There are two main over-the-road shipping modes: truckload and less-than-truckload. However, if you have ever shipped slightly beyond the LTL limits or not enough for full truckload, you may have assumed it’s not very cost-efficient. There is another option you may not be aware of, and that's partial truckload shipping. For some shippers, it can be a cheaper and more useful alternative to traditional shipping modes.
Partial truckload shipping refers to a medium amount of freight that is too much for LTL and not enough for a full truckload. Basically, it is more like truckload freight, but you’re not paying for the entire trailer space as you typically would.
A typical LTL shipment is from 1 to 6 pallets, when a full truckload can usually take up to 26 pallets. If you need to transport more than 5,000 pounds or more than 6 pallets of goods on a regular basis, partial shipping can be a solution. A standard partial truckload shipment is considered from 7 to 18 pallets. In some cases, shipping partial can save you money, since you will not pay for the entire trailer. The option also works for shippers who have large but not dense shipments.
LTL shipments require freight class and strict compliance with the NMFC codes. When your freight is classified incorrectly, you will have to pay high reclassification fees. The main difference between partial shipping and LTL is that you can avoid class-based pricing. This means no charges, and easier quoting in general.
Partial shipping means your freight will be combined with one or two other shipments, but there is still less freight handling during transit. This means fewer claims and less possibility for damage while the shipment is on the road. Normally, carriers take partial shipments when there’s not enough freight to fill the capacity, or as an option to avoid empty backhaul. This means you can’t really plan partial shipping in advance, because carriers will often offer it on the spot. However, if you have the right freight volume, you can benefit from partial truckload shipping in terms of price and efficiency.