Full Truckload Shipment (FTL): Everything You Need To Know

Dec 7, 2023 | Blog, Pinnacle Services, Trucking Info

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FTL shipment is a cost-effective option to transport a full (or nearly full) truckload of freight. FTL is the preferred mode of transportation for expedited shipping, high-value or odd-shaped cargo.

Today, real-time shipping status gives full shipment transparency allowing the shipper & consignee 24/7 visibility to make timely and informed business decisions.

What Is A Full Truckload (FTL)?

A full truckload (or FTL) is a freight transportation service where an entire trailer is loaded with the shipment of a single shipper.

FTL trucking is available in a variety of vehicles and trailer dimensions with different load capacities.

Pros And Cons Of Full Truckload (FTL)

Full truckload has significant benefits for shippers dealing with large amounts of freight. But there are also a few drawbacks to consider.

Advantages Of FTL

  • Low Costs

Full truckload solutions are cost-effective for shipments that fill (or nearly fill) an entire trailer.

  • Adaptability

Size and weight restrictions are much less for FTL trucks than for less-than-truckload transport. From standard trailers to Hotshots, FTL options accommodate any odd-sized freight.

  • Speed

Even in multi-drop routes, dedicated FTL transportation provides fast delivery without the need to coordinate with other shippers, making it a preferred method for expedited and time-sensitive shipments.

  • Safety

Because there are no intermediate stops or 3rd party cargo to deal with during transport, FTL freight comes with less handling, less loading/unloading, and low damage/loss rates – an ideal option for specialized hauling and high value cargo.

Disadvantages Of FTL

  • Quantities

To maximize cost for a FTL, the shipper must have customer demand to support significant ordering quantities. Smaller customer orders are better suited to run via  Partial or LTL Network.

  • Delivery Options

FTL carriers typically do not offer liftgate options at either pickup/delivery. Standard docks are expected for FTL shipments.

  • Gas Consumption

‘Full’ truckload freight is often a euphemism. In fact, it’s common for FTL trailers to run with some empty space. On top of that, long-haul FTL usually follow standard routes rather than automated route optimization plans. 

Explore The Benefits Of Full-Load Trucking Services

Full-load trucking accommodates all your freight transport needs. 

Dry Van FTL

Full trailer loads of dry cargo and goods (without deviating dimensions.)

Refrigerated FTL

Climate-controlled FTL shipments have real-time unit temperature monitoring. 

At Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc., we offer Refrigerated LTL and FTL transport (max capacity 43.5000lbs), adjusted for sustainable and cost-effective shipping.

Our dynamic, web-enabled trailer ‘TracKing’ system monitors fuel usage and adjusts operational unit parameters over the air to allow users to get the appropriate balance between temperature control and unit fuel efficiency.

Multi-Drop FTL

Shippers looking to maximize delivery efficiency can use multi-stop truckload shipping for contiguous routes.

Hazmat Full Truckload Shipping

Transport of hazardous materials needs extra care, so oftentimes, shippers prefer full truckload shipping.

To ensure driver safety, freight protection, and shipper liability coverage, HAZMAT shipments must adhere to 49 CFR requirements and FMCSA regulations. Plus, drivers and carriers must be HAZMAT-endorsed and/or certified.

Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc. offers FTL HAZMAT transport for flammables, corrosives, combustibles, and other classes of dangerous goods.

Oversized Freight

Oversized FTL loads used specialized trucking solutions. Standard flatbeds, step decks, removable goosenecks, etc., are selected based on cargo specifications.

Sometimes, different trailer types can be used for the same shipment. For instance, a flatbed load may fit on a step deck or hotshot.

Want to find out more? Check out our Specialized Hauling FAQs.

High-Value FTL Transportation

High value shipments require extra care. ‘All-Risk’ cargo insurance is vital to cover any physical loss or cargo damage during transit or storage. Coverage should include theft, misdelivery, external causes, etc. 

Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc. offers cost-effective, all-risk cargo coverage for high-value commodities.

Expedited FTL Shipping

Full truckload shipments are typically more efficient for expedited transportation. 

Expedited trucking services accommodate:

  • Last minute
  • Time-sensitive
  • MABD shipments (Must Arrive By Date)   

Because in time-sensitive transport, products must arrive on time, expedited shipping comes with load tracking and frequent updates throughout the life of the load (stacking and transit).

Choosing The Right FTL Carrier

Here are some factors to consider when selecting an FTL carrier.

Depending on your FTL transport needs, you may have to do some investigation into specialized FTL services.

Reliability & Insurance

This is the number one thing to consider when choosing a carrier.

Before making a dedicated contract for FTL loads, you need to find reliable logistics professionals. Look for high safety records, state-of-the-art equipment, and adequate insurance coverage. 

To leverage your business, you need efficient and hassle-free transportation services.

Capacity

Ensure that your FTL carrier has the capacity you require for your standard shipments but also peaks, expedited, and last-minute needs.

Cost

For large shipments, FTL is typically more affordable than partial truckloads. Still, the cheapest is not always the best. High service quality outweighs costs.

Communication & Customer Service

Select a carrier willing to discuss and resolve any issues that arise, work along with you, and propose solutions tailored to your needs.

Always prefer a carrier offering 24/7 customer service, freight tracking, and shipment visibility.

End-To-End Supply Chain Solutions

Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc., can help you scale your truckload needs.

Our nationwide capacity, dedicated assets, and multimodal brokerage solutions make Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc. an extension of your supply chain. Get a quote.

FAQ: Find Answers To Common Full Truckload Questions

Here are the answers to some common questions on FTL freight shipping. 

What Is The Difference Between Less Than Truckload (LTL) And Full Truckload (FTL) Shipping?

Less than a truckload allows various shippers to share space on the same truck trailer.

LTL freight shipping comes with comprehensive route optimization options. In order to achieve low costs and high efficiencies, carriers typically unload/reload pallets at different warehouse hubs, using a network of transportation partners and lanes.

On the contrary, full truckload shipping (FTL) dedicates a single trailer to a single shipper’s cargo and an individual route. It is commonly used for loads that can fill an entire trailer, for odd-shaped and specialized freight.

How Much Weight Can A Full Truckload Carry?

The current max weight for FTL trucks is defined by federal and state regulations, which fluctuate depending on your route (national or regional). 

On a national level, the maximum weight a full truckload can carry is:

  • 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
  • 20,000 pounds on a single axle
  • 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group. 

The average weight that’s comfortable for hauling (on a truck and trailer) is around 42,000 and 44,000 pounds. Dry vans carry up to 45,000 pounds. To avoid fees and charges for your FTL shipment, always consult max weight capacities with your carrier.

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Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc.
Pinnacle Trucking, LLC
500 Cedar Lane, Florence, NJ 08518

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