Taking the Mystery Out of Partial Truckload Shipping

In last month’s blog post, “The Facts on LTL & Dimensional Shipping”, I discussed reasons why freight brokers should ship less-than-truckload (LTL) as opposed to full truckload (FTL). At the end of that article, I included some bonus tips on when Partial Truckload Shipping should be considered. This month, I thought I’d delve a little deeper into Partial Truckload Shipping, how it can be a better value than shipping FTL or LTL and how to get you started moving partial truckload shipments.

What is Partial Truckload Shipping

Most all freight brokers know about FTL shipping, fewer know about LTL shipping and even less know about partial truckload shipping – an often overlooked mode of shipping but very beneficial. Not only is this a much more cost-effective solution but it provides faster transit times and requires less handling.

Optimally, freight brokers and freight agents would choose partial truckload shipping when their clients have shipments that range between FTL and LTL. Partial truckload shipments are determined based on the size of the order (linear feet and weight), time sensitivity, and type of freight. Shipments range between six and 18 pallets and from 8,000 to 27,500 pounds.

The Facts on Partial Truckload Shipping

  • Freight ships on one truck
  • No freight class required
  • Less stops mean faster transit times
  • Less handling of freight, less terminals
  • Less delays during transport mean better delivery times
  • Cargo insurance coverage comparable to FTL

How to Get Started Moving Partial Truckload

I can guarantee that if you’re a freight broker and you have customers, chances are they have partial freight to move. However, they will not offer it if you don’t ask them.

Before you begin, you need to do TWO important things:  1) Know your customers and 2) Know your truckload rates. Next, determine truckload cost to carrier for that lane. You can prorate a partial shipment as a percent of a truckload shipment rate to carrier. For example, one-quarter of a truckload would equal 50% of a truckload rate to customer, one-half truckload would equal 75% of a truckload rate to customer, and three-quarters of a truckload would equal 95% of a truckload rate to customer.

Your next step would be to immediately post the load to load boards and start negotiating with carriers. When speaking with carriers, make sure you ask the right questions, such as:  Is there any space left on the trailer, what is the delivery date/time and pick up date/time. Keep in mind that partials are covered by truckload carriers. It’s also important to note that carriers won’t always know the room they have left until late in the day, so don’t give up too early!

Partial truckload shipping is a value-added service which makes this is a great way to help differentiate you from the competition because most freight brokers overlook them. So, start tapping into your carrier network, access trailers that have extra space and never pay full truckload rates to move less freight again!

5 replies
  1. Mike
    Mike says:

    You have done such a fabulous job man. I am your true admirer, I started my first blog about dump truck and hauling grading company after reading your all posts. Your posts helped me a lot whenever I feel confused about choosing a topic. Thanks a million.

  2. Daphne Gilpin
    Daphne Gilpin says:

    Thanks for explaining that the load should be posted to boards before we start negotiating with carriers. The company I work for is considering outsourcing our transportation of goods to a more capable service, so I’ve been looking for tips on how to choose a carrier. I’m glad I read your article because I you helped me see the important role that load boards will play in the process of finding the right carrier.

    • Taylor Hamp
      Taylor Hamp says:

      Glad it helped, Daphne! If your company is having a hard time, give us a call. There might be something we can do to help you all out, or at least some advice we could pass on 🙂

    • Alex Kuczka
      Alex Kuczka says:

      Typically vehicles are shipped on an auto-hauler trailer together with other vehicles from the same shipper. If you needed to move just one car, it would be shipped alone. LTL/Partial Truckload shipping applies to standard commodities such as palletized freight, not large equipment moves. It is not common practice to load up an auto-hauler with vehicles from different shippers. Hope this helps!


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