One of the critical components is not just the production of finished goods, but transporting them to retail and refinement areas, and this is the freight industry. Goods such as computers, beef, furniture, clothing, and much more have to be delivered from the means of production to major retailers and distribution centers, and this is accomplished by ship, plane, rail, and truck. Trucks, in particular, are vital to transporting products across the United States, and without them, transportation could prove slow and clumsy. Different ways to ship items by truck exist, and whole inventions and technology are created to help trucks deliver their goods safely and on time. Load broker software, transportation management software, reefer trucks, and more allow modern shippers and drivers of trucks to manage shipment in the best way possible, and different strategies for truck delivery exist. What are they?
The Size of the Industry
Trucking is a big deal in the modern United States, and in recent years, it has undergone some changes to accommodate the rise of online shopping, or e-commerce. Major adjustments have been made for carriers such as trucks recently, since the American e-commerce revenue rate has hit $423.3 billion and is continuing to grow. Trucks, in particular, boast the biggest share of freight by value, tonnage, and the value of freight being transported for shipments 750 miles or shorter. And in the year 2013 alone, for example, 15 billion tons of cargo of all kinds were delivered by truck, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that by the year 2040, 18.79 billion tons may be delivered per year. That is a lot of goods, and some items are sensitive to temperature, are volatile, fragile, or unusually big or small. Different methods for delivering these goods exist, from TL shipments to LTL shipments and more. What exactly are TL shipments and LTL shipment?
Different Ways to Deliver
TL shipments are, put simply, when a full truckload of goods are delivered in one freight truck, and when the freight’s total weight exceeds 15,000 pounds or more than 10 pallets, TL shipments are the most practical option, according to PLS Logistics. This creates a simple and practical travel and delivery plan, since all the cargo is being moved in one truck to just one destination, and less handling is required for this method.
To contrast with TL shipments, LTL, or less than truckload, is when cargo from more than one source are being delivered in one truck, and together they will, at most, take up the entire cargo area. This is a great option when a supplier’s cargo is a minimal amount, but a truck is still needed. Driving a truck with its cargo area only partly filled is wasteful, so several suppliers using LTL transport will have their cargo and pallets all sharing one truck, and the pieces of cargo may have to be carefully arranged so that nothing falls over or crushes or items. This also means that the truck will often stop to deliver one set of cargo and then resume its journey, which may increase the odds of damage to cargo pieces occurring.
Some pieces of cargo require special tech. Cold items such as dairy, meat, or dry ice need temperature control, so reefer trucks may be employed, which are trucks with refrigeration and freezer units built into them. Other times, dangerous cargo such as canisters of natural gas, frozen nitrogen, refined oil, toxic industrial waste, or other hazards may be transported, and in this case, specialized trucks may be employed to handle them. The crew for any truck handling hazardous materials will have special training and certification for transporting, loading, and unloading these materials, and unqualified personnel should not be allowed to handle them.
Finally, in today’s digital world, electronic systems and software for tracking, ordering, and paying for goods allow faster and more convenient transmission of data, which can speed up the shipment and receiving process and reduce the likelihood of error. This can be especially useful if cargo is being delivered on a tight and urgent time frame.