How Small Truckload (STL) Transportation Can Solve Your Long-Haul Transportation Needs
Imagine that you have a shipment of six pallets of product that need to be transported cross-country. Most shippers would likely consign a shipment of this size to an LTL carrier. After all, isn’t LTL designed to handle shipments of this size? Yes, and no.
Yes, in the sense that LTL consolidates shipments from multiple shippers into a single 53’ trailer, however, there are serious trade offs that shippers need to be aware of when utilizing LTL. It’s the consolidation itself that can lead to a host of challenges for shippers. First and foremost is speed. Because LTL carriers typically use a hub and spoke network, your freight will be consolidated into a full truckload, transported to the next terminal, and then unloaded and reloaded onto another trailer for transport to the next terminal. And so on, until your freight reaches the terminal closest to its final destination, at which point, it is loaded once again onto a straight truck or other small vehicle for final delivery. This theoretical cross-country trip could take 4-6 business days to complete using traditional LTL. In a world where customers increasingly expect 2-day delivery, 4-6 business days can seem like an eternity.
The other risk with all that loading and unloading is overage, shortage and damage, or OS&D. For LTL shipments in transit, shippers are rightly focused on losses due to shortage (i.e. misplaced or stolen freight) and damage. Repeated loading and unloading of freight simply creates more opportunities for mishaps.
So what is our hypothetical shipper to do? Shipping a mere six pallets cross-country via dedicated or expedite truckload, while faster and less risky in terms of OS&D than LTL, is likely cost prohibitive. There is a new solution for this dilemma: Small Truckload (STL).
What is Small Truckload?
Small Truckload shipping refers to transportation services that utilize vehicles that are smaller than standard 53’ semi trailers, including sprinter vans, cargo vans, box trucks and straight trucks. Unlike traditional small vehicle logistics, which is primarily focused on shorter distances, STL can be utilized to transport shipments locally, regionally and even cost-to-coast. STL services can be used to transport both dry or refrigerated shipments of up to 14 pallets, providing shippers with a range of options depending on the goods they are shipping. STL offers shippers significant benefits when compared to traditional Truckload (TL) and LTL shipping.
Unlike LTL, which utilizes a hub and spoke network, STL shipments go directly from pickup to delivery, offering the fastest possible transit time. The delivery time of STL shipments can be further accelerated, if needed, with expedite service. STL shipments can be used for long haul, coast to coast deliveries, either utilizing a single driver or team service. STL vehicles are more nimble than 53’ semis, making them the perfect solution for local, regional or long haul needs.
Every STL load is a dedicated load. Shipments from multiple shippers are not intermingled on a single trailer, as is the case with LTL shipments. This not only enhances speed of delivery, but also mitigates the risk of OS&D because dedicated loads are only touched twice: when loaded at the point of origin, and when unloaded at the final destination.
More Affordable and More Sustainable
STL shipping is rooted in the idea of “right sizing” the truck to your shipment. Why ship just a few pallets in a 53’ semi? That’s an awful lot of empty space. It’s simply not efficient, and it’s the shipper that ultimately pays for that inefficiency. When shippers utilize STL, they are paying for the vehicle that they actually need. Smaller vehicles also burn less fuel, which not only helps to drive down costs but also makes STL the more sustainable choice.
It’s Time to Add STL To Your Transportation Arsenal
Expedite All offers shippers instant access to a nationwide network of more than 5,000 STL vehicles. Our proprietary Truck Map technology empowers shippers to find nearby vehicles when they need them, and with our Freight Rate Calculator, shippers no longer need to call around for rates. Shippers can easily track shipments online from pickup to delivery, and our expert team is available 24/7 to answer any questions and provide live phone support. With STL shipping through Expedite All, shippers enjoy the best of all worlds: the speed of small vehicle delivery, the security of dedicated service, reduced costs and a more sustainable solution.
To learn more about adding STL service to your transportation arsenal, contact us today.