Is full truckload the right option for my shipment?
Like with any logistics solution, the decision to use full-truckload shipping really depends on whether your shipment can benefit from the way the service works. When you break full truckload down to its basic components, it’s differentiated from other transportation options in two ways: the fact that you get exclusive use of the equipment (which is untrue for modes like LTL) and how the market works. These two factors can bring multiple benefits for shippers, but there may be times when truckload isn’t the right option. Explore what makes this transportation mode unique, what the advantages are, and when another service may make more sense.
Why exclusive use matters
Unlike less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping, where freight from multiple shippers is consolidated into a trailer, full-truckload shipping utilizes the entire trailer for a single shipment. This allows for benefits including:
Since yours is the only shipment in the trailer, the driver can go from point A to point B without stopping to pick up and drop off other freight. This means transit times are faster, which can provide more flexibility. Saving even one day in transit can make it possible to hit delivery targets even if other delays occur in your supply chain.
Because your freight won’t need to be unloaded and reloaded multiple times during transit, full truckload is often beneficial for sensitive goods. The fewer times freight is handled, the less risk of damage.
How the truckload market helps shippers
The truckload market differs from other transportation options in two key ways: the number of capacity providers available and how rates are structured. And while navigating the truckload market can bring up a lot of questions, it provides advantages like:
The ability to find the right fit
Having multiple carriers available for every shipment means you can focus on finding providers with the best service. And you can work with a logistics provider to source capacity from multiple carriers with a single request. This can reduce the time spent quoting, and help you get freight on the road fast.
Cost-effective rates for large shipments
Truckload rates are based on things like distance, the lane the freight is moving on and the season, but weight doesn’t play a factor since you pay for the entire trailer. Using distance and lane information rather than weight can make full truckload cheaper than other modes (like LTL) once shipments reach a certain size. Typically, anything above 42,000 pounds (or more than 6 pallets) is more economical to ship via truckload.
When does another option make more sense?
As you can see, truckload offers several benefits, and it makes sense that it’s a staple in most supply chains. But if you have unique circumstances, another service may better suit your needs. Here are examples of when truckload may not be the best option:
Extremely time-sensitive shipments
Though standard truckload service is faster than LTL, transit times are not guaranteed. So, if you have freight with specific delivery windows, you'll want to use either time-critical or expedite options. These provide additional measures to ensure freight gets to its destination on time. Learn more about freight transit times.
High-value freight that needs extra visibility and security
While standard truckload trailers have GPS tracking and provide exclusive use, high-value shipments may need enhanced security measures. Premium services like geo-fencing and temperature-controlled equipment are better fits for shipments that require more protection.
Tight capacity conditions
Despite the large number of truckload service providers across the U.S., capacity can get tight during peak freight seasons and trucks can be difficult to find. In those instances, it may be better to use an alternate capacity option to ensure your shipments can deliver as promised. See other capacity options and how they compare to truckload.
Explore ArcBest truckload options
If you’re looking to ship truckload freight, ArcBest has the services you need. With a network of more than 80,000 pre-qualified carriers and our own assets to provide additional capacity, we can get your truckload freight moving — day or night. Learn more about our truckload service or create an account to get an instant quote.