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Volume LTL vs. Standard LTL: Which Is Right for You?

Volume LTL Versus Standard LTL

Choosing between Volume Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and Standard LTL can significantly impact your shipping strategy. Volume LTL is tailored for larger LTL shipments that exceed standard dimensions, offering cost advantages and dedicated space within the LTL network. Standard LTL, on the other hand, is designed for smaller shipments that share space with others, providing cost-effective rates for less bulky cargo. The choice between the two influences cost, with Volume LTL offering potential savings for larger loads, while Standard LTL is budget-friendly for smaller consignments.

Understanding Volume LTL and Standard LTL

Volume Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping

Volume (LTL) shipping refers to a specialized freight service that accommodates larger LTL shipments. Unlike standard LTL, where cargo from multiple shippers is consolidated on a single truck, volume LTL is designed for shipments that occupy multiple pallet spaces or a significant portion of a truck’s capacity. It offers cost advantages by allowing shippers to secure dedicated space for their larger loads within an LTL network while still benefiting from LTL’s pricing structure, transit times, and network efficiency. Volume LTL bridges the gap between traditional LTL and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping for medium-sized shipments that don’t require an entire truck but exceed typical LTL dimensions.

Standard Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping

Standard (LTL) shipping is a common freight transportation service that involves the consolidation of multiple shipments from different shippers onto a single truck. In LTL shipping, each shipper’s cargo typically occupies a fraction of the truck’s space, allowing for cost-sharing among multiple shippers. This method is suitable for smaller shipments that do not require a full truck but still benefit from the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of shared transportation.

Factors Influencing the Decision


If your shipment is large in size or volume, Volume LTL provides dedicated space and potentially cost savings. Conversely, Standard LTL is a cost-effective choice for smaller shipments that don’t fill an entire truck’s capacity. While weight is a factor, it’s often less influential than size and volume when choosing between Volume LTL and Standard LTL. Volume LTL can accommodate heavier shipments, but it’s primarily tailored to handle the volume of the cargo efficiently. Analyzing these factors helps determine which LTL option aligns best with your cargo’s characteristics and optimizes your shipping strategy.

Time-Sensitive Shipments

When time is of the essence, choosing between Volume Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and Standard LTL warrants careful evaluation. Volume LTL, with its dedicated space and reduced handling, can provide greater predictability for time-sensitive shipments. It minimizes the risk of delays and damage, offering a more tailored approach to meet specific scheduling needs. Conversely, Standard LTL boasts a broad network and frequent service, making it an efficient choice for smaller, time-sensitive consignments. Its cost-effectiveness for smaller shipments can align with tight delivery windows.

Handling Needs

Volume LTL, designed for larger shipments, can accommodate specific handling needs more effectively. With dedicated space and reduced handling, it’s well-suited for delicate or high-value cargo that demands extra care. Conversely, Standard LTL offers a broader network and frequent service, making it a dependable choice for various destinations. Its cost-effective approach can be advantageous for specialized cargo, provided it doesn’t require exclusive handling.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Volume LTL vs. Standard LTL

Advantages of Volume LTL

Cost Savings

By securing dedicated space for larger shipments that don’t require a full truck, businesses can optimize their transportation budget. Volume LTL offers competitive rates while accommodating bulkier cargo, making it a cost-effective choice compared to Full Truckload (FTL) shipping.

Reduced Handling

With dedicated space for larger shipments, there are fewer stops and transfers along the route. This translates to minimized handling of your cargo, reducing the risk of damage or mishandling during transit.

Sustainability Benefits

By consolidating multiple shipments onto a single truck, it reduces the number of vehicles on the road, leading to lower carbon emissions and a smaller environmental footprint. This eco-conscious approach aligns with sustainability goals and demonstrates a commitment to environmentally responsible logistics practices.

Advantages of Standard LTL


With a widespread network and frequent departures, Standard LTL carriers can provide faster transit times for smaller shipments. This quick turnaround is particularly advantageous for time-sensitive cargo, ensuring that it reaches its destination promptly.


LTL shipping caters to a wide range of cargo sizes and destinations, offering businesses the flexibility to ship smaller loads without the need for dedicated truck space. This adaptability is particularly valuable when shipment quantities fluctuate or when there’s a need for diverse delivery points.


Lastly, Standard LTL shipping provides businesses with easy access to a vast network of transportation options and destinations. This widespread accessibility is invaluable when shipping to various locations or regions, as Standard LTL carriers typically offer comprehensive coverage. It ensures that cargo can reach both urban and remote areas, making it a versatile choice for businesses with diverse shipping needs.

Disadvantages of Volume LTL

Potential for Longer Transit Times

Because Volume LTL involves consolidating multiple shipments onto one truck, there may be intermediate stops or additional handling compared to dedicated Full Truckload (FTL) shipments. This can result in extended transit times, which may not be suitable for time-sensitive cargo.

Less Control

When multiple shipments share dedicated space on a truck, shippers may have limited control over the scheduling and route selection. This reduced control can be a drawback for businesses with strict delivery requirements or those needing customized logistics solutions.

Disadvantages of Standard LTL

Cost Considerations

While Standard LTL is cost-effective for smaller loads, it may become less economical as the shipment size increases. For businesses with substantial cargo volumes that approach or exceed LTL’s standard dimensions, the cost-effectiveness of Standard LTL diminishes. In such cases, opting for Volume LTL or Full Truckload (FTL) may offer more budget-friendly solutions.

When to Choose Volume LTL

Volume Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) is particularly well-suited for specific types of shipments, such as bulk or oversized cargo that doesn’t require a full truck. This method is ideal for industries like manufacturing, where larger components or machinery need transportation. High-volume retailers also benefit from Volume LTL when distributing substantial quantities of goods to various locations. Businesses with irregular shipment sizes or seasonal fluctuations can leverage Volume LTL’s flexibility to accommodate varying cargo volumes efficiently. Essentially, Volume LTL aligns with shipments that fall between traditional LTL and Full Truckload, making it a cost-effective solution for medium-sized loads with specific spatial requirements.

When to Choose Standard LTL

Standard Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) is an excellent choice for a wide range of shipments, including smaller loads that don’t require a full truck. It is commonly used for industries such as retail, e-commerce, and distribution, where frequent, smaller shipments need to reach various destinations cost-effectively. Manufacturers often rely on Standard LTL for supplying components or goods to production facilities or distribution centers. Businesses with diverse shipping needs, variable shipment sizes, or multiple delivery points also find Standard LTL beneficial due to its adaptability and wide coverage. Essentially, it’s the go-to choice for shippers with smaller, flexible cargo loads that can share space with other consignments, resulting in cost savings and efficient logistics.

Making an Informed Decision

Evaluate Shipment Characteristics: Begin by assessing the specific characteristics of your shipment, including its size, weight, and volume. Determine whether it falls within the dimensions typical of Standard LTL or if it qualifies as a larger load suitable for Volume LTL.

Analyze Budget Constraints: Consider your budget constraints and transportation budget. Evaluate how much you’re willing to spend on shipping and whether the cost savings associated with Volume LTL align with your financial goals.

Examine Transit Time Requirements: Assess your shipment’s transit time requirements. If your cargo needs to reach its destination quickly, Standard LTL may be a more time-efficient choice due to its frequent service.

Consider Cargo Sensitivity: Think about the nature of your cargo. If it’s delicate, high-value, or requires specialized handling, the reduced handling and dedicated space of Volume LTL may provide added security.

Consult with Logistics Experts: If you’re unsure about the best choice, consult with logistics experts or carriers who can provide insights tailored to your specific shipment needs.


The choice between Volume Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and Standard LTL hinges on various factors, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Volume LTL is ideal for larger, bulkier shipments that need dedicated space, offering cost savings and reduced handling. On the other hand, Standard LTL is a versatile option for smaller loads that benefit from a widespread network, frequent service, and cost-effective rates. When making this decision, it’s crucial to consider your shipment’s size, budget, transit time requirements, cargo sensitivity, sustainability goals, and future needs. By carefully assessing these factors, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your specific shipping needs and optimizes your logistics strategy.

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