Less than truckload (LTL) cargo is the first category of freight shipment, which represents the majority of freight shipments and the majority of business-to-business (B2B) shipments. LTL shipments are also often referred to as motor freight and the carriers involved are referred to as motor carriers.
LTL shipments range from 50 to 7,000 kg (110 to 15,430 lb), being less than 2.5 to 8.5 m (8 ft 2.4 in to 27 ft 10.6 in) the majority of times. The average single piece of LTL freight is 600 kg (1,323 lb) and the size of a standard pallet. Long freight and/or large freight are subject to extreme length and cubic capacity surcharges.
Trailers used in LTL can range from 28 to 53 ft (8.53 to 16.15 m). The standard for city deliveries is usually 48 ft (14.63 m). In tight and residential environments the 28 ft (8.53 m) trailer is used the most.
The shipments are usually palletized, stretch [shrink]-wrapped and packaged for a mixed-freight environment. Unlike express or parcel, LTL shippers must provide their own packaging, as carriers do not provide any packaging supplies or assistance. However, circumstances may require crating or other substantial packaging.
Air freight shipments are very similar to LTL shipments in terms of size and packaging requirements. However, air freight or air cargo shipments typically need to move at much faster speeds than 800 km or 497 mi per hour. Air shipments may be booked directly with the carriers, through brokers or with online marketplace services. While shipments move faster than standard LTL, air shipments don’t always actually move by air.