Short on time? Here's the TL;DR:
There are three main types of shipping.
- Full truckload (FTL) is great for high-capacity shipments, but, if you cannot fill the whole truck FTL isn't cost-effective.
- Less than truckload (LTL) is cost-effective but isn't ideal for sensitive cargo and delivery times aren't guaranteed.
- Shared truckload (STL) is similar to LTL except your items move directly from pick-up to drop-off without passing through a terminal or hub.
You can take advantage of STL and logistics management software to automate dispatch management, optimize routes, and easily manage deliveries.
Freight management is on the move. With innovations taking place at every corner, you and your company don’t want to be left behind and end up losing customers. STL, or Shared Truckload, is the latest method to provide the most efficient shipping for your customers.
This article will outline the main types of shipping for midsized freight and how you can take advantage of STL to optimize your deliveries. It’ll cover:
Types of shipping available for midsize freight
There are three main ways you can move a small-to-medium-sized freight. Your options are full truckload (FTL), shared truckload (STL), and less-than-truckload (LTL). Each is suitable for different types of cargo, and it’s worth knowing which to use depending on your size and budget. Let's dive deeper into the differences, pros, and cons to help you decide which shipping option works best for you.
Full truckload (FTL)
FTL is ideal for your business if you have high-capacity shipping needs. With this option, you purchase exclusive use of a truck to fulfill your needs. Once a truck is loaded, it goes directly to the intended destination.
FTL shipments don’t make stops along the way, which makes this option the fastest. However, if you cannot fill the whole truck, this option becomes costly. Ideally, you’ll ship 10 or more pallets or more than 15,000 lbs to justify using FTL.
Additional pros and cons include:
- Cost-effective method transportation when moving 10+ pallets
- Best for moving sensitive cargo due to minimal stops and handling
- The best option for high-value cargo since the space is dedicated to you
- Best pick for time-sensitive shipments because it makes very little stops
- Not ideal for small to medium shipments (less than 15,000 lbs)
- Costly if you cannot fill the entire truck
Less than truckload (LTL)
Use LTL if you need to transport shipments that aren’t big enough to fill an FL shipment—typically cargo that weighs between 150 to 15,000 pounds. Your price depends on a variety of factors, including weight, classification, distance, and more.
If you do not need an entire trailer to transport your cargo, LTL is also a great option. You only pay for the section of the trailer your cargo occupies, which makes it a more cost-effective option. However, keep in mind that freight from other shippers with the same destination will fill the remaining trailer space.
Additional pros and cons include:
- You pay for the portion your freight occupies, which is more cost-efficient
- Increased security since your cargo is packed onto pallets before loading onto trucks
- Most LTL companies provide easy tracking methods (PO number, PRO number, bill of lading number, and shipment reference number)
- Access additional services such as inside pickup and liftgates
- Route coverage is limited based on region and volume
- Not ideal for sensitive cargo due to the possibility of multiple stops and handlings along the way
- Delivery times are not guaranteed since the truck cannot leave until the trailer is full and the route has been consolidated
Shared truckloads (STL)
As the name suggests, cargos traveling in the same direction share the same truck with STL freight. Like LTL, you share the space with other shippers. However, unlike LTL, your items move directly from the pickup location to the destination without passing through any terminal or hub. In fact, STL is completely hubless, and that makes it a faster shipment option.
Check out additional pros and cons to using STL:
- Freight remains on the same truck from pickup to destination
- Cargo is transported directly to their destination, minimizing handling and therefore damage
- Accurate shipment tracking
- You share shipment costs with other shippers
- You have total control to decide the pickup and delivery date, which helps eliminate late fees for missed appointments
- There is no need to worry about extra expenses such as reclassing, accessorial, or cubic capacity and density fees—everything is transparent
- Not ideal for large cargo
STL: The future of freight management
If STL sounds like a great option, that’s because it is! It offers you more benefits than other modes of shipment, which is why it’s becoming more and more popular. With that in mind, let's take a look at when STL shipping is a good fit for you:
- When moving partial shipments. STL is perfect for freights that exceed the LTL limit but are not large enough to fill a whole truck. This is typically shipments between 8 and 44 linear feet.
- When you want to cut the shipment fee. You only pay for the room your freights occupy. Other shippers pay for the remaining portion.
- When you want to send freight right away. Freights go direct to their destinations from the pickup points. There are no delays along the way.
- When you want to keep shipping damages low. With STL, shipments remain on the same truck, without transfers. This helps keep the chances of freight getting damaged low.
How to take advantage of STL shipping
The best way to take advantage of STL and all the benefits is to invest in transportation logistics software such as FleetRunnr. With a logistic management software solution, you can easily set up and monitor your freight movement—from pickup to destination. This solution helps you in the following areas:
STL allows you to automate and optimize the entire dispatch process while ensuring visibility at every step. Some of the tasks you can complete with this solution include:
- Dispatch to mobile
- Capturing proof of delivery
- Omni-channel order management
- Auto-assign agents to different tasks
- Track freight process
Route planning and optimization
Spend less time planning your day. In just a few minutes, you can plan and adjust your shipping schedules. Some of the things you can achieve with this solution include:
- Future planning
- Import and adjust routes
- Comparing planned routes
- Run what-if scenarios
Driver and vehicle management
Monitor truck locations in real-time to keep customers informed on the progress. You can track and manage vehicle stats down to a granular level, including:
- Your truck’s real-time location
- Fuel and mileage
Plus, receive reports on these stats to help you make informed decisions about your business.
Working with FleetRunnr to manage STL shipments
FleetRunnr is the best logistics and delivery software designed for SMBs that manages everything from first mile to last mile. Our enterprise-grade software is intuitive and easy-to-use, and is designed with your business in mind. Everything you need to get the most out of STL, FleetRunnr has.
Try FleetRunnr today and see how it can benefit your business by getting started now.