Which Is Better For Partial Loads: Parcel Post Or LTL?

Posted on: 3 October 2018

When you need to transport products, filling the truck to the brim and sending it to its destination is typically the most cost-effective option. But what if you only have a partial load to drop? Here are a couple of questions to ask to help you determine if it's better to use parcel or an LTL (Less Than Truckload) service.

Is It Over or Under 150 Pounds?

One issue that will almost make the decision for you is the size of your shipment. Companies that handle parcel post typically limit the maximum weight to 150 pounds. So, if your shipment is only 125 pounds, then it's probably cheaper and faster to send the items through the parcel carrier.

On the other hand, a shipment weighing 200 pounds would need to be broken up into two shipments (i.e. one at 150 pounds and one at 50 pounds). Not only would this option typically end up costing more, there's a higher risk some of the items may not arrive (or get to the destination at different times) since they have to be sent separately. In this case, LTL service would be the better option, especially if you want to make sure everything gets where it's supposed to go.

Can You Package It Appropriately?

Another thing to consider is whether you have the right packing materials for the type of transport option you want to use. Parcel carriers will typically furnish boxes and other packing materials that adhere to their shipping requirements. This uniformity ensures the companies can pack their trucks as full as possible to keep costs low. However, this can be a problem if the items you want to send don't quite fit those companies' standardized containers.

LTL services provides a little more flexibility in this area since the items can be shipped on pallets or in crates. You are generally able to use any size as long as it's within the company's maximum length, width, and depth limitations, which makes it easier for you to accommodate oddly sized items. Shipping items bundled this way can also reduce the risk of theft, since it will be much more difficult to single items out when they're tightly wrapped/packed together.

As noted, though, LTL service providers typically have their own size limitation. Thus, it's important to discuss this issue to ensure you can adhere to the company's requirements.

For assistance with determining which option is best for your situation, contact a local trucking company.