LTL Frequently Asked Questions

What is Less than Truckload?
How does pricing work?
What does freight class have to do with pricing my LTL shipment?
What is freight bumping and when is it used?
What LTL surcharges and assessorial charges exist?
What does guaranteed shipping with BlueGrace® Logistics entail?
100% Money-Back Guarantee
What does expedited shipping with BlueGrace® entail?
What is the difference between standard and volume shipping?
What are some rules of thumb when shipping LTL freight?
What are the advantages of LTL as opposed to full truckload?
What are the challenges of LTL as opposed to full truckload?

What is Less than Truckload (LTL)?

LTL shipments make up the majority of business-to-business shipments in the U.S., but represent less than 10 percent of the annual shipping spend. Common carriers handle most LTL shipments, which travel on the same truck as many other shipments. These shipments transfer trucks at various shipping terminals along the way.

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How does pricing work?

LTL carriers' profits depend upon their ability to fill all the space on a truck. Large or bulky shipments prevent other shipments from being stacked on top, or placed alongside, leaving empty unpaid space. This premium on space means that lighter items cannot be priced on weight alone. If carriers charged less for a light shipment than for a comparably size heavier shipment, they would lose money.

When shipments are picked up from or delivered to less traveled areas, the truck will usually travel empty in one direction. Other shipments may require special equipment or services that take additional time and cause drivers to take less efficient routes.

There are a number of factors that determine the pricing of an LTL shipment:

  • Negotiated rate tariffs with LTL carriers
  • LTL Freight Classes
  • Density
  • Weight
  • Shipping Lane (Tampa to Los Angeles, Chicago to Dallas, etc.)
  • Surcharges
  • Negotiated discounts
  • Minimums
  • Guaranteed or Expedited Shipping

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What does freight class have to do with pricing my LTL shipment?

LTL Shipments are typically rated per hundred pounds and fall into a class range from class 50 to class 500. The lower the class, the less the charge, and vice versa. There are 18 different freight classes and they are mainly based on the density of the shipment. More dense items such as steel and machinery have low freight classifications such as Class 50 through 85. Fragile or bulky items fall into freight classes 125 to 500, and cost more to ship.

The class of many items is wholly dependent upon the item's density. These are typically larger, bulkier and lighter items known as "density items". To determine the class of these items, you must first determine the item's density (L x W x H / 1728 = Cubic Feet (CU FT) & Weight (Pounds)/CU FT = Density (#PCF)). A faster way to determine density is to use the Density and Freight Class Calculator.

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What is freight bumping and when is it used?

Bumping is the declaration on the original Bill of Lading of an artificially higher weight to cause a higher density. This allows the article, piece or shipment to qualify for a lower classification rating. Bumping may be performed under the NMFC subject to the following conditions:

  • Bumping provisions may only be used for commodity items in the NMFC that assign classes based upon density and then only for those items that make specific reference to Item 171 in the NMFC.
  • Shipper may only bump to the next lower NMFC class or rating. Bumping to an exception or FAK class or rating is not permitted.
  • When the provisions of this rule are utilized, shippers must declare their intent to bump at the time of shipment and show the following on the original Bill of Lading:
    • Actual Cube
    • Actual Weight
    • Density Group (NMFC Sub Item) Embracing the Actual Density
    • Declared Density
    • Declared Weight (Resultant weight for billing purposes of the packages or pieces for which density is being bumped)

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What LTL surcharges and assessorial charges exist?

Carriers provide a wide range of equipment and services. The price they charge for these varies from carrier to carrier. Carriers' profits depend upon how full the capacity of each shipment is, and upon the efficiency of the routes they follow for pick-ups and drop-offs. When special equipment is required, or a special service is needed, this often takes drivers off of their route.

  • Lift Gate
    A lift gate is a hydraulic ramp on trailers that drivers use when a loading dock or forklift is unavailable. This is often used in residential pick-ups or deliveries.
  • Fuel Surcharge
    Carriers charge a percent of the freight cost for fuel. This cost is updated weekly depending on the cost of fuel in the market. So a quote you receive on Monday should be re-quoted if your shipment is not leaving until Thursday.
  • Inside Delivery or Pick-Up
    When a customer requests an inside delivery or pick-up, and a carrier's operating conditions permit, a driver may move all or part of a shipment beyond the standard delivery nearest to the trailer. This service is only provided when an elevator or escalator is available to move the shipment, and when an operator is provided without cost to the carrier.
  • Notify Before Delivery
    This is typically used when shipping to residences, storage facilities, or even businesses with limited dock space. Drivers do not call ahead to the shipping location. This is done by a dispatcher at the terminal, and can cause a delay in transit while the freight sits on the dock until the consignee can be notified. This is different from an appointment delivery since in this case the shipment does not have to arrive at a specified time.
  • Residential Pick-Ups & Deliveries
    When freight carriers deliver or pick up at a residence, they must often use a 28-foot trailer. Since these trailers are subject to local law restrictions, this can take them off of their regular route. There is an added cost when this occurs.
  • Delivery Appointment
    Appointments cannot be set until the freight arrives at the destination terminal and contact is made with the consignee to deliver. This typically delays transit by 1-2 days with the freight sitting on the dock, increasing the likelihood of claims. The specific delivery window can also cause a driver to take an inefficient route. Appointment delivery is different than a guaranteed shipment.
  • Redelivery or Reconsignment Fees
    After a failed delivery attempt, the carrier will assess a redelivery fee for having to deliver the freight again. This fee is usually minimal, and based on weight. A reconsignment fee may also be assessed when the freight is rerouted in transit or when the shipper did not use the BlueGrace bill of lading.
  • Tradeshow Freight
    Tradeshow freight defaults to class 125 and should always be selected as an accessorial. It is important to use a union carrier and a preferred vendor at many exhibition halls and convention centers. Because tradeshow freight is usually time sensitive, it is highly recommended that you purchase a guarantee, even though this is not required.
  • Limited Access
    Limited Access refers to a location that is difficult for the truck driver to reach such as: amusement parks, construction sites, farms, mines, mini storage, places of worship, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and military bases. Due to the inconvenience and resulting delay in transit, you are charged a Limited Access accessorial fee.
  • Carrier Liability & Extra Insurance
    Each carrier has different limits of liability. They vary based upon the declared value, actual value of a product, the weight and the class of the shipment, and whether there is an FAK applied as well. When extra insurance is required, a quote must be obtained through the customer service desk.
  • Sorting and Segregating
    When the driver is requested to sort or segregate a shipment by marks, brands, sizes, flavors or other distinguishing marks, a fee will be assessed.

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What does guaranteed shipping with BlueGrace® Logistics entail?

Many of our LTL freight carriers offer guaranteed solutions to ensure that your shipment will arrive on the date and by the time needed. These solutions include the following services:

  • Guaranteed Next Day
  • Guaranteed 2nd Day
  • Guaranteed Standard
  • Guaranteed by 5 PM
  • Guaranteed by 12 PM
  • Time Specific Guarantee

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100% Money-Back Guarantee

These guaranteed services offer a 100% money-back guarantee if your shipment is not delivered by the date and time specified, per the delivery schedule provided. There are a few factors that can cause the guaranteed delivery time to be invalid, including "Acts of God" such as bad weather.

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What does expedited shipping with BlueGrace® entail?

Many of our LTL freight carriers offer expedited solutions to allow for faster service than their standard transit times. These carriers offer a range of services, including:

  • Overnight
  • Next Day
  • Second Day
  • Ground Expedited
  • Time Sensitive
  • Time Specific

Team Service Truckloads and Flatbeds
The standard service for truckloads and flatbeds is limited to the Hours of Service regulations passed down to all carriers. Many of our carriers offer team service, where multiple drivers work as a team to cut transit time in half.

Expedited Air Freight
Through the use of multiple modes of transportation, specifically air and truck trailer, we are able to offer our customers expedited transit times. Air freight carriers use a network of trucks to transport to and from their air terminals, while using their air cargo planes to transport goods much quicker than standard truck transit times.

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What is the difference between standard and volume shipping?

*Stackable freight receives a better rate than non-stackable freight.

  • Standard LTL
    Standard LTL shipments range from about 100 lbs. to 7,000 lbs. The average LTL is 1,200 lbs., the size of the standard pallet (48x40x40). They are limited to around six standard-size pallets. If the weight exceeds 7,000 lbs., a new volume pricing structure typically applies.
  • Volume LTL
    Shipments greater than 7,000 lbs. or seven standard pallets may qualify for a different pricing structure called "volume" loads, based upon the size, density, and cubic capacity of the shipment. The price varies from carrier to carrier and must be quoted manually with the carriers.

*Sometimes volume loads can be picked up and transported in a 28.5-foot (8.7 m) trailer, known as a "pup" trailer.

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What are some rules of thumb when shipping LTL freight?

  • To reduce re-classes, customers should always enter the product description, weight, dimensions, class and proper NMFC.
  • If a shipment is over 6,000 lbs., six standard pallets, or occupies more than 12 feet of a truck, a "volume quote" should be requested.
  • Transit times are NOT guaranteed unless specified in the special instructions of the BOL and the shipment is quoted appropriately. All other transit times are reliable but are standard, estimated transit times.
  • An LTL carrier's transit times do not count the day of pick-up, holidays or weekends. For example, if a shipment is picked up on Friday and the transit time is two days, then the shipment will be delivered on Tuesday.
  • If a shipment is not ready at time of pick up, a driver typically will not wait or come back that day. The shipment must be rescheduled for the following day.
  • Carriers require a two-hour window to schedule a pick up.
  • LTL drivers will usually tailgate all products, meaning the driver will pull the shipment to the end of the trailer at no additional cost. If a pallet jack is required, customer must specify that in the special instructions.
  • Lift-gate delivery can add a couple of days to the delivery date.
  • The proof of delivery is usually available 1-3 days after delivery.
  • To ensure that the freight meets the on-time delivery standard to the customer, it must be shipped before 5:00 PM.
  • Customers must always use the bill of lading produced by BlueShip™. You cannot use your own.
  • If you ship high value items, you should always inquire about extra insurance and limits of liability. The limits of liability vary carrier to carrier and more so when FAK (Freight all Kinds) rates are applied.

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What are the advantages of LTL as opposed to full truckload?

Even in times of tightened capacity, the LTL network has much greater availability to handle customer loads. These LTL carriers also have set pricing, offering automated processing to help simplify the shipping process. LTL carriers always have trucks available for consistent routes in a variety of areas, which helps to be on time with the estimated transit.

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What are the challenges of LTL as opposed to full truckload?

Repeated handling is time consuming, adds to increased transit times and increases the propensity for claims. Savings can be achieved by line hauling multiple LTL shipments to the destination terminal through the use of pool distribution and optimization.

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