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As a business owner you would be aware of the importance of a good logistics partner to fulfil your delivery requirements. You may often be confused in deciding between full truckload service (FTL) and partial truckload service (PTL) for your logistics needs. You not just need to ensure that your goods are delivered efficiently on time and at a competitive price, but also that the consignment is not damaged, lost or late. This is where the types of shipping come into play.


Depending on the shipping requirements, businesses can choose from different types of freight shipping – FTL (full truckload), PTL, and LTL (less than truckload).

This article will explain the meaning of partial truckload service in shipping, how is shipment delivered through PTL, how long does it take for PTL to ship your consignments and the differences between PTL, FTL and LTL.

What is Partial Truckload (PTL) freight shipping?

PTL (Partial Truckload) shipping refers to the process that enables easy movement of goods from different customers through one truck. PTL is a cost-effective method for shipping goods as two or more shippers can share their load and pay only for the specific space occupied by them. The thought behind PTL lies in the fact that customers can ship larger, heavier freight at high speed across the country utilising the strength of the company’s network. The need of PTL arose when logistics providers had to service businesses have shipments that fall between LTL and FLT.

When you opt for Partial Truckload shipments, you do not require freight class, thereby eliminating re-classing and extra charges typically associated with larger shipments. Apart from on-time deliveries, faster transit times, and less handling of freight, partial truckload carriers also typically offer cargo insurance coverage.

Some of the reasons why small and medium sized businesses consider PTL shipping services include requirement of smaller budget than LTL can accommodate, and the option to set pickup and delivery dates allowing control on purchasing inventory.

Logistics company Rivigo has recorded a 40% reduction in supply chain costs by moving from FTL to PTL

Why choose PTL freight?

Partial truckload shipping offers an ideal solution for shippers with freight demand that are too big for less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers but not large enough to require a full truckload. Secondly, apart from being suitable for small-volume shippers, partial truckload is also helpful for large shippers who does not wants to transport all goods at a single time.

Additionally, PTL freight is best suited for shipments that require a single-truck load. In PTL, shipments do not stop at a distribution centre for consolidation. Hence, they tend to get to their destination faster, without having to pay extra charges.

What are the advantages of employing PTL?

Similar to any logistics transportation services, PTL also has its own set of pros and cons. Depending on your requirement, budget and delivery timelines, you can decide if PTL works for you to meet your logistics needs. Given below are the advantages of routing your freight through PTL:

  • Consistency: PTL is ideal for shippers who are looking for consistency in shipping through the course of their supply chain. You can plan better for cash flow and other costs associated with your business as it will give you the visibility to plan.
  • Better space utilisation: Partial truckload carriers provide shipments with defined space as per the needs of the business. You get an opportunity to choose the size that works best for you.
  • Flexibility: In PTL it is easier to change the size of your shipment as needed by moving up or down by a level. This enables businesses to protect their investment if demand increases or decreases unexpectedly.
  • Improved traffic flow: PTL helps increase the efficiency of your supply chain management with better inbound and outbound delivery timelines.
  • Cost-effective: Businesses can save money with one- or two-day transit times while still getting fast delivery.
  • Convenience: PTL shipping is suitable for businesses with multiple branch locations as both pickup and delivery points can be arranged via just-in-time scheduling.
  • Sustainable: PTL is a more environment friendly way of transportation and helps in saving fuel consumption and thus reduces carbon footprint in the long run.

When should you choose PTL freight shipping?

Partial truckload shipping is an excellent option for businesses with limited inventory control, needing freight consolidation services, or possesses greater than usual freight volume. Below are a few use cases when PTL freight is beneficial:

  • When the delivery is too big to be sent through parcel post but is also not heavy enough to occupy a full truckload.
  • When multiple orders need to be shipped without having to incur the added expense of consolidating them into one large shipment.
  • When freight needs to be shipped internationally, and the shipment comprises smaller items not requiring an entire container for transport.
  • When large quantities of goods need to be transported with budget constraint of leasing an entire truck.
  • When finding a carrier that will provide door-to-door service or pickup services at a particular time gets difficult for the business.
  • When shipping high-value items such as jewelry, fine art, and antiques that require special care during transport to ensure that no damage occurs.

What is the difference between FTL, PTL and LTL?

In order to choose the best logistics services for your business, you need to be familiar with the differences between the three. Apart from factors like types of freight and careers, shipping methods too need to be considered to understand the three types of shipping methods. Let us discuss all these three methods one by one to know their differences.

Full Truck Load (FTL)

As the name suggests, full truckload means that the whole truck will be filled by the freight. In other words, in order to ship your entire cargo, you require a full truck. Once your load is on the truck, there will be no stops and subsequent loading-unloading on the way. Some of the advantages of FTL are your load will be safer, your space is exclusive as there will be no other customers’ loads in there, and it ensures quicker deliveries.

Partial Truck Load (PTL)

Unlike a full truck load, in partial truck load, the load usually will be as less as half of the entire truck. Therefore, you need not book a full truck for this, and you can share the truck with other customers.  Both will share the fare of the truck for your respective halves as per the weight and type of freight. Shipping is fast in PTL as there the trucks do not stop at a distribution centre for consolidation.

Less than Truck Load (LTL)

When your cargo is lesser than even a partial truckload, you can avail the Less than Truck Load option.  You need to pay for the amount of load you have used, and the share depends upon your freight. Since this is shared logistics, there will be multiple stops for this case and delivery timelines could be little late too as compared to FTL.

The chart below gives you an idea on the differences between PTL vs FTL and PTL vs LTL.

S No Full Truck Load (FTL)


Partial Truck Load (PTL)


Less than Truck Load (LTL)


1 Whole truck is utilised for freight Less than half of the entire truck is utilised Utilised for cargo that is lesser than even a partial truckload
2 Deliveries are faster with no stoppages involved Deliveries are generally fast as trucks do not stop at a distribution centre Multiple stops involved and delivery timelines could be little delayed
3 More expensive as it is exclusive shipping The rate is divided with other businesses, hence not as expensive Payment is only for the amount of space and load used by the business

To sum up: is partial-truckload shipping right for your business?

The logistics sector in India has expanded to such a great extent that businesses of all sizes and across sectors require logistics services. The concept of dividing truckload based on economies and need, arose from the fact that different businesses have different transportation needs.

To conclude, if you have shipping requirements that do not occupy the whole truck, you might want to consider partial truckload service. If you are not sure whether partial truckload shipping would work for your business, you can register on Tata nexarc’s Logistics services platform, where our experts will guide you to secure the most affordable and hassle-free cargo movement. Tata nexarc Logistics brings businesses and logistics partners together on one platform and help you explore services, compare prices, and work with a logistics partner of your choice.

Pradeep h

Pradeep a SEO professional and passionate content writer who loves writing on various topics with 5 years of experience. At Tata nexarc, it has been 4 years since he is helping MSMEs to know the business challenges deeper and strategies to solve those. While not writing, he loves reading about digital marketing to hone his skills for business growth.