New to shipping truckload freight?
Shipping truckload freight is a common practice for businesses that need to transport large volumes of goods efficiently and cost-effectively. Because the truckload market is so large and constantly changing, it’s important to understand what it is, how it works, and what makes it the ideal choice for some shipments — so you can make well-informed decisions for your business. Continue reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about shipping truckload freight.
What is considered a full truckload (FTL) shipment?
With a full truckload shipment, the entire trailer is dedicated to a single load. While the specific volume or weight that constitutes a full truckload can vary based on the truck or trailer used, a full truckload shipment generally fills the entire trailer and utilizes its weight and volume capacity.
What equipment types are available with truckload services?
FTL equipment includes dry van trailers, flatbed trailers, refrigerated trailers (reefer), step deck or drop deck trailers, and other specialized equipment (tankers, car haulers, etc.). Choosing the right equipment for your load depends on the commodity, dimensions, weight and type of care required.
What is the capacity for an FTL shipment?
The capacity can vary depending on several factors, including the type of equipment, the trailer’s dimensions, axel weight restrictions, industry standards and regional regulations. Typically, an FTL shipment can accommodate 26 standard pallets on the floor (52 double-stacked) and hold up to a maximum of 45,000 pounds. Here are some general guidelines for the capacity of common truckload equipment (note that capacity can vary depending on the specific trailer dimensions and weight limits):
- Standard 53-foot dry van: capacity of approximately 45,000 pounds or around 3,500 to 4,000 cubic feet of volume.
- Standard flatbed trailer: capacity of approximately 40,000 to 48,000 pounds and can accommodate oversized or irregularly shaped cargo.
- Reefers: capacity of approximately 45,000 pounds or 3,500 to 4,000 cubic feet of volume.
- Step deck or drop deck: capacity of approximately 40,000 to 48,000 pounds.
What are the advantages of shipping truckload?
The advantages of shipping FTL freight include:
- Exclusive use of the trailer
- Direct transportation from pickup to delivery
- Faster transit times
- Reduced handling and transfers
- Minimized risk of damage
- Increased security for high-value goods
- Flexibility in loading and unloading
When should I use full truckload shipping?
Keeping the benefits of shipping FTL loads in mind, consider using FTL shipping if your shipments fall into one or more of these categories:
- Large volume shipments that fill an entire truck or trailer
- Time-sensitive freight
- Fragile or high-value goods and you prefer for them to travel alone
- Higher weight freight that makes less-than-truckload less economical
- Specialized handling or equipment requirements
- Consistent or predictable shipments
What determines the price of a full truckload freight quote?
FTL rates vary among carriers and are based on several factors. These factors may include:
- Distance between origin and destination
- The volume of freight being shipped
- Equipment type
- Time of year/Seasonal demand
- Fuel costs
- Lane density
- Special shipping requirements
- Market conditions
- Contractual agreements
How fast is FTL freight, and what factors impact transit time?
The speed of delivery for full truckload freight varies based on distance, route and road conditions, seasonal demand, border crossings and customs, driver hours of service, and carrier capacity and scheduling. Generally, a driver who averages 55 miles per hour during an 11-hour shift can cover 605 miles daily. To get an estimate of how long an FTL shipment may take to deliver, you can divide the mileage from pickup to delivery by 600.
Do I have to use the entire trailer with full truckload shipping?
No, you don’t have to use the entire trailer. The term “full truckload” refers to the fact that the entire capacity of the truck or trailer is dedicated to your shipment, but you have the flexibility to use the truck’s capacity as needed.
What are the advantages of using FTL with a partial load?
FTL can provide faster transit times since no stops or additional pickups/deliveries are required. It also reduces the risk of damage or loss associated with multiple transfers and handling points because your goods stay on the truck throughout transportation.
How should I choose a truckload service provider?
Choosing the right truckload partner is crucial for ensuring the efficient transportation of your goods. To select the best provider for your business, begin evaluating carriers. While doing this, clearly communicate what you need from the provider. Here are some key things to assess when choosing your FTL partner:
- Are they experienced with a reputation for reliability, on-time delivery and customer satisfaction?
- Do they operate in the regions you need services, and do they have a vast network of reliable carriers?
- Do they have the capacity and appropriate equipment to handle your shipments?
- Do they have the flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in shipment volumes, urgent requests or specialized requirements?
- Do they offer technology capabilities, including a robust website experience, real-time shipment tracking, online portals, electronic documentation, and API and EDI connectivity?
- Do they follow strict safety standards and compliance regulations?
- Are they responsive, with proactive communication, dedicated contact points, and 24/7 customer support?
Read more about what to look for in a full truckload provider
How do I get a truckload quote?
Many transportation companies today, including ArcBest, allow you to submit your load details online for an instant quote. If you prefer to speak to someone, you can also engage a provider directly via phone or email. To prepare for getting a quote, whether online, by phone or email, gather shipment details, including origin and destination addresses, preferred pickup and delivery dates, the type of goods being shipped, weight, dimensions, and any specific requirements or special handling instructions.
Get an ArcBest Truckload quote.
What truckload services does ArcBest offer?
ArcBest is a leader in full truckload shipping, with solutions including dry van, flatbed, refrigerated and rail. With a growing network of 95,000+ approved capacity providers — including those offered by our truckload service, MoLo — we can cover your loads.
Our owned assets, combined with MoLo’s extensive network, give you:
- 95,000+ approved contract carriers
- 1,000+ company-owned dry vans
- 260+ company-owned flatbeds
- 320+ company-owned refrigerated trailers
- 1,200+ company-owned rail vans and containers
Learn more about ArcBest’s Full Truckload services.
Are you thinking about shipping truckload freight?
Whether you’re new to shipping truckload freight or want to see the advantages of using ArcBest for your next shipment, contact us today to see what sets us apart from our competitors.