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Partial Truckload vs LTL truckload

Partial Truckload vs. LTL Shipping. Which One You Choose?

In the world of logistics and transportation, selecting the right shipping method can have a significant impact on your supply chain operations and overall costs. With many logistics companies in the US offering various shipping options, it’s crucial to understand the differences between Partial Truckload (PTL) and Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping to make an informed decision that aligns with your specific business needs.

What is PTL Shipping?

Partial Truckload (PTL) shipping, also known as multi-stop truckload, is a freight transportation method where your shipment occupies a portion of a truckload, typically between 5,000 and 20,000 pounds or 6 to 22 linear feet of trailer space. In PTL shipping, shippers share a portion of the trailer with other shippers, allowing them to benefit from lower shipping costs and saving them from hiring a dedicated full truckload.

PTL shipping is an ideal choice when the shipment is too large or heavy. Common and small sized businesses need to transport larger or heavier items, such as machinery, equipment, or bulk materials, but not enough to fill an entire trailer.

Understanding LTL Shipping

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is a cost-effective freight transportation method where multiple smaller shipments from different shippers are consolidated onto a single trailer. LTL freight carriers transport these shipments together, delivering them to various destinations along their routes.

When to Choose LTL Shipping?

LTL shipping is an ideal choice when your shipment weighs less than 15,000 pounds or occupies less than 6 linear feet of trailer space. It is particularly beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses or companies that don’t have enough freight to fill an entire truck.

By sharing trailer space with other shippers, LTL shipping offers a more economical solution compared to hiring a dedicated truck for smaller shipments.

What is the Difference Between LTL and Partial Truckload?

PTL and LTL truckloads offer distinct services, and businesses must understand when to utilize each option to optimize cost savings and efficient time management. Let’s look at the key differences between PTL and LTL:

Aspect  PTL (Partial Truckload)  LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) 
Shipment Size  5,000 – 20,000 lbs or 6 – 22 linear feet  Less than 15,000 lbs or less than 6 linear feet 
Cost Implications  More cost-effective for larger or heavier shipments  More cost-effective for smaller shipments 
Transit Time  Faster, fewer stops along the route  Longer, multiple stops for consolidation 
Handling  Less handling, reduced risk of damage  More handling, increased risk of damage 
Freight Protection  Typically, less exposure to potential loss or damage  More exposure due to multiple handlings 
Service Areas  May have limited-service areas or routes  Extensive networks and frequent schedules 
Accessibility  Coordination required with other shippers  More accessible for small shipments 
Dimensional Weight  May be subject to dimensional weight calculations  Often subject to dimensional weight calculations 

How to Choose Between PTL and LTL Shipping?

Choosing between PTL and LTL shipping depends on several factors, primarily the size and weight of your shipment. If your shipment weighs less than 15,000 pounds or occupies less than 6 linear feet of trailer space, LTL shipping is likely the most cost-effective option.

However, if your shipment falls between 5,000 and 20,000 pounds or occupies 6 to 22 linear feet of trailer space, PTL shipping may be more suitable.

LTL carriers consolidate multiple smaller shipments onto a single trailer, allowing you to share the cost with other shippers. PTL shipments often experience faster transit times and less handling, reducing the risk of damage. Thus, based on your requirements, you can choose between PTL or LTL mode of shipping.


The choice between PTL and LTL shipping ultimately depends on your specific shipping requirements. While LTL is suitable for smaller, more frequent shipments, PTL offers a cost-effective solution for larger or heavier loads that don’t necessitate a full truckload.

Thus, before deciding your preferred shipment type, it’s essential to carefully evaluate your shipment characteristics, transit time requirements, and cost considerations to determine the most suitable option. Only after taking these factors into consideration, you should finalize a logistics company in US. Then only you can get value for your money.


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