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FAQs about Shipping Truckload Freight

Posted by James Williams on November 30, 2020 - 6:03 AM
Semi-truck on the road carrying a full truckload shipment

Get answers to your truckload shipping questions

The full-truckload market is valued at more than $193 billion in the U.S., and more than 928,000 for-hire carriers are available to shippers. With a market that size, it’s no surprise there are a lot of questions about how to navigate it — especially for people new to the industry. If that’s you, check out the most common questions about full-truckload shipping below to get the answers you’re searching for.  

What is full truckload (FTL) shipping? 

Full truckload (FTL) shipping is a transportation mode that moves a single shipment from origin to destination in the same trailer.   

When should I use it? 

While there are many reasons to choose full-truckload shipping, it’s generally a great fit for these circumstances:  

  • When you have enough items to fill an entire trailer 

  • When you prefer your freight to travel alone  

  • When you need special equipment 

  • When the weight makes less-than-truckload more expensive   
     

What equipment options are available?

When you think of truckload equipment, the standard 53-foot semi-trailer is probably what comes to mind. However, options such as refrigerated or flatbed trailers are also available for freight that has special needs. Learn more about freight equipment types.  

Having trouble securing truckload equipment? Explore these alternative capacity options to find another solution.  

What types of companies offer truckload services?  

Most logistics companies offer full-truckload shipping services, but the difference comes in how they source capacity. Some own assets and have a limited amount of equipment to use and others (brokers or 3PLs) rely on a network of carriers to haul customers’ freight. ArcBest offers capacity from both sources — our network of more than 40,000 carriers and our own assets.  

How do I choose a provider? 

With so many companies to choose from, choosing the right provider really comes down to your specific needs. Think through your freight characteristics, shipping schedule, special handling requirements and how you want your relationship to work and ask companies questions to make sure they fit what you’re looking for. Keep reading about what to look for in a full-truckload provider.  

How long does transit take? 

FTL transit times are primarily calculated based on the distance between origin and destination. Since your shipment is the only one on the trailer, the driver will take the most direct route — speeding up transit times compared to less-than-truckload. Hours of service regulations, traffic, weather conditions and other variables can impact the actual time it takes. Learn more about freight transit times.  

How much does it cost? 

Full truckload costs depend on multiple factors including distance, current market conditions, fuel surcharges and any accessorial fees.  

Login to your ArcBest customer account to get a truckload quote online. 

How much freight fits in a full truckload? 

53-foot vans can typically hold 26 standard pallets (with a gross weight of 45,000 pounds), but the actual amount will depend on what’s being shipped. For example, if your freight can’t be stacked or is exceptionally heavy, less will fit in the trailer.   

Do I have to use the entire trailer? 

No! While FTL shipping is frequently used to transport large volumes of freight, you can utilize the service for any freight you wish to travel alone. Talk with your transportation provider about your shipment to determine the best mode — LTL or expedite may be more cost-effective depending on size, weight and delivery needs.  

Is it beneficial to combine full truckload with rail? 

If your origin and destination are more than 300 miles apart, intermodal shipping (combining over-the-road with rail) may be a good option. Not only can it help cut costs, but it’s also a good option for reducing your carbon footprint. Keep reading about the advantages of intermodal shipping

Ready to ship? ArcBest has what you need 

No matter your experience with full-truckload shipping, the ArcBest team can help. We’ll walk you through the process and take on whatever you need — allowing you to focus on other tasks while we secure capacity and get your freight delivered on-time. Learn more about ArcBest truckload services

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