Loadsmart Resource Center

Collaborative PTL Shipments: How Food and Beverage Shippers Can Work Together to Lower Freight Costs

Written by John Peyton, Enterprise Account Director @ Loadsmart. 

Many food and beverage shippers may be overlooking a significant way to lower their overall freight spend while improving delivery to their customers, but it’s understandable why. The reason is it involves a shipping mode that many underutilize — Partial Truckload (PTL) shipping.

The truth is that taking advantage of PTL is possible with just a little collaboration. So, if you’re in the food and beverage industry and want to improve your logistics operation, keep reading to learn how big the opportunity really is and how to get started.

What is the Opportunity with PTL?

We all know how shipping costs generally work: the more miles traveled, weight hauled, and space freight takes up, the more it will cost to deliver an order. Much of the value PTL offers is that the per-unit shipping cost usually comes down as a shipment grows in size. In other words, companies have incentives to send as much freight as possible to the same destination simultaneously.

Advantages of Using PTL: The ‘Third’ Mode

For many companies, Truckload (TL) and Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) are the two most common shipping modes. The benefits of PTL and the opportunity for shippers is to strategically use it as an alternative to both modes. 

Existing in the gray area between loads that are better shipped LTL or TL, PTL is a better way to service that middle ground of shipment size by offering a lower cost, faster delivery options, and more efficiency.

Advantage # 1 – Cost 

Since PTL has a lower per-unit shipping cost than LTL, it’s a favorable alternative when shipping over 6 standard pallets or 12 linear feet. LTL, which still has its place in most companies’ routing guides, gets more expensive on a per-unit basis once over the 6 pallet or 12 linear feet.

PTL, like TL, shares the benefit of avoiding the extra handling and cross-dock transfers that comes with LTL. Overall, claims mitigation is simpler and there are fewer OS&D issues compared to LTL. PTL also doesn’t rely on a product’s ‘Class,’ making it easier to calculate costs and audit invoices.

The main cost advantage of PTL over TL is that it helps shippers avoid paying for empty space when their shipments will not fill a truck.

Advantage # 2 – Transit Time 

The advantages of PTL align with TL shipping. Like TL, PTL often ships on time specific pick appointments and deliveries, which helps to minimize dock congestion. PTL transit times closely match TL's because the mode avoids the additional time for cross docking. It’s important to note that while PTL shipping is faster than LTL shipping, PTL usually adds 1-3 days of transit time in comparison to TL shipping depending on the lane. 

Advantage # 3 – Sustainability 

For companies looking to maximize the sustainability of their supply chain, consolidating truckload shipments is also a green initiative. More efficient deliveries leveraging PTL rely on fewer trucks and fewer over-the-road miles, meaning less carbon emissions.

Where’s the Volume?

The way food and beverage companies benefit from PTL goes back to the idea we mentioned earlier – lowering your per-unit shipping costs can happen with additional freight volume. The good news is that almost all food and beverage shippers have overlap in customers and subsequent delivery locations. So, the opportunity is that PTL is a way for different shippers to combine their freight into larger loads going to the same destination, thus lowering both companies’ per-unit shipping costs.”

But more freight volume going to the same destination just doesn’t appear. It’s hard for shippers to create optimized PTL shipments independently. Most companies don’t have visibility into other shippers’ freight in real-time to create shared consolidated truckloads. But, by working with a large group of food and beverage shippers, Loadsmart is able to recommend collaboration efforts. 

How to Create More Efficient Freight Movement

We have a dedicated team of experts focused on PTL consolidation armed with specialized technology to identify every cost-saving consolidation opportunity, plus instant PTL pricing to quickly take action. This creates an opportunity to cut down on freight spend, dock congestion, customer fines & overall emissions output.

Where to Start

If you are interested in joining the food & beverage consolidated truck load consortium, please comment here or contact adebayo.ojuri@loadsmart.com for a network consultation

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