Picture of fourlane highway with title: Beginner's Guide to LTL

Beginner’s Guide to LTL

You need options: LTL or Truckload (TL)


So you have this freight, but how do you ship it? Here at AM Transport Services, we offer great options for both Truckload (TL) and Less-than-Truckload (LTL). Truckload shipments typically take up the entire space or weight limit of the trailer, while LTL shipments are less than 10 pallets and weigh less than 15,000 lbs and therefore will share the space of the trailer with other shipments.


But when choosing between LTL and Truckload, there are other considerations like cost, urgency, and handling.



Cost is often a consideration, especially for smaller companies. LTL usually costs less because you are splitting the space on a trailer with other shipments. At the same time, LTL rates are fairly standardized which also enables you to save money.



Your LTL shipment will make multiple stops on route to its destination because it’s sharing space with other shipments. Therefore, the truck will make several stops between point A and point B, and it will take longer to deliver your freight. If your small load has a little more time, LTL is a great choice, but if it’s urgent, TL might be your best option.



If your freight is fragile, you might want to consider TL. Simply put, LTL freight is handled a lot more than TL freight because it will be moved as other loads are picked up and delivered. LTL is great for smaller shipments of hardy cargo. If your small shipment is packaged well and can’t be damaged as it’s moved on and off trucks during deliveries, it’s a great choice.


So you’re ready to ship LTL: What do you need to know?


AM Transport’s new Self-Service LTL Portal simplifies the LTL shipping process. You deserve to work with a leader in the field, a 3PL with 30 years experience in the logistics industry. Our expertise and long-term relationships with a wide-range of small, service-oriented carriers means you receive the best service and rates available. To ship LTL, you need several pieces of critical information.


Origin City and Zip Code and Destination City and Zip Code:

This is self-explanatory. When you use the self-service portal at AM Transport, you will be required to enter the origin city, destination city, and the zip codes to go with each.


Specific Commodity:

This is what you’re shipping.


NMFC Code: 

Every LTL shipping item has an NMFC code associated with it. These codes can be found through the NMFC database and will help you class your item. If you’re not sure about your NMFC code, the experts at AM Transport will be happy to help.


Freight Class:

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) defines a class as a way to “establish a commodity’s transportability.” The National Motor Freight Classification was established to group commodities into different categories or “classes.” These 18 classes are numbered from 50-500 and are determined by four characteristics: density, stowability, handling, and liability. 


Density is determined by the total cubic feet divided by the total weight in pounds. The lower the density the higher the freight class.


Stowability refers to the level of difficulty it takes to stow your freight. When freight is overly long, or difficult to load or stack with other shipments it will have a higher freight class.


Handling refers to the difficulty loading, unloading, or carrying. Heavy, fragile, awkward, or hazardous freight will require a higher freight class.


Liability is what it sounds like. If you have perishable cargo, freight that could explode, or freight that could damage other shipments it will have a higher liability and thus a higher freight class.

Freight class matters to LTL carriers because it determines the tariffs they must pay to transport goods, and therefore, it determines how much they will charge you in shipping rates and fees. Very often, businesses underestimate their freight class in order to save money, but if the carrier has to re-class your freight, it will end up costing you more time and money. If you are unsure of freight class, you can talk to the experts at AM Transport. We’re happy to make sure you class your freight correctly.  


LxWxH dimensions and weight of EACH PALLET you are shipping.

Again, this is fairly self-explanatory, but the correct information will make sure your shipment doesn’t suffer any hiccups along the way.

Any required accessorial charges.

Accessorial charges are additional services the carrier might provide. These may include residential service deliveries, liftgate services, inside deliveries, and limited access due to abnormal business hours or security related inspections or processes.


Booking your freight through the AMT Portal


LTL may seem complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze with AMT’s LTL Portal. 


Once you log-in to the AMT Portal:

–You enter the origin city/zip code and destination city/zip code.

–You receive carrier/rate options and you select carrier you prefer.

–You enter detailed load information including specific commodity with NMFC# and Freight Class, LxWxH dimensions and the weight of each pallet you intend to ship, and any accessorial charges.

–You submit for booking through Atlas/DLS API and obtain your Bill of Lading.


It’s pretty simple. But the best thing about our self-service portal, is that we’re here 24/7/365 days a year. We’re here to answer your questions and guide you through the process when you need help.

LTL doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’d like to know more about LTL shipping or getting set up on the AM Transport LTL Portal, please give us a call today. We’re here to save you money and time.