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What is Partial Truckload Shipping? 5 Benefits to Explore

Resources > What is Partial Truckload Shipping? 5 Benefits to Explore
Many businesses don’t realize the benefits and missed opportunities that come with partial truckload shipping. We’ll explain how this transportation service and what you’ll have to gain from using it.
Partial Truckload Shipping Explained   |   Benefits of Partial Truckload Shipping   |   No Freight Class Required   |   Reduced Handling   |   Easier Tracking   |   Quicker Delivery Than LTL   |   Cost Efficient Compared To FTL   |   Partial Truckload vs LTL   |   Cost of Partial Truckload Shipping   |   Our Services
Published: February 1, 2024
Last Modified: February 21, 2024
Author: Jacob Lee

What is partial truckload shipping? This transportation option is a convenient alternative to traditional full truckload (FTL) and less-than truckload (LTL) services. However, many businesses have no idea this is a shipping method they can use, which leads to many missed cost saving opportunities. 

As defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, partial truckload shipping (PTL) is a logistics solution for shipments larger than LTL, but smaller than FTL. It provides a balance between cost and efficiency, ideal for medium-sized cargo. Shippers of PTL cargo won’t need to obtain a freight class to secure a rate.

PTL shipping has many aspects that you should know about before using it to move your cargo. 

What is Partial Truckload Shipping and When To Use It

PTL, a key player in the logistics and transportation industry, is a method that fills the gap between LTL and FTL shipping. Partial truckload shipping should be used when transporting more than six pallets or when an entire load weighs between 5,000 to 40,000 pounds.

PTL is also good to use when:

  • Shipping fragile cargo
  • Moving goods that are light, but take up large amounts of space in a trailer

If any of these conditions are met, then shippers should choose partial truckload services instead of using LTL and FTL.

If you have your own trailer, then explore power only trucking as a shipping option.

A forklift loading=

What Are the Benefits of Partial Truckload Shipping?

Partial truckload services have many unique advantages over LTL and FTL services. We’ll discuss each one to give you an idea on what to expect. 

1. No Freight Class Required

LTL shipments require a freight class to determine the base rate for the shipment. For many businesses, locating the correct one for a given load of freight is difficult and eats up precious time. Fortunately, freight classes aren’t required for determining the rate of a PTL shipment. 

This is beneficial for the following reasons: 

  • No re-classification charges
  • Reduced complexity in billing and documentation
  • Easier shipping experience for businesses

When dealing with LTL shipping, there’s always a chance shippers could get their classification wrong, which can result in additional charges when reclassifying the cargo. Since freight classes aren’t required for PTL, businesses won’t have to worry about this happening. 

Without the need to categorize freight based on class, the paperwork and billing process in PTL shipping is significantly simplified. This leads to fewer administrative burdens to worry about.

Not having to find the freight class reduces the amount of stress placed on shippers. As a result, partial truckload shipments are much easier to organize. 

If you are using LTL shipping, then read our article on LTL freight classes. It will assist you in finding the right one for your load of cargo. 

2. Reduced Handling 

Reduced handling is another standout benefit of PTL shipping. During partial truckload transport, cargo is loaded and remains untouched until it arrives at the final destination. This contrasts with LTL shipping, where freight often gets moved and rearranged at multiple points during transit

Reduced handling has the following benefits:

  • Lower risk of freight damage: The less freight has to be handled, the less likely it is to suffer damage. 
  • Improved cargo security: Reduced handling also means fewer opportunities for cargo tampering or theft. With partial load shipping, the freight is more secure. 
  • Safer for fragile items: Fragile cargo is especially at risk of damage the more it’s handled. Thanks to PTL transport, these items will remain untouched until final delivery.

If shippers are concerned about the safety of their cargo, then partial truckload logistics is the service they require. 

3. Easier Tracking

Another advantage of partial truckload shipping is how easy it is to track cargo. This feature of PTL transport is beneficial for businesses and customers that want to monitor the transit times of their freight. 

There are two reasons why tracking partial truckload shipments is easy.

  • Direct routes
  • Stable cargo

PTL shipments often follow more direct routes than LTL. With fewer stops and less complex routing, tracking the progress of a PTL shipment is straightforward. Since the freight remains on the same truck throughout the journey, it’s easier to monitor and update its status.

4. Quicker Delivery Than LTL

While partial truckload and LTL transport have unique benefits, PTL is much faster than less-than truckload shipping. Despite multiple pick-ups and deliveries that have to be made during PTL transportation,  your cargo will stay in one trailer throughout the journey. 

LTL freight is regularly reorganized, shifted, and reloaded. For PTL shipping, freight isn’t handled nearly as much. This increases the speed of the delivery schedule by removing unnecessary functions. 

5. Cost Efficient Compared To FTL

PTL transport is cheaper than FTL shipping. A partial truckload is more cost-effective because shippers only pay for the amount of trailer space their goods take up in a trailer. With FTL, the entire space of the trailer has to be paid.   

The cost savings from PTL shipping provides businesses with more control over their budget. These saved funds can be directed to other areas of their operations and enhance their business efficiency.

What’s the Difference Between Partial Truckload vs LTL?

Partial truckload and LTL shipping are often confused with one another. Both options are great for moving smaller amounts of cargo and are cheaper than using FTL to move freight. That said, each one has distinct differences. 

These include:

  • Shipment size: 
  • Handling and transfers 
  • Pricing structure

While PTL loads aren’t as big as FTL, they’re certainly bigger than LTL. As we’ve already established, partial truckload shipments weight between 5,000 and 40,000 pounds. LTL loads are smaller, being anywhere between 150 and 20,000 pounds. 

Because of the overlap in size and weight, whether something is PTL or LTL can depend on the company providing you with shipping services. This factor also affects the handling and transfer of shipments, as mentioned earlier.

Finally, the pricing structure between each transport option is also different. Expenses for partial shipments are determined simply by the amount of room in a trailer they take up. For LTL, there are other factors like weight, distance, and freight class. 

Dry van trailers parked in a warehouse lot

How Much Does Partial Truckload Freight Shipping Cost?

A partial truckload logistics services can cost anywhere between $500 to $2,000. Giving an exact amount is difficult because every PTL shipment is different and takes up a varying amount of space. That said, we found some industry estimates based on the weight of a load. 

Estimated Cost of A PTL Shipment Based On Weight

Weight of LoadEstimated Cost
10,000 lbs$500
20,000 lbs$1,000
30,000 lbs$1,500
40 ,000 lbs$2,000

Obtained from industry estimates*

As these number show, PTL transport is a more viable option for businesses that can’t afford the costlier FTL option.  However, depending on the shipping company or transport broker, your load may need to meet certain requirements to differentiate it from similar volumes that must travel as LTL. 

Secure Your Partial Truckload Quote with USA Truckload Today

At USA Truckload, we specialize in providing multiple shipping solutions that align with your specific requirements. Every load is unique, which is why we ensure that every one we take on gets the treatment it deserves. 

Our services don’t stop there. We offer a comprehensive range of shipping solutions to meet all your logistics needs:

  • Expedited Shipping: For shipments that need to be delivered in a short span of time, this service will move them quickly. 
  • Standard Truckload Shipping: This option is excellent for standard products that can travel any distance you require.
  • Hazmat Shipping: Great for moving dangerous goods with attention and care.

To discover how USA Truckload can transform your shipping operations, we invite you to take the first step towards a smarter solution. Fill out your RFP to experience the difference that professional and efficient transportation services can make. You can also call us at (866) 353-7178 if you require more information about the services we offer. 

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