What is partial truckload shipping?

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Partial truckload definition

Partial truckload is a freight mode for large shipments that may not require the use of a full truckload trailer.

Partial truckload falls between LTL and full truckload, typically involving shipments over 5,000 pounds or 6 or more pallets.

Partial truckload shipments do not require a freight class in order to secure a rate, involve less handling, and result in faster transit times.

Some carriers refer to partial truckload shipments as "volume LTL" because it operates similarly to LTL shipments but is based on a smaller volume than the average less than truckload shipment.

Benefits of partial truckload shipping

Partial truckload is a good option for shippers looking for a cost-effective shipping solution that falls between LTL and full truckload. Benefits include:

  • One truck: Partial truckload shipping allows your freight to stay on one truck for the duration of transit. When only one truck is involved, the freight is loaded and unloaded one time, which means less handling and faster transit times than LTL..
  • No freight class is required: Freight class is not required for partial truckload shipping, which can help you avoid extra charges associated with freight re-classification if you happen to get it wrong.
  • Less freight handling:When freight is handled less, the chance for damage is reduced. Partial truckload can be ideal for shipments susceptible to damage during loading and unloading.

When to choose partial truckload

There are several different scenarios where partial truckload shipments are an effective solution for your shipping challenges. Some of the best applications for partial truckload include:

  • Low density freight: If your freight is light but takes up a lot of space, partial truckload may be a better option than LTL.
  • Fragile freight: Partial truckload is a good option if you are concerned about freight damage. Less handling decreases the odds of cargo being damaged during transit.
  • Lower costs: With partial truckload, you pay for the space and weight capacity you use. This differs from other shipping methods that rely on one or the other, or even require you to pay for the entirety of a trailer.

Common partial truckload shipping questions

As one of the less common shipping methods, chances are you have some questions regarding partial truckload shipping. Here are some of the most common questions we receive regarding this shipping method:

  • When should you choose partial over LTL?
    If your shipment is over 5,000 pounds or 6 pallets, partial truckload shipping may be more a cost-effective option. Additionally, LTL is based on freight class, which can drive up costs on shipments that take up a significant amount of space but are low density.
  • Do I need to know exact dimensions?
    Yes. Exact dimensions are a must. Before a carrier accepts a partial shipment, they’ll need the exact dimensions to ensure the freight will fit on the trailer.
  • Is partial truckload faster than LTL?
    Yes, typically. With partial truckload, cargo stays in one trailer, there are fewer stops at freight terminals, and there is no LTL cross-docking, resulting in faster transit times.
  • How do I know if partial truckload is my best option?
    Freightquote by C.H. Robinson offers free, real-time quotes to help you find the best shipping option. If you are unsure of your exact needs, our team of experts will work with you to figure it out.
  • How is partial truckload different from LTL?
    Partial truckload and LTL are similar in that both involve sharing a trailer with other freight loads. The primary difference is that partial truckloads are based exclusively on the weight and size of your shipment instead of the freight class or density.

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