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What is Partial Truckload Shipping (PTL)?

The freight shipping industry aids in moving everything from point A to B and takes on an endless number of complexities with each mode. 

For each method, you will discover several other categories ensuring every type of shipment is affordable and maximized for shipment, including land transportations with partial truckload carriers

What is Partial Truckload Shipping (PTL)?

The road (ground) shipping industry includes several modes. Trucks and trailers are common land transportation utilized by many because of their convenience and affordability.

However, not every business requires an entire truck to deliver its shipments. In this case, companies are given freight loads that don't need a whole truck to carry cargo. 

This is where partial truckload works best. The term "partial load" refers to a shipment with five or more pallets and weighs between 5,000 and 40 pounds.

A partial truckload consists of less than the total shipping weight but more than TL freight (lesser amount). A PTL shipment must contain 14 containers. 

How Does PTL work? 

If you have a shipment that is too large to be considered (truckload or TL) but doesn't fill the entire truck, this would most likely fall under partial shipments.

Freight of this type is shipped through the consolidator network provided that all requirements are met. 

As for the remaining space, your shipment will also be sharing the same area with other shippers. 

When is Partial Truckload Shipping Applicable? 

The primary reason shippers choose partial load to transport goods is to cut down shipping fees.

There are two factors for partial truckload shipping to be considered: 

  • Density. When shipping a load, the density will determine your rate. LTL shipments require that you have an appropriate freight class for the weight and size of what's being transported to ensure cost-effectiveness. Between six boxes of apples and 20 stainless steel guttering sheets, sending the latter as PTL will save you more money. 
  • Size. Partial loads are more cost-efficient for loads taking more space but not consuming the entire trailer. 

Difference between PTL & LTL Shipping

Third-party logistics providers are experts at finding the proper truck shipping for you.

They can match shippers with partial truckload carriers or provide advice on making your shipping process more efficient.

Many confuse PTL with LTL shipping. But there are a few distinctions to help you find the right shipping load for your business. 

Less than truckload (LTL) is perfect for small and mid-sized businesses with regular shipping needs but cannot fill an entire trailer.

Logistics providers specialize in combining multiple LTL shipments into one truck so that fleets can maximize their trips while saving money. Rates will be based on size, freight class, tariffs, and weight. 

With partial truckload (PTL), the freight stays on a single truck, and another cargo is added to it. Aside from less handling of your goods, rates are based on how much space an item takes up in transit.

Usually, a partial load would be more than four pallets. Cargoes also arrive faster than LTL since your shipment will only be staying in one truck where transportation is less volatile. 

Related: What is Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)?

Pros & Cons of Partial Truckload Shipping?

Advantages of Using PTL Shipping

Compared with LTL, shipping rates will not be based on freight class.

You avoid getting extra charges (such as minimum density) commonly associated with other shipment modes. 

Partial truckload carriers provide a level of service that is unmatched by other modes.

They do not stop at distribution terminals along their route, which means there's no time wasted on waiting around for shipments to arrive, be picked up, or delivered before moving onto another load.

Thus, PTL leads towards faster transit times in comparison with LTL. 

PTL shipments require less handling since they stay in one truck for most of the transportation.

It'smore likely to retain the quality of the goods compared with traditional LTL transit.  

If you have goods that need to be shipped under a deadline and are less durable, PTL shipping would be an ideal mode of transportation. 

Disadvantages of Using PTL Shipping

Compared to other truck modes, the specific sizes needed for partial load shipping meant that not all carriers offer this kind of shipment. 

PTL rates vary depending on the market, and the fees will be based on the weight, mileage, space needed, and specific lane.

No two shipping fees will be the same, especially if there are limited trucks to carry the shipments.

With the changing market, prices for partial shipping costs can change too.

Most freight carriers often don't offer this type of service. But if they do, it may not always be available, making them an option rather than a necessity.

See how much time and money you'll save by having our pros help manage your freight.