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Volume LTL Guide

Volume LTL Guide

Volume Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping is a freight transportation mode that falls between standard LTL and full truckload (FTL) shipping. It involves consolidating multiple shippers’ goods onto one truck, optimizing space and reducing costs for each shipper. It’s ideal for larger but not full-truck shipments that seek cost-effective rates.

By consolidating multiple shippers’ freight onto a single truck, it optimizes space and lowers shipping costs for each shipper. This cost efficiency, combined with reduced handling, faster transit times, and greater flexibility, makes Volume LTL an attractive choice for businesses looking to balance cost savings and efficient transportation of their goods, contributing to more streamlined supply chains and better customer service.

Our comprehensive guide aims to help you make informed decisions about PTL shipping. Read on to learn more about PTL, it’s benefits, when to use it, and how to choose the right PTL shipping company for you.

What is Volume LTL Shipping?

Volume Less Than Truckload shipping, often referred to as “volume LTL,” is a freight shipping method that falls between traditional LTL and full truckload (FTL) shipping. It is designed for shippers with shipments that exceed standard LTL volume but don’t require a full truck. Here’s how Volume LTL shipping differs from other shipping methods and some of its advantages.

Volume Threshold: Volume LTL typically applies to shipments that are larger than what standard LTL carriers can efficiently handle but not large enough to justify booking an entire FTL. The volume threshold for volume LTL shipments varies among carriers but is generally between 3,000 and 12,000 pounds or 6 to 12 pallets.

Pricing: Volume LTL shipments are priced differently from traditional LTL. Instead of being solely based on weight and distance (like LTL), pricing often considers factors such as space occupied, density, and volume. Shippers are charged based on the cubic footage or linear feet their freight occupies in the trailer.

Efficiency: Volume LTL carriers consolidate multiple shippers’ freight onto one truck, optimizing space and reducing costs for each shipper. This consolidation allows shippers to access more competitive rates than if they were to book FTL for their larger but not full-truck shipments.

Transit Time: Volume LTL shipments typically have shorter transit times compared to standard LTL because they bypass the traditional LTL hub-and-spoke network. This results in faster delivery for time-sensitive shipments.

Handling: Volume LTL shipments involve less handling compared to standard LTL. Shippers often load and unload their freight directly onto the trailer, reducing the risk of damage or loss during transfer.

Benefits of Volume LTL

By consolidating shipments, volume LTL carriers spread the transportation costs across multiple shippers. This sharing of expenses results in cost savings for each shipper involved. Shippers benefit from lower rates per unit of freight compared to what they would pay for full truckload (FTL) shipping.

Standard LTL shipments typically involve multiple handling points, where the freight may be loaded and unloaded multiple times as it moves through various distribution centers and terminals. In contrast, Volume LTL shipments involve fewer handling points, as they are often loaded directly by the shipper and unloaded directly by the consignee or their representatives. This streamlined process reduces the chances of mishandling and minimizes the risk of freight damage.

Volume LTL shipments are known for their expedited transit times compared to standard LTL. This speed is primarily due to the unique routing and handling of Volume LTL freight. Unlike standard LTL, which typically follows a hub-and-spoke network involving multiple terminals and transfer points, Volume LTL shipments often take a more direct route from the shipper to the consignee.

When to Use Volume LTL Shipping?

Larger Shipments: Volume LTL is ideal when your shipment exceeds the typical size or weight limits of standard LTL, typically around 5,000 pounds or six pallets. If your cargo is substantial but doesn’t require a full truckload (FTL), Volume LTL can provide cost-effective solutions.

Time Sensitivity: Volume LTL shipments typically have shorter transit times compared to standard LTL. This is because they bypass the traditional LTL hub-and-spoke network, resulting in quicker delivery, making it suitable for time-sensitive shipments.

Cost-Effective: Volume LTL can be more cost-effective than standard LTL for larger shipments. With shared space, you benefit from competitive rates, reducing your shipping expenses while still enjoying the convenience of LTL service.

Examples: Some examples of shipments suitable for volume LTL include but not limited to furniture, appliances, palletized goods, construction materials, retail merchandise, manufacturing components, healthcare equipment, automotive parts, agricultural products, e-commerce shipments, and electronic equipment. Industries that may benefit from volume LTL include but are not limited to manufacturing, construction, automotive, retail, agriculture, technology, healthcare, furniture, trade shows, home improvement, food and beverage, e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, heavy machinery, chemicals, and more.

Volume LTL vs. Standard LTL vs. Full Truckload


Volume LTL typically offers a lower cost per pound or per pallet compared to Standard LTL. It’s cost-effective because it optimizes trailer space and allows shippers to share costs. Standard LTL shipping can be more expensive per pound or pallet compared to Volume LTL due to its pricing structure, which considers factors like freight class, weight, and dimensions. FTL is typically the most economical choice for large shipments that occupy an entire trailer. It offers lower costs per mile or per hundredweight (CWT) for high-volume, long-distance shipments.

Transit Time

Volume LTL shipments typically have shorter transit times compared to Standard LTL. They bypass the traditional LTL hub-and-spoke network, resulting in quicker deliveries. Standard LTL shipments may have longer transit times compared to Volume LTL due to the hub-and-spoke network, where freight is consolidated and distributed through central hubs. FTL shipments often have faster transit times for long-distance hauls because they go directly from the shipper to the consignee without intermediate stops.

Handling Risks

Volume LTL shipments typically have shorter transit times compared to Standard LTL. They bypass the traditional LTL hub-and-spoke network, resulting in quicker deliveries. Standard LTL shipments may have longer transit times compared to Volume LTL due to the hub-and-spoke network, where freight is consolidated and distributed through central hubs. FTL shipments often have faster transit times for long-distance hauls because they go directly from the shipper to the consignee without intermediate stops.

Volume LTL vs. Standard LTL Shipping

Volume LTL and Standard LTL are distinct shipping methods catering to different freight sizes and requirements. Volume LTL is the choice for larger shipments exceeding standard LTL parameters, offering cost-effective pricing, reduced handling, and shorter transit times. In contrast, Standard LTL suits smaller shipments adhering to established LTL limits, with pricing influenced by factors like freight class, density, and distance. Shippers choose between these options based on shipment size, cost considerations, transit time needs, and their tolerance for handling risks. Volume LTL is ideal for cost-sensitive, larger loads, while Standard LTL caters to smaller, time-sensitive shipments.

Volume LTL vs. Full Truckload Shipping

Volume LTL and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping methods offer distinct solutions to shippers based on their freight volume and requirements. Volume LTL is suitable for shipments larger than standard LTL but not requiring a full truck, providing cost-efficient rates, reduced handling, and quicker transit times. FTL, on the other hand, is the choice for shipments that occupy an entire truck trailer, delivering the lowest cost per unit but requiring substantial volume. The decision between Volume LTL and FTL depends on shipment size, cost considerations, urgency, and the need for dedicated trailer space. Volume LTL is the middle ground between cost-effectiveness and space utilization, while FTL caters to high-volume, full-truck shipments.

Planning and Preparing for Volume LTL Shipments

Compare Carriers

It’s essential to compare quotes, leverage your shipment’s volume, and seek adjustments based on flexibility and accessorial charges. Long-term commitments, backhaul opportunities, and building strong relationships with carriers can lead to favorable rates. Continuous evaluation and benchmarking ensure ongoing cost-efficiency.

Package and Label

Properly package and label your goods to minimize the risk of damage and ensure efficient handling. Clear labeling and secure packaging prevent delays and errors during transit. Provide accurate weight and dimension details to carriers to obtain precise rate quotes. Inaccurate information can lead to unexpected costs or issues during transit.

Prepare Documents

Prepare all necessary shipping documentation, including bills of lading, packing lists, and any special instructions for handling.

Choose a reputable volume LTL carrier experienced in handling larger shipments. Consider factors like their network coverage, transit times, and safety records. Familiarize yourself with the carrier’s policies regarding accessorial charges, claims procedures, and any additional services they offer.

Contract Considerations

Carefully review the terms, including pricing structures, volume commitments, and potential additional charges. Ensure that the contract aligns with your shipment needs and allows for flexibility.

Best Practices for Volume LTL Shipping

Palletization: Use pallets to standardize cargo dimensions and facilitate easier loading, creating a uniform and compact load.

Accurate Documentation: Ensure all shipping documents, labels, and invoices are accurate and clearly marked.

Communication: Maintain open communication with your carrier, providing shipment details, special instructions, and any changes promptly.

Track Shipments: Utilize tracking and monitoring systems to keep tabs on your shipments in real-time.

Evaluate Performance: Regularly review carrier performance to identify areas for improvement and ensure service quality.

Insurance: Consider cargo insurance to protect against potential loss or damage during transit.

Pricing & Cost Factors

Shipment Volume: The volume of freight you ship plays a significant role in pricing. Larger volumes often result in lower rates per unit.

Distance: The distance your shipment needs to travel affects costs. Longer distances generally incur higher charges.

Freight Class: The classification of your cargo based on its characteristics, density, and handling requirements influences pricing. Higher freight classes may result in higher costs.

Special Requirements: Any special handling or equipment needs, such as temperature-controlled trailers or hazardous materials, can increase pricing.

Accessorial Charges: Additional services, such as inside delivery, liftgate service, or residential delivery, come with extra charges.

Fuel Surcharges: Fuel costs can impact pricing, leading to fuel surcharges that fluctuate with market rates.

Seasonal Variations: Shipping during peak seasons or holidays may lead to higher rates due to increased demand.

Carrier Selection: Different carriers have varying pricing structures, so your choice of carrier can influence costs.

How to Choose a Volume LTL Shipping Company

Assess Your Needs: Begin by evaluating your shipping requirements, including shipment volume, frequency, destinations, and any special handling or equipment needs. Understanding your specific needs will help you find a carrier that aligns with your requirements.

Research Potential Carriers: Look for Volume LTL companies with a strong reputation and a track record of reliability. Start by researching online, reading reviews, and seeking recommendations from industry peers.

Review Pricing Structures: Compare pricing structures, including rates, fees, and any additional charges (e.g., accessorial fees). Request quotes from multiple carriers to gauge their competitiveness.

Customer Support: Evaluate the carrier’s customer service and support capabilities. Responsive and helpful customer support can make a significant difference when issues arise.

Contract Terms: Carefully review the carrier’s contract terms, including contract length, termination clauses, and pricing adjustments.

Insurance: Verify that the carrier has adequate insurance coverage to protect your shipments.

Sunset Pacific Transportation’s Volume LTL Shipping Services

At Sunset Pacific Transportation , we proudly offer volume LTL services including

  • Optimized LTL Consolidation
  • Minimized claims risk with only one stop
  • Pre-set delivery appointments
  • Direct, personalized and dedicated service representative
  • Specialized freight handling
  • No contracts


Volume LTL shipping is a freight transportation strategy that falls between traditional LTL and full truckload (FTL) shipping methods. In Volume LTL, shippers consolidate multiple smaller shipments into one truckload, optimizing space and cost efficiency. This approach is ideal for shippers with freight volumes that exceed typical LTL thresholds but don’t require an entire truck. Volume LTL offers cost savings, reduced handling, and faster transit times compared to standard LTL, making it a flexible and efficient solution for shipping various goods. Shippers can benefit from competitive rates, more control over their shipments, and the ability to meet the demands of a diverse customer base.

Volume LTL plays a vital role in modern logistics by offering a cost-effective middle ground between standard LTL and full truckload (FTL) shipping. It allows shippers to optimize space, reduce costs, and improve efficiency, especially for larger but not full-truck shipments. This logistics strategy is significant in meeting diverse customer demands, achieving cost savings, and ensuring timely deliveries, making it a valuable tool in supply chain management. Contact Sunset Pacific Transportation today for reliable and hassle-free shipping solutions.

Volume LTL FAQs

When should you opt for volume LTL instead of PTL?

Choose Volume Less Than Truckload (LTL) over Partial Truckload (PTL) when you have a larger but not full-truckload shipment, typically over 5,000 pounds or 6 pallets. Volume LTL is cost-effective for these mid-sized shipments compared to PTL and offers better rates while ensuring efficient space utilization in the truck trailer.

What’s the difference between PTL, LTL, and FTL?

PTL (Partial Truckload) occupies a portion of a truck trailer, ideal for mid-sized shipments. LTL (Less Than Truckload) combines multiple small shipments into one trailer. FTL (Full Truckload) uses an entire trailer for a single shipment.

How should I prepare for volume LTL shipping?

Preparing for volume Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping involves several steps. First, accurately measure and weigh your freight to determine its dimensions and weight class. Properly package and label your items to prevent damage during transit. Choose a reliable volume LTL carrier with experience in handling mid-sized shipments. Plan your shipment’s route and schedule delivery times. Finally, communicate clearly with your carrier, provide all necessary documentation, and track your shipment to ensure a smooth process and timely delivery.

What are the cost factors for volume LTL shipping?

Cost factors for volume Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping include the weight and dimensions of the freight, its classification based on the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), distance traveled, any additional services required (e.g., liftgate), and the carrier’s rates. Negotiating rates and consolidating shipments can also impact costs positively.

What is the difference between Volume LTL vs partial truckload?

Volume LTL and partial truckload (PTL) share similarities as they both cater to shipments larger than typical Less Than Truckload (LTL) but smaller than Full Truckload (FTL). However, the key difference is that in Volume LTL, multiple shippers’ goods are consolidated onto one truck, optimizing space, and reducing costs for each shipper, while PTL typically involves occupying a portion of a truck trailer without sharing with others.

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