Less than truckload (LTL) can be a viable shipping option when the volume of your freight is greater than what can be sent via a parcel, but not so great that a full truckload (FTL) is necessary. The selection represents the middle-ground, and is often utilized by lots of small to mid-sized businesses. However, LTL shipping can often produce unexpected expenses as a result of the Linear Foot Rule.
What is the Linear Foot Rule?
LTL style shipping is associated with an undesirable catch that essentially all carriers utilize – the Linear Foot Rule. This rule dictates that the amount of freight in transit cannot exceed predetermined parameters of space and/or weight – usually any shipment greater than four pallets is at risk.
For example, a business that needs to ship eight pallets of product to retailers will contract a carrier to ship the freight as LTL. If the LTL limit set by the shipper is six pallets, then the price of the contract will increase exponentially, often times by so much that shipping a full truckload would be a more economical solution.
The Need to Knows of the Linear Foot Rule
It may seem logical and obvious, but the Linear Foot Rule is actually quite tricky for companies to abide by. Its parameters vary from contract to contract, and are often ill-defined. This means the rule can be a nasty surprise for clients completely oblivious to its specifications, let alone its existence.
If the weight or volume of freight surpasses the maximums identified by the Linear Foot Rule, the expected tariff discounts between shipper and client is considered void, and the cost to the client jumps significantly. The increase can be as much as 300 to 400 percent. With such a drastic spike in cost, especially one enabled by an unknown limit, a good deal can become a poor one pretty quickly.
How to Avoid the Linear Foot Rule
The keys to avoiding the Linear Foot Rule are knowledge and experience. These attributes make it easier to ascertain weight and space limitations, and inform companies when limits are being threatened. It pays to know when to abandon the LTL option in favor of selecting Partial Truck Load service or even FTL.