Freight shipping: What option best fits your needs?

March 24, 2015

Your freight could move by a variety of means. Prior to choosing which is best suited for your freight shipping, there are a number of important factors to consider, and they will help you determine which option is right for you. The freight dimensions comprised of length, width, and height, along with freight weight, fragility, storage needs and delivery requirements are just a few of the critical elements that help steer the direction of a freight shipment.

Once those factors have been carefully identified, you can then decide what shipping option is best for the load being transported. Below, we’ve identified four of Freightquote by C.H. Robinson's primary freight shipping options, accompanied by a brief description that includes the benefits each provides to freight shippers.


Full truckload freight shipping.

Simply put, full truckload (TL) shipping is the process of moving cargo or pallet loads that are large enough to justify the use of an entire semi-trailer, typically more than 15,000 pounds. If your freight fits these requirements and you choose full truckload shipping, you will likely realize the following benefits:

  • One full truckload is typically more cost-effective than several LTL shipments.
  • Freight is not handled in transit, reducing the chance of damage to goods.
  • Full truckload carriers that have met stringent equipment and insurance requirements are moving your freight.
  • The pricing structure is typically calculated by miles traveled, as opposed to density.

Learn more about Full Truckload shipping >>


Less than truckload (LTL) freight shipping.

If you're looking to ship more than 150 pounds of freight, but less than a full truckload worth of goods, LTL might be the best choice. LTL freight shipping follows a hub and spoke form of operations, where local terminals serve as the spokes and the larger, central terminals serve as the hubs. A trailer is typically packed with a mixed bag of items from various shippers, which are collected from the various spoke terminals, until the trailer is filled. The freight is then brought to a hub terminal, where it is sorted and consolidated once again for additional transportation. As a result, transit times are typically longer than TL shipments, but there are some significant benefits as well:

  • LTL shipments are typically only a fraction of the cost of hiring a full truck and trailer.
  • Accessorial services outside of dock-to-dock transportation are available.
    1. Liftgates
    2. Non-commercial shipping
    3. Notification options
    4. Inside pickup and delivery
  • It allows for zone skipping, the process of LTL carriers bypassing a parcel carrier's traditional zones, letting the shipper avoid charges from crossing multiple zones in one trip.

Learn more about LTL shipping >>


Expedited LTL freight shipping.

As the global economy continues to expand, especially ecommerce, which is expected to top $2 trillion in worldwide sales sometime in 2016, the need to ship goods safely and efficiently will continue to be put under the microscope. Sometimes, the businesses and consumers making these purchases need their goods in a very short amount of time.

That's where expedited shipping comes in play. The primary objective of the expedited shipping process is to cut out as much unnecessary delay as possible in order to get the goods where they need to be in a timely manner. Whether it is hospitals in need of emergency supplies, factories in need of an immediate replenishment of goods, or any other number of time-sensitive scenarios, expedited freight shipping is used to quickly get freight to its destination. While expedited shipping typically comes at a premium price, the benefits are well worth the cost when the need is there:

  • Dedicated equipment moves the freight from the early stages of pickup all the way through delivery.
  • Shipments are generally driven by a team of two drivers directly to the final destination, reducing transit time.
  • Less handling and few stops along the way increases the security of the shipment.

Learn more about Expedited shipping >>


Intermodal transportation.

Intermodal transportation combines a variety of modes, like rail, trucks or ships, to streamline the shipping process. Every year, about 25 million containers are moved via intermodal transportation methods. This number is continuing to grow as rail access broadens and companies look for more economical and environmentally-friendly modes of shipping. The intermodal shipping process typically begins with a container moved by a truck to the rail, then back to a truck, before arriving at its final destination. The best intermodal shipments are moving long distances between major metro areas with flexible delivery times. Intermodal freight transportation offers a number of business benefits highlighted by:

  • Rail travel requires much less fuel consumption than road-based transport, lowering fuel costs and contributing to a greener environment.
  • An expanding rail network in North America is increasing the number of destination options.
  • Freight is moved safely and securely as ride quality is similar to highway driving and most freight commodities are insured up to $250,000 while in rail transit.

Learn more about Intermodal transportation >>


While freight shipping is not limited to the above options, these do represent a significant amount of the shipping market. Whether you're a first-time shipper or have years of experience, use this post to help guide the selection process the next time your freight needs to get from point A to point B.


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