Differences between FTL and LTL: which one to choose

Taking into account a series of figures such as the fact that 95% of goods in our borders are moved by road, and that in 2021 the freight transported within this sector was around 270,170 million tonnes per kilometre, we can see how important road transport is today for trade in Spain.

In a market, such as road freight transport, of large dimensions, with a very high volume of annual transactions and in a constant state of evolution, we believe that knowing all the concepts surrounding this type of transport is important to take into account all the logistics and costs surrounding it.

The acronyms LTL and FTL refer to two possible modes of transport and distribution of your ecommerce products by land. They offer the perfect solution for different situations, but it is important to understand the key differences between the two modes. Let’s see what each term is and how to know which one to choose!

What is FTL?

FTL (Full Truck Load) is a concept that refers to when a company uses a full truck to transport its goods, without sharing space with other vendors or manufacturers. This may be because it has enough products to cover all the space that the truck offers, or because for safety reasons the goods need more space for transport.

As it is a transport model that requires only one truck load (which is fully occupied), this type of loading is very easy for drivers, trucking companies and service buyers.

Features or advantages of Full Truck Load

  • The risk of damage to the goods is reduced as there is only one point of origin and one point of destination.
  • By not sharing the lorry with other companies, goods are moved faster.
  • Greater safety for delicate goods as there is more space available for transporting them.
  • Greater efficiency, as it is not necessary to invest resources in notifications, invoices, stopovers and multiple loading and unloading.

What is LTL?

This is the exact opposite of FTL. In particular, we are talking about the partial loading of a truck, also known as LTL or Less Than Truckload.

In this case, the logistics service provider is responsible for picking up the goods, storing them and transporting them to their destination.

The main advantage of this mode of transport is that the company pays only for the space needed for its goods. Generally, for a truck without a full load, other partial loads are sought in order to make the transport more cost-effective. As an alternative to other partial loads, groupage or groupage of goods is also available.

Features and benefits of Less Than Truckload

  • In contrast to Full Truck Load, where all the available space in the truck is used, this service can reduce the cost of shipping.
  • Carriers move the products of several companies that are generally looking to move small loads of goods on a frequent basis.
  • Delivery times are usually slightly longer because there are several delivery points along the way.

Differences between Full Truck Load and Less Than Truckload

Both FTL and LTL are modes of transport for freight, but as the name suggests, and in theory, there is only one key difference between the two: the space used of a truckload to transport goods. The former requires the whole truck and the latter requires only part of it.

However, the disparity in costs and delivery times also makes a big difference to the logistics process and the transport budget. With FTL, the cost will be higher, but the delivery time will be shorter, as the truck will only be used for a single customer with a single load.

On the other hand, with LTL, the costs are reduced, but the delivery time of your goods is likely to be longer.

How do you know when to use each one?

When choosing one of the two models for transporting your goods, you should first consider factors such as origin, destination, carrier availability and whether your goods require special conditions.

In addition, there are a number of factors that you should analyse to make a better selection:

  • Costs and profit margin.
  • Whether the goods are fragile.
  • The time you need to get your goods to distributors or customers.
  • The weight and size of your products.
  • Total demand for each type of product in the catalogue.

Because each delivery method offers certain advantages, it is necessary to identify all the variables or requirements of the project in order to determine the appropriate measures. Each retailer must choose the best transport and loading strategy for its products in order to increase productivity, reduce costs and speed up shipments.

Freight FLT and LTL in and out of Spain with us

The choice of the most efficient option between LTL and FTL will depend on the particular characteristics of the cargo and the specific transport needs.

At Conde Fernández Hermanos, thanks to our own fleet of trucks and our more than 50 years of experience, we can ship goods by means of general or break bulk transport nationally and internationally. Our experts will study your logistical needs to offer you a personalised strategy that meets your capacity, route and cost control requirements.

In addition, as a regulatory warehouse and thanks to our integrated logistics service, we can take care of everything related to the storage and distribution of goods thanks to the large storage area of our facilities with a capacity of almost 50,000 m².

Conde Fernández Hermanos, advice and security guaranteed throughout the entire process of transporting goods by road!