Types of Ground Freight and their Impact on the Supply Chain

Ground freight is the backbone of the transportation industry, moving goods across cities, states, and countries. Almost every business utilizes ground transportation at some point in their supply chain – understanding the advantages of each type can help you make better decisions and optimize your logistics program.

In this article we will explore three types of ground freight: Full Truckload (FTL), Less Than Truckload (LTL), and Expedited freight.

What is Full Truckload (FTL)?

Full Truckload (FTL) shipping, as the name suggests, involves the transportation of goods that fill an entire truck container. This mode of transport is typically used when a shipper has a sufficient volume of cargo to occupy the entire trailer. While you do need sufficient volume to achieve a full truckload, FTL has many advantages:

Cost-Effective for Large Shipments

With large quantities of goods to transport, the cost is usually determined by the distance traveled rather than the weight or volume of the cargo, making FTL financially attractive.

Faster Transit Times

FTL shipments generally have shorter transit times compared to LTL or other modes because there are no additional stops for pick-up and/or drop-off along the way.

Reduced Handling

Since the cargo remains on the same truck from pickup to delivery, there is minimal handling, reducing the risk of damage or loss.

Ideal for High-Value Cargo

Businesses shipping high-value or sensitive goods often prefer FTL to have more control over the handling and security of their products.

expedited logistics header driver with truck

What is Less Than Truckload (LTL)?

Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping is designed for shipments that do not fill an entire truck. With LTL, multiple shippers share space in a single truck, allowing for cost savings and efficient use of resources. While some LTL carriers with lower volume capacities might wait until the truck is full to start the journey, others have larger networks with more capacity and trucks fill faster. This mode of transportation has evolved over recent years and what was once a less-than-desirable freight option now has strategic benefits for businesses who chose the right carrier.

Cost Savings

LTL can be a cost-effective option for smaller shipments, as shippers only pay for the space their cargo occupies within the truck.

More Sustainable Transit Option

LTL carriers consolidate multiple shipments, which can result in fewer trucks on the road, reducing environmental impact.

Slower Transit Times

LTL shipments typically have longer transit times due to the multiple stops for pickups and deliveries along the route.

Ideal for Smaller Businesses

LTL is well-suited for small and medium-sized businesses that do not have enough cargo to justify a full truckload.

truck with omni logistics logo driving on freeway

What is Considered Expedited Ground Freight?

Expedited freight is a specialized service designed for time-sensitive shipments that require fast, time-definite delivery. It is often used for critical, high value, or emergency shipments. Some carriers refer to this as “white glove” and while it is a more expensive ground freight option, it is the right choice for certain businesses and types of products. Expedited ground freight can be accomplished using a number of methods, including FTL and expedited LTL.

Speedy Delivery

Expedited freight services prioritize speed, typically with dedicated vehicles and drivers focused on delivering the shipment as quickly as possible.

24/7 Availability

Many expedited carriers offer round-the-clock service to accommodate urgent shipments at any time.

Premium Pricing

Expedited freight is more expensive than standard shipping options due to the specialized services provided and quick turnaround times.

Ideal for Critical Shipments

Businesses that cannot afford delays, such as medical facilities or manufacturers with just-in-time inventory, rely on expedited freight.

Modern businesses will likely use a combination of these ground freight methods to optimize their supply chains. By carefully assessing cargo size, budget, and delivery timeline, Omni helps shippers make informed decisions to ensure their products reach their destination efficiently and on time.

Omni Logistics offers customers access to a variety of transport modes (not only ground, but air and ocean) and works with you to craft a unique solution to your specific logistical challenges – regardless of mode, time, or cost requirements. By using our “OmniModal” model, we retain access to and control of your shipments with fewer touches and handoffs to other providers. Let us help you optimize your supply chain today.

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