The most recognized modes of shipping are parcel, less than truckload (LTL), and full truckload (FTL). But beyond these selections is a less-known option — the partial truckload (PTL). This option is sometimes available for shipments requiring between 12 and 30 lineal ft. Though PTL is building a reputation as a viable shipping method, only a handful of shipping management providers offer this service.
PTL differs from LTL in that its cost is determined by the number of lineal feet the freight takes up rather than a set weight and space limit. This affords the selection of several benefits untapped by any other method of shipping:
- You will never pay for air – You pay for each lineal foot of space used, not a whole or half truck.
- No surprise charges – Unlike LTL, which comes with the Lineal Foot Rule attached, you pay for exactly what you use with PTL.
- Discounted rates – PTL isn’t always available from every carrier, but when it is, it can usually be contracted for a better rate per lineal foot than parcel, LTL, or FTL options.
Even when PTL comes out to be comparable in price as LTL, it is usually the better choice. PTL shipments are treated more like parcels than bulk freight, which means they generally take a more direct path to their destination than alternative options.
This results in a number of benefits including:
- Reduce chance of damage to freight – The more shipments are handled the greater the chance they are damaged in transit. Because PTL shipments usually move through fewer terminals they are more likely to reach their destination in their original condition.
- Usually quicker – Fewer stops at truck terminals often translates into a shorter time in transit, meaning PTL shipments move faster than LTL or FTL types.
- Easier to monitor – With an LTL network you only know when freight is at a terminal, or on its way to a terminal. With a PTL shipment, the driver who is hauling the freight would be directly involved in the communication network.