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Moving over 11 billion tons of freight every year is a testament to the trucking industry’s vital role in sustaining the economy. When it seems no shipment is the same and empty miles are the epitome of waste, efficiently moving freight across the country requires a balance of Full Truckload (FTL) and Less than Truckload (LTL). This article delves into the complexities of FTL while covering how logistics service providers (LSPs) navigate these challenges to ensure the seamless movement of goods across short and long distances.

What Influences Full Truckload Shipping?

Full truckload, as the name eludes to, involves transporting goods that fill up an entire truck or are substantial enough to warrant the exclusive use of a vehicle, primarily due to weight, volume, or specific delivery needs. Unlike LTL shipping, where goods from multiple shippers share truck space, FTL is utilized for larger shipments, often exceeding 10,000 pounds, or when expedited delivery is crucial. Determining what constitutes a full truckload can depend on several factors beyond pallet count and weight. Here’s a breakdown of full truckload considerations:

  • Weight and Volume – Typically utilized for shipments over 10,000 pounds or when goods occupy the entire trailer space.
  • Pallet Considerations – A standard 53-foot trailer can usually hold up to 26 standard pallets. This number can vary based on several factors:
    • Standard pallets are 40” x 48”. Shipments on pallets smaller or larger than standard pallets impact pallet capacity. 
    • Double stacking of pallets, which can exceed the standard pallet limit.
    • Expect partial truckload or FTL rates when the pallet count exceeds 12. 
    • Some FTL shipments are loaded directly onto the trailer’s floor, potentially requiring additional labor or machinery for loading/unloading.
  • Weight Regulations – Federal limits dictate a gross vehicle weight of up to 80,000 pounds, with axle weight limits of 20,000 pounds for a single axle and 34,000 pounds for a tandem axle group.

Since FTL shipments don’t have the frequent stops of loading and unloading found in LTL transport, the benefits of full truckload shipping include faster transit times, minimized handling of goods, and the ability to transport large, bulky, or heavy items more efficiently.

FTL offers a flexible and efficient solution for moving large shipments. For instance, if you consistently ship LTL shipments to the same location, you could consolidate those into less frequent FTL shipments and realize some serious cost savings. Although dry van FTL is less complex than heavy haul or refrigerated transport, FTL is not without challenges. 

Challenges in Full Truckload Shipping

While plentiful, the challenges in FTL are not. LSPs leverage expertise and learned best practices to tackle the sector’s unique challenges. Building a cutting-edge technology stack helps ensure resilience and adaptability in the face of evolving industry demands. This section explores the challenges of FTL shipping and illustrates how seasoned logistics experts apply their knowledge and capabilities to overcome these obstacles.

Rate Fluctuations

The logistics industry is marked by its dynamic nature, as we saw during the pandemic and now experiencing in the current freight recession. Since freight rates primarily fluctuate due to demand, costs, and market capacity, LSPs can mitigate this volatility by securing long-term contracts to stabilize pricing and adopting flexible pricing models that adjust to market shifts

Supply vs. Demand Balance

Juggling truckload capacity and the ever-changing demand for shipping is a constant battle!  Here, advanced booking strategies, maintaining a diversified network of reliable carriers, and employing predictive analytics to forecast trends help LSPs match supply with demand efficiently. These strategies enable LSPs to optimize resource allocation, ensuring timely deliveries even during peak seasons.

Service Reliability

I’ve found the key to longevity in this business is building strong partnerships built on trust and reliability. Reliable service delivery is non-negotiable, which is why, in addition to our “No Give Back Policy,” we monitor carrier performance, plan for contingencies, and adhere to strict quality control measures. 

Load Optimization

The art of load efficiency optimization emerges as a pivotal strategy. Optimizing load efficiency involves strategically aligning shipments to ensure that every journey maximizes available capacity, minimizes empty miles, and enhances the sustainability of transport operations. 

Through meticulous planning and applying advanced technologies, LSPs can deliver value to shippers and carriers by optimizing every aspect of the FTL shipping process. They ensure that each load is planned precisely to meet the dual goals of efficiency and sustainability.

Regulatory Compliance

LSPs navigate this complex regulatory landscape by integrating sophisticated software solutions to maintain adherence to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. This takes the guesswork out of compliance, allows for efficient document management, facilitates accurate record-keeping, and simplifies the overall compliance process. This comprehensive approach to regulatory compliance underscores LSPs’ commitment to upholding safety and environmental standards.

Limited Visibility

The concept of visibility in shipping continues to evolve at a lightning pace. LSPs address visibility needs and add value by implementing state-of-the-art technologies like real-time GPS tracking, IoT devices, and comprehensive Transportation Management Systems (TMS). These tools offer shippers real-time access to tracking information, enhancing transparency and enabling better logistics planning.

Risk Management

In the second quarter of 2023, the freight industry suffered over $44 million in shipment thefts. This trend continued in Q3, with tactics becoming more sophisticated. LSPs deploy comprehensive insurance coverage, rigorous carrier vetting, and advanced tracking and monitoring technologies to preempt potential thefts and fraud. Integrating real-time GPS tracking, IoT devices, and enhanced security protocols for high-risk routes and commodities fortifies the defense against these evolving threats and fraud schemes.

Furthermore, education and partnership with law enforcement agencies amplify the efforts to safeguard shipments, ensuring a secure and reliable transportation network for valuable freight. Through these layered strategies, LSPs protect against current risks and adapt to counter future threats in the ever-evolving landscape of full truckload shipping.

Choosing the Right LSP for Full Truckload Shipping Success

At Logistics Group International (LGI), we have deep-rooted expertise and take an innovative approach to navigating the complexities of FTL shipping. Here is how we distinguish ourselves:

  1. Technological Leadership – We leverage state-of-the-art technologies to offer superior operational efficiency, real-time shipment visibility, and data-driven insights that drive more intelligent decision-making.
  2. Adaptability to Industry Changes – Whether adapting to new environmental regulations, embracing sustainability practices, or responding to shifts in global trade dynamics, we take a proactive stance on industry trends and regulatory changes, to ensure we are always ahead of the curve.
  3. Customized Solutions – Understanding that each client has unique logistics needs, LGI excels in crafting tailored shipping solutions that address specific challenges. From complex load optimizations to specialized handling requirements, LGI’s solutions meet the diverse needs of its clients, ensuring optimal efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  4. Commitment to Excellence – At the core of LGI’s operations is a commitment to delivering the highest level of service quality. Through rigorous carrier vetting, comprehensive risk management practices, and a customer-centric approach, LGI ensures our clients’ shipments’ safety, security, and satisfaction.

By choosing LGI as your logistics partner, you benefit from an LSP that understands the intricacies of full truckload shipping and brings innovation, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence to the table. 

Navigating Full Truckload Shipping with LGI

Expertise, innovation, and a commitment to excellence are essential for overcoming the challenges of full truckload freight shipping. The role of an experienced and innovative LSP brings expertise, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence to the forefront. Choosing LGI means entrusting your freight to a team that understands the challenges of FTL shipping and is equipped with the latest technologies and deep industry insights to navigate these challenges effectively. 

For those ready to elevate their full truckload freight shipping strategy, LGI invites you to reach out for a consultation and quote. Together, we can embark on a journey towards logistics excellence, overcoming the challenges of FTL shipping with innovative solutions and expert guidance.