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9 Tips for Shipping Less Than Truckload (LTL)

man placing a ltl shipment order from a warehouse.

Are you new to the less than truckload (LTL) shipping industry? Maybe you're a small business who just expanded their distribution reach. Perhaps you're looking to ship a small amount of freight to a new branch. No matter what your situation might be, we believe these tips will come in handy to help your company maximize the value of LTL freight shipping. 

To understand the basics of this service, read our blog detailing the basics of LTL. But how can you, as the shipper, help ensure your shipment arrives safely, within budget and on time? 

Maximize your LTL freight shipping

1. Utilize a supply chain solutions service provider. 

Working with a supply chain solutions company provides valuable resources and can help improve supply chain execution. One major benefit of working with such a service provider lies in the vast array of services available. While one carrier may have expertise in truckload, another may be a leader in LTL service. J.B. Hunt has high standards for freight shippers with competitively priced supply chain solutions for almost any service.  

2. Manage your shipment with a TMS. 

Business practices evolve constantly, and along with them, new technologies and platforms are developed to help improve efficiency. J.B. Hunt’s Shipper 360® technology is no exception. Our solutions allow shippers to quote and book LTL shipments, track the progress of each load, and view analytics for cost, on-time delivery, and more.  

3. Define the right class. 

The National Motor Freight Carrier (NMFC) number provides integral information about the items in an LTL shipment. To properly load the trailer and keep cargo safe, a driver must understand which items are included on each pallet.  

4. Complete the BOL correctly. 

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important documents needed to complete a freight shipment. In essence, the BOL serves the purpose of quickly showcasing the agreed-upon components of the shipment, including the contracted carrier, contents of the shipment and NMFC number, shipper contact information, and more. If shipping documentation is not filled out properly, confusion and delays could result. One major disruption would be if the NMFC number is not properly documented; this could result in the need to reclassify the freight and add fees to the customer's bill.  

5. Package freight on pallets. 

Palletizing your freight provides many benefits to the shipper and carrier. Most importantly, properly palletized freight decreases the chance of damage to individual items. In addition, securing freight on pallets helps keep multi-piece shipments from being separated. It also ensures pallets are in good condition and are sturdy enough to support the load.  

6. Quote the correct size. 

Although there is a standard pallet dimension (48"x40"x48"), some pallets of freight will be classified as oversized. In these cases, it's necessary to list the correct size of the freight – whether palletized or not – to ensure your LTL freight is matched with a trailer that has capacity for your shipment. If you have big and bulky items and are spending too much on custom pallets, check out our specialized handling LTL services.  

7. Utilize analytics for future shipments. 

Visibility into performance metrics and costs provide a basis for effectively optimizing your operations. A platform such as J.B. Hunt’s Shipper 360 technology can provide instant insights, including downloadable reports and a customizable dashboard for displaying your most important data points.  

8. Determine accessorial needs ahead of time.  

Accessorial charges make up a large portion of unforeseen charges on a shippers' BOL. However, accessorials may be needed to complete the delivery. By ensuring you know which equipment or special requirements your delivery needs, if any, your delivery will have a much greater chance of being delivered without any hiccups.  

9. Maintain standard shipping/receiving hours. 

Most shipping and receiving facilities that utilize less-than-truckload services remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. LTL carriers typically only operate within normal business hours. Accessorial fees may be added to the final bill if pickups or deliveries must be made outside of normal operating hours. In addition, wide windows for pickups or drop-offs can help ensure a driver won't be left waiting for personnel to arrive at the facility. Always keep the driver in mind as you create your business – read up on ways to create driver-friendly locations

Get a quote to see if less-than-truckload shipping is right for your business.