Ltl Carriers

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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LTL (Less Than Load) carriers face completely different challenges from those addressed by most long-distance carriers. Typically, LTL carriers run shorter routes and must deal with the logistics of meeting the needs of several shippers at one time. This means more time is spent developing routes and schedules and determining rates. Shippers who need LTL services may turn to freight brokers to negotiate with carriers because of the complexities involved.

Hub Systems

In major metropolitan areas, many LTL carriers work with a hub system. This means that their drivers pick up freight from multiple vendors or shippers and move the freight to a centralized hub. At the hub, multiple shipments going to final destinations in a certain area are combined so that the route is simplified, and the shipments arrive faster.

Also at the hub, shipments that are going beyond the carrier's delivery area may be transferred to another carrier's truck for final delivery. Called "interlining," this process allows the shipper to use his normal carrier as a go-between. Hubs are usually centrally located to save both fuel and time.

LTL Trucks

Almost any type of truck can be used for LTL purposes. Generally, trucks may be smaller; however, full standard trailers can also be used, especially in larger cities with a lot of partial loads. Trucks are almost always covered. When oversized equipment or items such as logs, building trusses, or glass for commercial buildings make up the shipment, flat bed trucks may be used as well.


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