Partial truckload (PTL) shipments are sometimes offered by carriers to clients needing to move anywhere from 12 to 30 lineal feet of goods. PTL is suitable for clients looking to ship more than what less than truckload (LTL) delivery services can accommodate, but less than that required to fill up a full truckload (FTL).
Cost savings is a desirable benefit that favors PTL over LTL. The PTL pricing model creates a savings opportunity by charging for the exact space their shipment requires, and no more. Even in cases when the price of PTL is equivalent to a LTL alternative, it is still the better option because freight is less likely to be damaged when traveling via PTL.
When items enter an LTL network they are usually picked up in a truck, delivered to a shipping terminal, loaded onto another truck, then perhaps delivered to a regional terminal, before finally being reloaded and sent to their destination. PTL freight, on the other hand, is treated more like Truck Load freight, which means it typically enters and exits fewer terminals, if any at all. Because cargo is more likely to be damaged while it’s handled at terminals than at any other point of its journey, the fewer stopovers inherent to the PTL method result in fewer damages.
Furthermore, PTL freight is more visible than LTL freight while in transit. LTL shipments can only be monitored when they are in a terminal or are heading to a terminal. PTL shipments can usually be tracked throughout their entire time in transit. Because the freight often stays in one truck, it can be tracked with direct driver contact or via satellite.
Though fewer businesses are aware of PTL’s availability, it is often a more efficient method of shipping. It is generally faster, with less risk than its counterpart, LTL, as well as more cost effective than paying to ship “air” in a full truck.