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Is Partial Truckload the Right Option for Your Shipping Needs?

Nathan McGuire
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September 29, 2023
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Is Partial Truckload the Right Option for Your Shipping Needs?
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You are not alone if you aren't familiar with the abbreviation PTL. In a 107-page (and growing) list fabulously put together by Fulfillment IQ, PTL didn't make the cut. No worries, I've submitted it to add it to the list. PTL, or Partial Truckload, is less common and understood in the logistics industry. Partial truckload shipping effectively covers the ground between Full Truckload (FTL) and Less-than-Truckload (LTL) shipping. 

There are advantages to partial truckload shipping that can ease the process, reduce handling, and even expedite the delivery. Understanding how, why, and when Partial Truckload Shipping makes sense can help shippers capitalize on demand, making this often-overlooked option a lucrative strategy.

What is Partial Truckload Shipping?

If you've ever felt constrained by the rigid parameters of FTL or LTL, PTL might be the perfect fit for your shipping needs. Partial truckload carriers fill a unique space that might solve some of your most persistent shipping challenges. So, let's dive into the specifics that distinguish PTL from LTL and FTL.

Weight Parameters

The total weight of your shipment helps determine which shipping method is best. 

  • LTL Weight Parameters: Typically up to 10,000 pounds
  • PTL Weight Parameters: Ranges from 8,000 to 25,000 pounds
  • FTL Weight Parameters: Usually between 15,000 to 45,000 pounds

Pallet Count

Knowing the number of pallets you can ship helps you make more informed decisions.

  • LTL Pallet Count: Up to 10 pallets
  • PTL Pallet Count: Between 6 and 18 pallets
  • FTL Pallet Count: Typically fills a 53' trailer, up to 26-30 pallets depending on loading method and pallet dimensions

Type of Freight

The type of goods you're shipping can determine the most appropriate option.

  • LTL: Ideal for smaller, less bulky items
  • PTL: Suited for bulky, non-uniform cargo like machinery, vehicles, and construction materials
  • FTL: Best for shipments that need an entire trailer, regardless of the item type

Understanding the nuances of PTL can help shippers strategically optimize their logistics. If your shipment falls within these parameters, PTL is a solution that could meet your needs and offer potential cost savings. It's an often-overlooked option that could be a game-changer for your shipping strategy.

Partial Truckload Shipping vs. Less Than Truckload Shipping

After understanding the fundamental differences in weight parameters, pallet counts, and types of freight, you might wonder: what truly distinguishes PTL from LTL at a more granular level? Here, we venture into the subtle yet crucial factors that set these two shipping methods apart and may influence your shipping strategy.

No Requirement for Freight Class

One significant advantage of PTL is that it doesn't require a freight class. In LTL shipping, freight classes dictate the rate you'll pay for the shipment, potentially complicating the cost calculation. PTL carriers, on the other hand, usually set rates based on cost per mile, offering you a more straightforward pricing structure.

Odd-Shaped Cargo

If you're shipping industrial equipment, vehicles, or other odd-shaped cargo, PTL might be your best option. Such items can be challenging in LTL shipping, which favors smaller uniform items. PTL's flexible nature allows for a broader range of cargo types, making it a go-to option for businesses dealing with irregular goods.

Fewer Stops, Less Handling

Another benefit of PTL is the reduced number of stops, which directly translates to fewer instances of cargo handling and, as a result, minimizes the risk of damage to your goods. On the other hand, LTL shipments make multiple stops along the way, adding complexity to the shipping process. At each stop, LTL drivers may unload some freight to make deliveries, add new freight to the truck, and rearrange the existing items. This frequent stacking and unstacking increases handling and amplifies the risk of damage to your cargo.

From a simpler pricing model to the ability to handle odd-shaped cargo and a reduced number of distribution center stops, PTL stands as a robust alternative to the more common LTL and FTL options. If these characteristics resonate with your shipping needs, PTL could be the game-changing solution you've been searching for.

Turn to the Experts for Reliable Partial Truckload Shipping

Navigating the freight industry's shifting sands is a task even experienced shippers find challenging. While PTL may be ideal for a particular shipment, LTL or FTL might work best for your next. The "best" shipping method can change based on cost, urgency, and freight type. The variable nature of logistics makes expertise from Third-Party Logistics (3PL) providers invaluable. Let's explore why partnering with these experts can be a cornerstone of effective and adaptive shipping strategies.

Expansive Reach for Scalable Services

3PLs have an expansive network of carriers and resources to find the most suitable carriers for unique shipping needs, including PTL, open-deck, and refrigerated shipping. Trying to source carriers on your own is time-consuming and complex. Leveraging a 3PL allows you to focus on other aspects of the business with the assurance they can adapt to your shipping needs as they change.

Balancing Efficiency with Cost-Effectiveness

3PLs have the advantage of scale. They aggregate the shipping needs of multiple clients, allowing them to negotiate better freight rates with carriers. What does this mean for you? It translates to cost savings without compromising the quality or reliability of your shipping operations.

High-End Visibility for High-End Performance

Another advantage is the increased visibility into your shipping processes. Many 3PLs offer tracking services that allow you to monitor your shipments in real time. This is more than a convenience; it's an operational advantage that can help you make informed decisions, adjust your shipping strategy on the fly, and optimize your supply chain for better performance.

While PTL can solve various challenges, working with 3PLs can take your shipping strategy to the next level. Their expertise and resources can turn PTL into a highly effective and efficient shipping option that could revolutionize your approach to logistics.

Unlocking the Full Potential of Partial Truckload Shipping with Wicker Park Logistics

Often underestimated, Partial Truckload Shipping is a flexible logistics solution that perfectly bridges the divide between LTL and full truckload shipping. It's an ideal choice for those odd-shaped cargos, offering a simple pricing structure and minimizing damage risk with fewer stops. With its unique benefits, PTL can cater to various shipping requirements, embodying our commitment to providing our clients with tailored, professional, and innovative logistics solutions.

Our team at Wicker Park understands the intricacies of partial truckload logistics and can help you make strategic shipping decisions. Our expansive networks, cost-effective solutions, and real-time tracking capabilities can further elevate your shipping strategy, making it efficient and adaptive.

Now is the time to act. Don't let the hidden potential of PTL go untapped for your shipping needs. Consult with a logistics expert today and explore how PTL, alongside the invaluable support from Wicker Park Logistics, can revolutionize your approach to freight and logistics.

Speak to an expert today and explore the potential of partial truckload shipping. 

Partial Truckload Shipping FAQs

What is Partial Truckload Shipping (PTL)?

Partial Truckload Shipping, commonly referred to as PTL, is a shipping method that bridges the gap between Less-than-Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping. It offers the flexibility to ship freight that doesn't fit the parameters of traditional LTL or FTL methods.

What are the weight parameters for PTL?

PTL shipping typically accommodates freight weights ranging from 8,000 to 20,000 pounds, providing a middle-ground option between LTL, which usually handles up to 10,000 pounds, and FTL, which ranges from 15,000 to 45,000 pounds.

How many pallets can I ship with PTL?

You can typically ship between 6 and 18 pallets when using PTL. 

Do I need to know my freight class for PTL?

PTL does not require a freight class. 

What items are commonly shipped using PTL?

PTL is particularly useful for shipping bulky, non-uniform, or odd-shaped cargo like machinery, vehicles, and construction materials. Its flexibility in accommodating various cargo types makes it suitable for many businesses.

How does PTL minimize the risk of damage?

With PTL, your cargo typically experiences fewer stops than LTL, where cargo often goes through multiple stops and more frequent handling, increasing the risk of damage.

What are the advantages of working with 3PLs for PTL shipping?

3PLs like Wicker Park Logistics offer an expansive network of carriers, scalability, and negotiation power, helping you get better rates. We also provide increased visibility into your shipping process, often including real-time tracking services.

How do I get started with PTL?

If you're interested in leveraging the benefits of PTL, consult one of our experts to evaluate your specific shipping needs. Experts can help you determine if PTL is the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

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