LTL shipping trends in the United States

In the last couple of years, the LTL sector of the trucking industry has experienced amazing growth. And this is not a surprise since the trucking industry is experiencing trends like the massive growth in e-commerce, shortened supply chains and tighter capacity. These LTL shipping trends in the United States are expected to change the face of the entire trucking industry. As analysts expect, focus will remain on lighter or smaller loads and this growth will continue through 2019 and beyond. Consequently, this type of shipping is becoming more and more interesting to both investors and customers.

What is LTL shipping and how it works?

In order to explore the LTL shipping trends in the US, let’s start from the basics. LTL service stands for ‘less than truckload freight shipping’ or just ‘less than load’. We use it for the transportation of small freight or when freight doesn’t require the use of an entire trailer. To be more specific, this shipping method can be used when freight weighs between 150 and 15,000 pounds.

LTL shipping carriers will be implementing new services and using modern vehicles to attract more customers

The benefits LTL shipping brings

The biggest advantage of LTL is that the shipper pays only for the part of a standard truck trailer their freight occupies, while other shippers and their freight fill the unoccupied space. You are getting the idea of why LTL is so revolutionary in the trucking industry. Beside the cost reducing, it has other benefits:

  • LTL shipping increases security. LTL shipments are mostly packaged onto pallets before being loaded onto a truck. Obviously, a well-packaged pallet has a better chance of remaining secure than shipments with multiple smaller handling units.
  • When you are shipping your items via LTL, you get to use special services like liftgates and inside pickup and delivery.
  • Most importantly, LTL carriers offer tracking options through the bill of lading number, PRO number, PO number, shipment reference number and pick up date range.

LTL or truckload shipping?

Whether you are going to choose truckload shipping or LTL depends mostly on the weight of your shipment. Hence, if your freight is under 15,000 pounds and does not require a full trailer, you should definitely go with LTL. Besides, you will save a lot of money on shipping costs. But if your freight is larger, you will probably need a truckload shipping, which is ideal for transporting huge shipments to your client.

The deficit of truck drivers is a problem that needs to be solved

In 2019 and beyond LTL will grow in demand

Many factors will affect LTL shipping trends in the United States, and the growth of e-commerce is probably the biggest one. Furthermore, if there are fewer trucks available for FTL (full truckload shipping), the extra freight will be consolidated to LTL loads. Most noteworthy, there is an increasing number of small businesses entering into the market, so the need for small shipping services will definitely rise. Being more flexible than any other type of shipping, LTL will attract companies and individual shippers, because it matches their needs. Additionally, if the capacity becomes a bigger issue, and there are many loads rejected or waiting, LTL will be able to help.

LTL shipping and moving

Although people have already started using LTL services when they are moving, this need is going to grow even more in the coming years. Furthermore, it is expected to be combined with moving services. In fact, one of the benefits of hiring cheap movers is that it leaves people an option to use LTL as well. While most of moving cargo is being handled by professional movers, some fragile and small shipments can be shipped via LTL. This way, you won’t have to worry about your delicate items getting damaged while traveling along with the rest of the cargo in a moving truck.

Also, LTL shipping trends in the United States will give more options to the people deciding between storage and shipping. Hence, make sure you investigate your options when considering to rent a storage unit. If you really want to leave some of your things behind when you are moving, renting storage is the way to go. But if you actually want to ship your small freight to your new location, now you have a chance to do so at affordable prices.

Service will improve

The growth and expansion of LTL shipping possibilities will definitely change the way people ship their goods. And as the competition grows, LTL shipping providers will struggle to stand out from their competitors. Therefore, one of the key LTL shipping trends in the United States will be implementing new services and improving existing ones to attract more customers. Furthermore, services can include shipment tracking, online-based platforms, efficient last mile delivery and more to improve the customers’ experience.

The trucking industry will keep up with the technology

Plenty of new innovations, ranging from the ELD mandate to self-driving vehicles, will make the progress unstoppable. And the ways in which technology can enhance the way carriers operate are numerous. It has already brought connected devices, real-time tracking, the blockchain, autonomous trucks, drone delivery, and online marketplaces for posting and finding loads. And if LTL shipping continues keeping up with the updates, it will be unbeatable.

Oil prices should level off this year, which is great news for LTL shipping

Fuel cost expectations

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil prices have risen during the last couple of years, but they are expected to stop. Consequently, this rise in the price of fuel has affected drive costs for LTL shipping on the part of carriers and those you use their services. Fortunately, it looks like oil is going to level off in 2019, we keep our fingers crossed for that to happen.

Driver shortages, true or false?

It seems like the trucking industry is currently experiencing a shortage of drivers, despite the fact that it is probably the largest occupation in the country. The fear of automation and self-driving trucks is one of many factors that are driving people away from looking for a job within the freight industry. Also, the fact is that fewer and fewer people chose to pursue such a career, due to long periods away from home and very long working hours. Such a deficit could have negative consequences for the LTL shipping industry and its affordable pricing. That is why shipping carriers are working on motivating potential drivers by offering better working conditions.

LTL shipping trends in the United States are promising 

As you can see, the LTL shipping forecast is sunny for 2019 and beyond. It is expected to evolve and expand in so many ways that it will change the future of shipping. Whether as a customer or as a shipping carrier, you can become part of that future!

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics

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