Truckload is a road transportation mode used to move large freight shipments that fill the space or weight limit of standard 48-foot and 53-foot trailers.
What is truckload transportation?
Truckload trucking serves shippers who:
- Ship enough freight to fill a trailer.
- Isolate a large shipment to one trailer.
- Expedite time-sensitive cargo.
- Transport freight with high risk of damage.
What is a Truckload Carrier?
A truckload carrier is an individual or ground transportation company that transports full truckload shipments on behalf of shippers. Freight carriers own their own vehicles, with small truckload carriers owning 1-5 vehicles and larger carriers operating fleets of trucks and/or trailers.
Truckload vs Less-than-Truckload
A full truckload (FTL) shipment fills all or most of a standard trailer. Less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation combines freight shipments from multiple shippers.
Truckload rates are calculated on a per-mile basis. Pricing depends on established contracts between shippers and carriers, or spot market pricing for available trucking capacity. Both contract and spot rates are determined by trucking capacity supply and freight shipment demand. Rates can fluctuate based on origin and destination, shipment weight, truck capacity and location.
Less-than-truckload pricing is regulated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) which classifies freight based on commodity, density and ease of transport. LTL carriers each have standard LTL rates determined by origin and destination, the NMFC class, the amount of space the shipment occupies and any additional services or accessorial charges.
Full truckload shipments generally move direct from origin to destination. Restrictions are limited to trailer capacity and the driver’s hours of service (HOS). A truckload shipment can travel 400-500 miles per day.
LTL shipments share a trailer with multiple shipments and operate using a hub and spoke model. Shipments are consolidated at carrier terminals with shipments bound for similar destinations. LTL trailer loads make multiple stops for delivery and/or pick-up on a route, limiting the daily driving distance to about 300 miles.
Benefits of Truckload Shipping
Faster Transit Times
Truckload freight moves are faster that LTL shipments. A truckload shipment is picked up and delivered by the same truck, with no extra stops between the pick-up and delivery location.
Less Chance of Damage
One freight shipment in one trailer means less chance of one shipper’s cargo damaging another shipper’s freight in transit. Similarly, damage threats are limited because truckload shipments are touched less than an LTL move with additional freight handling at terminals or between pick-ups and delivery.
Full truckload rates are determined in real time based on freight shipping demand and available trucking capacity. Carriers or brokers may be willing to negotiate rates and offer flexibility based on their own business priorities.
Less-than-truckload rates are fixed by LTL carriers based on classification, origin and destination, weight and space utilized on a trailer. LTL rates are not negotiable.
What is the Maximum Weight for a Truckload?
Federal truckload weight limits are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 pounds on a single axle and 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group.
The maximum weight for a truckload shipment is determined by state and federal transportation regulations and laws. Federal law controls maximum gross vehicle weights and axle loads in the interstate system. Often individual states have different weight limits governing roads in their jurisdiction.
Outside regulations, the maximum weight for a truckload shipment depends on the trailer equipment type. Materials used in building and operating dry van, flatbed, and reefer truckload trailers contribute different weights to the gross vehicle weight. On average maximum trailer weight capacity includes:
- Dry van: 44,000 to 45,000 pounds.
- Flatbed: up to 48,000 pounds.
- Reefer: 42,500 to 44,000 pounds.
Tandem trailers provide additional axles and weight capacity to facilitate larger individual shipments.
How MercuryGate Supports Truckload Shipping
For shippers, MercuryGate offers a single platform, global transportation management system for truckload transportation:
- Procure, plan, optimize, execute, and settle full truckload shipments.
- Tap spot market capacity with digital freight matching solutions.
- Access control tower visibility and analysis-based decision support for best service/best cost options.
Truckload carriers using MercuryGate TMS:
- Manage driver data and safety records while ensuring regulatory compliance of drivers and equipment.
- Maximize asset utilization and reduce unnecessary miles to maintain healthy profit margins.
- Simplify planning and execution within a single management system.
- Know the status of every driver and truck to meet customer demands.