.

Understanding LTL Freight Shipping

LTL, or less than truckload, freight shipping comprises transporting goods that only take up a small portion of a trailer. LTL carriers allow multiple shippers to share the same space on a trailer, allowing them to fill a truck to capacity. LTL shippers only pay for the portion of space that they take up, which often makes LTL shipping more cost-effective overall than other types of freight shipping.

Along with the shared trailer space, less than truckload shipping operates via a hub and spoke model. Local terminals act as the spokes that all connect to the main hubs, or distribution centers. Trucks load freight at local terminals and transport it to the hubs, where the goods are delivered to their destinations or put onto other trucks to continue on their journey.

Size and Weight Limits for LTL Freight

Many carriers have their own rules and limits for the dimensions of your freight, but there are still some basic guidelines for your shipment.

  • Generally shipments should weigh between 100 to 15,000 pounds. Any lower than that and you are better off shipping your goods as a parcel. Any heavier and you should consider switching to full truckload shipping. Some carriers will even allow up to 20,000 pounds.
  • Freight should occupy less than 24 feet of a trailer.
  • The freight should also occupy no more than 6 pallets.

Why Size and Weight Matter

Understanding the size and weight of your shipment is beneficial to both you and the LTL carrier. You are sharing trailer space with other shippers. Carriers have to fill their trailers with freight from up to six shippers. Maximizing that space allows for more efficient transport and can prevent damage from handling or transit.

The size and weight also factor into shipping rates. Both determine the freight class of a shipment. Freight class is based on the density of a shipment and is measured in pounds per cubic foot. A shipment with a lower freight density usually has a higher freight class. Shipments with a higher freight class usually push shipping rates higher. However, during pricing negotiations, some carriers will offer freight of all kinds (FAK) rates, which essentially bring down the freight class for a lower perceived cost.

Freight density can also help the carrier determine how fragile your shipment may be, which can also affect the overall shipping rates.

Along with the weight and dimensions, shipping rates are also determined by:

  • Distance from origin to destination
  • Mode of shipment
  • Freight type (fragile, hazardous, or otherwise requiring special handling)

Preparing Your LTL Shipment

The first step in preparing your freight for LTL shipping is to measure the length, height, and weight of your shipment, rounding up to the next inch. This not only helps the carrier plan how much freight to fit onto a truck, but also allows you to get a more accurate quote.

From there, prepare all the proper documentation, primarily the bill of lading. The bill of lading provides all the information that the carrier and the drivers need to successfully transport your freight and produce an invoice.

Make sure you also label all your goods to reduce the risk of any individual item or pallet getting lost, and get ready for the loading process. LTL carriers are not required to wait for you and will put it off another day if you don’t have everything prepared. This only causes delays and fees.

Flock Freight provides a new way of executing LTL shipments for small- and medium-sized businesses. We are dedicated to affordable prices, complete transparency, and quality service. If you have questions about freight limitations or want a free quote for a less than truckload shipment, please contact us today.

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