Truckload 101

As you may be able to guess by its name, truckload freight is a mode of service that typically moves a single shipment that requires the entire capacity of a truck.  Unlike an LTL carrier, truckload carriers will pick up the freight from point of origin and drive directly to the consignee.  Even though it is not required that the product being shipped take up the entire space in the trailer, typically a truckload shipment will weigh in excess of 20,000 lbs.  A truckload shipment cannot weigh greater than 45,000 lbs.

There are many advantages of moving freight with truckload carriers.  The two main benefits are transit times and cost.  Typically when moving larger volumes of product that require a truckload carrier, your cost per pound to ship the item is lower than shipping multiple LTL (less than truckload) shipments.Unlike LTL carriers, truckload carriers do not have to make multiple stops before the freight is delivered to the consignee, which allows them to deliver the freight in a shorter amount of time. 

When moving a shipment from coast-to-coast, a LTL shipment will make multiple stops and may take up to 6 business days before it is delivered.  Truckload freight will typically not have to make any stops along the way and will be able to deliver the freight in 3 to 4 days.  By law, a driver cannot travel for more than 11 hours without having to take a 10-hour break.  Some truckload companies will hire teams. Teams consist of 2 drivers being in the truck to allow 1 driver to be on their mandatory break while the other driver continues to drive the truck.

One other way to utilize the advantages of using truckload shipping is when a customer may have 2 to 3 larger LTL shipments going towards the same geographic location.  These types of shipments will incur additional stop off fees from the carrier but even with those additional charges, the cost per pound can still be cheaper than moving the product with an LTL carrier.

Unlike LTL and air freight, you are not renting out a certain amount of trailer space.  By moving your product via truckload freight, you will basically rent out the entire truck, so a product’s dimensional weight or freight class is not needed in figuring the cost.  Carriers will charge you a price per mile based on the origin location and the destination location.  The origin and destination locations are very important to a truckload carrier.  A shipment moving from Kansas to Florida may cost $ 1.35 per mile, but a shipment moving from Florida to Kansas may cost $ 1.00 per mile.

You may ask why would a shipment moving to and from the same states have a different cost based on where the shipment is originating.  The answer to your question is as simple as the theory of supply and demand.  By charging a per mile rate to their customers, truckload carriers are only making money when they are moving freight.  If a carrier is driving down the road with no freight in their trailer, they are  not making any money. 

This is known as a dead head.  In our example above, a carrier may charge more for moving freight to a location like Florida due to their knowledge that there is not a lot of product being shipped out of that state.  Florida is known as a consumption state.  They receive a lot of product into their state, but do not produce enough to keep the trucks leaving their state full. 

Therefore when a carrier has to take a load to this type of state, they will charge a higher cost per mile to compensate them for the likelihood of them having to drive a certain amount of miles without any freight to pickup the next load.  If a carrier can find freight that needs to be moved out of the state of Florida, they are much more likely to move that at a reduced cost due to the large amount of trucks in the area that will agree to move the product cheap just to allow them to have freight loaded in their truck and allow them to generate revenues. This is known as backhaul.

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