LTL, or Parcel Shipping?
While it can be slightly more economical, parcel shipping (typically packages under 150 pounds that can be lifted without assistance) can result more frequently in damaged or lost packages due to smaller size and lower weight.
LTL shipments tend to include larger packages placed on pallets, then moved to areas specifically designed to keep freight safe. Overall there is less handling for LTL shipments with less opportunity for damage or loss.
Parcel shipments go through more checkpoints than LTL, another reason LTL shipping can be safer. Another benefit of LTL is zone skipping, or skipping over parcel carrier zones, saving the shipper from being charged for the shipment traversing numerous zones.
Also, knowledge of the key terms involved in LTL freight tracking is foundational to understanding what makes LTL the superior choice:
- Bill of Lading (BOL): a requirement for moving shipments and serving as the receipt of goods between shipper and freight carrier, a BOL includes line items such as names and addresses of shipper and consignee, how the shipment is packaged, dates of shipment, the purchase order (PO)/special account information, goods description, the value of the shipment, and special instructions for handling; entering a BOL number into a carrier website is one way to track a shipment
When a BOL isn’t available, other information can help with online tracking via a carrier or service provider:
- The date range for pickups: a calendar notation indicating when freight was picked up
- PO number: typically, the purchaser assigns this key reference number to corral all elements, such as communications and payment, of a specific purchase
- Pro number: the standard tracking number of the industry assigned by the carrier for shipment identification after pickup; can be used during transit for tracing
- Shipment number: generally assigned at the beginning of the freight shipment process
- Shipment reference number: established by shippers, sometimes a BOL number, customer number, PO number, name of the company, or other descriptive word or phrase for package identification
- Transportation Management System (TMS): software that, among other functions, provides a centralized location for shipment information, streamlines decisions regarding carrier selection, and makes LTL freight tracking easy for “en route” freight; also helpful for adjusting customer expectations when delays occur due to weather or other causes
Related LTL documents that can be especially helpful in the event of damage or loss include:
- Delivery confirmation: details time of delivery and signature of receiver
- Lumper (loading or unloading) receipt: details include truck number, business and driver names, locations of shipping/receiving, signatures needed, and fees
- Original invoice: details of the price associated with the shipment.
- Quote summary: summarizes all services
- Weight ticket: an overview of freight, quantity shipped, priority level, order number, purchase order, and contact information of the customer
Why choose LTL over parcel?
When you have one or two small packages, parcel is a great option. When you’re shipping increased quantities that can be stacked on pallets, you’ll save a ton shipping LTL instead.
Call us today, or click below to request a free trial of our cloud-based TMS, Amrate, and see firsthand how we can help you save 30% or more annually on LTL.