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What you Need to Know about Shipping LTL

Mar 09, 2011

You’ve picked up your first foreign customer, located in Canada or Brazil, for example, and you need to get several pallets of product shipped securely, quickly and affordably.  Perhaps your usual interstate shipping has enough volume that you use full truckload (Ftl) carriers, but that’s not what you need know.  The answer is to use Ltl carriers to get your international freight delivered to its destination.

Ltl carriers specialize in less than truckload shipments across country and across borders.  If you choose to use one here are the details you need to know to streamline the process.

1. Ltl carriers often contract shipping through third parties known as transportation brokers

Less-Than-Load-200x300.jpgYou, the shipper, contact a transportation broker and they handle all of the details required to pick up, store, transport and deliver your international freight.  The advantage of using transportation brokers is their access to a many Ltl carriers that offer shipping of international freight to your destination.  They can quickly find the transportation you need that takes into account your specific requirements.  These transportation brokers have a good handle on which Ltl carriers are reliable, having learned from their experience which ones to avoid.

2. Transportation brokers use a freight calculator to produce the freight quote they provide you with.  A freight calculator is software that takes into account all of the shipping details.  For example, the volume of the load is a primary component of the freight quote, as is the distance it will be shipped.  The freight class of the goods is the last key factor that will determine your freight quote.  Much like with interstate shipping, your cargo will be classified based on the ease with which it can be handled.  Stowability, fragility, density, and the need for special handling are all considered.  Of course, shipping fresh foods or frozen goods will require the use of a refrigerated trailer and will be significantly more expensive.  Hazardous materials, chemicals and automobiles are just a few additional freight classes that will be priced differently than general international cargo.  These details are entered into the freight calculator to customize the freight quote you receive.

3. The transportation brokers are equipped to handle miscellaneous but important details.  Since the Ltl carriers offer only limited liability for your goods, adding your own insurance  is essential.  This can be done through the broker.  They will also prepare and submit all the needed paperwork including the bill of lading (BOL) to assure your goods pass quickly through customs and get to the right destination.  This is especially important if the Ltl carriers drop off your cargo at a central warehouse in the destination country where it is then resorted for delivery.

4. The Ltl carriers that are contracted to ship your international freight will pick up your palletized cargo at the specified time.  The pallets will be moved to a warehouse and consolidated onto a trailer with other shipments.  These semi-trailers range in size from 26’ to 53’, any of which can be pulled to the destination country.  These trailers may also be loaded onto freight trains or cargo ships for transit to international hubs or ports.  Your transportation brokers or forwarding agents will arrange the most cost-effective means of transport for your international freight.  You may also request freight quotes that emphasize different factors – one freight quote for the fastest way to deliver the consignment and one for the most affordable way to move it.

International freight shipping via Ltl carriers using third party transportation agents is a well-established way to move your cargo to your customers affordably, securely and on time.  Ltl carriers are the backbone of the shipping industry and you will find that most shipments of international freight using them are completed without a hitch.