LTL carriers are experiencing a significant increase in large shipments, due in part to tight capacity in the US truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) markets. While capacity freight currently applies to a smaller percentage of shipments, that number is growing steadily.
Please be aware of the general capacity load rules and charges that (may) apply to larger shipments.
Capacity loads apply when the quantity of freight, in the manner loaded, utilizes a linear length of between 8ft and 15 ft. Some carriers also have weight limits that trigger capacity loads. The weight limits range anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 lbs.
The linear length is determined by assuming that handling units will be loaded side-by-side when the dimensions allow. So, if you ship 48 square or 48 x 40 inch pallets then 8 pallets will hit 16 ft. You might argue that if you specify that the freight is stackable, one on top of the other, then you could have more than 8 pallets and still not trigger a capacity load situation. Don’t bet on that!! Most LTL carriers consider the entire load as floor stacked when calculating the linear footage. The point is, be careful. Another scenario is if your pallets are “turnable”, meaning they can be turned so the length is shorter. In this case, if you have 8 pallets that are 40 x 48 and are turnable, then, in theory, the length would be 4 times 40” or 13.33 ft rather than 4 x 48” or 16 liner ft. Although this can make a difference in how pricing applies, be careful. Make sure that you understand how the particular carriers’ rules tariff applies to linear feet.
So, what to do?
One suggestion is to have a 3PL handle the move. There are two strategic advantages to do this.
- 3PL’s are well versed about the rules and how they apply.
- They will quote you a price that applies, even if they have mis-calculated
Many 3PL’s have negotiated higher linear foot rules with their carriers and this allows them to get more competitive pricing on larger loads. If you are a “cubic” shipper, one who ships pallets loads that don’t necessarily weigh a lot but take up a lot of “cubic” feet, then using a 3PL with higher linear foot rates could really help you.
Capacity Rules and Linear Feet can make freight costs go up significantly, potentially causing a shipment to cost more than it’s worth. Using a 3PL on large LTL shipments allows you to take advantage of the 3PL’s basket of carriers and competitive price structure without risking unpleasant freight costs.