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Freight Central

What is LTL Freight?

Between small-package and full-truckload carriers, there’s a class of freight shipping known as less-than-truckload, or LTL. Let’s learn more about it.


LTL freight can weigh between 150 lbs. and 20,000 lbs., and comes in all shapes and sizes. Here are some examples, along with tips on packing.

Carton example

Cartons

Use the column or interlocking stack method. Add stretchwrap for additional protection.
Crate example

Crates

Use high-quality lumber (plywood). Use diagonal braces and appropriate fasteners for the corners.
Bags example

Bags

Use the interlocking stack method. Add a solid bottom cushion or load protector. Tightly secure bags to the pallet.
Spools and reels example

Spools and reels

Securely anchor to forkliftable pallets.
Drums example

Drums

If palletized, band and protect the drums. Support them with a solid bottom.
Pipes and long freight example

Pipes and long freight

Bundle, secure and crate.
  Tire example

Tires

Band and stretchwrap a tire or multiple tires to a pallet. Consider an anti-skid surface for tall stacks to reduce product movement.
 

Freight Commodities

Automobile parts

Computers, laptops
   and video games

Consumer goods

Electronics

Industrial equipment
   and supplies

Manufacturing equipment
   and supplies

Paper and plastics

Pharmaceutical
   products

Telecommunications
   products

Don't see your commodity listed? Call FedEx Freight Customer Service at 1.866.393.4585 for assistance.

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LTL Freight Questions

You’ve got questions about shipping LTL freight with FedEx Freight. Find the answers you need right here.

 

How do I pack my LTL freight shipment?

FedEx Freight® shipments weigh anywhere between 150 lbs. and 20,000 lbs. and measure up to 21 feet in length. Keep in mind that your freight shipment will likely encounter forklifts and constant motion or vibration during transit to its final destination, so in addition to observing the size and weight limits, properly packing your shipment will help it withstand typical handling.


Helpful Packing Hints

  • Layers of shrinkwrap must overlap, especially with taller pallets. Wrap upward, overlapping the wrap by 50 percent.
    Result: Stabilized freight that won’t tip over.
  • Twist the shrinkwrap every other time around the freight.
    Result: Increased wrap strength.
  • Tie shrinkwrap to pallet before wrapping, and wrap all freight securely to the pallet.
    Result: Reduced chance of freight sliding or falling off pallet.
  • Only use pallets that are in good condition. Treated hardwood pallets are required for international destinations.
    Result: Reduced damage to freight from broken pallet boards and exposed nails.
  • Place cardboard or chipboard between freight and pallet.
    Result: Reduced freight damage from forklifts, boards or nails working into the freight.
  • Stack smaller, lighter items on heavier items.
    Result: Reduced crushing.
  • Don’t allow freight to extend beyond the pallet.
    Why: The part of the freight left exposed outside of the pallet is more vulnerable to damage from other freight, the trailer walls or the pallet itself.
  • Don’t place any freight on a pallet without securing it to the pallet.
    Why: Freight is in constant motion or vibration during transit. Unsecured freight can fall from the pallet.
  • Don’t load bags directly on the pallet.
    Why: Bags tear easily. Place cardboard between the pallet and the freight and around the sides of the pallet whenever possible.

Helpful Labeling Hints

Proper labeling helps ensure on-time delivery and complete orders. You should label individual packages and pallets. Make sure labels on the freight match the Bill of Lading and clearly show the full name and address of the recipient.

The use of brightly colored labels helps identify special requirements such as:

  • Do Not Break Down Pallet
  • Do Not Double Stack
  • Do Not Forklift
  • Fragile: Handle With Care
  • Fragile: Top Freight Only
  • Keep Upright

To access a comprehensive library of labels for your use, click here


Resources for Assistance

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What types of freight ship via LTL?

LTL shipments can weigh between 150 lbs. and 20,000 lbs. The average LTL shipment weighs about 1,300 lbs. Typical LTL shipments include things like:

  • Industrial equipment and supplies
  • Paper and plastics
  • Automobile parts
  • Consumer goods
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Telecommunications products
  • Raw materials
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What factors affect the price of an LTL freight shipment?

Several factors will affect your rate. For example, shipment weight and size, the destination, the pickup and delivery details, and the commodity you ship. Knowing these will help ensure the best quote possible for your freight shipment. To learn more and step through the process, download our Start Shipping Guide.

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What is freight classification, and how does it affect my shipment?

LTL freight carriers use several variables to determine how much to charge you for your LTL freight shipment. One is freight classification or freight class — a category assigned to the commodity being shipped.


Each commodity is assigned to one item number (which describes the commodity) for which there is a corresponding freight classification. These item numbers and the freight classes are determined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc. (NMFTA), a nonprofit membership comprising motor carriers and transportation companies operating in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce.


The NMFTA groups commodities into one of 18 classes — from the lowest classification of 50, to the highest classification of 500 — based on their evaluation of four transportation characteristics:

  • Density
  • Stowability
  • Ease of handling
  • Liability

To determine your freight class, use the quick and easy LTL Freight Classification Tool or call FedEx Freight Customer Service 1.866.393.4585.

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